As taken from the book
One Hundred Years of Freemasonry in the Province of Quebec
By A. J. B. Milborne, P.D.D.G.M., G.L.Q.
The Grand Lodge of Quebec was established on October 20th, 1869.
Until 1920 this celebration was believed to have been the first meeting of the Craft in Quebec, but in that year there came into the possession of the Grand Lodge of Quebec a small book in which James Thompson, a Sergeant in the 78th Regiment (Fraser's Highlanders'), had kept a record of the early meetings of the Craft in Quebec, as well as copies of letters written and received by him during the years he was Grand Secretary of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Quebec. From this record it is now established that the first joint meeting of the Lodges in the garrison was held on November 28th, 1759, which "was as soon as Convenient after the Surrender of this place to His Brittanic Majesty's Arms."
It is surprising that the Masons were able to hold a meeting under the conditions that prevailed. Over five hundred houses had been destroyed during the three months' bombardment, there was little food and no fuel, and scurvy was rampant among the soldiers. A muster of Fraser's Highlanders taken early in 1760 showed that out of a total strength of 894, 580 were in Hospital. The Highlanders had suffered the heaviest casualties of the Regiments engaged, and of these 580 it can be estimated that nearly 200 were wounded. All through the winter months, the British were compelled to maintain a constant alert, for there was no certainty that General Murray, upon whom the command had devolved, would be able to maintain possession, for he was left with only six thousand men to hold a fortress that was in wretched condition. Surrounding him were ten thousand of the enemy under De Levis and Bougainville, able and energetic commanders, who in the absence of the British fleet which had returned to England, now also held command of the St. Lawrence River.
At this meeting it was agreed "that one of the Brethren present of the Greatest Skill and Meritt should take upon him the Name of Grand Master from the Authority of the above Lodges until such time as a favourable opportunity should offer for obtaining a proper Sanction from the Right Worshipful and Right Honourable the Grand Master of England, and in consequence thereof our True and Faithful Brother Mr. John Price Guinnett, Lieutenant in His Majesty's 47th Regiment, was unanimously and to the Great satisfaction of the whole Fraternity assembled Proclaimed Grand Master for the Ensuing year."
Returning to Quebec in the spring of 1760 on board "H.M.S. Vanguard" was Thomas Dunckerley, who later served the Craft in England with great distinction and enthusiasm. He was empowered under a general Patent of Appointment granted to him by the Grand Master of the premier Grand Lodge of England to regulate Masonic affairs where no Provincial Grand Master had been appointed. It was in virtue of this authority that he installed Colonel Simon Fraser, of the 78th Regiment, as Provincial Grand Master of Quebec.
Colonel Fraser returned to England in the summer of 1760, and in the following November the Quebec brethren elected Captain Thomas Augustus Span as Provincial Grand Master, and he was succeeded by Captain Milbourne West in 1761.
In 1762 the Quebec brethren, realising that they were acting without proper authority, petitioned the Grand Master of England for a Warrant. They stated that they had reason to hope that Brothers Dunckerley and Guinnett would have brought the matter to his consideration. The Memorial was taken to England by John Collins, the Surveyor-General, but when is not quite clear. The petition was granted, and a Warrant dated 5th May 1764 was issued appointing Milbourne West Provincial Grand Master. In the meantime, Milbourne West had returned to England, and it is believed that Lieutenant Thomas Turner was elected Provincial Grand Master in 1763 and Joseph Walker in 1764. In 1765 some Quebec brethren went to England in the hope of obtaining the Warrant from Milbourne West. Unfortunately they were all drowned at the end of their homeward journey when the ship's pinnace capsized in the St. Lawrence, and it was never known if they had the Patent in their possession or not. John Collins was then elected Provincial Grand Master, and he subsequently obtained a Patent of Appointment issued on November 2nd, 1767. He served until 1786, when he was succeeded by Colonel Christopher Carleton, who died before his Patent of Appointment reached Quebec. Sir John Johnson, formerly Provincial Grand Master of New York, was appointed Provincial Grand Master for Canada in 1788.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Quebec continued to function until 1792, and during its period of existence sixty Lodges were on its Register. Many of these were military Lodges. Eight Lodges were chartered in the City of Quebec, four in Montreal, and one in Sorel. Lodges were also chartered in Detroit, Niagara, Michilimackinac, Port William Henry, Fredericton, Cornwall and Vergennes, Vermont. Only two of these Lodges are still in existence - St. Paul's Lodge, Montreal (1770) still on -the English Register, and Dorchester Lodge, Vergennes (1791) now No. 1 on the Register of the Grand Lodge of Vermont.
The Fourth Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Artillery held a Lodge in virtue of Warrant No. 213 E. R. issued by the Provincial Grand Lodge of New York, which derived its authority from the Grand Lodge of England ("Ancients"). On leaving New York in 1783 following the conclusion of the American War of Independence, the Battalion was divided, two companies going to Nova Scotia, one to Newfoundland, one to Jamaica, and four to "Canada". Of the four companies mustered in "Canada" two companies' were in the City of Quebec in 1785, and it is in this year that the presence of Lodge No. 213 is first noted, though individual "Ancient" Masons are known to have been in Quebec two years earlier. The Battalion returned to England in 1787, and while there its Lodge purchased the vacant Warrant No. 9. In 1790, the Battalion was again posted to Quebec, and a meeting of Lodge No. 9 is recorded on November 4th of that year. In 1829 this Lodge obtained a Warrant from the United Grand Lodge of England as a civilian Lodge, adopting the name "Albion". It is now No. 2 on the Quebec Register.
Another "Ancient" Warrant No. 241 was1 issued in 1787 to an Artillery unit stationed in the City of Quebec. In 1852 it received a "Warrant of Confirmation as St. John's Lodge. It is now No. 3 on the Quebec Register.
In 1790 members of Merchants' Lodge, which had received a Dispensation in 1759, and a "Modern" "Warrant in 1762, and members of St. Andrew's Lodge, originally the Lodge in the 78th Regiment and warranted in 1760, petitioned the Grand Lodge of England ("Ancients") for a Warrant. The petition was granted, and a new Merchant's Lodge came into existence with the No. 265.
In 1791, His Royal Highness Prince Edward came to Quebec with his Regiment - the Seventh Fusiliers. He was a "Modern" Mason, and held the office of Provincial Grand Master of Gibraltar. The three "Ancient" Lodges addressed the Grand Lodge of England ("Ancients") later in the year, and informed it that His Royal Highness had consented to become Provincial Grand Master of Upper and Lower Canada, and prayed that a Warrant of appointment should be issued to him. This was done, but as William Jarvis had already been appointed Provincial Grand Master of Upper Canada, the Patent of Appointment to the Prince was limited to Lower Canada. It was dated March 7th, 1792.
The Provincial Grand Mastership of His Royal Highness Prince Edward, who was created Duke of Kent in 1799, lent great prestige to the "Ancient" Masons, and eventually the "Modern" Masons were completely eclipsed. In his first year of office he granted seven Warrants, one of which was to Dorchester Lodge at St. Johns, now No. 4 on the Register of Quebec. In his second year three Lodges were warranted, among them Select Surveyors' Lodge, opened at Quebec, but later moving to Missisquoi Bay, where in 1795 the first Masons in the Eastern Townships were initiated. This Lodge changed its name to Prevost in 1812, and continued an active life until the formation of the Grand Lodge of Quebec, when the members divided on the question of joining the new body.
In 1794 Prince Edward left Quebec, and on the eve of his departure he was presented with an address signed jointly by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the "Moderns" and the Deputy Grand Master of the "Ancients" which contained the significant phrase "We have a confidential hope that under the conciliatory influence of Your Royal Highness the Fraternity in general of Freemasons in His Majesty's Dominions will soon be united".
William McGillivray died in 1825, and he was succeeded by John Molson, whom it had pleased the Duke of Sussex to appoint by Patent dated May 15th, 1826 John Molson was installed into his office by Claude Denechau on September 5th, 1826. He resigned in 1833, and no further appointment was made until 1846, when the Hon. Peter McGill received a Patent. In 1848, he appointed T. Douglas Harington, who at the time was the Master of St. George's Lodge, Montreal, his Deputy. In 1852, Bro. Harington was appointed Provincial Grand Master of the District of Quebec and Three Rivers, and in 1860 he was elected to the Grand East of the Grand Lodge of Canada. The Hon. Peter McGill resigned his appointment in 1849 because of ill-health, and the Hon. William Badgley was appointed in his stead. The Provincial Grand Lodge of Montreal and William Henry continued to function until 1857, though the Provincial Grand Master appears to have retained his office after its activities ceased. Following Badgley's death in 1888, the Deputy, W. H. Hutton, continued to supervise the Lodges under English jurisdiction, and as late as 1892 he was reporting to England as "D.D.G.M. in charge".
William Mercer Wilson was elected Grand Master, Aldis Bernard of St. George's Lodge, Montreal, Deputy Grand Master, and James Helder Isaacson of Zetland Lodge, Montreal, Assistant Grand Secretary. In 1856 twelve Lower Canada Lodges were on the Register of the new body, and in 1859 two more Lodges were added.
The position in which the Grand Lodge of Canada would be placed by the passing of the British North America Act by which Confederation was brought about, received careful consideration by the Craft generally, and in 1866 the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada, M.W. Bro. W. B. Simpson (a member of Victoria Lodge No. 173, Montreal), referred to the strong feeling entertained by many Masons in the sister Provinces in favour of a Grand Lodge for the whole of British North America with a Provincial Grand Lodge in each Province, a feeling which he shared. In the following year his successor, M.W. Bro. Wm. Mercer Wilson, also referred to that pleasing possibility, but he informed the Grand Lodge that he had been unable to satisfy his own mind as to the wisest course to be pursued, and he suggested that the question be referred to a special Committee, which was done. The Committee reported, and the Report was received by Grand Lodge, but discussion was postponed until the next Annual Communication. When it was held in 1868 the Report was not, however, brought before Grand Lodge. The Grand Master said "the solution of this great question must be left to time, and to the calm consideration of the Craft generally - too great a desire to secure this result would only delay, if it did not entirely defeat, that union of the whole Masonic body which so many are anxious to secure."
In his Address to the Grand Lodge of Canada at a Special Communication held in Montreal on December 1st, 1869, the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. A. A. Stevenson, referred "to a District Deputy Grand Master who lost no opportunity during his official visits to the Lodges in the Eastern Townships of urging upon them the necessity and importance of withdrawing their allegiance and setting up an establishment of their own." This was undoubtedly a reference to the activities of R.W. Bro. J. Hamilton Graham, who was the prime mover in the movement to establish a Grand Lodge for the Province of Quebec.
This Convention was duly held. V.W. Bro. James Dunbar of St. John's Lodge No. 182 E.R., held in Quebec City, was elected Chairman, and a Credential Committee reported that eighteen Lodges holding Warrants from the Grand Lodge of Canada, two Lodges of English Constitution, and one Lodge of Scottish Constitution were represented. There were thirty Quebec Lodges on the Canadian Register, so that only a bare majority was represented. R.W. Bro. Graham addressed the Convention at considerable length, following which formal resolutions were adopted establishing the Grand Lodge of Quebec. On resumption of labour on the following day, the minutes of the previous day were confirmed, and the Convention proceeded to the election of Grand Lodge Officers. Brother Graham was elected to the Grand East, and installed by R.W. Bro. J. Helder Isaacson, and the Grand Marshall proclaimed the Grand Lodge of Quebec to be duly constituted.
In 1870, the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. J. Hamilton Graham, reported that seven more Lodges had joined, and also that he had granted six Dispensations to form Lodges. In the following year, M.W. Bro. Graham was re-elected Grand Master, and was installed by M.W. Bro. Josiah H. Drummond, Past Grand Master of the State of Maine. It is worth noting that Graham was originally installed by a brother not possessing Grand Master's rank.
When the subject came before the Grand Lodge of Quebec at its Annual Communication held on September 24/25, 1873, it was resolved to invite any communication from the Grand Lodge of Canada which may tend to the restoration of unity. A Special Communication was held on January 6th, 1874 to consider certain correspondence that had passed between the two grand bodies. A Committee was appointed to make a final agreement, and a resolution was passed authorising the Grand Master to ratify any agreement that might be reached without further reference to Grand Lodge.
The formation of the Grand Lodge of Quebec had been predicated on the dogma of sovereign territorial jurisdiction, a dogma which originated in the United States of America, but by no means generally accepted there. It was not applicable to the Province of Quebec which was not a sovereign state, and it formed no part of the traditions of British Masonry.
The Grand Lodge of England had always made it a condition of recognition of a Grand Lodge that any of her Lodges in the territory of the new body may continue under her protection so long as they desire to remain in obedience to her. This condition had been accepted earlier by the Grand Lodge of Canada when it was formally recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England. The Grand Lodge of Quebec was unwilling to accept recognition with this reservation. Negotiations continued, however, over many years without any change in the position, and in 1884 the Grand Master of Quebec (M.W. Bro. E. R. Johnson) issued a Proclamation declaring "all Lodges holding allegiance to any Foreign Grand Lodge to be masonically, irregularly and illegally existing in this Province", and suspending all masonic intercourse with the remaining English Lodges. In 1886 M.W. Bro. Johnson issued an Edict severing all intercourse with the United Grand Lodge of England, an action which did not meet with unanimous approval, but the Grand Master's action was sustained by a vote of 137 to 58. A mediator was appointed, but no progress was made towards a settlement. The Edict was withdrawn by Quebec in 1889, but fraternal relationship with England, subject to the condition above referred to, was not restored until 1906.
A similar position existed with regard to the Lodges holding Warrants from the Grand Lodge of Scotland. In 1878 that grand body wrote to the Master of Elgin Lodge that in opening fraternal relations with the Grand Lodge of Quebec, there was not the slightest intention of recognising any right upon which might be founded a demand for the severance of the ties existing between, it and its daughter Lodge in Montreal. Earlier in the year, the Grand Lodge of Scotland had not only issued Warrants establishing two new Lodges in the Province of Quebec, but had also appointed a Provincial Grand Master. The Grand Master of Quebec (M.W. Bro. Sir Melbourne M. Tait) at once issued a Proclamation declaring such action an unlawful invasion of Quebec's jurisdiction, and suspending intercourse between the two grand bodies. In 1881 the three Scottish Lodges surrendered their Warrants to the Grand Lodge of Scotland and took new Warrants from the Grand Lodge of Quebec. A Special Communication was held on January 27th, 1881, and the Grand Master informed Grand Lodge of the basic principles of settlement. The Masters of the three Lodges, their Officers and Brethren were then admitted and after mutual congratulations on the settlement had been exchanged, the Masters and Wardens took their seats as members of the Grand Lodge of Quebec.
In 1894 there were fifty-eight Lodges on the Register. Seventeen of the Lodges were meeting in various buildings in the City of Montreal, and it was considered that the time had arrived for the erection of a central building for their accommodation and also to provide a home for Grand Lodge. A joint stock company was organised to proceed with the project. Land was purchased on Dorchester Street and the foundation stone of the new Temple was laid with masonic honours by M.W. Bro. John P. Noyes on October 6th, 1894 The Temple was consecrated at a Special Communication on November 21st, 1895. The ceremonies were conducted by M.W. Bro. Frederick Massey, who was assisted by the Choir of Royal Albert Lodge. In 1909 it was reported that through the generosity of brethren a majority of the stock of the Montreal Temple Company was held in trust for Grand Lodge.
The Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge was celebrated at the Annual Communication held on February llth, 1920. The Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Arthur B. Wood, urged the Lodges to curtail the number of candidates until the work, which had accumulated because of the closing down of the Lodges for several weeks in the previous year by order of the Health Authorities in an endeavour to check the spread of the influenza epidemic, had been completed. He also referred to the many problems which had arisen from the increasing popularity of the Order, particularly that of meeting the requirements of the Lodges in the Dorchester Street Temple.
Those who served in the armed forces of the Crown know very well the spirit of comradeship that the sharing of common privations and dangers engenders, but many of them had also noticed that a more intimate relationship existed between some men than others, more particularly evident perhaps among prisoners of war. That this relationship was masonic was not concealed from them, and as it was also seen that it was a worthy association, many decided that as soon as the opportunity presented itself they would themselves knock at a Lodge door and seek admission to the Craft. This is probably the primary reason that there was a large increase in the membership when the War was brought to an end.
It was found that the accommodation at the Dorchester Street Temple had become inadequate for the Lodges and other masonic bodies meeting there. It was decided that a more suitable building should be erected, and also that it should be in the form of a Memorial to the many brethren who had made the supreme sacrifice on sea, on land, and in the air. A campaign to raise the necessary funds was organised, and its successful outcome was announced at a dinner held in the Windsor Hotel on November 10th, 1923. This was the most enthusiastic meeting of the Craft that Montreal had ever experienced. Excitement began when the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Rev. Allan P. Shatford announced his own generous subscription, to mount steadily as each Lodge reported the amount of its members' contributions. The objective was $500,000, but generous help from some of the country Lodges, un-affiliated Masons and the two Lodges on the English Register - St. Paul's and St. George's - brought the total subscriptions to over $703,000.
There was delay in obtaining a suitable site for the new Temple. This hindered the completion of the project, and fulfilment of the pledges to subscribe, due to a serious falling off in the economic prosperity of the country, as well as to deaths, removals and other causes created difficulties in financing it. However, these problems were met. A lot was purchased on Sherbrooke Street West at the corner of St. Mark Street, and the cornerstone of the new building was laid with masonic honours on June 22nd, 1929 by the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Henry Willis. Grand Lodge was opened in the Dorchester Street Temple, and two thousand Brethren marched in procession to the site. An inspiring address was delivered 'by M.W. Bro. Rev. Allan P. Shatford, Who said "If it is important that material edifices' should be securely founded, how much more essential it is that social and moral temples should rest upon enduring foundations. History warns us that any Society or institution built upon unsafe or unsound principles cannot endure.'' "Our ceremony is symbolic - it points to those moral and spiritual foundations upon which our Order rests."
The sixtieth Annual Communication of Grand Lodge was held in the new Temple on February 12th, 1930. During the Second World War a total of $36,000 was forwarded to the United Grand Lodge of England towards the alleviation of the distress of the victims of enemy bombing. Grand Lodge also contributed $13,500 to the Canadian Red Cross Society, and $1350 to the War Services Fund. Safe-keeping for five large cases of records sent to Canada by the United Grand Lodge was also provided.
Following the opening of a subscription list, sufficient funds were forthcoming to complete the Memorial Hall of the Montreal Masonic Memorial Temple, and prior to the opening of the evening session of the Annual Communication held on October 10th, 1951, it was dedicated to the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe, and to the memory of the Brethren who had laid down their lives for their Country. The Grand Master M.W. Bro. J. W. Buckland was assisted by M-W. Bros. Rev. Malcolm A. Campbell and Rev. L. F. Crothers. The six Murals, the work of Bros. Adam Sheriff-Scott and Charles W. Kelsey, were then unveiled by District Deputy Grand Masters. The benediction was pronounced by W. Bro. the Right Rev. John H. Dixon, Lord Bishop of Montreal, a member of St. Paul's Lodge, No. 374 E.R.
Such is a brief resume of the historical background of the Craft in a very small part of the world over which it is spread, and the more important events in the history of the Grand Lodge of Quebec. In rapidly changing times, in which older institutions have undergone, and are still undergoing, extensive modifications, Masonry has constantly resisted the efforts of reformers and 'improvers'. Soundly based upon principles accepted by men of good will - though of differing political and religious persuasions - Freemasonry may look forward confidently to the future. It is the duty of every Freemason to see that these principles are maintained by observing the precept laid down in the Volume of the Sacred Law - "Remove not the ancient landmark which thy fathers have set."
A. J. B. Milborne .