A brief review of the early history, prior to 1861, of this community, which has since developed into the thriving City of Kitchener, might be of interest. One must be impressed by the amazing transformation which has taken place in one hundred years, a matter of about three generations only.
The first settlers who pioneered this area, arrived early in the nine¬teenth century. They had come from the State of Pennsylvania and were members of the Mennonite faith, with a German ancestry. They were followed by other immigrants who came from Germany direct. As a result, the population as it gradually increased, continued to be predom¬inantly of German descent for many years.
The early settlement here was actually founded in 1807, when the first house was built on what is now Queen Street South. It became known as Ebytown but the name was changed to Berlin in 1833. It was not until 1852 that the surrounding areas were incorporated as the County of Waterloo, with Berlin as the county seat. The latter was incorporated as the Village of Berlin, in the following year, with a population of 800. This compared at that time to about 300 in Waterloo, 1150 in Preston, 1850 in Guelph and 2200 in Galt. It required another seventeen years before Berlin was incorporated as a town, when the population had mater¬ially increased in 1870 to about 3000.
During the latter interval, the organization of a Masonic lodge was undertaken at a meeting on June 11, 1861. It appears that a sufficient number of Master Masons had by this time, taken up their residence in the village and surrounding townships. A considerable number of Masonic Lodges had previously been established in the Province of Ontario. This is indicated by the fact that the proposed lodge in Berlin was later desig¬nated as No. 151.
The first Masonic Lodge in the County of Waterloo was instituted as Alma Lodge No. 72 in the Town of Galt. Their warrant was dated July 9, 1856 and was signed by Most Wor. Bro. William Mercer Wilson who was then the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, which had been established only one year before in 1855. Earlier lodges had first been under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England.
In due course, the required Warrant was granted on July 20, 1861, by the Grand Master, Most Wor. Bro. T. Douglas Harrington for the for¬mation of what was designated as The Grand River Lodge No. 151. It was granted in response to a petition, signed by the following brethren:
W. D. Perine, Charles Camidge, John McDougall, E. R. Stimson, J. F. C. Ussher, R. N. Rogers, William Jaffray, M. C. Scholfield, J. S. Hoffman and Henry Muir. Other charter members were Weaker Wells, Christian Stumpf and Isaac G. Bean. To W. D. Perine was accorded the distinction of being selected as the first Master of the new lodge. He was supported by Charles Camidge as the first Senior Warden and by John McDougall as the first Junior Warden.
At this time local lodges and those farther west were grouped in Huron District. However, at a meeting of Grand Lodge on July 14, 1869, this district was divided and local lodges were then included in the new Wellington District.
Some of the early history of the lodge has been fortunately preserved in the reprinting of the by-laws from time to time. It is recorded that the original by-laws provided that the monthly meetings were to he held on the Tuesday on or before the full moon. This was primarily for the benefit of rural members in the old horse and buggy days. This provision con¬tinued in effect until it was amended on May 31, 1892. By virtue of this amendment, the monthly meetings were thereafter held on the second Tuesday of the month. It was further provided at this time that the installation and investiture of the officers should be held on December 27th, the Festival of St. John the Evangelist, instead of on the Festival of St. John the Baptist, as had been provided in the original by-laws.
It is very probable that suitable lodge quarters were not then easily available. However, temporary quarters were secured on the second floor in a building described as the original Mackie block. It is of interest to note that the owner J. A. Mackie, a few years later, occupied the Senior Warden’s chair in 1869 and 1870, but he did not advance to become a Master of the lodge. The Mackie block was situated on the south side of King St. West, between Queen and Ontario Streets. More desirable quar¬ters for lodge purposes were located shortly after, on the north side of King St. East, between Queen and Frederick. These quarters served the purpose for about eighteen years until 1879.
The first Master of the lodge, W. D. Perine, was one of the earliest industrialists in this area. He established what was then and is still known as Doon Twines. About twenty-five years later, when his plant in the village of Doon was destroyed by fire, it was re-built in the Town of Berlin. Though there was then a change in the ownership, this plant is still operating after one hundred years and is one of the many thriving industries in the present city of Kitchener. W. Bro. Perine served as Master for the first two years in 1861 and 1862. The Junior Warden, John McDougall, was then advanced to the Master’s chair which he occupied in 1863. Neither of the tatter’s Wardens, it appears, were prepared or available for promotion and W. Bro. Perine was recalled to carry on as Master for a second period of two years in 1864 and 1865.
In the local historical records, the first Senior Warden, Chas. Camidge is referred to as a teacher in the original grammar and common school, which had been erected in 1856 on Frederick St.. His name does not appear again as an officer of the lodge. Another charter member, Rev. E. R. Stimson, who was then the Rector of St. John’s Anglican Church, is mentioned as a member of the board of trustees and later as the secretary of the grammar and common school. In 1866 Charles Hendry of Conestoga who had occupied both the Junior and Senior Warden’s chairs, became the Worshipful Master. He also carried on as Master in 1867. He was followed by his Senior Warden, W. Washburn, in 186S, but he again was called back to preside as Master for an additional three year term, during 1869, 1870 and 1871. A special tribute must be paid to W. Bro. Hendry who carried the responsibilities of Master for no less than five years. He was also the first member to serve Wellington as District Deputy Grand Master.
During this interval, a number of familiar names are recorded as having served the new Lodge as Master, or as Senior or Junior Warden. They were some of the early builders, who assisted in laving the founda¬tions of a community which has since developed into the thriving and industrial cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. It is evident that there was great difficulty in securing officer material as in numerous cases during the first twenty-five years, neither the Senior nor the Junior Warden was pro¬moted or prepared to he advanced to a senior office. None of the Wardens who had held office during the five years of W. Bro. Hendry, reached the Master’s chair, until 1872, when his Junior Warden, A. Murray was elected Master, who then served for another year in 1873.
The following year, the Junior Warden, William Hendry, was elevated to the chair of King Solomon, which he occupied also for a two year term in 1874 and 1875. W. Bro. Hendry is both a legendary and historical figure in the early history of Waterloo, and in the early development and subsequent growth of life insurance companies in the Dominion of Canada. He was one of the small group of local citizens, who with vision and initiative conceived the idea of promoting what was then to be the second life insurance company to be organized by Canadians only. The company now known as The Mutual Life of Canada, and W. Bro. Hendry became the first general manager.
In 1877 the Master was W. Bro. James Lockie, a leading citizen in Waterloo. He was assisted by Joseph E. Seagram as Senior Warden, another well-known and prominent Waterloo citizen and the founder of the Seagram Distillery. In his second term as Master in 1878, W. Bro. Lockie was supported by J. M. Scully, as Senior Warden. The latter was then advanced to the Master’s chair and served also for two years in 1879 and 1880. W. Bro. Scully occupied a leading position in the business and community life of the town. The auditing firm which he established as Scully and Scully, with his brother, is still being operated by a second and third generation.
The erection of what has long been known as the Merner Block, at the corner of King St. West and Ontario, now occupied by the Bank of Nova Scotia, made it possible in 1879, for the lodge to secure larger and more desirable quarters. The latter were then to serve lodge purposes for the next ten years. During this period W. Bro. W. Ryder was .Master in 1881, with E. P. Clement as Junior Warden. Bro. Clement was prominent in legal circles and established the legal firm which is still practising and of which his son Bro. W. P. Clement is the senior partner. Some years later Bro. E. P. Clement was appointed a County Judge in Essex but shortly after resigned and returned to Berlin, to resume his legal practice and to accept an appointment as president of the Mutual Life of Canada.
In his second year as Master in 1882, W. Bro. Ryder had D. B. Dewar, the manager of the Canadian Bank- of Commerce, as his Junior Warden. The latter was then advanced directly to the Master’s chair which he occupied also for two years in 1883 and 1884. Another very prominent member of the legal profession, Alex Millar, served as Senior Warden for the two year period. W. Bro. Dewar was the second member to occupy the position of D.D.G.M. W. Bro. R. Davey who had previously served as Senior Warden in 1881 and 1882 was recalled and elected Master for the year 1885.
At this point, it is a great pleasure to present the highly regarded and respected name of David Forsyth, as Senior Warden in 1885. He was des¬tined to hold a commanding position in all lodge affairs for the next thirty-five years. When the Berlin High School was first established in 1876, he came from Galt to accept an appointment to the staff. After twenty-five years he became the principal of the school. In addition co his prominence in the field of education, he was a keen promoter of athletics both at the school and in the community. His major interest was in soccer football, as an outstanding player and a member of the famous Berlin Rangers who won an international reputation by their victories in contests with teams in United States and Great Britain. As a leading educationist, he was also recognized by the Dominion Government, when he was appointed to a royal commission in 1910, to investigate technical education. This involved a tour of eighteen months in Canada, United States and Europe, and resulted in national legislation.
It was inevitable that Bro. Forsyth should then be elected to serve as Worshipful Master for 1886 and for a second term in 1887. For the next twenty-five years he assumed each year the role of Installing Master, and was always available to assist in the work and business of the lodge. He served the district as D.D.G.M. in 1889. On retirement after forty-six years of service he moved to Beamsville to live with his son Bro. Otto Forsyth. A small group of members, including W. Bro. W. M. O. Lochead, W. Bro. A. C. Mason and the writer, motored to Beamsville to present to him his fifty year membership jewel. He died on Sept. 13, 1936.
As neither of the two Wardens was available, Bro. Charles Stark was elected as the Master for 1888, and was followed by his Senior Warden, James Corrie. As the membership had steadily increased, larger quarters were obtained in the Economical Block across the street, now occupied by the Royal Bank. The new premises were dedicated on Feb. 22, 1889 by Most W. Bro. Otto Klotz, an honorary member of Grand River Lodge and a Past Master of Alma Lodge No. 72, Galt.
A few short references to some of the Masters who served during the next ten years might be sufficient. Without having occupied either of the Warden’s chairs, Louis McBrine was elected Master for 1893. He was another of the enterprising industrialists in those years. He founded the L. McBrine Co. which has grown to large proportions. He was First Principal of Kitchener Chapter R.A.M. in 1900. He was followed two years later by W. Bro. A. Oelschlager in 1895, a member of the staff of the Economical Mutual Insurance Company. He was also a Charter member of the Chapter of R.A.M. when formed in 1896 and the first to occupy the office of Second Principal. His Senior Warden, E. P. Cornell, succeeded him as Master in 1896. The latter was a leading dentist at that time. It is of interest to point out that in later years, his son Percy Cornell, and also his grandson, Jack Cornell, became members of the lodge.
Other prominent citizens were to follow. In 1898 Dr. D. J. Minchin became Master of the lodge. He was a prominent member of the medical profession and a highly regarded citizen. A few years earlier in 1893, he took an active part in the promotion and erection of the first unit of the K.-W. Hospital and served for many years as a member of the Board of Trustees. He was followed in 1899 as Master by another leading citizen, Rev. R. VonPirch, who had been the pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church since 1882. He was recognized as an eloquent speaker in both the English and German languages. He was an active member of the Kitchener Library Board, the Children’s Aid Society and the K.-W. Hospital Board. In 1900 the duties of Master were assumed by J. H. Landreth, one of the first three druggists in the community. He was followed by W. Bro. W. V. Uttley, proprietor and editor of the Daily News Record. He com¬piled an interesting and informative history of the City of Kitchener which was published in 1937. This history has been of great assistance in providing numerous items, relating to the activities of some of our early membership.
At this point, the program and business of the lodge were suddenly and seriously interrupted by a disastrous fire on January 25, 1901, which destroyed the Economical Block and also all the lodge records, jewels and paraphernalia. Temporary but very inadequate quarters were se¬cured in the next block at 36 King St. West. However, about a year later, lodge activities were resumed in the former quarters in the Merner Block, which had been renovated and improved. These were officially dedicated on May 23, 1902, by the Acting Grand Master, Most W. Bro. J. E. Harding of Lindsay, and other Grand Lodge officers. These quarters then served all lodge purposes for the next eight years, not only by Grand River Lodge but also Berlin Chapter R.A.M. The writer has nostalgic memories and pleasant recollections of these lodge facilities, as they were the scene of his first introduction into the mysteries of Craft Masonry in 1905 and of Capitulary Masonry in 1906. The return to and the dedication of these quarters took place while W. Bro. A. B. Campbell was Master. He was a veterinary surgeon.
According to the by-laws which had been in effect in 1892 as well as in 1902, the fee for initiation was $25.00, while the monthly dues were twenty-five cents. However, the county members’ dues were reduced to twelve and one-half cents. These modest charges emphasize the con¬trast as between the living standards sixty years ago and those prevailing at present.
During the following years, the lodge continued to have as Master, prominent citizens who were devoted Masons. W. Bro. Charles A. Wilson, who served in 1903, was the assistant postmaster in Berlin. He had a very fine personality. Later he returned to Galt as manager of the Iroquois Hotel. At his death, a group of four members con¬ducted a memorial service at his burial in Listowel. He was followed in 1904 by W. Bro. A. B. McBride, a lawyer in Waterloo. He had a dis¬tinctive personality and was very much in demand at Masonic functions as an entertainer. He possessed a fund of numerous monologues and anec¬dotes. By way of contrast, the next Master in 1905 was W. Bro. A. W. Werner of Elmira, a very retiring and unobtrusive man but an ardent Mason. He served the community for a number of years as a district representative on the Board of Trustees of the original Berlin High School. He was of course, obliged in those early years, to travel by horse and buggy to carry on his duties as an officer of the lodge and as a school trustee.
When the status of the Berlin High School was raised in 1904, to become the Berlin Collegiate and Technical Institute, the first staff mem¬ber in charge of manual training was D. W. Houston, then Junior Warden. He was advanced to serve as Master in 1906. He was active in Royal Arch Masonry and became the First Principal in 1908. He later devoted his time and talent in a wider field as District Deputy Grand Master. He was a pillar of Masonry in his day and gave unstinted service in the work of the lodge and as a speaker at Masonic functions.
The many years of consecrated and efficient service of the late Rt. Wor. Bro. George DeKleinhans stands out as most unique. His record has probably not been equalled and certainly not surpassed in this or any other jurisdiction. He became a member of Grand River Lodge in 1902, served as secretary for two years and became Master in 1907. He was admitted to Berlin Chapter, R.A.M., in which he served as Scribe E, from 1911 to 1915, and 1927 to 1929. He became the First Principal in 1916 and Grand Superintendent of the district in 1931. Rt. Wor. Bro. DeKleinhans was one of the group who promoted the organization of Twin City Lodge No. 509, in 1913 and became its first secretary. This position he occupied until his death in 1957. Owing to his outstanding activity, he well de¬served his appointment as District Deputy Grand Master in 1917. Having been a member of St. Omer Perceptory in Galt, he assisted in the formation of Vallette Preceptory No. 64, Knights Templar in 1920. He was the first secretary, which position he held until his death, except while serving in 1924 as the Presiding Preceptor.
During these years of unusual activity in the York Rite bodies, he was equally interested in the Scottish Rite, joining the Lodge of Perfection at Guelph in 1921, Rose Croix in 1922 and Moore Sovereign Consis¬tory at Hamilton in the following year. He later occupied the post of Most Wise Sovereign, Rose Croix, in 1950. These particular advances culminated in his reception as an Honorary Inspector General, 33rd de¬gree, Supreme Council, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, in 1943. Other Masonic interests included the Conestoga Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine and the Royal Order of Scotland. As a final tribute, he was drafted to become the first Master of the new Temple Lodge, No. 609 in 1957. After presiding for two meetings only, while the new lodge was still under dispensation, all his earthly activities were suddenly termin¬ated by his untimely death on May 14, 1957. His spirit of self sacrifice and devotion to his many duties had endeared him to his large circle of community and Masonic friends, in whose hearts his memory will be cherished and revered for many years to come.
Another outstanding and highly respected citizen of Waterloo, W. Bro. C. A. Boehm, assumed the duties of Master in 1908. He was most active as a general insurance agent. The following year, a prominent and public spirited citizen, W. Bro. A. Lockhart, occupied the Master’s chair. He developed a thriving agency in the early retail sale of automobiles. In 1914 he promptly enlisted in the First World War and went overseas as a senior officer of the local 118th Battalion. In 1910, the next to assume the Master’s duties was W. Bro. L. Norman, a member of the staff of the K.-W. Collegiate and later Waterloo County School Inspector. He was a member of the committee of three who initiated formation of Twin City Lodge.
At this time the construction of the Huehn Block, 107 King St. West, provided an inviting opportunity to secure more comfortable and com¬modious quarters. The entire upper floor was designed to include a lodge room of ample proportions, a large dining room and extra rooms for club purposes and committee meetings. These facilities were then to become the centre of all Masonic activities for the next forty-seven years, a period covering almost one-half of the entire period of Freemasonry in this city. The dedication took place on November 8, 1910 with the Grand Master, M. Wor. Bro. D. F. McWatt in charge.
The year 1911 marked the Fiftieth Anniversary of Grand River Lodge which was appropriately commemorated. W. Bro. George J. Lippert was privileged to be Master on this golden anniversary. W. Bro. Lippert was a member of a well known Roman Catholic family bur he had become a Protestant. No question was ever raised with respect to his loyalty to the lodge and his obligations.
Next to assume office was Wor. Bro. W. M. O. Lochead, who up to the time of his death, Jan. 22, 1960, was the oldest surviving Past Master. He had been spared to look back in retrospect over a long Masonic pil¬grimage in all branches of Masonry. He was initiated in Japan while engaged there as a representative of a Canadian life insurance company. Upon his return to Canada, he located in Waterloo and affiliated with Grand River Lodge in 1906. Elected to a junior office, he was advanced to become Master in 1912. In 1906 he was also received into the local Chapter of Royal Arch Masons. Upon formation of Vallette Preceptory in 1920, he was the first candidate to he admitted. In due course, he became Presiding Preceptor in 1926, and in 1950 served the district as Provincial Grand Prior.
During these years, W. Bro. Lochead was actively associated in various capacities with Scottish Rite Masonry. His record in both York and Scottish Rites culminated in his admission to Mocha Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S. in London, of which he became the Potentate in 1944. His many contributions to Freemasonry were recognized when he was ac¬corded the rare privilege of joining the select group of Honorary Inspec¬tors General, 33rd degree. Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite. Other activities included the recruiting in 1914 of a battalion for overseas ser¬vice, of which he was the commanding officer. He was also a former president of the Kitchener Board of Trade, and a past president of the K.W. Rotary Club, serving a term as the district governor.
In this panorama of both Masonic and community history, it should be recorded that 1912 was a most important milestone in the city’s growth and development. The Town of Berlin was the first town in Canada to delay incorporation as a city, until the population had reached the statutory requirement of 15,000. The proclamation was read just after midnight on the morning of June 10, before 6,000 citizens, by Mayor W. H. Schmaltz. The celebration and parades continued until daybreak.
The year 1912 was also noted as a milestone in the local history of Freemasonry. A small committee, including Rt. W. Bro. DeKleinhans and W. Bro. Norman, took the first steps on November 15, to promote the institution of a second craft lodge in the city. A formal application followed in due course, signed by thirty-nine resident but non-affiliated Master Masons. The application was approved by the Grand Master, and Twin City Lodge was instituted on March 28, 1913. Final approval was given at the meeting of Grand Lodge, July 16, 1913 and the warrant was presented on Sept. 26, by Rt. Wor. Bro. Day of Guelph, who was the District Deputy Grand Master.
George D. Richmond took over the Master’s duties in 1913, but shortly after was promoted and moved to Hamilton by his employer, the Bell Telephone Company. The immediate Past Master, W. Bro. Lochead, resumed the duties of the office and carried on for the balance of the year, in order that Wor. Bro. Richmond would qualify as a Past Master. The following year the Master’s chair was occupied with dignity by Rev. J. W. J. Andrews, Rector of St. John’s Anglican Church. A pillar of Masonry in his time and for many years, followed in 1915, in the person of Martin Schiedel, the local collector of customs. He too served the district as D.D.G.M. and in his own quiet way exemplified the principles and teachings of the craft.
Another pillar and devoted member, V. W. Bro.J. E. Bilger, followed to rule the destinies of the lodge in 1916, then employed as sales manager of the Breithaupt Leather Co. He made an outstanding contribution to the fraternity by his assiduous and consecrated efforts as chairman for many years of the Benevolent Committee. Those who knew him inti¬mately arc reminded of that fine portrayal of the ideal of a Freemason, so beautifully presented in the general charge of our installation ceremony. He too was most active in community affairs, as a member of the Public School Board and the Kitchener Library Board, and in his church as superintendent of the Sunday school for many years.
Another deserving and well qualified member, W. H. Williams, fol¬lowed as Master in 1917. He had been appointed to the K.-W. Collegiate staff in 1904 and was acting principal from 1910 to 1912, during the absence of R.W. Bro. Forsyth while serving on the Royal Commission referred to earlier in this history. Some years later, he resigned this position to join the staff of the University Schools in Toronto, and died in 1937.
At the annual election of officers in December 1916, J. F. Carmichael resigned the office of Secretary, which he had occupied for some years, and was then elected as Junior Deacon to fill a vacancy. The lodge was fortunate in securing Bro. Peter Fisher to assume the many and arduous duties of secretary. He continued to discharge the increasing demands of this office for thirty-five years, when ill health obliged him to resign. During this interval he was also active as a member of the Kitchener Library Board, including a two year term as chairman, and secretary-treasurer of the Waterloo County Historical Society from 1913 to 1933. In appreciation of his outstanding service to Masonry Bro. Fisher was awarded the William Mercer Wilson Medal, the presentation was made on behalf of the Grand Master by Rt. Wor. Bro. J. F. Carmichael on the night of installation, Dec. 27, 1946. A special tribute of appreciation and gratitude to him must be recorded in this panorama of lodge events and personalities who have given sacrificial service down through these many years.
The year 1917 was another significant milestone in the long and color¬ful history and development of this city. The First World War had then been in progress for three years. Thousands of good Canadians were answering the call to serve their King and Country, including many of our members. These were difficult and strenuous years. As a large pro¬portion of our citizens were still of German ancestry, a decidedly unfavourable reaction resulted to the prejudice of local industries and our people in general, in spite of their generous support of all patriotic appeals. This undeserved reaction was also due to the fact that our community was still bearing the name, City of Berlin. Sentiment was sharply divided as to what course should be followed. A plebiscite was taken and a majority approved a proposed by-law to change the name. A selection was offered and the name Kitchener was chosen in remembrance of Lord Kitchener, a British General who had lost his life shortly before, while on active service.
The year 1917 was also a milestone in the growth and expansion of Freemasonry in the Twin Cities. The membership of the two local craft lodges included many residents of Waterloo. The latter, it appears, con¬cluded that they were now of sufficient numbers to launch a third lodge within their own community. This resulted in the formation of Waterloo Lodge, No. 539. It was later instituted by Rt. Wor. Bro. Everon Flath. The first three senior officers were C. O. Hemphill, Worshipful Master; Allen Bechtel, Senior Warden; and our Past Master A. B. McBride, Junior Warden.
The destinies of Grand River Lodge were then entrusted for 1915 to W. Bro. William Downing. While proceeding through the junior offices, he was also an officer in Kitchener Chapter R.A.M. of which he had be¬come First Principal in 1914, serving later for a term as Grand Superinten¬dent of the district. He too had a distinctive type of personality. Some members will recall his facility to improvise when in difficulty with the ritualistic work. He was followed by W. Bro. A. E. Rudell, a dental surgeon, in 1919. He too was a leading citizen, serving for some years as a city alderman. In earlier years, he had been a formidable member of the famous Berlin Rangers football team.
It was then the privilege of the writer (Wor. Bro. H. M. Cook) to attempt to carry on as Master for 1920. He had previously been given the opportunity of acquiring some valuable experience as an officer of Kitch¬ener Chapter, serving as the First Principal in 1913 and as District Grand Superintendent in 1914. With other Royal Arch Masons, he had been admitted to St. Omer Preceptory in Galt in 1917. A few years later, he was one of the local group who in 1920 launched Vallette Preceptory, Knights Templar of which he became the second Presiding Preceptor in 1922. In 1945, he was appointed Grand Almoner of Sovereign Great Priory of Canada. While occupied in the realm of business as a senior executive officer of a large insurance company, the writer found it possible to participate in various community affairs. These interests included a term of twenty years as a member of the Kitchener Public Library Board, with two years as chairman; president or the former Canadian Club of Waterloo County also in 1920; a charter member and past president of the K.W. Rotary Club and for twenty years chairman of the club’s major activity on behalf of crippled children; director of the K.W. Federated Charities and treasurer of the Victorian Order of Nurses.
Among the many talented and devoted Past Masters of Grand River Lodge, the late Rt. Wor. Bro. J. F. Carmichael richly deserves special mention. His Masonic pilgrimage began in 1911, followed by a term as Secretary and then promotion to the Master’s chair in 1921. His talents were later recognized, when he was elected to serve as District Deputy Grand Master. He was equally active in Royal Arch Masonry, becoming First Principal of Kitchener Chapter in 1919, and later the District Grand Superintendent. He was also one of the charter members of Vallette Preceptorv and became the third Presiding Preceptor in 1923, and subse¬quently the Provincial Grand Prior of Hamilton District. His devotion to Freemasonry prompted him to proceed into the field of Scottish Rite as well. His death terminated his professional and Masonic career in 1949. As a memorial to a good citizen, a prominent churchman, educationist and as a Masonic leader, the K-W Scottish Rite Association set up a Memorial Hospital Bed Fund, as a reminder of his consecrated appli¬cation to all duties which devolved upon him in the various fields in which he was engaged. His professional career in the city covered a period of thirty-three years as principal of several public schools and finally as General Supervisor, ending with his retirement in 1937.
During the First World War, Bro. F. S. Routley who had been hold¬ing a junior office, resigned and enlisted for active service overseas as an officer with the local 118th Battalion. He was spared to return to his former position with the Bell Telephone Co. At the first opportunity he was re-elected to a junior office and then advanced to become Master in 1922. He was later transferred by his employer to Toronto and then to London. Following his retirement, he experienced a prolonged illness, terminating in his death only a few years ago.
In developing this historical review, with particular emphasis on the personalities who have in turn occupied the Master’s chair, the writer is now reminded and deeply impressed with one significant face. All of his junior officers in 1920 have since passed into that “undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns”. All of these without excep¬tion had been advanced to rule as Master and direct the affairs of the lodge. This imposing list includes Rt. Wor. Bro. Carmichael and W. Bro. Routley referred to above and the following: W. Bro. J. D. Weir, a leader in the field of primary school education, and a Past First Principal of Kitchener Chapter, followed by a term as Grand Superintendent of the District; W. Bro. R. J. Wright, a shoe manufacturer and also Past First Principal of the Chapter in 1921; W. Bro. George Bray, a highly respected member of the legal profession and a public spirited citizen; W. Bro. Robert Snow, a pattern maker, and also equally active in Capitulary Masonry, serving as First Principal in 1925; and finally W. Bro. Alex Inrig, another shoe manufacturer, who later moved to Acton to pursue a similar activity there.
At this point in the city’s development, it had achieved an enviable reputation as a leading centre of shoe manufacturing. This may account for the fact that another representative of that industry followed as Master in 1928. V. W. Bro. F. H. Ahrens needs no introduction. The Grim Reaper having taken heavy toll, as already indicated, Bro. Ahrens is now the second oldest surviving Past Master. Our members are fully aware that through the intervening years, he has consistently and faith¬fully maintained his regular attendance, and assisted as a. Past Master and as a continuing member of the Board of General Purposes.
In 1928 there was also an important development. A special meeting was called by a small committee appointed by the lodge to which were invited representatives from Twin City Lodge, Kitchener Chapter and Vallette Preceptory. As a matter of record, Grand River Lodge was repre-sented byJ. E. Bilger, F. H. Ahrens and H. M. Cook; Twin City by George DeKleinhans, S. A. Smithson and Ed. Wackett; the Chapter by J. A. Hallman and Wm. Downing, and the Preceptory by W. M. O. Lochead. The object of the first meeting on April 2nd was to consider an offer by Grand River Lodge to share the ownership of the lodge furniture and equipment, and the leasing of the Masonic quarters to the other Masonic bodies.
A valuation of $3500 for all the equipment was agreed upon as fair and equitable. This amount was then distributed on the following basis: Grand River $1750; Twin City $1100; the Chapter $450, and the Precep¬tory $200. It was further agreed that $1800 would be required annually, to cover the rent and other operating costs. Grand River was to pay $800, Twin City $500, the Chapter $200, and the Preceptory $100. The Crafts¬men’s Club which was then operating, was requested to pay $200 to complete the amount required. It was proposed that a Board of Trustees be formed with three members from Grand River, two from Twin City and one each from the Chapter and the Preceptory.
This arrangement was then submitted to and approved by the several lodges, who were requested to elect or appoint their respective representa¬tives. At a second meeting on May 3rd, it was reported that Martin Schiedel, J. E. Bilger and H. M. Cook had been named by Grand River; Geo. DeKleinhans and S. A. Smithson by Twin City; J. A. Hallman by the Chapter, and W. M. 0. Lochead by the Preceptory. From this group W. M. O. Lochead was elected Chairman; J. A. Hallman, Vice-Chairman, and G. DeKleinhans, Secretary-Treasurer. While the personnel of the Board was changed from time to time, W. Bro. Lochead continued as Chairman until June 30, 1957, a period of twenty-nine years, when the duties of the Board were terminated and all Masonic activities were transferred to the new Masonic Temple Board. R. W. Bro. DeKleinhans also carried on as Secretary-Treasurer until February 15, 1950, when the duties of his office were assumed by the writer for the next seven years.
In 1929, while W. Bro. A. E. Cudmore occupied the Master’s Chair, a substantial amount was contributed by the brethren and paid into the Memorial Fund of Grand Lodge. W. Bro. R. O. Winn took command as Master in 1930. His contribution to the lodge and his activities in his profession of dentistry and in the community, including a year as president of the K-W Rotary Club, are well known to most of our members. He was followed by W. Bro. R. N. Merritt in 1931. The latter had come from Owen Sound in 1921, to succeed the late R. W. Bro. Forsyth, as principal of the K.-W. Collegiate Institute, for which post he was well qualified and also for the additional task of organizing and combining a new tech¬nical training department. He continued to discharge the demanding duties of this position until he voluntarily retired in 1944. Following a lengthy period of impaired health, his death occurred on October 10, 1952.
Another surviving veteran in Masonic circles with a long and dis¬tinguished record, W. Bro. W. R. Cooper, followed as Master in 1932. He had previously been equally active in Capitulary Masonry, serving as First Principal in the Chapter in 1926 and as a junior officer of Grand Chap¬ter. His career in the York Rite was completed by his membership in Vallette Preceptory, of which he became Presiding Preceptor in 1942. He too was recognized by Sovereign Great Priory in an appointment to that body in 1950. W. Bro. Cooper widened his Masonic interests by passing through the several stages and being advanced to the coveted distinction of a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. Though now retired, he still par¬ticipates actively in these several bodies.
The long line of Past Masters was broken again by the Grim Reaper. W. Bro. E. A. Snow, a former British Army Officer, discharged the Master’s duties with dignity and diligence in 1933. Some years later he retired to his native land, followed by his death after a prolonged illness due to his advanced age. He was succeeded by W. Bro. E. D. Cunningham. The latter was the fourth of our Past Masters to have become attached as an officer to the 118th Battalion, for military service overseas in the First World War. After his retirement from the Mutual Life staff, he spent his remaining years north of Toronto. Another of our Past Masters now de¬ceased, W. Bro. 0. E. Schneider, carried on as Master in 1935. He after¬wards resigned his position as Sales Manager of the Four-Wheel Drive Company to accept a similar position in Woodstock. His many Masonic and Rotary friends were shocked to learn of his sudden death in 1955, while on a vacation.
It might be of some interest to the senior surviving Past Masters in particular, to interrupt this procession of personalities, by a reference to a very pleasant and happy event which took place in December 1935. Turning the pages back to December 1911, our very good and highly respected friend, W. M. O. Lochead was then the Master-elect. He very generously invited the Examining Board and as many of the Past Masters as he could conveniently accommodate, to meet at his comfortable home in Waterloo and to participate in a very sumptuous Christmas dinner. This very happy event became somewhat of a tradition as it was repeated for a long period of years. On the twenty-fifth occasion in 1935, a group of Past Masters who had been enjoying this hospitality over the years, mutually agreed that their deep appreciation should be expressed in some more tangible manner. This was done by the presentation of a handsome Sheffield silver platter of Georgian design, to his good wife and himself. It is perhaps unnecessary to add that the institution of these annual din¬ners, preceding the installation of the Master-elect, has been regularly continued ever since, under other conditions which permitted all Past Masters to attend.
The happy occasion referred to above served as a fine introduction for Allen C. Mason, who was then to be examined prior to his installation as Master for 1936. At the same time he was completing his term as First Principal of the Chapter, which was followed by his election in 1946 as District Grand Superintendent. His activities in Craft Masonry were also to be recognized when he was selected to serve as the District Deputy Grand -Master in 1954. In the interval, he had been recalled to serve a second term in 1952, to fill a vacancy as Master of the lodge. In other Masonic areas, he had progressed to the 14th Degree in the Scottish Rite and to the senior position of Grand Sovereign of the Red Cross of Constantine in 1958. While now serving as an officer in Vallette Preceptory, he is equally active in all of the other local Masonic bodies.
The year 1936 marked another milestone when the 75th Anniversary of the lodge was celebrated by the tendering of a reception to the Grand Master, Most Wor. Bro. A. J. Anderson, K.C. The lodge was now also entering the fourth and final quarter of a century of progress and achieve¬ments, which we are about to recognize in tills Centennial year of 1961. The story of these last twenty-five years contains very little of historical interest. Substantial contributions had been made to the K-W Hospital in 1937 to assist in the furnishing of the new wing; to the support of British guest children in 1940 and 1941 and to a British War Relief Fund in 1941 and 1942, which was sponsored by Grand Lodge.
The lodge continued to be governed by a succession of Masters, who were well trained and well qualified to assume the responsibilities of that important office. It would be difficult to pay adequate tribute to each of them with whose contributions our members are quite familiar. With no thought of discrimination, a limited number of references might be added, with respect to those Masters who have served in other capacities or have been active in other Masonic bodies.
V. Wor. Bro. H. W. Rothaermel followed as Master in 1937. He later assumed the manifold and arduous duties of the Secretary of the lodge in 1952, following the resignation of Bro. Peter Fisher. The lodge was for¬tunate in securing his services for this key position, the demands of which he continues to meet to the satisfaction of the members. He was followed in 1938 by Bro. J. P. Devenny.
W. Bro. B. M. McNaughton who took command in 1939, has had a most active Masonic career. It appears that he now found himself in a dual role of responsibility while serving the Chapter as First Principal. His devotion to Capitulary Masonry resulted later in his election to the post of District Superintendent in 1955. To round out his career he became equally interested and associated with all the several branches of the Scottish Rite. His contribution in this Masonic area was climaxed by his election to that exclusive group of Honorary Inspectors General, 33rd Degree, Supreme Council.
The role of Masters presiding during this final period has been broken only by the death of V. W. Bro. E. J. Carse who became Master in 1940 and who had also been active in the Chapter and the Preceptory, and W. Bro. Robert Maxwell who died in 1954, after having occupied the Master’s chair in 1950. It was the privilege of W. Bro. W. H. Peacock to be in the Master’s chair on the occasion of our 80th Anniversary. This was recog¬nized on October 16, 1941, when the lodge was honoured and given an inspiring message by Most W. Bro. W. J. Dunlop, then Grand Treasurer. After serving as Master in 1943, V. Wor. Bro. H. L. Cruickshank has given added and useful services as chairman of the Benevolent Committee. W. Bro. R. A. M. Carse then followed in 1944, after having completed a similar course through the junior offices in the Chapter to become First Principal in 1942. The 1000th regular meeting was featured this year on September 12, by the presence of Rt. Wor. Bro. J. W. Burden, Grand Z of the Grand Chapter R.A.M.
Through the medium of the Y.M.C.A., W. Bro. M. W. Harlow came to the city as the general secretary. Having become associated with the lodge, he was advanced to become the Master in 1945. His heir apparent W. Bro. W. J. Freeman who occupied the podium as the Master in 1946. Father Time was marching on and the 85th Anniversary was now observed on September 17th. This was preceded by a Masonic divine service at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church two days earlier, while the regular meeting was featured by a reception to those of our brethren who were now returning from active service during the Second World War. As W. Bro. Freeman is now retired in the field of correspondence education as superintendent he finds it possible to devote more of his time and energy to Masonic affairs, more particularly as Registrar of Vallette Preceptory and as chairman of the Masonic Temple Building Fund project. He also continues with his work in the Scottish Rite, having received the 32nd degree in 1944, and was Most Wise Sovereign of the Rose Croix in 1955. He became a Noble of the Mystic Shrine in 1944 when Wor. Bro. Lochead was Potentate of Mocha Temple.
W. Bro. F. C. Capling who later became Master in 1949, has also extended his Masonic activities. His achievements include a term as Presiding Preceptor of Vallette Preceptory in 1950 and more recently as Provincial Grand Prior of the district. Shrinedom has also been given his support as a very active member of the Waterloo County Shrine Club of which he is the Treasurer.
The efficient application and devoted attention given by all the Past Masters during the next twelve years are not of historical interest so much but rather of common knowledge to the brethren. All have been equally concerned with preserving Masonic traditions and landmarks, and main-raining the high standards of their predecessors, in the administration of the business and the conferring of degrees in the monthly meetings from year to year.
For a number of years, many Masons in the Twin Cities felt that there should be another Craft Lodge. In due course a petition was submitted and dispensation was granted on March 4, 1957, by the Grand Master, M. W. Bro. W. L. Wright, for the institution of Temple Lodge, which ceremonies took place on March 23, 1957, Subsequently a charter was granted at the annual communication of Grand Lodge and Temple Lodge No. 690 was consecrated on Oct. 25, 1957, with the Grand Master, M. W. Bro. H. L. Martyn, attending. The first master of this new lodge was Rt. Wor. Bro. Geo. DeKleinhans. He was assisted by W. Bro. H. Shannon and W. Bro. William James as wardens, and supported by thirty chartered members.
This rather lengthy historical review of service and achievements would not be complete without recording a most important and signifi¬cant development four years ago. For many years a Masonic Temple had been not merely a dream but an objective which might be a reality some day. As early as 1920, representatives of the various Masonic bodies attended a meeting on Dec. 30, to consider the erection of a Masonic Temple. It was concluded that the best solution would be to purchase it possible, the present quarters, in the Huehn Block. An option from Mr. Huehn was submitted, to purchase the building at a price of $140,000. It was finally decided that to raise this amount was too formidable a task to be undertaken. The question of a Masonic Temple was kept in mind by the Masonic Hall Trust after it was established in 1928. Various prop¬erties were investigated from time to time, such as the Carmel Church on King St. West, the former home of J. M. Schneider on Queen St. South, the Lautenschlager home on Frederick St. and the former Economical Insurance Company building on Queen St. North.
The consideration of a Masonic Temple was then more or less dormant until it was learned that the former Rumpel residence on Cameron St. South was for sale. An offer to purchase at a fixed price was made, accompanied by a deposit out of personal funds by, and on the initiative of Worshipful Brothers, Wm. Robertson, W.J. Freeman and R. W. Little.
This was followed by purchase of the property and sufficient funds were raised to make payment in full of the amount required, and also for the needed renovations, as the building stands today.
It is quite unnecessary to record what has been accomplished since and the plans for extensive improvements to be made when sufficient funds are made available. Due credit must be given to those brethren who initiated the project and to those who have given leadership, much time and energy in this development of a future centre for all Masonic activi¬ties. It is hoped that these attractive quarters, when present plans are finalized, will continue to answer all the requirements for many years to come.
These few pages seem most inadequate to cover the proceedings of a Lodge which has held communications regularly year after year for One Hundred Years, but perhaps these historical references and highlights picked from here and there throughout the records will serve in some small measure to keep alive the memory of those who have gone before and at the same time add incentive to those who follow that they may aim their sights high and ever uphold the standards and traditions of Freemasonry.
And so Freemasonry in Kitchener is still marching on under the inspiration of the foregoing historical service and achievements.
Addendum – 1961- 2011
Around the year 1955 a fraternal visit was instigated between Jefferson Lodge No. 553 of St. Clair Shores, Michigan and Grand River Lodge No. 151. The minutes as recorded in 1955 read as follows: that on October 29, 1955 the Worshipful Master O. M. Keffer accompanied by approximately 30 officers and members journeyed by bus to Jefferson Lodge No. 553. Lodge was opened in the First Degree and Grand River Lodge exemplified the Entered Apprentice Degree for the benefit of the Jefferson Lodge brethren. We have travelled back and forth for over 50 years.
The year 1961 was an important milestone in the history of Grand River Lodge as it signalled the completion of 100 years of its existence. W. Bro. George Jaggs was Worshipful Master. Many special events were scheduled, one of which being a reception for Most Worshipful Bro. R. W. Treleaven on September 26th, 196 1. Another event of note was a degree team of Past District Deputy Grand Masters of Wellington District, headed by the dean of the district, R.W. Bro. E. Flath, who initiated our centennial candidate W. Bro. Roland D. Barrett. Lodge equipment and paraphernalia was replaced with gold plated trim, mostly by donations from other lodges and individual masons.
Rt. Wor. Bro. Frank Barrett was elected Grand Registrar in 1961 and represented Grand Lodge in a very capable manner. He continued for many years as an ambassador.
In 1965 the City of Kitchener advised the Temple Board Directors that they wished to purchase the Temple property for use as a secondary school which was named Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute. Sale of the property was subsequently made and temporary accommodation was arranged with Waterloo Lodge at 6 Princess Street South. On June 14th, 1966, W. Bro. Harold Rothaermel, the secretary made this notation in the minute book at the close of the last meeting in the Cameron St. Temple: “and so ends another chapter in the long history of Grand River Lodge. This is our last meeting in this lodge room which we have considered our Masonic Home from October 1957 to June 1966. This building was laid to the wreckers hammer. Buildings come and go but Masonry will march on so long as men seek the truth and better way of life. This is not the end of the book but only the end of a chapter”.
January 1st, 1970, dues were increased to $20.00 for local members and $14.00 for those residing outside Waterloo County, with a discount of $2.00 if paid by May 1st. In 1996 the dues are $ 100.00 for local members. If paid before February 1st of the current year there is a $20.00 reduction. For out of district members and members who have attained the age of 65 years and have been a member of The Grand River Lodge No. 151 for 25 years, the 1996 dues are $85.00 and reduced to $65.00 if paid before February 1st of the current year. There is a yearly increase of $5.00 each year until 1998. The cost for initiation in 1996 is $250.00 and to affiliate the cost is $35.00.
In 1954 Rt. Wor. Bro. Allen C. Mason was elected District Deputy Grand Master (D.D.G.M.) of Wellington District. He served as Master of Grand River Lodge No. 151 in 1936 and again in 1952. Rt. Wor. Bro. Mason passed away on March 24th, 1970. District Secretary for 1954 was Wor. Bro. Harold Rothaermel who was appointed a Grand Steward the following year.
In 1970 Wellington District split with two Districts coming into being. The name Wellington District remained with Wellington County. The twelve lodges in Waterloo County became Waterloo District. The first District Deputy Grand Master of Waterloo District was Rt. Wor. Bro. Garfield Weber who was a member of Ayr Lodge No. 172. Since 1970, Waterloo District has grown to 17 lodges. Heritage Lodge became a roving research lodge in 1988. Sixteen lodges remain in Waterloo District.
In 1972 the Lodge was again moved, this time to a brand new temple at 440 Weber St. N. Waterloo. This temple was built to accommodate all of the lodges in the twin cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. On April 7th, 1972,the new lodge rooms were dedicated by Most Wor. Bro. Win. K. Bailey assisted by many Grand Lodge officers and distinguished brethren. Grand River Lodge acted as the host lodge assisted by Temple Lodge No. 690, Waterloo Lodge No. 539 and Twin City Lodge No. 509. Two hundred and forty masons from a parts of the Grand Jurisdiction sat down to the banquet which followed.
1973 saw the election of Rt. Wor. Bro. Robert J. Carse to the office of District Deputy Grand Master of Waterloo District, an office which he filled to the betterment of Masonry in general and to Grand River Lodge in particular. He passed away August 23, 1989. The District Secretary was Wor. Bro. Harvey Krueger who was appointed a Grand Steward the following year.
In 1978 Brother Alex H. Welker was presented with his 75th Year Pin. He joined Grand River in 1903 and received his 50 Year Pin in 1953. His brother, Franklin Edward Welker had previously been presented with his 50 Year Pin. Alex was born in July, 1883 and died June of 1983, 4 weeks short of being 100 years old. Alex and A. B. Pollock joined together to form Pollock/Welker Industries, the forerunner of Electrohome.
In 1980 Rt. Wor. Bro. Ralph Green was elected Grand Registrar and served the office well. He was elected to the Board of General Purposes several terms and held various chairs with this assembly of Masons.
On Feb. 10, 1981 Rt. Wor. Bro. Frank Barrett had the honour of installing his son, Roland, as Master of Grand River Lodge. James Cameron served his first term as Master in 1982 and his second in 1994. Norman Platz, owner of Stephen’s Jewelers, was Master in 1983, and his father-in-law, William Woodend, was Master in 1985. Nobody will forget Bill’s handle-bar moustache, fine deportment and booming voice. During Norman Platz’s term the Installation was changed from February to June, in order to ease the travel problems of the many visitors which we generally welcome.
In 1984, when Don Steeles was Master a Cowan successfully passed a Board of Trial and sat in Lodge one night with us….even though the Board of Trial consisted of three Right Worshipful Brothers! No permanent harm was done but it was a little embarrassing for the Master when the true situation later became known.
In 1985 the lodge through its Benevolent Committee donated money to the North Waterloo District Boy Scouts to build a cabin at Camp Everton. In recognition they named the cabin “Grand River Lodge”. Through the Benevolent Committee the Lodge has helped many local causes through the years, including all the local hospitals.
On Saturday, November 15th, 1986, The Grand River Lodge celebrated its 125th Anniversary, The Worshipful Master was Wor. Bro. Warren Wolfe, Senior Warden, Bro. Kenneth Gardner and Junior Warden, Bro. Norman Bobier. Lodge opened at 4 p.m. and the present Altar Cloth was dedicated by Most Wor. Bro. Ronald E. Groshaw. Following the dedication ceremony a 125th Anniversary Reception was held at The Waterloo Motor Inn where many Grand Lodge Officers and their ladies shared the occasion. The Lodge donated two Red Maple trees to the Temple Co. as a living memorial to this anniversary. They still stand at the front of the property.
Rt. Wor. Bro. Arthur G. Wolfe was elected District Deputy Grand Master of Waterloo District in 1987 and worked diligently for the betterment of Masonry within and outside the district. Rt. Wor. Bro. Wolfe died in 2003. The District Secretary in 1987 was Wor. Bro. William J. Parker who was honoured by being appointed as a Grand Steward the following year.
Brant Lodge # 663 of Burlington visited in 1988 while Ken Gardner was Master, and later that year, while Norman Bobier was Master, the Scottish Rite Degree Team visited. In the 1989 the lodge bought a computer with a 40 Megabyte hard drive.
In appreciation for his many years of Masonic support and for his musical ability on the organ, V.W. Bro. Vincent B. Whitehead was appointed Grand Organist in 1990 to the pleasure of the Brethren of Grand River Lodge. Later that year, Most Wor. Bro. David Bradley visited and was made an honourary life member of Grand River Lodge. He was also given a gallon of maple syrup.
April 14, 1992 was Grand River’s 1500th meeting and John Dickie was Worshipful Master. In December of that year the Diabetic Clinic of KW Hospital was refurbished and a plaque recognizing the support of Grand River Lodge was installed. In May, 1993, while Al Pomeroy was Master, we hosted a visit from Temple Lodge #690, and they conferred a degree in our lodge.
The Grand Master, Most Wor. Bro. Norman E. Byrne attended Roy Chadwick’s installation in June 1993. Earlier that day, at CKCO TV, he taped interviews to be used at any Masonic function. This was accomplished through the efforts of Grand River brethren Don Wilcox, Garry Holmlund, and Henning Grumme.
That year the Scottish Degree Team from St. Catherines visited and Wor. Bro. Allan Baker donated a collection of books to start a Masonic library.
December 13, 1994 saw Grand River Lodge with the assistance of Rt.W. Bro. Donald Attridge, District Deputy Grand Master of Waterloo District present ten members with their 50 Year Pins. Bro. Max Neuman who was unable to attend was presented with his 60 Year Pin at his home. In 1996, Bro. Claude Dubrick, founder of Dubrick Realty was presented with his 60 year pin. He passed away in 2005.
In 1996, while Gary Holmlund was Master, W. Bro. Norman Bobier was honoured by Grand Lodge when Most Wor. Bro. Durward Greenwood appointed him Grand Standard Bearer and commented “that because of his steadfast loyalty to the craft and the service to our lodge this honor is being bestowed upon you”. Along with his long service as Secretary of Grand River Lodge and in various District roles, he had led Waterloo District to raise $6000 to buy and train a Seeing Eye dog.
W. Bro. Kevin Brooks sat in the East in 1997 and we often surmised that if W. Bro. Rene Shuts and W. Bro. Brooks did all the work we could put an Entered Apprentice Degree on and finish it in half the time that it normally takes.
Grand River went through some lean times for candidates in the nineties. We often had to exemplify degrees to keep current. In fact Bro. Werner Czurlok set a record for receiving second degrees: between 1991 and 1994, he was passed four times! Wor. Bro. Harlen Whetham had to be Master twice in a row in 1998-9, an occurrence that had not happened in Grand River Lodge in over one hundred years. He did a fine job and went on to become District Secretary in 2004 and a Grand Steward in 2005.
In 2002-3 first Doug Richardson, and then his son, Don Richardson, assumed the chair of King Solomon. When Doug Richardson was a junior officer he moved from Kitchener to the family farm in Chatsworth. Despite the commute he continued to serve as a faithful officer. During his year as Master he never missed a meeting of Grand River Lodge nor an Official visit or Installation due to bad weather. It is calculated that he drove over 18,000 km to attend lodge meetings that year.
Don Fisken, a retired engineer at Uniroyal in Elmira, was Master in 2000 at the same time that he was First Principal of the Royal Arch.
In 2001 Dr. David Cameron, a local physician, was installed as Master in the presence of the Grand Master, Most Wor. Bro. Robert McKibbon. Wor. Bro. Cameron is the son-in-law of Rt. Wor. Bro. James Hanna, PDDGM of London East, a connection which helped entice St. John’s Lodge No. 20 to visit and exemplify an Irish Third Degree on W. Bro. Cameron. During his tenure regular monthly Masonic Education was revived. He started when he was Junior Warden by presenting ethnic food preceded a talk on some related aspect of Masonry (e.g. Arabic food and a talk on the Shrine) calling it “education through the stomach”. In 2005 he was made Assistant Grand Chaplain and became editor of The Newsletter of the Committee on Masonic Education. He was also a charter member and fourth Master of the daylight lodge, New Light No. 744. In 2007 he was elected to the Board of General Purpose and received the position of Past Grand Senior Warden which gave him the title of R.W.. He was also given the chair of Grand Lodge’s Committee on Masonic Education. On June 11, 2002 he presided at our 1600th regular meeting.
Rt. Wor. Bro. Roy Chadwick was elected DDGM for Waterloo District for 2003, a position which he served with distinction. He led the District to raise over $ 11,000 for a local substance abuse support group.
Jim Harvey, an official with the United Steelworkers Union, became Master in 2004. He presided over a set of officers of whom four were native Scots. When listening to a degree, one sometimes wondered which country we were in.
In 2005, Bro. Grant Fotheringham, a faithful member of Grand River Lodge became Potentate of Mocha Shrine, and the Ceremonial was held in Kitchener.
In 2005 W. Bro. Robert Callander became Master. On Tuesday, April 14, 2006 Grand River Lodge held a special evening to honour V. Wor. Bro. Norman Bobier on his reaching 50 Years A Mason. Most Wor. Bro. Gary L. Atkinson was in attendance and presented V. Wor. Bro. Bobier with his 50 Year Pin. During his speech he told the brethren to follow the examples of V. Wor. Bro. Bobier. He is in every sense of the word – a true Freemason! Twenty-four hours a day – Seven days a week – he lives by the principles and teachings that this fraternity is founded on.
The year 2006 saw W. Bro. Bob Rischel in the East. Capt. Bob was a career soldier who had been initiated in Trenton and brought his marching precisions and skills as a manger to Grand River Lodge.
W. Bro. Rene Schuts took over the next year. During these years we had about a dozen initiations and year, and Rene’s speed of diction let us do several degrees each night and still be home at a decent hour. Who else could do the Junior Warden’s lecture in 12 minutes?
When W. Bro. Derek Wildfong joined the lodge we wondered what we were in for as he had hair down to his waist. As a junior officer he volunteered to have his head shaved for charity, and he gave all the hair to an organization that makes wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy. His great great uncle had been a member of Grand River Lodge in 1900. His former military training put him in good stead in organizing and drilling us in the Ritual.
W. Bro. William Kelly, who had once lived in Castle Dean in Scotland, brought the brogue back to the chair in 2009.
W. Bro. Ian Spence’s company does laser etching. He produced the wine glasses we will use at our 150th Anniversary. W. Bro. Spence worked very hard during his year as Master. It showed with the respect that his officers had for him and in the quality of the work that was done. R.W. Bro. Richard Kaufman reported to Most Worshipful Bro. Raymond S. J. Daniels that he had never witnessed a degree that was done as well as Grand River Lodge performed it.
In 2011 Grand River Lodge was invited to join an organization which called themselves Association of River Lodges. Most of the lodges are in England. Afterreceiving permission from our Grand Lodge we made application and were accepted.
Our sesquicentennial year saw W. Bro. David Byers in the Chair of King Solomon. On Oct. 22 we formally celebrated this anniversary. Lodge was opened at 3:00 pm with the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. D. Garry Dowling in attendance. Over eighty Masons were present including both Grand Wardens, twenty-five other Grand Lodge Officers and delegations from Jefferson Lodge, No. 553, St. Clair Shores, Michigan and la Loge des Coeurs Unis, No. 45, Montreal, Quebec. The Grand Master commented on this visitation by our brethren from grand jurisdictions to the East and the West of us. A new VOSL was donated by VW Bro. Norman Bobier and it was dedicated along with new officers’ collars and wands. A wall hanging made by Bro. Harold Miller’s mother was presented by W. Bro. Les Brown. In the evening a gala banquet was held which was said by many to have had the best food of all the banquets this year. Additional guests at the banquet were M.W. Bro. Raymond S.J. Daniels, IPGM and M.W. Bro. Ronald E. Groshaw who presided at our 125th Anniversary.
For the first 55 years from 1861 to 1916, it was customary to elect a secretary from amongst the Brethren in the north and south. The Brother served for at least one year and sometimes 2 to 3 years before starting his journey towards the East. Not all secretaries aspired to the master’s chair.
Bro. Peter Fisher was elected and invested as secretary in 1917 and served the office faithfully for the next 35 years and until 1951. Bro. Fisher was awarded the William Mercer Wilson Medal in 1947, the second year of its existence. This medal is the highest honour a brother who is not a past master can receive and is given for Masonic service far beyond the usual expected of an officer or a member.
VW Bro. Harold Rothaermel performed the duties of the office for the next 23 years and until 1974 with a remarkable attendance record and a disciplined attention to detail.
Rt. W. Bro. Frank L. Barrett, a world traveller filled the office to the requirements of Grand River Lodge for the next 13 years, retiring in 1987. W. Bro. Donald Steele held the office for the year 1988.
V. W. Bro. Norman Bobier has been performing the duties of this office since 1989 in a very commendable and efficient manner and continues to serve to this revision.
In the beginning there were 12 charter members. This nucleus steadily grew to 410 members in 1931. During the great depression and halfway through World War II, until 1943, membership declined to 346. The next 13 years saw a surge in membership. In 1947, 33 new members were initiated. They also did 21 Second Degrees and 18 Thirds that year! Membership in our lodge peaked in 1955 at 447 members. By the late 1990’s our membership had dropped to 141, but in the twenty-first century we have seen a dramatic turn-around. In 2005, while Jim Harvey was Master, there were 13 initiations, including five on one day.