In 1902 the Victoria Harbour Masonic Club was organized by the Freemasons of that hamlet which was a railway station of the Grand Trunk Railway, located in Tay Township on the shores of Hogg Bay where the Victoria Harbour Lumber Company had three mills. The Village of Victoria Harbour was incorporated in 1911 and then again became part of Tay Township by amalgamation in 1994. The Club held semi-monthly meetings on the second floor of W.Bro. A.A. Thorburn’s tailor shop, a frame building standing on the south side of William Street, midway between Albert and Martha Streets. The President was W.Bro. E.B.Brown and the Secretary, Bro. D.G. MacRobbie, MD. The members were mostly Brethren of Caledonian Lodge No.249 in Midland. To attend Lodge, the Brethren of Victoria Harbour would take the evening train into Midland, stay overnight at the hotel and return on the morning train in time to return to work. Transportation at the turn of the century was a lot different than what it is today. In 1904,sponsored by its Mother Lodge, Caledonian No.249, under the dispensation of the Most Worshipful, the Grand Master B. Allen, R.W.Bro. J.D.Hamill, District Deputy of Georgian District No.9, Instituted Victoria Lodge on July 7th meeting on the second floor of the Epplet Building on Albert Street.
Victoria Lodge No. 470 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons on the Register of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario was Consecrated on October 12th, 1905 by the District Deputy Grand Master, R.W.Bro. A.D. Knight.
|Bro.||A. Eplett||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||A. H. Vent||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||George J. Vent||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||J. E. Smyth||Orillia Lodge #192|
|Bro.||A. A. Thorburn||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||Thos. Cross||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|W.||Bro.||E. B. Brown||Florence Lodge #390|
|Bro.||E. C. Wardell||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||B. Anderson||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||D. G. MacRobbie||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||J. H. Sheppard||Orillia Lodge #192|
|R.||W.||Bro.||J. D. Harnill, DDGM||Pythagoras Lodge #137|
|Bro.||N. McMillan||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||J. S. Wardell||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||Levi S. Taylor||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||W. E. Montgomery||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||Wm. McTavish||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||W. H. Thornton||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||W. G. Law||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Bro.||Douglas McLeod||Golden Rule Lodge #360|
|W.||Bro.||J. S. Fraleigh||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|W.||Bro.||H. R. McGill||Caledonian Lodge #249|
|Worshipful Master||Wor. Bro||Byron Brown|
|Senior Warden||Bro||J. S. Wardell|
|Junior Warden||Bro||George J. Vent|
|Secretary||Bro||D. G. MacRobbie|
|Chaplain||Bro||J. E. Smyth|
|Treasurer||Bro||J. A. Eplett|
|Inner Guard||Bro||N. McMillan|
|Senior Deacon||Bro||E. C. Wardell|
|Junior Deacon||Bro||C. B. Anderson|
|Senior Stewart||Bro||A. A. Thorburn|
|Junior Stewart||Bro||Thos. Cross|
|Tyler||Bro||A. H. Vent|
During the 103 years , Victoria Lodge has been honoured by having four of its members elected to the very important office of Right Worshipful District Deputy Grand Master in the persons of:
|R.||Wor.||Bro.||E. Byron Brown||1920|
|R.||Wor.||Bro.||Arthur D. Hamilton||1976|
|R.||Wor.||Bro.||Winston J. Elliott||1996|
In addition six Past Masters have received recognition from Grand Lodge by being appointed to Grand Lodge Office as follows:
|V.||Wor.||Bro.||Clarence Moore||1948||Grand Steward|
|V.||Wor.||Bro.||Robert Richardson||1977||Grand Steward|
|V.||Wor.||Bro.||Vern Slade||Grand Steward|
|V.||Wor.||Bro.||Phil Meech||Grand Steward|
|V.||Wor.||Bro.||Gordon Belcher||1998||Grand Steward|
|R.||Wor.||Bro.||J. William Lidstone||1971-1972||Grand Director of Ceremonies|
On June 3rd, 1914 Victoria Lodge met for the first time in new quarters fitted out in the Burnie Block on William Street East on Then on the 10th of October, fire destroyed the building together with most of the Lodge effects. Yet, after the damage was repaired, at Joint Installation of Officers was held with Caledonian Lodge No.249 on the 27th of December that same year.
Following another fire on the 10 of September, 1918, when this building was totally destroy, everything was lost save the Officers Collars and Jewels and the Books. The Lodge met, under dispensation, in the Orange Hall from October 16, 1918 until May 20th, 1920. A subscription having been taken in the amount of $400.00 and a ten year lease obtained, new quarters were dedicated in the Gem Theatre. Some time later, the Lodge was moved to a room above the General Store and had a common wall with the Orange Lodge.
The social highlight of the year in those bygone days was a winter “Masonic-At-Home” A turkey dinner, followed with angel food cake, a Victorian tradition, was prepared by the wives and served in the Orange Hall. The entertainment was square dancing as Victoria Lodge did not allow round dancing. A connecting door, allowed attendees to retire, from the festivities, to the Lodge Room.
Fire again claimed Victoria Lodge on May 29th, 1949 and the Lodge lost just about everything. Our current building had become vacant. It had been the Municipal Office for both Tay Township and the Village of Victoria Harbour, as well as the office of the Tay Municipal Telephone Company. The Council Chamber being on the second floor. There was a jail cell on the first floor. The Municpal Office was moved to the former Library on the corner of William and Albert Streets and the Telephone Company to the building (now a residence) to the west of this building. Throught the efforts of W.Bro. Walter E. Lumsden, Town Clerk, and W.Bro. Lorne A. Ball, village druggist and much hard work by the Lodge Brethren the Lodge Room at 229 Albert Street was dedicated on Monday, May 14th, 1951 by the Most Worshipful Grand Master J. P. Maher, assited by the Grand Secretary R.W.Bro. Ewart Gladstone Dixon and the Grand Chaplaian, R.W.Bro. J. L. Wright.. Until June of 1965, the Ontario Provincial Police operated out of the first floor. In 1964 the Lodge room was renovated with the old metal ceiling replaced with white tile, the walls recovered with gyproc and painted, new lighting, carpet and mosaic pavement. Drapes hung and a fire escape installed. Special thanks was extended to W.Bros. Walter Lumsden, Edward Fowler, Bruce Crooke and Brothers Eric Fowler, William Taylor and Reg Wood.. In 1965 the Ante Room was refurbished. In 1966 a new roof was installed. In 1968 the distinctive “West” was acquired from Georgian Lodge No.348 when they moved their quarters from Penetanguishene to the Masonic Temple in Midland. The renovation and redecorating of the Banquet Room commenced in 1970 and completed in 1972 with special thanks to W.Bro. Vern Slade. In 1982, a two story addition was added to the west side of the building. This addition provided for an inside stairway to the second floor, washrooms in both the basement and on the second floor and a kitchen on the first floor.
In all eighty eight Masters have served Victoria Lodge. Thirty of these are still living and in good standing. Also of many members who were Past Masters of other lodges, nine are living and in good standing, making the number of our living Past Masters, thirty-nine.
In June of 2007 Victoria Lodge No. 470 voted to amalgamate with Caledonian Lodge No. 249 to meet at 229 Albert Street in Victoria Harbour.
For much of the material presented in this Historical Sketch, we are indebted to the efforts, particularly of R.W.Bro. John William Lidstone, II and also secretaries of Victoria Lodge W.Bros. Art Rollinson, 1959 to 1969, James Tumber, Sr., 1970 to 1976, R.Wor.Bro. Arthur Hamilton, 1977, 1978 V.Wor.Bro. Vern Slade, 1979 to 1997 and W.Bro. Harold Belfry 1998 - 2007.
In March of 2007, several senior Brethren of Caledonian and Victoria Lodges met in discussion of the long range prospects for Freemasonry in the Bayport area. Given the current trend of declining membership numbers and the steadily increasing costs of maintaining buildings, the future looked very difficult. With a view to securing stronger potential, it was felt that whereas distance and travel, the original motivation for the formation of the several Lodges, was no longer an issue, the best course of action to secure the future of Freemasonry here.
Starting in April, the concept was discussed with all the Past Masters of the Lodges and received positive support. In May, the Constitutional Notices of Motion were presented and in June the Brethren of both Lodges endorsed Amalgamation unanimously. The requisite Committee was appointed, consisting of R.W.Bros. David G. Walker and J.William Lidstone, W.Bros. Harold E. Belfry, and Garry C. McPhail and the Worshipful Masters John W. Lidstone, 470 and Gray Watters, 249. The Grand Master appointed R.W.Bro. Douglas Conway, Member of the Board of General Purposes to act as Chair. Articles of Amalgamation were agreed to and presented to the membership in July. With only one objection being received, The Grand Master approved the Amalgamation of Caledonian Lodge No.249 and Victoria Lodge No.470 to become Bayport Lodge No.249.
A great deal of work was accomplished by the Brethren during the next several months to amalgamate the collective furniture and accoutrements of the founding Lodges and to refurbish the Lodge Room and building at Victoria Harbour to blend the tradition and heritage of both. The exterior front of the building was upgraded with new coloured stucco and otherwise enhanced to improve our outward physical appearance in the community. Ownership of the building is now held, administered and operated by Bayport Temple Corporation on behalf of the members of the Lodge.
n Friday, November 16th, 2008, Most Worshipful Brother Allan J. Petrisor, Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario, presided over the Ceremony of Amalgamation constituting Bayport Lodge No. 249, G.R.C. He was assisted in this impressive ceremony by the several Grand Officers and the District Deputy Grand Master R.W.Bro. Stan Connors. The Amalgamation was preceded by a banquet held at the Restaurant at Ste.Marie Among the Hurons and followed by the Installation of the first Officers of Bayport Lodge. Also at this meeting, the first Applications for Initiation and for Affiliation to Bayport Lodge were received.
|Worshipful Master||Wor. Bro||Bill Lidstone|
|Immediate Past Master||Wor. Bro||Gray Watters|
|Senior Warden||Bro||Duncan Matheson|
|Junior Warden||Bro||Tim Stewart|
|Secretary||Wor. Bro||Hal Belfry|
|Chaplain||Bro||J. Gordon Walker|
|Treasurer||Rt Wor. Bro||David G. Walker|
|Inner Guard||Bro||Rene Hackstetter|
|Senior Deacon||Bro||Glen Knox|
|Junior Deacon||Bro||Scott Warnock|
|Senior Stewart||Bro||AChristoph Lorenz|
|Junior Stewart||Bro||Jason Helm|
|Historian||Rt Wor. Bro||J. William Lidstone|
|Bayport Lodge||No. 249||Ancient Free and Accepted Masons|
|Kichikewana Chapter||No. 167||Royal Arch Masons|
|Huronia Conclave||No. 18||Grand Imperial Conclave of Canada|
|Shealtiel Council||No. 21||Royal & Select Masters of Ontario|
|Midland Bay Lodge||No. 18||Royal Ark Mariners|
|Holy Rood College||No. 66||York Rite Sovereign College of North America|
As Bayport Lodge No.249 continues and preserves the traditions of Freemasonry in this community and the illustrious heritage of both Caledonian Lodge No.249 and Victoria Lodge No. 470, we do so with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. This chapter of our Masonic history began with a lodge of 156 members of whom 55 hold the rank of Past Master. Of these Past Masters 8 hold Grand Lodge Rank as Past Grand Stewards, 1 as a Past Grand Senior Deacon, 1 as a Past Grand Director of Ceremonies and 3 as Past District Deputy Grand Masters. We have 5 members who have 60 years masonic service, and 15 more with 50 years.<