Real Vancouver History
For almost a century the Kerrisdale Masonic Centre has been a part of the local community. The building you see was purchased for the sum of $9000 and officially consecrated as a Masonic Hall in 1924 with the formation of an Ownership association by members of Zion Lodge No. 77. Originally a dance hall, extensive renovations were done before the first Lodge meeting on September 2nd of that year.
Reshaped as the City grew around it
Originally the building had only one space for retail on the ground floor and was occupied by Vancouver Postal Station E. In 1961, a second space was added, and the spaces have been occupied by jewellers, linen shops, and pharmacies. Today the tenants are Quilts ETC and Vangead Financil Services. In 1964, major renovations were done to the building to create a new banquet room for meals after Lodge meetings (known to us as a Repast) as well as to enclose the ground level. Some of the original exterior can still be seen in the corridor inside. Restorative renovations were undertaken in 1997 and in the following year the building was given a Class B Heritage Award by the city of Vancouver.
A meeting place for Many
There are 18 Lodges and Concordant Bodies that use this Masonic Centre as a meeting place. If you want to learn more about these Lodges and Concordant Bodies you can do so further down the page.
2146 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia V6M 1Z1, Canada
It may be difficult to picture the area around Broadway and Main Street with fields, fish-filled streams and a swamp a few blocks to the south. But that pretty much describes Mount Pleasant at the time a group of Masons in the area decided to form a Lodge in the area so they didn’t have to walk or take the streetcar into downtown.
If it were up to the Grand Master of the day, there never would have been an Acacia Lodge. He refused the request of the Mt. Pleasant brethren for a dispensation because he felt another Lodge would hurt the two meeting in the city. The denial was put to the Grand Lodge in June 1893, and the members overturned the Grand Master’s decision and agreed the brethren on the outskirts should receive a dispensation to form a Lodge.
Acacia Lodge was instituted on July 8, 1893, and immediately received four petitions for initiation and five for affiliation. The Lodge operated to the satisfaction of Grand Lodge, and was constituted as number 22 on July 26, 1894. Acacia rented meeting space from the Oddfellows until January 1899, when the Lodge moved downtown and met with the two city Lodges in the McKinnon Building at Hastings and Granville. The Lodge was one of the original tenants of the Masonic Temple at Seymour and Georgia in 1910, and remained there until it was sold at the end of 1968. When the new Masonic Centre opened on West Eighth Avenue near Granville Street in 1974, the Acacia Lodge made its home there after spending the interim at the Dunbar Masonic Hall at 4336 Dunbar Avenue.
The Masonic Centre was closed at the end of 2017 and Acacia met at the Richmond Masonic Hall on No. 3 Road in 2018 then relocated to the Kerrisdale Masonic Hall the following year.
The first Master of the Lodge was John Gavin, who had joined the fraternity in Teeswater, Ontario before coming west. He gained employment with the Canadian Pacific Railway and later the B.C. Electric Railway. He was a city alderman and Gavin Street in Vancouver is named for him.
Other prominent members of Acacia Lodge were Frank Bowser, who created a business district at what was then a stop on the B.C.E.R. at Kerrisdale and was Reeve of the Municipality of Point Grey; Frank Burd, the managing editor of the Daily Province and a founder of the Canadian Press, and William C. “Billy” Woodward, Lieutenant Governor of B.C. from 1941 to 1946.
Lions’ Gate Lodge received its Warrant in 1927 and the Lodge was formed by fifty-four Charter Members and numbered 115 on the register of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. In the early years, the Charter Members came from all walks of life, but many from the forest industry. The Lodge soon became known as the “Logger’s Lodge.” The first Worshipful Master in 1927 was Right Worshipful Brother T. Sanderson. Seventy-one brothers have filled that position, with Worshipful Brother Martti Huttunen being the last Master of the Lodge at the time of amalgamation with Keystone Lodge No. 121.
On August 22, 1930, Keystone Lodge was constituted by the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Donald E. Kerr, assisted by Officers and Members of Grand Lodge. On receiving its Warrant, the Lodge was numbered 121 on the register of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. The thirty-four Charter Members came from all walks of life, with many from the Railroad Industry. Many of those Brethren were originally members of Gothic Lodge No. 111, coming to Keystone after their charter was revoked at the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge on the June 21, 1928.
The amalgamation of Lions’ Gate Lodge No. 115 and Keystone Lodge No. 121 was completed on October 17, 1996. Present at the signing, held at Kerrisdale Masonic Hall, were Right Worshipful Brother Robin Caesar as Chairman, and Worshipful Brother Arthur Congdon as Secretary. Representing Keystone Lodge were Right Worshipful Brother Harley Cosh, Very Worshipful Brother Charles Gaskin and Worshipful Brother Jack Clark. Representing Lions’ Gate Lodge were Right Worshipful Brother Robin Caesar, Worshipful Brother Martti Huttunen and Worshipful Brother Arthur Congdon.
Several Brethren of Keystone-Lions’ Gate Lodge No. 115 have served as District Deputy Grand Master for District 14 before and since the amalgamation of the Lodges. They are Right Worshipful Brother Arthur Berti in 1987, Right Worshipful Brother Paul Hamlesher in 2003 and 2004, Right Worshipful Brother Harley Cosh in 2009, Right Worshipful Brother Norman Baird in 2010, Right Worshipful Brother David Macfarlane in 2011, Right Worshipful Brother Bob Mandley in 2012, an affiliate member of our Lodge Right Worshipful Brother George Eaton in 2013, and Right Worshipful Brother Freddie Li in 2017.
Vancouver has the privilege of being the only city in North America with a Masonic Lodge using the ceremonies compiled by the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales, Australia in 1888. A number of Australians had settled in Vancouver around the turn of the 20th Century. One of them was an auctioneer named John James Miller, known to all and sundry as “J.J.” He had been the mayor of his home town of Cootamundra, where he had also been the Master of the local Lodge, St. John's Cootamunda No. 124.
Australians are fun-loving by nature, so J.J. spearheaded the founding of the Australasian Social Club in Vancouver in September 1905. A number of the members were Freemasons, so J.J. called a get-together in April, 1906, and those present agreed to form a Lodge, name it “Southern Cross” and use the New South Wales ritual. J.J. was elected Master, Harold Kingsford-Smith, Senior Warden and Max Freed, Junior Warden. Kingsford-Smith’s son was the noted aviator Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, whose plane was the “Southern Cross.” Freeds' son was M-G-M musical producer Arthur Freed. The Freed family soon returned to Washington State and J.J.’s brother William was made Junior Warden in his stead.
The Lodge had 22 Founders when it was instituted on June 15, 1906. It received a warrant as No. 44 on July 17, 1907.
J.J. was the first president of the Pacific National Exhibition and an alderman of the City of Vancouver. Masonically, he was active in forming two Lodges in the Grandview district, Grandview No. 96 and Unity No. 108, as well as Triple Tau Chapter No. 23 (Royal Arch) and Zabud Council No. 4 (now No. 1, Cryptic Rite). He was elected an Honorary Past Grand Master and Honorary Past Grand First Principal (Royal Arch) of B.C., and served two years as Grand Master of Cryptic Rite Masons of Canada (all provinces west of Quebec). He died on Christmas Eve 1950 at age 90.
The Lodge originally met at the Williams Building, on the southwest corner of Granville and Hastings, and moved to the new Masonic Temple at Seymour and Georgia in 1910. Southern Cross remained there until the building was sold at the end of 1968, except for roughly eight months when it left in a rent dispute and moved to the Labour Temple at 411 Dunsmuir near Homer in 1913. In 1969, the Lodge found a home at the Mt. Pleasant Masonic Hall, southeast corner of Broadway and Ontario, before residing in the new Masonic Centre on Eighth Avenue just east of Granville in September 1974.
Lodge Southern Cross relocated to the Kerrisdale Masonic Hall in September 2013. It has been meeting monthly on the second Friday since 1919. To this day, the Lodge attempts to follow the old ritual of New South Wales as well as various Festive Board customs, such as The Flutter and Interrupting Masonic Fire, that J.J. brought with him from New South Wales.
The arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway into Vancouver in 1887 sparked a population boom that lasted almost until the start of World War One. Large numbers of Freemasons moved into the city and outlying districts from other parts of Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. While some joined existing Lodges, others decided to form new ones.
After an initial meeting in late 1911, 26 craftsmen gathered at the Masonic Hall at West Georgia and Seymour Street with the idea of creating a new Lodge. The minutes for the meeting record that Brother Alex McIntosh proposed the Lodge be named for Melrose Abbey in Scotland, where in 1674, a Lodge of stonemasons became Lodge Melrose St. John No. 1(2) under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and are still in possession of minutes from 1674.
Melrose Lodge was instituted on March 29, 1912, and constituted as No. 67 on July 11, 1913. The first Worshipful Master was Almon Clyde Blake, who joined the Craft in Baxter Springs, Kansas and hailed from Bellingham Bay No. 44, where he was Master in 1900. Blake was a hardware merchant, a one-time mayoralty candidate in Bellingham, and a patent-holder (granted in 1916) for a hollow building tile. His residence in Vancouver was brief, roughly coinciding with his service in the East of Melrose. He maintained his home in Bellingham while living in the Lower Mainland.
The Lodge only had one other Past Master at the start. James Stark became Grand Master in 1914, but died in the flu epidemic after the First World War.
Singing and conviviality were strong parts at Melrose Lodge. A social club was formed and entertained at dances in places like the West End Academy in 1920. Friends of members were invited to eat and drink (but without alcohol then) after meetings. A choir was formed and the District Deputy of 1922-23 reported to Grand Lodge about the excellent musical program during degree work. The choir performed not only in Lodges but in public into the late 1950s. Ernest J. Colton was a soloist whose baritone was heard for many years on local radio stations.
Melrose Lodge has met at the Kerrisdale Masonic Hall since 2013 after being forced to move by the closure of the Marpole Masonic Hall, where it met starting in 1987. Its other homes have been at the Masonic Temple, 692 Seymour Street (1912 to its closure in 1968); the Dunbar Masonic Hall, 4336 Dunbar Street (1969-1974) and the Vancouver Masonic Centre (1974 to 1987).
One of the better-known members of the Lodge is Alfred Deeley, an Englishman who arrived in Vancouver in 1913 and began selling bicycles. His company was later the city’s Studebaker and Austin dealership, but Fred Deeley became famous for importing Harley-Davidson motorcycles to this part of the world.
Meridian Lodge No. 108, on the Registry of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, has a peculiarity suitable to its name, as it meets in the forenoon, and not in the evening as most Masonic Lodges of this jurisdiction do. The pioneer Brethren of this Lodge were all of vocations that required them to work in the evening. Most of them were in entertainment, as musicians or in theatrical professions, including projectionists. Meridian Lodge has the distinction of being the first “Daylight Lodge” of the jurisdiction.
Dispensation to form a Lodge was issued by the Grand Master on May 21, 1923, and the Lodge was instituted by the District Deputy Grand Master of District 13 on June 7, 1923. Meridian Lodge adopted the “Canadian Ritual” for its meetings. Dispensation continued for another year as the Lodge had only been in its infancy when Grand Lodge convened in 1923, insufficient time to have been awarded its Charter. In 1924, the District Deputy visited the Lodge and reported that it "was doing an excellent Masonic work," and he strongly recommended the granting of a warrant. With this recommendation, Grand Lodge, on June 19, 1924, was pleased to order the Charter. Together with Unity Lodge No. 106, Meridian Lodge No. 108 was duly constituted by the Grand Master on July 10, 1924.
In September, 2004, Meridian Lodge membership was given a boost, as the Brethren of Composite Lodge No. 76 turned in their Charter, and joined Meridian Lodge. Our Lodge has formed a warm and fraternal friendship with its counterpart, Daylight Lodge No. 232 in Seattle, Washington. Brethren of the two Lodges travel annually to attend meetings in both cities. Meridian Lodge hosts an annual Scottish Breakfast at the February communication. This tradition has continued for 40 years, and all who attend are guaranteed a good meal and great fellowship.
The Brethren of Meridian have supported many charities through the years; The Red Cross Society, B.C. Children’s Hospital, The Christmas Bureau, The Masonic Service Bureau, The Keystone of Life Foundation, and The Scottish Rite Learning Centre.
In 1862, when British Columbia and Vancouver Island were still colonies under the British Crown, a sawmill was founded on the north shore of Burrard Inlet on a site immediately west of the present Second Narrows bridge. This sawmill was purchased in 1864 by Sewell Prescott Moody and his associates and the man appointed to take charge of the clerical duties of the firm was Josias Charles Hughes. After settling in Moodyville, as the settlement was now called, and finding that many of his associates, including S. P. Moody, the owner of the mill, were members of the Masonic Fraternity, he conceived the idea of starting a Masonic Lodge and applied to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a dispensation to start a Lodge to be known as "Lodge Mount Hermon".
The dispensation was eventually granted, and on January 15, 1869, Mount Hermon Lodge, the first Masonic Lodge on the Burrard Inlet, was established. Josiah Hughes was elected as the first Worshipful Master, Coote Mulloy Chambers the first Secretary, and mill owner Sewell Prescott Moody was satisfied with the minor office of Inner Guard. Since almost all prospective members were connected with the mill, the Lodge was built directly north of it. It was inaugurated with 17 members.
Past Grand Masters who were members of Mount Hermon Lodge include: Most Worshipful Brothers Coote M. Chambers, William Downie, William J. Bowser, James Stark, Frank S. McKee, Charles E. Tisdall, Karl P. Warick, William Menzies, Frederick W. Coffin, and V. Burnie Kyle.
Brother Robert Gordon McBeath, VC, was a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross in WWI. He was initiated in Lodge St. Mary's Caledonian Operative, No.339, (Inverness, Scotland) on July 12, 1919. He finished his degrees in Mount Hermon Lodge, being passed on October 29, 1921, and raised on May 18, 1922. He was tragically killed in the line of duty as a Vancouver Police officer in October 1922. A Vancouver Police Marine vessel is named in his honour: The R.C McBeath VC. A tribute and cairn unveiling was held at the Vancouver Police Tactical Training Centre on June 16, 2010. The tribute was attended by a Vancouver Police Department honour guard, the Vancouver Police Pipe band, a contingency of Kinlochbervie High School students and escorts, from McBeath’s Scottish home town; distinguished members of the Vancouver Police Department, members of Mount Hermon Lodge No. 7, and the press.
Mount Hermon Lodge has been involved in the community and contributed to a variety of charities over the past few years:
In the early 1920s, no Masonic Lodge on the British Columbia mainland worked the Emulation Ritual of England, though there were members in Vancouver familiar with it. Worshipful Brother Jim Greer and Worshipful Brother Dave Munro decided to rectify that situation; the former had been Master of Victoria-Columbia No. 1 and the latter came from an English Lodge in Montreal.
It’s not clear when any meetings were held to discuss forming an Emulation Lodge, but a request, dated May 29, 1922, containing the signatures of 57 Master Masons was sent to the Grand Master requesting dispensation to form a Lodge.
On June 1, 1922, the District Deputy Grand Master certified to the Grand Master that the members were capable of conferring the three degrees. The dispensation was signed on July 6, 1922, and the Lodge was instituted as the Prince of Wales Lodge that day. Thirty-seven of the founding members were present, along with forty-four visitors at the Edwards Hall at 2421 Granville Street (above a funeral parlour), which was where Prince of Wales Lodge met through the 1920s. Worshipful Brother Greer was the first Master, Worshipful Brother Munro was the first Treasurer, both are considered to be the founders of the Lodge.
The ritual wasn’t strictly Emulation by the book; it was the variant used in Victoria-Columbia Lodge No. 1. Some of the members who learned their work in England were apparently unhappy with the changes.
The Lodge was constituted as No. 100 on the Grand Registry of the Grand Lodge British Columbia on July 19, 1923.
The Prince of Wales Lodge had several other homes: the Jewish Community Centre at 2675 Oak Street (1929-1937), the Masonic Temple at 692 Seymour Street (1937-1960 and 1964-1968), the Dunbar Masonic Hall at 4336 Dunbar Avenue (1960-1964), the Kerrisdale Masonic Hall at 2146 West 41st Avenue (1968-1974 and 1976-present) and the Vancouver Masonic Centre at 1495 West 8th Avenue (1974-1976).
In 2001, after a revitalization of the Lodge with new officers, it was agreed to follow the Emulation Work as compiled by the Emulation Lodge of Improvement.
In the fall of 1913, a meeting of Masonic Brethren was held at The Manor, the residence of Most Worshipful Brother Frank Bowser, whose 20-acre property was located at 6000 Macdonald Street in Kerrisdale. At that meeting, preliminary steps were taken to the formation of the first Lodge in Kerrisdale District of Point Grey, B.C.
A dispensation was granted by the Grand Master on March 6, 1914, and the Lodge was instituted by the District Deputy Grand Master on March 9, 1914, at the rented premises above Latimer Hardware Store at 2118 West 41st Ave. The charter was granted at the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge on June 18, 1914, and the Lodge was constituted by the Grand Master at an Emergent Communication of Grand Lodge held at the Masonic Hall at Kerrisdale on July 20, 1914. For its ritual the Lodge, now named Zion Lodge No. 77, adopted the Canadian work.
Almost immediately upon formation, the officers of Zion Lodge were faced with difficult times, as the First World War had now begun. In 1915, Worshipful Brother W.L. Germaine was installed as our second Worshipful Master and is wearing his Army uniform in his Worshipful Master’s photograph. However, that was the last time he was ever in the Lodge, having joined the Canadian Army Pay Corps. At first, there was uncertainty as to whether he was entitled to the Past Masters Jewel which he received "in absentia" in 1919.
In 1924, the holding company Kerrisdale Masonic Hall Ltd. was formed by several members of Zion No. 77. The Hall Company then purchased the current property at 2146 West 41st Avenue. By 1928, membership had grown to 170 and in 1929, Kerrisdale Lodge No. 117 became a daughter Lodge of Zion. Membership in Zion Lodge peaked in 1954 at 222 and then like all Lodges at the time, entered into a steady decline.
In 1998, Kerrisdale Lodge No. 117, also facing membership issues, rejoined Zion Lodge 77. During that consolidation, it was agreed that Zion 77 would use the name Zion No. 77 of Kerrisdale, wherever practical, which not only provided a geographic reference for our Lodge, but also would keep the name of Kerrisdale Lodge in our minds.
In 2000, Zion Lodge celebrated the 100th Birthday of our oldest Past Master, Right Worshipful Brother Bert Perry. Right Worshipful Brother Perry was an integral part of both Zion Lodge and the Kerrisdale Masonic Hall Company. Right Worshipful Brother Perry was initiated into Zion Lodge in 1932, and was installed as Worshipful Master in 1942.
In April 2014, Zion Lodge No. 77 celebrated its own centenary and produced a booklet with a detailed history of the Lodge from 1914 – 2014. Zion Lodge has had five Past Grand Masters in its ranks:
Most Worshipful Brother Francis (Frank) Bowser (1907-08), as previously mentioned, was instrumental in creating Zion Lodge. He was Reeve of Point Grey in 1910-1911 and first chairman of the Vancouver and District Joint Sewerage and Drainage Board. As a pioneer in the Kerrisdale area he built the Bowser Block that houses the Bank of Montreal at 41st and West Boulevard, which still prominently displays his name.
Most Worshipful Brother Rev. J.G. Brown (1943-44) was the founder of the Vancouver Lodge of Education and Research, which has had a long association with Zion 77.
Most Worshipful Brother Walter S. Owen (1978 Hon.) was one of the most distinguished Freemasons in the Province, as Grand Lodge conferred on him the honorary degree of M.W. Grand Master. He was a prominent lawyer, businessman and philanthropist who served this Province as Lieutenant Governor from 1973 to 1978.
Most Worshipful Brother James C. Gordon (2001-02) affiliated from Meridian No. 108 and was active in all aspects of Freemasonry, having risen to roles of leadership in many Masonic bodies.
Most Worshipful Brother William O. (Bill) Walls (2003-04). Bill was an honorary member of Kerrisdale 117 and became a member of Zion 77 following the consolidation. This led to the unusual situation of having two Past Grand Masters in a row from Zion No. 77.
Other prominent past members of Zion Lodge No. 77 include:; Fred Townley, architect of over a thousand buildings in the lower mainland including the iconic Vancouver City Hall; Bert Perry, owner of Kerrisdale Lumber; Arthur Delamont founder of the Kitsilano Boys Band; and award-winning Architect Kon Uyeyama.