History of Freemasonry in Newfoundland and Labrador
Grand Lodge of Newfoundland & Labrador
On Saturday, November 1, 1997, the consecration of the Grand Lodge of Newfoundland & Labrador and the ceremony and subsequent festivities were held at the Hotel Newfoundland in St. John's, Newfoundland, and Labrador. As the Grand Master of Quebec said in his address "Today we complete the Family of CanadianGrand Lodges."
Almost 600 Masons of all ranks were present and included representation of Grand Lodges and other related and concordant bodies of Freemasonry throughout the world. The ceremony was conducted by Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, Most Worshipful Bro. the Hon. Lord Farnham, and his deputation. Most Worshipful Brother Herman Wilfred Starkes was installed as the first Grand Master.
The following is a chronology of the documented history of early Freemasonry in Newfoundland & Labrador which was prepared by VW Bro. John E. E. Warren, Past Grand Historian.
The first known Masonic Lodge to be held in St. John's, Newfoundland, was in 1743. It owed its origin to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Boston. It was followed by a second lodge which operated here under that same authority and was formed in 1766. It is worthy of note that neither of these lodges were registered in the bookof the United Grand Lodge of England. They were both properly constituted and warranted by, and under the authority of, the Provincial Grand Master of Boston.
1743 – It is purported that a Lodge in St. John’s existed.
1766 – All Officers commanding the British garrison at Placentia, until 1758, were members of the Craft and operated as a Lodge issued by the Grand Lodge of Boston. It is worthy of note that neither of these lodges were registered in the book of the United Grand Lodge of England.
March 24th , 1774 – St. John’s Lodge No. 186 was established. Records of this Lodge from 1810 indicated that it was composed of Royal Artillerymen, many of which came to Newfoundland via the Boston area. This Lodge was renumbered several times and erased in 1859 having gone into darkness sometime earlier.
March 31, 1782 - Town or Garrison of St. John's Lodge No. 249 was warranted by the Grand Lodge of the Ancients (Atholl) and lapsed in 1804.
1783 - The next lodge to meet here, though only for a brief time, was the Lodge of the Fourth Battalion Regiment of Royal Artillery which was constituted on October 18, 1781, in New York. Upon retiring from New York in 1783, the battalion, and thus the Lodge, came to St. John's. It then moved to Woolwich, England, and finally to Quebec. It received a warrant of renewal as a civil Lodge on January 27, 1829, and on December 27, 1869, it became Albion Lodge No. 2 on the Registry of the Grand Lodge of Quebec.
1784 – Placentia Lodge No. 456 was warranted by the Original London Grand Lodge of England and existed until 1813.
March 1788 - Benevolent Lodge No. 247 in St. John's was warranted by the Grand Lodge of the Ancients (Atholl) and was erased in 1852 by the United Grand Lodge of England. Town or Garrison of St. John's Lodge No. 249 was warranted March 31, 1782, by the Grand Lodge of the Ancients (Atholl) and lapsed in 1804.
May 2, 1788 - The Lodge of Harmony, Placentia No. 250 was warranted and erased in 1815 by the United Grand Lodge of England.
1817 - Union Lodge No. 698 was warranted in 1817 and held its meetings in Trinity, NL. It was erased in 1859. The jewels of this Lodge are now in the possession of the Scottish Constituted, Lodge Tasker No. 454. It is of interest that of the eleven Lodges established in Newfoundland up to 1824, ten of them worked for short periods of time. One Lodge, St. John's Lodge No. 186, survived the longest until it became inoperable in 1832 when it was destroyed by fire.
1848 – Saint John’s Lodge was consecrated under dispensation by W Bro. Hon. Alexander Keith, Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, under the Grand Lodge of England. It was chartered on June 5th 1850, and consecrated on June 19th.
October 1858 – Avalon Lodge No. 1078 was constituted under dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia with Sir William Vallance Whiteway, a Past Master of Saint John’s Lodge, as its first Master. The Warrant was issued by United Grand Lodge of England in 1863 and the Lodge was renumbered 776.
May 7th, 1866 – The Charter of Lodge Tasker No. 454 was granted by the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and it was consecrated on November 22nd, 1866, by the brethren of Avalon Lodge, on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
Except for Polaris Lodge in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, all current lodges under the authority of the Grand Lodge of Newfoundland & Labrador or District Grand Lodge of Scotland are daughter or grand-daughter lodges of either Saint John’s Lodge or Lodge Tasker. Polaris Lodge was established under the authority of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia. The Lodge was later transferred to the authority of the District Grand Lodge of Newfoundland and Labrador, United Grand Lodge of England.