History of Masonry
in Pictou County, it might be well to lay a foundation and
envision to our readers conditions as they were in the beginning.
People today, with the comforts and luxuries of these more modern
times, are wont to often gloss over the rigors and hardships of
Pioneer days. But it was in this undeveloped land, in those Pioneer
days that the seed of Masonry was planted among the early settlers.
How it has survived and progressed, we will now try to unfold to you,
from the few records that have been saved from the ravages of time,
by documents that have been salvaged through the years, and by the
love for Masonic History.
Pictou, a Micmac name,
for one of
chief Counties in the Province and of its County, Capital, has had
various names since the year 1750, such as Coleraine, New Paisley,
Alexandria, Donegall, Teigmouth, Southampton and Walmsley, but the
original name has outlived them all.
The first known use of this name,
Pictou, which is of Micmac Indian origin, was in Nicolas Denys'
Description and Natural History of Acadia 1672. Silas Rand in his
Micmac Reader derives it from - Piktook - meaning ‘an explosion’,
which, in another work, he explains as referring to bubbles of gas
which rise in the water there from the coal veins.
The first settlers arrived in
June 10th. 1767, they came on the brig ‘Hope’ or ‘Betsey’,
with Captain John Hull, of Rhode Island, as Master. Early Pictou
County Historians had to depend upon family traditions, and much of
their information came from unwritten sources, from the memories of
descendents, of the early settlers. The explanation of the name
‘Hope’ is suggested by the Motto of the State of Rhode Island and
the Providence Plantations, which appears on a shield bearing a large
anchor and the single word ‘Hope’. A replica of this shield was
probably in the cabin of the Brig ‘Betsey’, which was built in
Rhode Island, and the little group of passengers seeing it, could
easily think that ‘Hope’ was the name of the ship. There is no
known, written record of a ship ‘Hope’ sailing for or arriving at
Pictou about this time; but there is a record of a Brigantine,
‘Betsey’, 30 tons, John Hull, Master, clearing from Philadelphia
on May 4th 1767, with such persons as were "minded to settle”
on the Philadelphia Plantation at Pictou in Nova Scotia; this ship
discharged three thousand feet of Pine Boards at the Port of Halifax,
N.S., on the 31st of May, 1767.
This first migration was
six families, the names of one of them is not known. The
other families were: Dr. John Harris, Agent; Robert Patterson,
Surveyor; James MacCabe, John Rogers and Henry Cumminger. Shortly
after arrival, they were joined by five or six young men from Truro.
The "Hector" In
"Hector", an old Dutch ship, John Spears, Master, arrived
with settlers from the Highlands of Scotland. Most of her passengers
embarked at Loch Broom in Ross-shire, early in July. There were
thirty-three families and twenty-five unmarried men. Three families
and five young men embarked at Greenock, bringing the total number of
passengers to two hundred. After a long and painful voyage, during
which 18 persons died, and one child was born, the new settlers
arrived in the Harbour of Pictou, on September 15th. 1773.
The child was
wife of David Page of Truro, and the grandmother of the late Mr.
Justice T. Sherman Rogers of the Supreme Court.
The "Hector" settlers were
the first to come from Scotland to the County of Pictou,
monument commemorating the arrival of this migration has been erected
in one of the Public Squares of the Town.
All of these
did not remain there. A group of them went to what is now Colchester
County, and founded other settlements. Another group settled in Hants
County, and a few went to Truro, to Halifax and even to Liverpool.
The homes of
built, were composed of logs, generally in their round state, laid
upon one another, with moss stuffed between them. The roofs were
formed of the bark of trees, cut in pieces of equal length, disposed
in regular tiers, with ends and edges overlapping. The bark was kept
in place by poles running along the whole length of the building and
fastened at the ends with withes. Squire Patterson's house was the
only framed one in Pictou. Most of the furniture in Pictou homes was
of the rudest description. A block of wood or a rude bench, made out
of a slab of wood with four sticks inserted, served as chairs and
tables. Food was served in wooden dishes, and eaten with wooden
spoons. Money was scarcely seen and almost all trade was done by
barter. Wheat and maple sugar were the principal circulating mediums.
The first date of Masonry in
which there is a record is December 7th. 1785, seven months later on
July 20th, 1786, the Rev. James MacGregor arrived in Pictou. Let us
look at Pictou as he saw it, "When I looked around the shores of
the harbour, I was greatly disappointed and cast down, for there was
scarcely anything to be seen but woods growing down to the water's
edge. Here and there a mean timber hut was visible in a small
clearing, which appeared no bigger than a garden to the woods.
Nowhere could I see two houses without some woods between them. I
asked Hugh Fraser, "Where is the town ?" He replied, "There
is no town but what you see." My disappointments were immensely
discouraging to me, for I looked on myself as an exile from the
Church and society. I saw that Nova Scotia, and especially Pictou,
was very far behind the idea which I had formed of them, I renounced
at once all idea of ever seeing a town in Pictou." Dr. MacGregor
preached his first sermon in Pictou, in Squire Patterson’s barn on
July 23rd He served the spiritual needs of the people of Pictou
County until his death on March 3rd,1830.
Masonry in Pictou County
propagated by the men of Thistle Lodge of the 82nd Hamilton
Regiment. This Regiment was raised in the Scottish Lowlands in
1777-78 for service in the American Revolution. After garrison duty
in Halifax, the Regiment was transferred to New York.
Following the battle of Guildford Court
House in March, 1781, the Regiment was returned to
find Captain John Moore present at St. John's Lodge, Halifax on April
2nd 1781, when he was initiated, receiving the 2nd and 3rd degrees on
June 5th and 26th 1781. In 1782, the brethren of the Regiment applied
for a dispensation for a Lodge, to be known as "Thistle Lodge."
This Lodge took part in the meetings of the Quarterly Communications
from June 1782 until July 1783. In April 1783, this Lodge had a
membership of 37.
In 1783, the 82nd Regiment was
disbanded, some of the men were returned to Scotland,
Colors of the 82nd Regiment now hang in St. Giles Cathedral,
Edinburgh, and are the oldest of all the Scottish Regimental Colors
in that edifice. Many of the men who remained in Nova Scotia, were
settled at Pictou Landing, then known as Walmsley Township. The name
"Walmsley", it would seem, was conferred in 1782 or 1783,
shortly after the arrival of the Hon. John Parr, whose wife was Sara,
daughter of Robert Walmsley of The House of Ince, Lancashire. The old
family manor is now an Hotel, and is known as the Walmsley Arms.
Besides the men
Pictou Landing, others were settled on the south side of Pictou
Harbour, the upper part of Fisher's Grant, Chance Harbour, Merigomish
and the Ponds. Col. Alexander Robertson was granted Big Island;
Captain John Fraser settled at Fraser's Point, with his wife and. two
sons, John (Collector), and Simon (Major). From members of the 82nd
Regiment are descended the Carmichaels of New Glasgow; the Ives of
Pictou; the McQueens of Little Harbour; and the Robertsons of Barneys
The Loyalist Migration,
so potent a
factor in other parts of the Province, scarcely reached Pictou at all
and exerted little or no influence.
Masonry begins, On December 7th
petition was presented to the Provincial Grand Lodge at Halifax,
signed by John Fraser, James Carmichael, George Brown, Robert
Patterson and Robert Stewart praying for a warrant. "The
Brethern being well known and vouched for, the same was granted."
occasion, there was
the Grand Lodge, Alexander Copeland who acted as J. G. W., one of two
brothers who were early settlers in Pictou, and originally from
Castle Douglass, in Dumfriesshire. He may have been the member of
Grand Lodge who was able to vouch for the petitioners as well known.
The number 14
was given to
and Walmsley Lodge No.
14 came into
being, the Charter Members of
which were as follows:
John Fraser, the first Master, was
son of Captain John Fraser of the 82nd Regiment. Captain Fraser lived
at Fraser's Point, and was appointed a magistrate, October 15, 1784.
His wife and two sons followed him from Scotland. John, the elder,
called "Collector" was afterwards also the first Master of
New Caledonia Lodge in 1810. The other son, Simon, called "Major"
was also a charter member of Walmsley Lodge.
James Carmichael, the first S.W.,
an N.C.O. in the 82nd Regiment, and a native of Perthshire. He
received a grant of 200 acres. His descendents are well known in
Robert Patterson was a Land
who came with the "Hope" (Betsey) from Philadelphia in
1767. He was a native of. Renfrew, Scotland, a sutler with the Army
previous to the peace of 1763, and a resided at Cross Roads, now
Churchville, Maryland, Magistrate 1774; he was treasurer, of the
Lodge in 1788, built the first frame house in Pictou, and for many
years was the leading man there; laid out all the first lots,
surveyed all the early grants, and was prominent in all the public
affairs of the place, the "Father of Pictou" lived near
Mortimer's Point, he died on September 20th, 1808; buried at Durham.
He was made a Mason in Lodge No. 2 (Moderns) at Philadelphia, October
14th, 1758.(Old Masonic Lodges in Pennsylvania Vol. 1, Page 76).
Alex MacKenzie seems
to have been a
member of Thistle Lodge in the 82nd Regiment.
James Elmslie was
S.W. in 1789 and
withdrew December 14th, 1789.
"Stuart") usually known as "Smashem", his
tavorite expression in describing battle scenes, was also an N.C.O.
of the 82nd Regiment. He lived on Big Island, at a point later known
as "Smashem's Head".
George Brown, the
first J.W., of the
82nd Regiment settled at Fraser's Mountain.
The records of
the Lodge are
only the principal officers for 1785, 1788 .and 1789 are known and
are as follows:
| John Fraser
|| John Fraser
|| John Fraser
| James Carmichael
|| James Elmslie
|| James Elmslie
| George Brown
|| Samuel Herbert
|| Samuel Herbert
| Robert Patterson
| George Brown
|| Thomas Morris
The Members of Walmsley Lodge No. 14,
1785 - 1795 were:
| Simon L. Fraser
| John Fraser
|| James Elmslie
|| Hugh Denoon
| James Carmichael
|| Richard Mason
In March 1789, the
Master wrote the
Grand Secretary that "by some unaccountable means" they had
lost their Warrant, and asked for a duplicate; a certified copy of
the Warrant was granted, March 10th.
In the Grand
certificate granted to Hugh Denoon, October 11, 1789, signed by John
Fraser, Master; James Elmslie, S.W.; James Chambers, J.W. and Thomas
Morris, Secretary. Pro.tem. His registration in the books of Grand
Lodge did not take place until June 25th 1794.
Master of the
attended Grand Lodge Meetings on several occasions.
In the Index to
Register appears the notation "recalled Pictou 1794” but in
the Minute Book of Grand Lodge there is a later entry (March 4th
1795), recording the fact that the Grand Secretary reported "No.
14 and three other lodges mentioned, had not for a considerable time
past made any Return or paid any dues to the Grand Fund of Charity",
whereupon a Committee was appointed to make investigations and if
found expedient recall the above mentioned Warrants."
the last of
records of Walmsley Lodge No. 14, and apparently the Lodge had
expired, physically, at or near the last given date. But the Spirit
of Masonry had not died altogether, as will be shown by an event
which takes place about fifteen years later.
From 1794 or
either expired or their Warrant was recalled by the Provincial Grand
Lodge, until 1810, there can be found no trace of any Masonic
activity in Pictou County,
Dated January 3rd, 1810 we
Petition of the Master Masons within the District of Pictou presented
to "Sir John Wentworth, L.L.D, Grand Master Mason of Nova Scotia
and the other office bearers of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia,
"praying for a Charter" for erecting a Lodge in the
District, holding of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, to be called
"The New Caledonian Lodge."
Officers named in
Petition were: James Graham, Master; John Fraser, Deputy Master; John
Cameron, S.W.; William Taylor, J.W.; Hector MacLean, Treasurer;
Archibald MacLean, Secretary; and James Wilson Tyler. It is probable
that the John Fraser, named as Deputy Master, is the same Brother as
John Fraser, the Master of Walmsley Lodge. To the same Lodge on its
organization belonged Robert Stuart also of the same Lodge, but these
two and Hugh Denoon, who joined this Lodge in 1820, seem to be the
only links connecting the Lodge and its predecessor.
interesting to note
Denoon joined New Caledonian Lodge in 1820, and that same year was
elected Worshipful Master, and again in 1821. It is unlikely that he
had belonged to any other Masonic Lodge except Walmsley. Had he
filled the other office of Junior Warden, Senior Warden, or perhaps
Master of Walmsley Lodge in the last years of its existence?
Prayer of their
Petition was answered, and the Warrant
No. 35, dated January 26th
1810, was granted to New Caledonian Lodge.
inception on February
Robert Stuart was appointed S.D., and Thomas Graham, J.D. The first
candidate was Dr. James Skinner of Pictou, who received the E.A.
degree at the same meeting, "the Brethern from his well known
character and respectability unanimously agreed to dispense with the
formality presented in his case and he was accordingly raised to the
degree of an Entered Apprentice."
At the next
the Master, James Graham, stated -that from his particular situation
and the close attendance his vocation of life required, he requested
leave to resign the chair and recommended Bro. John Fraser as his
successor, who was unanimously agreed to and installed in due form."
Today, such a proceeding would be considered very irregular.
At the same
Hamilton, James Skinner and John Crane petitioned the Lodge to be
passed to the degree of a Fellow Craft, next meeting.
At the end of
(Dec. 27, 1810), the original ten members had increased to
twenty-four by imitation and affiliations, after deducting five
"declared off" and one dead.
become a member
of the Lodge in 1811 was James J. Logie, for some reason he fell in
disfavour in the Lodge, and two letters in reference to his expulsion
were written to Grand Lode. The result was that James Logie was
expelled October 23rd, 1812. This action did not prove to be popular,
or some of the brethren thought that an injustice was done.
Evidently, there was a diversity of opinion among the brethren. At
any rate, a letter was sent to Grand Lodge from Richard Masters,
dated February 1st, 1813. This was followed by a letter from
Robert Logan on March 9th,1813, enclosing a petition on behalf of
James Logie. I do not know just what action Grand Lodge took, but it
is interesting to note that James Logie was elected Junior Warden for
the year 1814.
interruption until 1830, however the records of New Caledonia Lodge
from 1830 to 1849 are very meagre. This is probably due to the
following causes: The unsettled state of the Lodge in 1830, working
under Dispensation from the Provincial Grand Lodge, while waiting for
a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England.
In response to
of the Grand
Lodge of England that all Lodges holding Warrants from the Provincial
Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, surrender their Warrants and apply for a
Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England, the lodge on October 6th,
1828, petitioned the Grand Lodge of England for a new Warrant.
Pending receipt of said Warrant, the Lodge worked under Warrant No.
35 and a Dispensation issued by John Albro, The Provincial Grand
Master, from 1828 to 1849, when a Warrant No. 826 was issued to the
Lodge by the Grand Lodge of England on October 15, 1849. In the year
1863, the number of the Warrant of the Lodge was changed to No. 565,
on the English Registry. In the year 1869 New Caledonia Lodge joined
the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia becoming No. 11 on the Registry of
said Grand Lodge, and has continued on said Registry until the
2010 marks the
anniversary of New
Caledonia Lodge No. 11, Pictou.
in Pictou County
Lodge No, 5, New Glasgow;
On the 30th day of November, 1838, the first regular meeting of
Albion Lodge, New Glasgow was held at Mrs. Chisholm's Inn. The Lodge
was constituted under a Dispensation from the Provincial Grand Lodge
of Nova Scotia. Henry Blackadar, Master of New Caledonia Lodge,
Pictou, was present and installed the Officers. James Cassidy,
Jointer, was installed in the Master's chair, James Miline, Brewer,
was Senior Warden; Adam Carr, Merchant, was Treasurer; and William
Gordon was Senior Deacon. Albion Lodge received Dispensation,
October, 1838; Warrant No. 692 E.C., 30th April 1840; No. 470, 1863
and joined the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia as Albion No. 5 in the year
Albion Lodge in
Lodge No. 23,
Stellarton received a Dispensation, June 1860; Warrant No.
E.C., 14th June 1861; No. 870, 1863; No. 23 Grand Lodge of Nova
1985 marks the
anniversary of Keith
Lodge No. 23, Stellarton.
No. 50, Westville: On September 11, 1868, The Grand Lodge
Scotia received a Petition from the Masons of Westville for a charter
to enable them to commence their Masonic labours, under the name of
"Western Lodge", but the petition not being recommended by
the nearest lodge, was sent back for the recommendation of Truro
Lodge No. 15, on December 11th. 1868, the first charter to be granted
to a lodge in Pictou County, by the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, was
granted to Western Star Lodge, Westville, and the number 24 was
assigned to the Lodge. In 1869, the number of Western Star Lodge was
changed from 24 to 50.
existence for 117 years.
Manitoba Lodge No. 59, New Glasgow:
Warrant No. 59, Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, December 2, 1870,
Consolidated with Albion Lodge No. 5, August 27th. 1881.
existence for 11
years - now
Lodge No. 68,
Hopewell: Dispensation, 17th March, 1873; Warrant No. 68,
1874; Amalgamated with Keith Lodge No. 23, Stellarton, 24th.
December, 1895; Warrant restored 9th. June, 1920.
Curren Lodge in
for 112 years.
Lodge No. 77,
Thorburn: Dispensation, 15th. May, 1881; Warrant, No. 77,
Hudson Lodge in
for 104 years.
Lodge No. 91,
Trenton: Dispensation, June 1916; Warrant, No. 91, 13th
Doric Lodge in
Lodge No. 92,
New Glasgow:Dispensation, 24th April, 1918; Warrant No.
Euclid Lodge in
for 67 years.
District as of
December 31 1983
Lodge No. 5,
No. 11, Pictou
Lodge No. 23,
No. 50, Westville
Lodge No. 68,
Lodge No. 77,
Lodge No. 91,
Lodge No. 92, New Glasgow
Dates and Events
The Bridge over
River at New
Glasgow was reported completed on February 7th 1877 New Glasgow was
then considered a ‘thriving little Village’
over the coal-fields, both of Sydney and Pictou. Coal having been
discovered in Pictou County in 1798.
The First Steam
Nova Scotia, was put in operation at the Albion Mines, on Friday,
December 7th 1827.
Newspaper to be
Pictou County, began on December 7th 1827, its name "The
of the Town
had grown to 1439 as of October 2nd 1828. The number of horses in the
Pictou District had increased from 4, on September 10th 1797, to 1609
on October2nd 1828.
Ezra Witter of
Stage Coach run between Halifax and Pictou on April 1, 1816. In 1817,
his mail coach was running weekly, The fare was $ 12.00. The Eastern
Stage Coach Company, formed in May, 1829, covered the distance in
less time, and charged only $ 6.00 fare from Halifax to Pictou. In
l833, J. W. Blanchard was running a weekly stage between Pictou and
Antigonish, the fare was $ 2.00
by water was
established by Lieutenant Governor Patterson, by means of a service
by birch bark canoe, between Pictou and Prince Edward Island in 1775.
This was followed by the Pictou Landing Ferry in 1806. Pictou to P.
E. I. Packet in 1825. Steam Boat Richard Smith to Charlottetown in
1830. The Royal William Steamer, 1833, for London calling at Pictou.
Steamer Cape Breton to P. E. I., 1836.Mail route to P. E. I., 1842.
Ferry to New Glasgow, 1842. Pictou Harbour Ferries, 1848. Steamer
Pluto between Pictou and the Loading Ground, put in operation in
1849, by the General Mining Company, on a passenger run and replacing
the Albion as a tug boat.
held on a
hill, in the rear of the Town of Pictou on Sunday, July 10th 1830, at
which nearly 2,000 persons were present.
at Pictou on Thursday, June 28th, 1838.
Opening of the
first railway in Canada, which had begun in 1536, was opened for
traffic on Thursday, September 19th 1839. The three locomotives of
the railroad were: The Sampson, the Hercules and the John Biddle.
of note which
was the first recorded "Strike" at the Albion Mines, in
Curling Club was
November 7th 1850
The Wreck of
The Pictou Iron
operations February, 14th. 1856
The Pictou Boat
Westville, May 30, 1868
Stellarton, February 1, 1870