Chemainus Lodge No. 114
Our History in Brief
(Condensed in 2012 by Rt. Wor Bro. Art Bossons from an original written by Wor. Bro Terrance van Seters)
During the past eighty-five years approximately 400 worthy men have petitioned Chemainus Lodge for membership in our honourable fraternity. In the year 2001/02 we celebrated not only 75 years of Freemasonry within Chemainus Lodge, but the lives and memory of the great men who have passed through the very chairs we now occupy. There are, thankfully, brethren still present, who can claim the honour of having known Freemasons of the ilk of John Lund Parkinson, John Alexander Humbird, and James Cuthbert Adam. For the rest of us, our memories of the founders of Chemainus Lodge are limited to the priceless documents left behind in the form of the minutes of their Regular and Emergent Communications.
The history of Chemainus Lodge has been painstakingly reviewed and recorded by Wor. Bro. Frank Merritt from its genesis in a Masonic gathering on February 10th, 1926, in the Chemainus Recreation Hall Reading Room, through the construction of one of the most beautiful Masonic Halls of its time and on to the painfully difficult decision to sell the Lodge property and meet in the neighbouring St. John’s Masonic Hall in Ladysmith
Alexander Malcolm Manson was the 47th Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, in the year the Masonic brethren of Chemainus petitioned for Dispensation to form a Lodge. A Masonic gathering was called in the Chemainus Recreation Hall Reading Room on February 10th of 1926. Bro. James Cuthbert Adam, who called the meeting to order, pushed for a decision on the advisability of forming a Lodge in Chemainus as there were many brethren in the community and it was inconvenient to continue travelling to Duncan and Ladysmith. Bro. James Cook motioned and Bro. Harold Evans seconded that Bro. John Parkinson, the senior Freemason present, take the Chair. A register of those at this formative meeting totalled twenty six. Bro. Parkinson informed the brethren of the steps that would be required to Constitute a Masonic Lodge.
Having adopted the name of Chemainus Lodge, on March 6th, 1926, the Chemainus Masons sent a letter to St. John's Lodge in Ladysmith, along with their Petition to Grand Lodge, requesting support for the Chemainus effort to form a Lodge. Fifteen Chemainus Masons subsequently attended two meetings at St. John's Lodge, the second on Friday, April 2, when it was requisite on them to demonstrate their skills in Masonic ritual. As a result of this last visit Bro. Parkinson received a letter of recommendation supporting the request for Dispensation. On April 9th, the Chemainus brethren passed a motion setting dues at $6, and sufficient funds were raised to cover the monetary requirements of forming a Lodge. With the average wage being 40 cents an hour, Freemasonry was within the budgets of the local brethren.
On April 10th, 1926, a letter was written to D.D.G.M. Cokely of Courtenay which included a money order for $50 to cover the charge exacted by Grand Lodge for the Petition. The letter included the list of brethren petitioning Grand Lodge, which had already grown by six from those who had originally come together to create the lodge. The list of Freemasons in and around Chemainus now numbered 29. Shortly thereafter, the Brethren of Chemainus Lodge were granted Dispensation to perform the functions of a Lodge. It did so with a vigorous enthusiasm, the likes of which were hard to imagine. In the period of one year, while anticipating the arrival of their charter, Chemainus Lodge initiated, passed and raised 15 new adherents to the Craft. There was rarely a Communication which did not include the ritual of degree. An Emergent Communication on 16 July, 1927, records that the Charter had been received and the Lodge numbered 114 on the registry of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. Most Wor. Bro. Frank Sumner McKee was the 49th Grand Master.
John Lund Parkinson had been elected the first Worshipful Master of Chemainus Lodge and Harold Evans elected Secretary. Bro. Parkinson was a Past Master of United Services Lodge of Victoria and it was largely on this basis that he was honoured with the chair of the new Lodge. The new Lodge adopted the Emulation Ritual of his mother Lodge. John Humbert was elected Senior Warden and James Adam was to become the first Junior Warden. Bro. Adam was the Chief Engineer of the sawmill and had a good reputation in the community by providing jobs for needy men. He would arrange for a few hours paid work to enable those in need to afford a hot meal and the strength to move on to the possibility of another job. Bro. Parkinson was well skilled as the mill Pattern Maker and an expert at cutting wood. He was a lover of the Craft and a staunch follower of Masonic traditions and teaching.
The Chemainus Masons approached St. Michael’s Anglican Church with an offer to purchase a portion of their land by selling shares to the Lodge Brethren. In August of the same year, the Chemainus Masonic Lodge building was completed, providing accommodation for the Post Office, Customs Office and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The District Deputy Grand Master boasted that the Chemainus Lodge room was one of the finest in the district. The Lodge pillars were designed by John Parkinson who, through his connections with the Victoria Machine Depot, arranged to have the lathe work done. The Chemainus Station Agent, Bro. Noel Land, arranged for the transportation of two large logs to Victoria and hence returned as the Lodge pillars. The pillars are still prominently displayed at the entrance to this Grand Old Building which has survived to accommodate restaurants, apartments and gift shops.
This, brethren, is a brief explanation of the genesis of Chemainus Lodge. Many wise and skilled brothers have passed through the chairs, dutifully recording the business of the Lodge from month to month, and year to year. For the good of Freemasonry in Chemainus, the Brethren of Chemainus Lodge, in January, 1976, placed the Lodge building up for sale. The sale of the building was duly reported in the minutes of the 548th Communication, September 13, 1976. This move to liquidate assets, although controversial and painfully difficult, would lead to financial stability. Chemainus Lodge then moved to the basement of the United Church and after a year were asked to leave because the Church needed the basement for Church activity. In 1977 Chemainus made a deal with Saint John’s Lodge and moved to Ladysmith.
In short, in 1927 Chemainus Masonic Lodge received its founding Charter from the Grand Lodge of BC and Yukon. Our eighty five year history has witnessed and enjoyed a wealth of brotherhood from gentlemen of all walks of life and creed residing in the Chemainus area. Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world dating back centuries to stonemasons who constructed the grand cathedrals of Europe in the middle ages. The fraternity supports many charities, hospitals, orphanages and educational facilities donating over three million dollars per day across North America. Recently in our history, the Freemasons of the province of British Columbia purchased a fleet of vehicles for Vancouver Island , Lower Mainland and Interior areas. These vehicles are chauffeured by Freemasons and provide free daily transportation for many cancer patients to and from treatment centers. Our charitable acts are not readily publicized and often times will remain anonymous out of respect to those we serve. The members of Chemainus Lodge are proud of our heritage and equally proud to devote our resources and efforts to the wonderful community of Chemainus, that we humbly serve. At this time the Lodge membership is 34, not to far from the original start up number. We are looking for men of character to help swell our numbers. Our dues are still with in the working mans means, and the Lodge is financially sound, and able to carry on its charitable work.