History of Alexandra Lodge #87

Ancient Free & Accepted Masons

Amherst, Nova Scotia 

Once you have had a chance to read through this history, please feel free to leave a comment (or suggestions for further research) in our lodge guest book on the bottom of the home page of this website or click the link below.

 Much of the information which follows was obtained from old minute books and records found in the archives of the Alexandra Lodge. As well, I have searched the records of the Amherst Newspaper on Microfilm at Mt. Allison University Library’s archives, Cumberland County Museum records, Armories Museum records, and spoken with numerous lodge members for memories and memorabilia regarding our history. However, thanks also has to be given to the work of previous chroniclers who have tried to obtain a factual account of the proceedings surrounding our fraternity. Included in these are the records of W. Bro. William R. Ross whose history records the first thirty three years of our lodge, the book “History of Freemasonry at Amherst 1822-1930” by M.W. Bro. R. V. Harris PGM, a complied history by V.W. Bro. F. Carman Wightman PDDGM in 1967, a History of Alexandra Lodge #87 written by Fred L. Blair around 1924 and a later update by the same in 1935 and finally, we must give thanks to all the secretaries who have faithfully recorded our lodge proceedings down through the years; especially, W Bro. W.M. Manning (Wiley) our first Secretary and later our first Historian.


In the early years of Masonry in Cumberland County (circa 1867) there were just two lodges, Acacia in Amherst and Acadia in Pugwash which were outgrowths of the Cumberland Harmony - Provincial Grand Lodge of England 1825-1842,  McGowan Lodge - Provincial Grand Lodge of Ireland 1845-1867 and the Athole Lodge - Provincial Lodge of Scotland 1865-1867.

As the membership grew expanding the lodges in size, new lodges sprang up from the old which in turn lost membership to their offspring. This was particularly true in the case of Acacia although the new lodge, Alexandra, was a true child or offshoot of Acacia. 

Alexandra Lodge #87 on the Registry of Nova Scotia, was organized in Amherst in the year 1909 by a number of brothers, who met under the leadership of Brothers Daniel A. Morrison and George R. Chisholm. At the regular meeting of Acacia Lodge on October 7, 1909, it was moved by MW Bro. C.R. Smith seconded by RW Bro. B.D. Bent “That a new Masonic Lodge be placed under dispensation in Amherst and that the Grand Lodge be so notified.” The motion was carried. It was further moved and seconded “that the new lodge be given free use of the Lodge premises and regalia during the period it was under dispensation”. They then duly drew up and signed a petition praying the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia to grant dispensation to form a new lodge in the town of Amherst, Nova Scotia.

Amherst Turn of Century

Amherst Turn of the Century

 Dispensation, authorizing the formation of the new lodge was granted by the Most Worshipful Brother William Marshall Black, Grand Master of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Nova Scotia with Worshipful Brother George R. Chisholm, the first Master of the lodge.

( A note of interest from Acacia Lodge #8 Minutes dated June 3, 1909.)

Bro. George H. Stone moved that a second Masonic Lodge in the town of Amherst would be of benefit to Masonry. Seconded by Bro. C.D. Shipley.

Bros. D.A. Morrison, C.D. Shipley, A.A. Baker, and W Bro. G.R. Chisholm expressed themselves in favor of the motion. W Bros B.D. Bent and W. F. Donkin, while not opposed, were in doubt as to the advisability of having two lodges in the town.


A Charter, dated June 8th, 1910, was granted at the next session of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, to Alexandra Lodge No.87, R.N.S.

Following the granting of the Charter the Lodge was dedicated by a special communication of Grand Lodge convened October 11th, 1910 for the purpose. The Grand Master MW Bro. W. Marshall Black presided and was assisted by MW Bro. William Ross, PGM; RW Bro. Thos Mowbray Grand Secretary and the following W Bros. B.D. Bent, C. McQ. Avard, Wm. Dowlin, A.J. Munro. Wm. Adamson and Wm. Kenney all of Acacia Lodge and W Bro. Dr. J.A. Munroe of King Edward Lodge #86.

The following were the Charter Members of the Lodge, transferring their membership from Acacia Lodge No. 8, R.N.S., the senior lodge in Amherst. 

1. Frederick Leander Blair                             Insurance

2. Walter B. Calhoun                                     Merchant

3. Clarence E. Casey                                     Barrister

4. James Percival Atherton           Accountant

5. Garnet Keilor Chapman                             Merchant

6. George R. Chisholm   P.S.G.W.                  Banker

7. John Alfred Crossman   P.M.                       Manufacturer

8. John Murdock Curry                                    Secretary

9. Nathaniel Curry    P.M.                                Manufacturer

10. Victor G. Curry                                           Manufacturer

11. William R. Fitzmaurice                               Freight Agent

12. Hance James Logan                                    Barrister

13. Charles Azel Jusby                                      Manufacturer

14. George K. Mckeen                                      Banker

15. Charles S. McLeod   P.M.                            Merchant

16. Douglas Chapman McLeod                          Merchant

17. Wiley McClintock Manning                         Barrister

18. Daniel Alexander Morrison                          Grocer

19. John Hunter Morrison                                  Banker

20. John William Morrison                               Druggist

21. James Layton Ralston                                 Barrister

22. Charles Stanley Sutherland                          Manufacturer


The first meeting of the lodge was held in the Masonic Lodge Room, in the Black Stone Block, 39 Victoria Street, Amherst, on the 12th day of October, 1909, the Provisional Chairman of the meeting was W. Brother George R. Chisholm and the Provisional Secretary was Brother Wiley M. Manning. The Second Tuesday of the month was chosen for the regular meeting.

The nominating committee at this meeting recommended the following officers for the new lodge:

 Black & Lamy Block on right.

Worshipful Master       George R. Chisholm

Senior Warden        Charles Stanley Sutherland

Junior Warden                        Daniel A. Morrison

Secretary Wiley M. Manning

Treasurer  John W. Morrison

Senior Deacon     James Layton Ralston

Junior Deacon   Frederick L. Blair

Senior Steward        Garnet K. Chapman

Junior Steward        Douglas C. McLeod

Inner Guard           James P. Atherton

Tyler        Charles S. McLeod   P.M.

These were later appointed as officers of the new lodge.


                           Late in 1910 two more brothers affiliated with Alexandra.

                      Robert Pugsley         Merchant Acacia No.8

                      Charles A. Scott Traveller Restigouche No. 25, N.B

Some High Lights From Our History 

Through the devastation caused by a fire in 1943 much of our history was lost. However, a record has recently come to light that has given some flesh to the lost bones of our history. From this record and much research in other areas for information I am pleased to be able to high light some interesting facts and happenings in our first one hundred plus years. 

1910 to  1914

March 1, 1910      The Most Worshipful Brother William Marshall Black visited the lodge at a special meeting.

July 11, 1911      A letter was read from the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia. Enclosed were the By-Laws of the Lodge approved by the Grand Master.

1913                       The Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia met in Amherst   in 1913.

Sept. 9, 1913           At the regular meeting on September 9, 1913, the Worshipful Brother Daniel A. Morrison presented to the lodge a complete set of collars and jewels for the officers. This was much appreciated by the members and a vote of thanks was given to Brother Morrison.

March 10, 1914     At the regular meeting on March 10, 1914, a Past Master’s Jewel was presented to Worshipful Brother D. A. Morrison in appreciation of his services to and continued interest in the lodge.  

To view the original 1911 By-laws Click on the above image. 

August 4, 1914 to November 11, 1918 

Many of the brothers of Alexandra Lodge #87 fought in the First World War and some of them paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. To read more about these brave brothers and see a few pictures of the Amherst men that went to war click on the picture above.

Bro. Wallace G. Sutherland of Alexandra Lodge #87

One of our brothers who fought Overseas during The Great War.

Lodge Happenings Through the Years 

1919 to 1939

Installation by St. Andrews Lodge #1 April 1919

On the 8th of April 1919, the Lodge was visited by St. Andrews Lodge #1 of Halifax. A large number of Halifax Brethren attended. The Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother John Hay paid his official visit to our lodge. Interesting remarks were made by the Grand Master and the Grand Secretary, John C. Jones on the subject of the Masonic Home Endowment Fund. Pledge Cards were distributed and over eight hundred dollars was raised for this fund.

The officers of St. Andrews Lodge #1 installed our officers for the year.

The visiting Brethren were entertained at a banquet at the Parish Hall served by the Ladies of Christ Church. 

 Grand Master’s Visit 1921

On the 7th day of April 1921, the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother George D. McDougall, made an official visit to the lodge and duly installed the officers.

New Lodge Quarters

During the year (April 1, 1922 to April 1, 1923) this lodge and Acacia Lodge entered into an agreement to lease the third floor of the building situated on Victoria and Havelock Streets in the town of Amherst (known as the MacLaughlin Block), for a period, not to exceed twenty years, at a rental of $450.00 per year, for lodge purposes. The two lodges spent a sum of $4,000.00 in fitting up these quarters and had one of the best Masonic Lodges and recreation rooms in the Maritime Provinces.

New Bible 1922

RW Brother D.A. Morrison presented the lodge with a beautiful bound and inscribed Holy Bible, the Great Light of Masonry. The gift was accepted on behalf of the lodge by the Worshipful Master, Roy David Crawford (1922).

Grand Master's Visit 1923

On February 20, 1923, the Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother James Henry Winfield made an official visit to the lodge accompanied by Grand Lodge officers.

Pool Table 1924

During the year (1924/1925) a pool table was presented to the Masonic Fraternity by a number of members of Alexandra and Acacia Lodges.

1931 - 1935 Year Events

On January 12, 1932, the visit to the lodge of the District Deputy of RW Bro. George M. Morrison, a member of the lodge, took place. He was accompanied by MW Bro. C.R. Smith and Brothers A.J. Crease, A.J. Munro, H.N. Stevens, N.T. Avard and C.H. Read. Interesting addresses by all of them made the meeting a most instructive one.

This meeting was followed on April 1, 1932 by a joint meeting with Acacia Lodge #8 when the officers of both lodges were installed by RW Bro. A.J. Crease and others. Excellent addresses were given, both in the lodge room and at the supper which followed. 

During the year the lodge lost several of its prominent members.

Among the Grand Lodge Officers appointed in 1932 was Bro. W. G. Ayer, Grand Senior Deacon with RW Bro. G. M. Morrison continuing as DDGM for District No.6.

On March 14, 1933 the Grand Master, MW Bro. R.V. Harris, a former resident of Amherst, paid a fraternal visit to a joint meeting of two Amherst Lodges, accompanied by a very large number of brethren on which occasion he addressed the gathering on the History of Freemasonry in Cumberland County, at the banquet which followed he entertained them with a brief history of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia.

On May 11, 1934 an official visit to the lodge was made by RW Bro. R.D. Russell, DDGM District No.6 when the M.M. Degree was conferred on two candidates in excellent style by the recently elected officers, followed by a banquet at which addresses were given by several of the Past Grand officers of the lodge.

Among the Grand Lodge Officers elected to office we find the names RW Bro. Norman T. Avard, as Senior Grand Warden. In the following June 1935, he was elected Deputy Grand Master.

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary 1934

As a way of celebrating its 25th Anniversary on Sept. 27, 1934, Alexandra Lodge #87 hosted the District meeting for District No.6  A programme of sports was carried out in the afternoon. Supper followed at the Bluebird Tea Room and at 8:00 pm the District meeting was formally opened. The Grand Master, Regional V. Harris was accompanied by RW Bro.s N.T. Avard, R.D. Russell, C.D. Shipley and James C. Jones, Grand Secretary. The Mayor of Amherst, VW Bro. C. H. Read welcomed the brethren. There were over 200 present. Every lodge in the District was well represented and the Grand Master addressed the meeting on “The Mission of Masonry”. The meeting was one of the most outstanding in the history of the lodge.

At this meeting the lodge donated a silver cup as a tug-of-war trophy to be awarded each year to the “strongest” Lodge in the District, that is physically not numerically.


Five Fifty-Year Jewels Presented 1935

On October 7, 1935, a joint meeting of Acacia and Alexandra Lodges was held at which time five 50 year jewels were presented to members of the older lodge. The attendance was large.

 

MW Bro. Norman T. Avard  -  Grand Master 

In June 1936, Bro. Norman T. Avard was elected Grand Master of Masons in Nova Scotia. MW Bro. Avard was the first brother from Alexandra to be elected to this position. 

In November 1936 he represented our Grand Lodge at the 200th Anniversary celebrations of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

Later on Dec. 27th, he addressed a joint meeting of the two Amherst Lodges on the highlights of his visit and again on January 9th, 1937, told the story in full of his experiences in Edinburgh, in an address to Alexandra Lodge on that occasion.

The Grand Master, MW Bro. Avard visited the lodge on April 8, 1938 when a large attendance greeted him and again on April 29th when a joint installation of the officers of the two lodges took place. This was the 24th consecutive occasion  when RW Bro. A.J. Crease installed the officers. He was presented with a handsome traveling bag to commemorate the occasion.

In June 1938, MW Bro. Avard was elected as Grand Master of the Craft for a third term, and as such presided over the programme carried out in July of that year, commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the founding by Erasmus James Philipps of the first lodge on Canadian soil at Annapolis Royal in June 1738. MW Bro. Avard proved a wonderful host to the many visiting brethren from the British Isles, Canada and the United States and contributed greatly to the success of the occasion.

MW Bro. Avard was one of the first members having been raised in Alexandra Lodge on April 14th, 1913. He served as our Master of Alexandra Lodge in 1919. He was a member of all branches of Masonry not only the York Rites bodies but of the Scottish Rite in which he reached the summit as a thirty third degree Mason. On March 10th 1966 Alexandra held a special “N.T. Avard Night” in his honor. This was probably the largest meeting held in its history and on that occasion Presiding Grand Masters and Past Grand Masters from all over the Maritime Provinces met to honor this distinguished Brother.

April 26, 1939 

 MW Bro. N.T. Avard officiated and raised his son C.Walter Avard.

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