History of Alexandra Lodge #87 - Part 2

1939 to 1945

When the Second World War broke out in 1939, our brothers were once again quick to join up to head overseas. To read more about those who went, please click on the picture on the right.  

June 1942

At the Grand Lodge meeting in June, 1942, W Bro. M.A.S. Goodwin of Alexandra Lodge was appointed a Grand Steward.

Worshipful Bro. George William Walsh serve his second term as Master of the Lodge, having been Master in 1929.

January 20, 1943

On the night of January 20, 1943, the McLaughlin Block (which had stood next to the Royal Bank of Canada for over thirty years) caught fire and the Lodge Rooms, Records, Regalia and Equipment all were lost!  Alexandra Lodge #87 had only Five Hundred Dollars Insurance which amount was duly received!

From the Amherst Newspaper dated January 22, 1943:

Business Block Wiped Out By Conflagration Sweeping Through Entire Premises - Damages Estimated at $60,000 to $70,000. Adjoining Properties Also Suffered. Five Families Made Homeless. Firemen Meet Difficulties”.

Besides the many businesses and families which suffered losses, the paper also reported “ The Masonic Lodges lost all their records, valuable fraternal equipment, billiard tables and furniture. It was fortunate in some respects that the fire occurred on Thursday night and not twenty-four hours later as the Masons had planned a dance and bingo party in their lodge rooms for Friday night.” 

The other fraternities of the town, the Pythians, Oddfellows and Orangemen were all very sympathetic and offered their facilities to the Masons. Our meeting of February 11, 1943 was held in the Oddfellows Hall in the Maritime Block by the courtesy of Ivy Lodge No. 35, I.O.O.F., and the lodge continued to meet there for the next two years, the night of meeting being changed to the Second Thursday of the month. 

 Aug. 23, 1944  Annual District Meeting

The Annual Meeting for District #6 was held on August 23rd, under the Charter of Alexandra Lodge and proved an outstanding event in the history of Masonry in the District. The Grand Master, Bro. W.T. Powers was accompanied by Bros. N.T. Avard, PGM and RW Bro. P.S. Cochrane, GJW. This meeting took place in the Oddfellows Hall and proved a new rallying point and the occasion for several spirited addresses. All lodges in the District were represented and the members of Alexandra Lodge proved themselves excellent hosts.

Membership Through the Years 

Membership in our Fraternal Organizations flourished in both Alexandra and the other lodges in Nova Scotia during the early years of the 20th century. When a record of membership is viewed, as in the chart below, you can see how the world happenings played a heavy part in men of good standing getting involved with Masonic and other organizations. During the war years of 1915 to 1918 and 1939 to 1945 the membership held strong. As well, during the Great Depression around 1929 our membership stayed vibrant and even grew.

Later around the time of the McLaughlin Block Fire (which is described above) membership started to wain but then quickly recovered until the 1960's when a much more marked decline started and from which it has not recovered. This decline is a noted trend not just with the Masons but in nearly all fraternal organizations.  

Back To Our First Location 

1945 - 1946 

A little early history:

From April 1888 to April 1922 the Amherst Lodges met in the Black Block on Victoria Street. Early in 1922 they started to look for different accommodations and decided on leasing the third floor of the McLaughlin Block where after much renovation, they held their first meeting on September 7, 1922.

In the year 1945, two years after the McLaughlin fire, a committee from Acacia and Alexandra Lodges investigated all available halls in Amherst with the idea of finding a suitable place for our meetings. After many meetings it was decided to purchase the Black and Lamy Block, a three story stone block with a 100 foot frontage, on Victoria Street at a cost of approximately $36,000. to $40,000.

All was set to move into the old lodge room in the Black Block, when the Oddfellows, who had been our hosts for the last two years, finding the rent excessive, in the Maritime Block, decided to join us in the move. Plans were made to construct two lodge rooms on the second floor. 

Each order contributed $9,500 towards the cost and a canvass of the membership under the chairmanship of Bro. A. D. Smith of Alexandra Lodge produced a further $7,850, leaving a balance of $22,650 which was raised on a mortgage to the Central Trust Company of Canada Limited. All the repainting and decorating of the new quarters was done by volunteer members of the two orders under the direction of Bro. James McKay of Acacia Lodge.

The move was completed in time for us to hold our September 1945 meeting in the lodge room of the Black Block, which we had last used in 1922 when we moved to the quarters in the McLaughlin Block on Havelock Street.

This important undertaking further revived the interest and enlistment of several new members which offset to some extent the membership losses of recent years. 

 The site has changed over the years but the building is still standing and has recently had a face lift on its first floor.

1947 - 1954

Gavel from Lebanon

On April 29, 1948 Most Worshipful Brother Alexander Herman MacMillan, Grand Master of Masons in N.S., made an official visit to our lodge.

Theo J. Mansour spent the summer in Lenanon and on his return presented to the lodge a gavel made of the Cedar of Lebanon! 

Second Fire

On May 7, 1950 fire occurred in the Lamy Block spoiling the section set aside for another lodge hall! It was not long after this that the two Amherst lodges started thinking of building their own Masonic Temple in Amherst.

Long Service

On January 14, 1954, RW Bro. F. Carman Wightman, DDGM, made an official visit to the lodge and presented a Secretary’s Long Service Jewel to VW Bro. William G. Ayer on behalf of Grand Lodge for 23 years of faithful service as Secretary of this lodge.

                          The Traveling Gavel

On June 9, 1955 the Traveling Gavel (then referred to as the Visiting Gavel) was presented to Alexandra Lodge by members of Acadia Lodge #113, Pugwash. It was owned by Fellowship Lodge No. 112, Truro. It was presented to our lodge by W Bro. H.R. Hollis, WM of Acadia Lodge. He was accompanied by five other members of Acadia. W Bro. Hollis gave a very interesting explanation regarding the Visiting Gavel, the purpose of which is to promote visitation and good fellowship among the lodges. We were asked to carry the gavel to some other lodge in the near future. The gavel is to be accompanied by our WM and at least four other brothers of the lodge. In accepting the gavel WM Townshend thanked  WBro. Hollis for the presentation and said that he was looking forward to carrying the gavel to Laurie Lodge #70 in Springhill.

On June 14, 1955 we traveled to Laurie Lodge #70, Springhill with the Traveling Gavel.

This was the beginning of a long history of our “Traveling Gavel”. It moved from lodge to lodge within the district for a number of years and then was slowly forgotten for a time before its travels were revived.

In 2010 the scheme put forth had the lodge who held the Gavel hold it until they were visited by another lodge with a large enough group to take possession. The number of members needed to do the take over was determined by a special formula which was connected to the total number of members belonging to the visiting lodge. Sound complicated? It was, and it did not have a very high success rate!

Thus in 2011 a new idea was put forth. This new suggestion was for the lodge that holds the Traveling Gavel to visit another lodge and give it to them. During the visit the lodge which is visiting must also give a short bit of Masonic Education. Then the next month the lodge which received the gavel must take it to another lodge. The way that the next lodge is determined is from a random draw. All the names of the lodges that have not had the Traveling Gavel are put in a hat and the next lodge is left to the luck of the draw.

On September 19, 2011, Alexandra Lodge #87 of Amherst got the ball rolling by visiting Laurie Lodge #70 in Springhill. (Although their name had been chosen by a random draw it was very fitting as this was the same lodge we presented it to back in 1955!) We were very pleased that seven of Alexandra’s brothers were able to make the trip down to Springhill for the presentation. When we got there we discovered that we had enough brothers to make our visit an Official Lodge visit!

This was a great start which had all the brothers in both lodges expressing their pleasure for the up swelling of brotherhood that it ensued.

Laurie Lodge soon took the Traveling Gavel to Widow's Son Lodge and then on December 1, 2011 Widow's Son delivered it to Acacia Lodge. And so the Gavel and our district brothers are making the rounds of our nine lodges which make up the Cumberland District.


Lobster Suppers

Our lodge has been active socially through the years and I was able to find a few references to these events. In the September minutes of 1955 it was recorded that a Lobster Supper was planned for the night of September 21 at 6:30pm. The tickets were On Sale at Goodwins Grocery and from some of the brothers for $1.50 each! ( Oh,  for those prices - imagine a full Lobster Supper for $1.50  - even converted to 2011 dollars that is only $11.00  !!!) 

Later on Bean Suppers were very popular as a means of raising funds. On November 25, 1984 and March 10, 1985 we served up some great Baked Beans and Brown Bread which gave us a very substantial profit and lots of community spirit.

The Amherst Lodges have been very active through the years through the Amherst Masonic Society putting on fund raisers which have included Breakfasts, Suppers, and Yard Sales. Alexandra has done some on its own as well. In more recent times for example, they put on a very successful Pulled Pork Supper on the night of April 2, 2011.


Bible Presented to Lodge

After the death of VW Bro. George Walsh who had been our Master in 1929 and again in 1942/43, his wife, Brenda Walsh, presented a beautiful Holy Bible to the lodge in her late husband’s memory. This was used by the lodge at all meetings until the 100th Anniversary when a Centennial Bible was given to the lodge as a gift from Wimburn Lodge in Oxford.

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