A History of Lodge Westmoorland

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"Compiled and delivered by Very Worshipful Bro M.N. (Mac) Butt, Past Master, at Lodge Westmoorland’s Founders Breakfast, 23rd December 2011, at Freemason’s Hall, Mount Pearl, NL."

In the spring of 1974 Bro. Hedley B. Snelgrove, Right Worshipful District Grand Master, S.C. made a decree at a meeting of the Grand Committee of the District Grand Lodge of Scotland, that a Masonic Lodge was required in the West end of St. John’s to accommodate the expansion in that area.

Bro. William King, Past Master, Lodge Tasker, headed a small committee taking the task of collecting signatures from masons who wished to become members of the new Lodge. The result was encouraging, with 21 masons from the Scottish District Jurisdiction, 12 masons from the English District Jurisdiction, one from the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, and one from a Lodge in Japan, signified with their signatures and fees to become Founding Members.

Prior to sending an application to the District Grand Lodge, a Lodge name was required. With the consent of the founding members a three-part name was selected:

West: – for the area of location, in the west section of the St. John’s, including Mount Pearl, Goulds and areas
Moor: for the heather covered land of Scotland
Land: from the provincial name

With the interest beyond expectation within the fraternity in becoming founding members, and with the blessings of Lodge Tasker and Lodge Conception, our co-sponsors, a petition for charter was sent to District Grand Lodge and subsequently to the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Our charter was granted and we were registered on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

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Before our charter arrived in the Province, a latter was received from Fife, Scotland, sent by our newly appointed Proxy Master, Bro David Currie, Immediate Past Master of Lodge Canongate Kilwinning, No. 2, Edinburgh, to our Secretary, Bro. R. Douglas MacLeod. Bro Currie informed us that on 7th November 1974 our petition for Masonic Charter was given unanimous approval, and that he signed the roll of attendance of the Grand Lodge in Edinburgh as the appointed proxy master of Lodge Westmoorland. This would have been the first signature of a Brother representing our Lodge. In his letter he also sent warm and fraternal greetings to our membership whose interest he was honoured and proud to represent. Bro. Currie was in contact with our Secretary Bro. MacLeod during our formative years.

Our Charter from Grand Lodge was now in the possession of the District Grand Lodge bearing the number 1689 SC. Work was progressing toward our Lodge erection and first installation. The Master and Wardens pedestals and chairs, together with the altar were being constructed locally. The location to hold our meeting and social activities was, of course, of utmost importance. A committee was given the chore of finding suitable accommodation.

Our regalia of Royal Stewart tartan was ordered, but has to be re-ordered, as the first shipment was lost in mid-Atlantic along with the sinking of the transporting vessel. Many personal donations were presented to the Lodge long before its erection. Working tools, Bible and cushion, Altar cloth, Lights, Gavels, and sounding blocks, D of C baton, Poignard, Tylers Sword and many generous cash donations, all were suitably acknowledged. At the first Lodge Committee meeting held 30th November 1974 the slate of Office Bearers elect was tabled and on 19th December 1974 the slate was presented to the membership for approval. Lodge officer formal wear, as well as the ritual for working our ceremonies formed part of our open discussions. Among our founding members we had nine different rituals. It was made loud and clear that we would be using the “Modern Book of Ritual” which is applicable to working in the 20th Century.

The ceremony of Erection and Installation was conducted by Bro. Alex O. Knight, Depute District Grand Master at the Masonic Temple, St. John’s on 25th January 1975. Regrettably Bro. Hedley Snelgrove, District Grand Master, the first to sign the founding membership list was never able to visit his new Lodge due to his health.

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The Installation Banquet, a gala affair was held at the Knights of Columbus Auditorium, St. Clare Ave., St. John’s on the evening of the Installation day. Toasts to the Grand Lodges were proposed. Worshipful Bro. Harold Bradley, Assistant District Grand Master, EC proposed to the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Bro. Alex Knight proposed to the United Grand Lodge of England. Bro. Ray Guy, District Grand Secretary proposed the toast to Lodge Westmoorland, the Right Worshipful Master responded. Bro. George Stockley was Master of Ceremonies for the event and Bro. Reg Forsey gave the Tylers Toast.

Our first regular monthly meeting of the Lodge was held on March 4th, 1975 at St. Paul’s Parish Hall, Goulds. We were welcomed in this location and there attended our first Lodge Church service and other functions at this facility. Initially within the fraternity we were known as a West end Shrine Lodge, as 14 of our 19 installed Office Bearers were Shriners. We were proud of the recognition. Looking back we were the forerunners of the now popular phrase “Shrine Masons”, we soon started to shed our effigy when new applications for initiation arrived, one of the first was from Portugal Cove, as you know that’s far removed from the West end.

The Lodge has moved its location a number of times in the past 36 years, all the while initiating and affiliating members along the way, going from strength to strength as it were. After our stay in the Goulds, we have operated from the following locations: Church of the Ascension, Park Avenue, Mount Pearl; Masonic Temple, St. John’s; Orange Lodge, Jersey Avenue, Mount Pearl; Masonic Park Recreation Centre; First United Church, Mount Pearl, and now Freemason’s Hall, Masonic Park, Mount Pearl.

In the midst of these early moves we kept an eye open for a building of our own. Well, an ideal building became available, an old school on Brookfield Road, near the Brookfield Fire Station. Our excitement peaked. Within our membership we had carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and members to arrange financing; we knew it would require a lot of sweat and hopefully not too many tears. We could do this. A home of our own! When we concluded our many deliberations, and were ready for the next step, we found to our surprise, the building was just sols. Our own home was not to be. Maybe procrastination could fit in here somewhere.

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We have had many high points over the years, one of which was our Masonic play “Rose upon the Altar” with which we traveled as far as Gander, and the Burin Peninsula. My memory tells me that we performed the play 27 times for mixed audiences. Many of our new masons were introduced to speaking on the floor of the Lodge through the experience gained from minor part sin the play, which had a powerful message.

The 20th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Lodge was held at Royal Oake Orange Lodge on Henry Street, St. John’s on 25th November 1995. Bro Robert D.C. Taylor, Right Worshipful District Grand Master brought greetings from the District Grand Lodge of Scotland. Worshipful Bro George Cull, Assistant Right Worshipful District Grand Master extended greetings on behalf of the District Grand Lodge of Newfoundland, United Grand Lodge of England. The City of Mount Pearl was represented by Mr. Garfield Warren, City Councilor. Bro Robert Barnes was Master of Ceremonies, with Bro Roger Peet Past Master delivering the Tyler’s Toast. A prayer for departed Brethren was delivered by Bro Bert Ralph, followed by a moment of silence.

Our low points were evident when a brother was called to the “grand Lodge Above”. We have been very visible and thankful when a family has requested or consented to a Lodge Honour Guard at the funeral, an opportunity to show our collective respect of a departed Mason.

A personal low point for me was subsequent to our lodge vote and decision to join the Grand Lodge of Newfoundland and Labrador, and unfortunately valued Founding Members felt they could not support our decision and resigned. These Brethren contributed a lot to our Lodge and it hurt to see them depart.

At this point in our history Lodge Westmoorland has elected 31 of our expert Brethren to govern and rule the Lodge as Right Worshipful Master. We can be proud of the contributions these have made. Many of them have served and serve today as Office Bearers in the Grand Lodge of Newfoundland and Labrador, and District Grand Lodge of Scotland, as well as other concordant bodies of Masonry.

Looking over the roll of membership of the Lodge one is impressed with the diverse quality of the members, couple that with the Brethren that have consented to serve as installed office bearers, tends to make the senior members of Lodge Westmoorland proud of your accomplishments, also, we are confident that we are in good hands.

- So Mote it be -

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