Highlights of Ashlar Lodge 28 By Brother Ken Penley 24 February 2000
The historical sketch this evening is not to be considered a comprehensive history of the past 93 years of Ashlar Lodge’s history.That would take more time than we have tonight and include much in the way of facts and figures which might not interest this audience.Rather, I intend to select a few events from Ashlar’s minutes which might be of interest and be of some entertainment value to all of us!
Calgary was growing in 1906.The population was 16,000 and its Masonic population was growing also.There was one lodge practicing the Canadian Rite; it being Bow River Lodge #1 and two in the York Rite; they being Perfection Lodge #9 and Calgary #23.Certain brethren of Bow River Lodge felt that it was time to form a second lodge which would use the Canadian Rite.To bring such a lodge into being would require the permission of the recently formed Grand Lodge of Alberta; as Alberta was now a province since the previous year.
Brothers of Bow River Lodge; in particular Brothers Lent, Hall and Shaw along with Brother Hall of another lodge, petitioned the Grand Lodge of Alberta and permission was given to form Ashlar Lodge UD (Under Dispensation).That same evening, 22 February 1907, the first meeting of Ashlar Lodge was held with 21 petitioners present along with 43 visiting brethren.The lodge room was in the Victoria Block in downtown Calgary.
We cannot learn much about the first few meetings.Although we have minutes of meetings from September the 8th 1908, the records of the previous meetings and registrars reports of the first three meetings are missing.Fortunately though, a member of Bow River Lodge kept the registrar of attendees of the first meeting and presented them to Ashlar Lodge many years later, in 1964.I will not read this list out to you now, but I made photocopies of that list and you may examine them later.
Of the 37 Charter members, 14 were from Bow River Lodge, it being the only Alberta Lodge represented.The balance of the Charter members included 12 from Ontario, 5 from Scotland, 2 each from New Brunswick and British Columbia and 1 each from Prince Edward Island and Quebec.I am going to quickly read the names and occupations of those 37 in case anyone in this audience might remember or be related to these pioneer Masons of Calgary; Ashlar Lodge 28.
Officers W. Bro. W. LentWorshipful MasterLawyer Bro. George HillSenior WardenGrain Inspector Bro. James T. ShawJunior WardenLaw Student Bro. William HeadTreasurerPlumber Bro. W.E. HallSecretary Bro. Rev. A.O. McRaeChaplainPrincipal, WesternCanadaCollege Bro. P. SteadSenior DeaconPrinter Bro. G.J. DavisJunior DeaconBuilder Bro. A. D. IrvineSenior StewardGeneral Agent Bro. F.J. McKeownJunior StewardPrinter Bro. W.T.D. LathwellInner GuardLawyer Bro. R.H. FinchTyler (not a member of Ashlar Lodge)
Brothers (one missing – illegible from historical record) E.W. CouldridgeClerk D.A. DavisonRancher James DevlinSteamfitter Donald DouglasBook Keeper Alex DunnClergyman Thomas EdgarPlumber Duncan GowPhysician Albert HelmerRanch Inspector W.H. IrvineInsurance Agent Gilbert LangStone Mason A.W. LeaContractor (Furs) James MarrPlumber F.G. MarwoodGeneral Agent J.S. McEachernPhysician D.D. McLarenPhysician Donald McTavishICS Rep. Peter McTavishICS Rep. J.P. MinhinnickGeneral Agent R.J. PriestlySteam Fitter John F. RodgersBook KeeperJ .P. RossInsurance F.S. SelwoodLawyer J.W. SkinnerMachinist R.J. StuartSun Life Insurance J.B. VernonEngineer
Most of these men were of the ages in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s; the oldest aged 64 and the youngest aged 23.It is apparent that they came from a variety of occupations.
The first applicant to be initiated and raised to the SD of a MM in Ashlar Lodge was J.H. McGuire; who remained a faithful member and was made a life member many years later.
It is interesting how BowRiver #1 and Ashlar #28 received their numbers; which are usually assigned by Grand Lodge in order of application.BowRiver was originally called Bow River Lodge #28 of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba.There wasn’t an Alberta or Saskatchewan at that time.When the province of Alberta was formed in 1905, Bow River Lodge in Calgary was considered the oldest Masonic lodge within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Alberta and wished to take on No. 1 to append its name.As Bow River Lodge was the sponsor of Ashlar Lodge, Ashlar took No. 28 to enable Bow River Lodge to be free too keep No. 1.
BowRiver and Ashlar Lodge’s have thus always had a close relationship, indeed Bow River Lodge considered Ashlar its “child”, it’s “first born”.At first the two lodges held joint meetings.BowRiver regalia was worn by Ashlar Lodge officers.Ashlar also used the Bow River Lodge register to record attendees and visitors as was mentioned.A close relationship between the two lodges continues to this day.
Masonic Lodges in Calgary did not always have a lovely temple such as we are meeting in this evening.When Ashlar Lodge was formed, it met in rooms of the Victoria Block at 115-A 8th Ave SE and did so until the 8th of June (illegible from historical record) ……….. Alexander Corner at the corner of 8th Ave and 1st St SW (now HBC).Use of both of these premises we rented by our lodge form other lodges; BowRiver at first ten from Perfection Lodge #9 in Alexander Corner.Ashlar’s last meeting in Alexander corner was held 13 December 1928.
The terms of the lease from Perfection Lodge to Ashlar are interesting.Premises leased included the Lodge Room, reception room, preparation room, banquet hall, kitchen, heater and lights, to be used on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays.Minimum annual rent was $250.00 and use of the organ was an additional $50.00.When more than 125 members attended an Ashlar meeting an extra $2.00 per member was to be added.There was to be no smoking in the Lodge room.
Dues at that time were $6.00 annually.Lodge nights from the beginning were the 2nd and 4th Thursdays, as they are in this year (2000) 93 years later.
As we know, following solemn matters attended to in the lodge room, there is usually a social time to enjoy food, entertainment and conversation in another room such as we do now in our banquet room in the lower floor in this building.Lodge minutes record many speeches given by Ashlar and visiting brethren, some very well known.It can be said, I think, that there was at least one speech given at least every month and often two.Much more commonly than now, at Ashlar Lodge certainly, was musical entertainment.In 1909 a resolution was passed that suitable music; vocal, instrumental and recitations be prepared to follow regular meetings and speakers be invited to give a presentation at or following emergent meetings.Later, a musical committee if ten members were formed prior to the Great War.Bro. W.A. Ackland was chairman and was also a frequent performer as a vocalist and keyboard artist.He was also the Grand Organist for Grand Lodge for 5 years.
In 1922 our lodge had a quartet and a ‘band’.In 1951 WBro Len Girling’s orchestra played for the Ladies Night dancing.
Whilst on the subject of music, one might be interested to know who the organists at Ashlar Lodge were over the years; those noted in the minutes included:
1908 – E.V. Dangerfield1909 – H.B. Cooper1910 – F.B. Coope1912 – H.C.B. Forsyth1913 – J. Scott1915 – W. V. Oaten1917 – W.A. Montgomery1920 – Harry Rimmer1923 – H.S. Hinton (public school musical director)Then -Clifford Higgin, E. Alan Stevenson & W.C. McRoberts Members evidently enjoyed smoking cigars at the social hour as a frequent entry on the list of bills to be paid was $4.95 for cigars.Evidently vocalists and speakers were not bothered by the smoke then as might be today.
We are fortunate these present years to have some very good speakers at Ashlar Lodge, but the musical entertainment has almost disappeared.A personal note; I can recall hearing Bro. Ackland sing and Clarence Richards play his accordion when I was a new Brother at Ashlar, which takes us back to the early 1950’s.It would be nice to return to this musical habit.
We will have a start to this later this evening, I am happy to say.Cigar smoking is another custom that has almost disappeared too, although W. Bro Howard Parsons does his best to keep it going!
The Great War had its effect on Ashlar Lodge.The first mention of the was in our minutes includes loyalty of motions to King George V, the wish that it would be a short war and that our side would be victorious.Ashlar Lodge’s first practical action to assist the war effort was to move on September 10th 1914, that “during the present crisis cigar smoking would be curtailed from our fourth degree.”In October 1914, Ashlar was asked to consider the request of the Grand Lodge secretary that they assist to organize a Canadian Volunteer Hospital Contingent.In 1915 it was moved that the annual dues of all enlisted members be remitted.A flag was to be placed on the north wall of the lodge room to which Sisters of the Order of the Eastern Star were to embroider, in letters of gold, the names of all brothers who had enlisted.
Happier times were seen in 1919.Ashlar had its largest attendance to date in February with 145 present to hear Capt. Rev. Robert Pearson and Major W.R. Walker speak on their observations of the war.At a later meeting, returned men from Ashlar were honoured.Present were:J.T Shaw, J.H. Birch, W.C. Bruce, A.R. Auger, Wm. Brooke, C.G.S. Crosby, J. MacDonald, J. Packer, R.H. Peach, W.A. Scott, W.A. Thorne, M.B. Wilkinson.Two Ashlar brothers lost their lives in that war; John Ritchie and Samuel Srigley.Photos of most of the men can be found in our historical record.
In 1922, the city arranged to have trees planted along what had been known as Sunnyside Blvd., each to be a memorial to a Calgary man who had been killed in WW1, hence the present name; Memorial Drive.Ashlar Lodge undertook to sponsor two trees as a memorial to Brothers Ritchie and Srigley.Calgary Masons were outgrowing their lodge rooms in the Alexander Corner in the late 1920’s.Ashlar Lodge considered purchasing property at the corner of 14th Ave and 5th St SW, although no mention was made in the minutes as to its purpose, perhaps as a site for a new Temple or could it have been only for investment after the experience with the Home Bank?The CentralMasonicTemple considered a site for a new Temple at the corner of 5th Ave and 3rd St SW in 1925 – 1926.However the site chosen was this site where we are tonight.On May 12th 1926, Mayor Bro. F.E. Osborne turned the first sod of the new Temple.On June 13th the cornerstone was laid at a ceremony during which the platform collapsed and Brothers Chauncey and Selwood were injured.
Since 1929, this Temple has been the home of Ashlar and several other Lodges.It was a good thing to have left Alexander Corner as it was torn down in 1929.
Social events have always been part of Ashlar activities and in addition to those previously mentioned, there was often a summer picnic with games, usually at BownessPark in the early days, a bowling league in which Ashlar’s team under the leadership of Bro. Ben Burland had a high winning record (and whose winnings were donated to the WM’s Benevolent Fund).The picnics were eventually replaced by barbeques.
Our annual event always looked forward to and well attended was “Ladies Night”.For many years it was held in the Hudson Bay Co. rooms with cards and dancing enjoyed by all.I was pleased to see that in 1938 they changed over to Brother Penley’s Academy; perhaps because the proprietor stated, “there would be no expense to the Lodge.”In recent times, Ladies Night has been held in our lodge Banquet Room.
Another social event was the annual Wood’s Home Night.This was the concept of our well and fondly remembered RW Bro. Albert Dingle and the first such was held in 1929.At that time the Wood’s Home cared for orphans.This “night out” for the children took many forms and was usually held in the fall of the year.Included was movies at Sharpe’s Picture Home, an Ice Carnival at Victoria Arena put on by the nurses Alumni of the Calgary GeneralHospital, to which the children were taken by street car, another at the StarTemple at 13th Ave and Centre St.The Wood’ Home night took the form of a carnival night at the lower floor of this building and for the children was held near the last day of October as it replaced Halloween night for many years.This event was held each year from 1929 until 1966 when it was discontinued due to changes at the Wood’s Home.In 1967 the Halloween party was held for the children of the MaudeRileyHome for Children, but I have been unable to find any further mention of this event in our minutes.It was a happy night for all during those 38 years.
A popular event during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s was fraternal visits to and from Miriam Lodge in Vernon, BC.Each visitor from Vernon was presented with a White Hat during the Calgary Swearing in ceremony conducted by Bro. Ross Conlin.
After many years of financial stability, inflation was felt by everyone in the early 1950’s and that included Ashlar Lodge.The treasurer noted that by retaining the past fees for social events such as Ladies Night, picnics or barbeques, Wood’s Home evenings, flowers, post lodge meals; etc the lodge was creating a deficit.Such fees had to be raised.Inflationary matters were brought to a head in 1954 as postage for lodge notices was raised to 4 cents form 3 cents.Little did they know ….!!
In 1960 the ten eldest members of Ashlar Lodge were cited and their Masonic careers read.They were:Brothers: Joseph Stevenson, W.A. Ackland, A.W. Trickey, W.F. McGill, R.B. Burland, William Dixon, Harry Peverell, W.J. Hartrick, H.E. Howard and A.C.T. Booth.
For brevity, I will now quickly read what might be called “one liners” form the past minutes, as they may be of some interest.
The DDGM visiting on Oct 22nd 1925 stated, “The splendid work by officers is noted.I have never before seen the first degree exemplified with such dignity anywhere in Canada.”
The Lodge sadly noted the death of Bro. Joe Carruthers, detective murdered on duty.He had been a member of Ashlar for 18 years.
W Bro. A.W. Trickey was the first Worshipful Master of Ashlar Lodge to have been initiated and raised in his own lodge.
W Bros. A.W. Trickey and W.A. Ackland, initiated their own sons in 1947 and 1950, MW Bro. H.E. Howard initiated his son Walter E. Howard and in 1959 installed his son as Master of Ashlar Lodge.
1951 – “Ashlar has the reputation for putting on the best Masonic Ladies Night in Calgary and is so admitted by Masters of other lodges.”
Charles Comba and H.E. Howard have both been Potentate of the Shrine. (Note: since time of writing Malcolm Tolton was Potentate in 2007)
A lodge of mourning was held at Al Azhar Temple Feb 6 1952 for the late King George the VI who was Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.All Calgary Lodges attended and there were 45 present from Ashlar.All Lodges to be draped for 60 days.
Also in 1952, Bro. Art Ledger was presented with a watch for his service as Treasurer for 15 consecutive years.
Bro. Glyndwr Jones received a degree of F.R.A.M. by London College of Musicians, to date, the only one in Canada.Bro. Jones was musical director at WesleyUnitedChurch.
In 1963 thanks was given to MW Bro. H.E. Howard and W Bro. Walter E. Howard for their being honoured for volunteer work with the Red Cross.
Brothers of any Masonic Lodge are considered by one another as equals and because of this fact; I hesitated to present this next reference to Ashlar Lodge’s history.Nevertheless, I will now mention the names of some of Ashlar’s better known members from the past because of their achievements in Calgary and Canada’s social and business life.They, as I suggested, were no better than any other Ashlar Brother, only better known.
City of CalgaryR.C. Marshall (Mayor), J.T. Shaw & H.R. Chauncey (alderman), Paul Brecken (alderman, YMCA and teacher), John Miller, W.D. Spence
OtherW.R. Reader (Reader Rock Garden), C.A. Hayden (Editor, Calgary Herald), George Hill (Chief Grain Inspector), Arthur Graham Austin (Real Estate Broker), Charles C. Conmba (Head of Calgary Municipal Railway), A.W. Trickey (Manager, Massy-Harris), Frank Freeze (Manager, Canadian Credits), H.E. Howard (Chartered Accountant), J.H. Quinney (Secretary, Crystal Dairies) and D.S. McIlroy (Architect of this Temple).
Oh, and one other, a 39 year old barrister who in 1910 moved to Calgary from New Brunswick and chose to affiliate with Ashlar Lodge 28 … Richard Bedford Bennett, who became Prime Minister of Canada!
Those were my choices of notables from reading the minutes.Another Registrar, another time, and the list and events might be quite different.Perhaps at our Centennial Anniversary in 2007, someone else may choose the names of more recent notables, perhaps some of those gathered here tonight!