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A Brief History of Garden City Lodge

    Garden City Lodge is the result of an Amalgamation of Perfection Lodge No. 616 and Grantham Lodge No. 697.  The Amalgamation Ceremony was conducted on Monday, May 13, 2019 by the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Paul E. Todd and his team of Grand Lodge Officers.

About 1920, the St. Catharines Brethren began to discuss the possibility of forming a new Lodge, since existing Lodge memberships were getting quite large. This came to fruition when in the Lodge room at 8:00 p.m. on the 13th of November, 1922, the D.D.G.M., Wm. F. Fawcett declared that all the preliminaries had been met and that the Grand Master had approved of a dispensation to hold a Masonic Lodge to be known as Perfection Lodge. In October 1923 the Ceremony of Constitution and Consecration was conducted by M.W. Bro. Drope. Perfection was numbered 616 on the registry of Grand Lodge.

    Perfection Lodge showed progress from the beginning. Starting with sixteen (16) charter members, five (5) Past Masters, and twenty (20) Master Masons. At the second meeting, January 8, 1923 six (6) Master Masons affiliated and three first degrees were conferred. The next couple of meetings went on as follows; third meeting, January 15, 1923 four first degrees, fourth meeting, January 22, 1923, four first degrees, one of which was G.B. McCalla, our tenth Worshipful Master and the first D.D.G.M. from Perfection Lodge, fifth meeting, February 12, 1923 two second degrees, sixth meeting, February 26, 1923 two second degrees, seventh meeting, March 9, 1923 two second degrees and one Master Mason affiliation, eighth meeting, March 26, 1923 three third degrees, ninth meeting, April 9, 1923 one third degree, tenth meeting, April 23, 1923 two first degrees, to bring the membership to forty seven. Sixteen new candidates were initiated during the first year. Perfection hit its high of about 230 members in the early 1960's.

    Perfection Lodge had taken its name from the Scottish Rite designation "Lodge of Perfection" as its Charter members were of the Scottish Rite. It was natural therefore, that there was a close association with Morton Lodge of Perfection 14th degree Hamilton. In 1926 Morton Lodge presented a gavel to Perfection Lodge  No.616 that was made from the chair used at the First Assembly of the Scottish Rite in Hamilton in 1874.

    Two brethren of Perfection Lodge became active members of Supreme Council. R.W. Bro. Dr. C.A. Sankey obtained this rank in 1973 and although assuming "post active" status in 1980, remained chairman of Supreme Council's Committee on Ritualistic Matters and Vice-President of the Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation of Canada for many years after. R.W. Bro. G.K. Trenholm became an active member in 1980.

    The depression years of the '30s were especially hard on Perfection Lodge as it was still in its adolescence. No history of the Lodge would be complete without special mention of R.W. Bro. George McCalla and V.W. Bro. W.A. Brown whose efforts made its continuing operation possible during this time. When R.W. Bro. McCalla died in 1960 a special memoriam notice was issued. The funeral from his home (he had requested a full Masonic Service including Committal) saw perhaps 200 Masons in attendance.

    In 1972 M.W. Bro. F. Glenn Fox D.G.M. of Alberta and a member of Perfection Lodge  No.9 G.R.A., who had met several of our members the previous July at our Grand Lodge Annual Communication, asked M.W. Bro. W.K. Bailey, our Grand Master and the Grand Lodge Representative of the Grand Lodge of Alberta if he could visit our Perfection Lodge during an emergent meeting to be set up on his return with M.W. Bro. Bailey from a Grand Masters Conference in Washington D.C.. The result was a special meeting on Saturday, February 26, 1972, attended by the Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Secretaries from both jurisdictions and more Grand Lodge Officers than at any time in Perfection Lodges history. M.W. Bro. Fox and M.W. Bro. Bailley subsequently were elected Honourary members of the Lodge.

    A similar event occurred in 1982 when M.W. Bro. Donald James McLaurin G.R.B.C. a good friend of R.W. Bro. Dr. C.A. Sankey, paid us a visit and was elected to an Honourary Life membership in the Lodge.

    A unique event occurred on May 18, 1977 when the Lodge, under W. Bro. Sam Meltzer held a divine Service in B'nai Israel Synagogue. The Synagogue was filled to capacity by Masons and their families. The service, based essentially on the Psalms, was conducted by Bro. Rabbi Israel Freidman, who gave the sermon and was assisted by several members of the craft.

    In 1979 Perfection Lodge sponsored a reception for R.W. Bro. Dr. C.A. Sankey, honouring him for his many years of service to Perfection Lodge and to the Craft. R.W. Bro. Dr. C.A. Sankey had represented the District and Perfection Lodge as the D.D.G.M. in 1968. M.W. Bro. N.R. Richards, G.M., G.L.C., M. Ex. Comp. Aube Weisman, Grand First Principal, Royal Arch Masons, and Bro. The Rev. Dr. A.L. McKay, G.M.., Royal Order of Scotland, joined some 250 Brethren in this tribute to R.W. Bro. Dr. Sankey.

    Perfection Lodge had the honour of supplying a brother to serve the office of D.D.G.M. in 1982. R.W. Bro. Fred Spencer was chosen from among the many able members of Perfection Lodge to represent the district. R.W. Bro. Spencer named W. Bro. George Mitchell as his district Secretary and after a year of faithfully performing his duties, George was awarded the office of Grand Steward.

    It was during the years 1984 through 1996 that Perfection Lodge fell on hard times. Several of the brethren advancing through the chairs were forced to leave their offices because of the demands of their private avocations. Job transfers and new careers took their toll on the upcoming officers and several of the Past Masters took the time to fill the offices several times, some serving as Master multiple times during those years.

    In 1995-1996 Perfection Lodge was once again given the opportunity to provide the District Deputy Grand Master for Niagara "A", providing a very unique opportunity. R.W. Bro. James E. James was elected by the Past Masters to that Office. The same year, his son, R.W. Bro. Gary James, a member of Perfection Lodge  No.616 as well as Perfection Lodge  No.9, G.R.A. was elected to the office of D.D.G.M. of Alpha District in Alberta. Each attended the others installation. During the investiture of R.W. Bro. Jim James, at the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge, the Grand Master interrupted the proceedings to introduce R.W. Bro. Gary James and allowed him to personally congratulate his father. It would appear this was the first time a father/son combination from the same Lodge were elected D.D.G.M.s the same year. R.W. Bro. Gary James along with the Grand Master of Alberta attended R.W. Bro. Jim James Homecoming at Perfection Lodge on April 15, 1996. M.W. Bro. G.V. McCauley was also elected an Honourary Membership to Perfection Lodge at this meeting.

    Also in 1996 Perfection Lodge hosted an emergent meeting so that visiting Brethren from Lancashire England could visit with a Lodge in our area. These Brethren were travelling around North America visiting various Lodges. A Second Degree was put on and the Masters of each Lodge in Niagara District "A" assumed a Chair and conferred the degree.

    Perfection Lodge has a tradition of having strawberries and ice cream at their meeting in June. This tradition has its origin in 1933 when a "Garden Party" was held at the home of W. Bro. George McCalla. Beautiful prose written by the Secretary, Bro. P. Hulse, preserve the event. It reads: "On this evening a delightful event took place when the Officers, Members, and their friends assembled for a garden party and strawberry festival. Nature and weather combined to form a most beautiful setting for this occasion. A lovely picture it was to see the lovely ladies chatting here and there with the members, the ladies in their pretty summer frocks, members in flannels against the backdrop of summer twilight, velvety lawns, and arching elms. Music was provided and entertainment of magic and slight of hand." Today, strawberries and ice cream is still served at the June meeting.

    It has become a tradition for the Immediate Past Master Of Perfection Lodge to wear the Past Masters jewel of R.W. Bro. George B. McCalla for his term of office. R.W. Bro. McCalla was Perfection Lodges tenth Worshipful Master in 1932 and the first D.D.G.M. for Niagara District "A" from this Lodge in 1942.

    At the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge in July 2014, Perfection Lodge became only the second lodge in Niagara A District to be designated a "Cornerstone Lodge" for the years 2014 - 2016.     A "cornerstone" designation means that a Lodge conducts its affairs and interacts with its members and the community to high standards established by the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario.  A designation that the members of Perfection Lodge are very proud of.  This designation has now been continued for 3 successive terms and now Garden City Lodge is the only Lodge in Niagara A District to earn this distinction.

On May 6, 1958, an interested group of nine Master Masons met at the home of Bro. Stanley D. Costen to discuss the formation of a new Masonic Lodge to fill an evident need in this area. W. Bro. B.E. Schaab was chosen chairman and W. Bro. W.W. Tanner as Secretary. The Brethren were authorized at this meeting to approach R.W. Bro. Farr, D.D.G.M. of Niagara District "A", and R.W. Bro. E.G. Dixon, the Grand Secretary, and Seymour Lodge re fostering the new Lodge.

    At a meeting held on May 20, 1958, reports re the above actions were considered. The name "Grantham Lodge" was chosen, so named after the Township of Grantham, fees and dues were decided; other Lodges in the jurisdiction were asked for approval, and a nominating committee was named.

    On June 3, 1958, the first meeting was held in Seymour Masonic Hall with 28 Masons present. All previous actions were upheld, the rental agreement with Seymour Masonic Hall was struck and the slate of officers approved. The first Master of our Lodge was W. Bro. Frank G. White, a Past Master of Adoniram #573. The approval of most of the Lodges in the jurisdiction was received and the charter Member list closed. Our petition for a dispensation to form Grantham Lodge received its final approval on September 8, 1958.
    On September 29, 1958, M.W. Bro. W.J. Dunlop, assisted by other Grand Lodge officers, performed the Ceremony of institution. Much necessary regalia and working tools were presented by various Lodges and individuals. Ten Past Masters and thirty brethren were accepted as Charter Members and signed the petition for a dispensation.

    The new Grantham Lodge accepted twenty members by initiation and three members by affiliation the following year and has since continued to thrive.

  Some Highlights in the History of Grantham Lodge

          From its inception in September of 1958 to the present time Grantham Lodge has continued to flourish and be a very active lodge in Niagara A District.

         Since 1973 Grantham Lodge has exchanged Fraternal Visits with Medina Lodge No. 336 of the Grand Lodge of New York in Medina N.Y. from which many lasting friendships have developed which continue to this day.

         The annual installation of officers was changed in 1988 from January to June to coincide with the majority of the Lodges in Niagara A District.

         In 1995 the widow of our very first Master presented the Lodge with a new Altar Cloth in memory of her late husband W. Bro. Frank G. White. At the same time a new Worshipful Master's Pedestal cloth was presented in memory of W. Bro. Wm. Phillips by members of his family.

         New Wardens Pedestal Cloths were also purchased by donations from members of the lodge.

         In 1997 a special award called the Trevor M. Thomas award was created for distinguished service to our Lodge by a brother who has served the Lodge above and beyond the call of duty.  It is not an annual award but is given only when a board of Past Masters feels that a brother is worthy of receiving this honour.  To date five brothers have received this award.  They are Bro. Gil Walby in 1997, Bro. William Lundy in 1999, W. Bro. Roger Freeman in 2002, W. Bro. Archie McLay in 2007 and Bro. Ivan St. Pierre in 2014.

         For the first forty-six years of the existence of Grantham our meetings were held in the Seymour Masonic Hall in Port Dalhousie Ward but in April of 2005 we changed our venue to the Memorial Masonic Temple in downtown St. Catharines.

         The members of Grantham Lodge have for many years supported Women’s Place Niagara (now called Gillian’s Place) and in 2006 our Lodge under the direction of V.W. Bro Norm Pemberton and W. Bro. Les Pirbus took on a special fund raising dinner dance to assist this organization in their relocation to a new facility.

         The year 2008 marked ther 50th Anniversary.

 In the early part of 2018 the Worshipful Masters of both Grantham and Perfection Lodges met informally to discuss the possibility of amalgamating to form a larger and stronger lodge.  Committees were formed in both Lodges to pursue this goal.  From the outset the discussions were the epitamy of Brotherly Love and it did not take long to reach agreement on the myriad terms of such an amalgamation.  Beginning in 2019 the Lodges held joint Committee of General Purposes meetings and developed a long range plan, a budget and proposed by laws of the new lodge. The fruition of the hard work occurred on May 13, 2019.

Throughout the years, Perfection Lodge and Grantham Lodges have remained in the forefront of Masonic activities in the District. May it continue to do so as a  vibrant Lodge under the banner of "Garden City Lodge".


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