A History of Chemainus Lodge No. 114
(by W.Bro. Terry van Seters, October 2021)
During the past ninety-five years approximately 500 worthy men have petitioned Chemainus Lodge for membership in our honourable fraternity. Chemainus Lodge will celebrate 100 years of Freemasonry in 2027, when we will commemorate the lives and memory of the great men who have passed through the very chairs we now occupy. No one now remains 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 founding members 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 recorded and revised by several knowledgeable Brethren over the years, including W.Bro. Harry Heslip, in 1958, W. Bro. Frank Merritt, in 1995, by W. Bro. Terry van Seters on the occasion of its 75th Anniversary in 2002, and again by R.W. Bro. Art Bossons, in 2012.
Most Worshipful Brother 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 gathering of resident Freemasons was held 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 totaled 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 six dollars, 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 District Deputy Grand Master, R.W. Bro. 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 Worshipful 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 Service 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 saw mill 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.
R.W. Bro. John Lund Parkinson
1st Worshipful Master of Chemainus Lodge
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. The building was designed by Bro. Henry Edmond Knight, who was appointed the first Junior Deacon of the Lodge. In August of the same year, the Chemainus Masonic Lodge building was completed. 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. The interior of the building was decorated with beautiful half paneled dark wood walls, and the floor was a magnificent example of edge grain fir. On completion, the ground floor of the building provided accommodation for the Post Office, Customs Office, and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The bank vault remains a part of this historic structure.
Sketch of the former Lodge building,
"with the kind permission of the artist" Dan Sawatzky (1986)
Potentate Daniel B. Dyke
Many Brethren of Chemainus Lodge have held rank as officers of Grand Lodge. Notable among them is R.W. Bro. Daniel (Danny) Bruce Dyke, now in his 90th year, who was a Grand Steward in 2007/08, and District Deputy Grand Master of District 27 in 2010/11. R.W. Bro. Danny Dyke served the greater community as Potentate of the Gizeh Shrine Temple in 2005/06. He has ensured the continuation of the fraternity in his family by seeing two sons, two sons-in-law, and a grandson enter the Craft.
On April 20th, 2002, Chemainus Lodge celebrated its 75th Anniversary, receiving M.W. Bro. James Chalmers Gordon, Grand Master, and the entire Grand Line of Officers. He was feted to a wonderful evening banquet at the Silver Bridge Inn, in Duncan. M.W. Bro. Gordon noted in his annual address in June, 2002, that the Senior Past Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Claude Green of Temple Lodge No. 33 in Duncan, was in attendance at this celebration, and that “the banquet was attended by the mayor, the police chief, the fire chief and thirty or more of The Greater Victoria Police Choir in fine voice.” He went further to acknowledge that “this was one of the most orderly masonic functions I have been to for quite some time.”
Many wise and skillful Brethren have passed through the chairs of Chemainus Lodge, dutifully recording the business of the Lodge from month to month, and year to year. In January, 1976, for the good of Freemasonry in Chemainus, the Brethren of Chemainus Lodge 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 sought temporary accommodation in the basement hall of the United Church and a year later, signed on as tenants of Saint John’s Lodge in Ladysmith.
Most Excellent Companion
Kenneth Morgan Overy
Grand First Principal of Royal Arch Masons
R.W.Bro. Kenneth Morgan Overy, having served as District Deputy Grand Master for District 27 in 2014/15, was elected Junior Grand Warden for the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon in 2018. R.W. Bro. Overy was the Grand First Principal of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of British Columbia and Yukon in 2013.
He will be 10th Grand First Principal of Royal Arch Masons to become Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, the last one being M.W.Bro. James Reid Mitchell, in 1960/61. It will, indeed, be an historic occasion for the Brethren of Chemainus Lodge, as he is installed as the first member of Chemainus Lodge to become Grand Master in June, 2022.
Right Worshipful Brother Kenneth Morgan Overy
Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of B.C. & Yukon