To see the location of the Pictou County Lodges Click Here


A History of Masonry in Pictou County

This brief history of Walmsley Lodge No. 14, has been printed for a special lodge meeting to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of Masonry in Pictou County � Date of Meeting, December 7th, 1985

Earle C. MacDonald
Grand Historian

Walmsley Lodge Monument at Pictou Landing



Warrant Issued to The First Masonic Lodge In Pictou County

The Warrant dated December 7, 1785, reads as follows:

Signed; John Geo. Pyke              Grand Master
Signed; Will M. Campbell            Deputy Grand Master
Signed; Jona Snelling                 Senior Grand Warden
Signed; D. Wood Jr.                   Junior Grand Warden

To all whom it may concern

We the Grand Lodge of the most ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons in the Province of Nova Scotia, according to the old Constitutions Granted by his Royal Highness Prince Edwin at York Anno Domini Nine Hundred twenty and six, and in the year of masonry four thousand nine hundred twenty and Six in ample form assembled, viz., the Right Worshipful John George Tyke Esquire, Grand Master of Masons throughout the Province of Nova Scotia aforesaid, the Right Worshipful William Campbell, Deputy Grand Master, the Right Worshipful Jonathan Snelling, Senior Grand Warden and the Right Worshipful Daniel Wood, Junior Grand Warden In Virtue of the Powers and Authorities to us given and Granted by the Most Puissant and Noble Lord the Right Honourable and Right Worshipful William MacDonnell Earl of Antrim Lord Viscount Dunluce Knight Companion of the Most Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons in that part of Great Britain called England and Masonical Jurisdiction thereunto belonging, with the Approbation and Consent of the Warranted Lodges held within the Town of Halifax in the Province aforesaid. Do Hereby Authorise and Impower our Trusty and well beloved Brethren, viz., The Worshipful John Fraser one of our Master Masons, the Worshipful James Carmichael, his Senior Warden. and the Worshipful George Brown, his Junior Warden, to form and hold a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons aforesaid at the House of Brother John Fraser, or else where in the Township of Walmsley, in said Province, upon the First Tuesday in each Calendar Month and on all seasonable times and Lawfull occasions, and in said Lodge when duly congregated to admit and make Free Masons according to the most Ancient and Honourable Custom of the Royal Craft in all ages and Nations throughout the known World. And we do hereby further authorize and impower our said Trusty and well beloved Brethren John Fraser, J. Carmichael and Geo. Brown (with the consent of the members of their Lodge) to nominate, Choose and Install their successors to whom they shall deliver this Warrant and Invest them with their Powers and dignities as Free Masons etc., and each successor shall in like manner nominate, Choose and Install their successors, such Installations to be upon (or near) every St. Johns Day during the continuance of this Lodge for ever. Providing the above named Brethren and all their successors do allways pay due respect to this Right Worshipful Grand Lodge, otherwise this Warrant to be of no force nor Virtue. Given under our hands and the Seal of our Brand Lodge this Seventh day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand seven Hundred Eighty and five and in the year of Masonry Five Thousand, Seven Hundred, Eighty and Five.

J. Peters
G. Secy. L.S.G.L.


Before beginning the History of Masonry in Pictou County, it might be well to lay a foundation and try to 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 the 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 Pictou on 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 comprised of six families, the names of one of them is not known. The heads of 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 1773, the "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 Jean Fraser, later the 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, and a monument commemorating the arrival of this migration has been erected in one of the Public Squares of the Town.

All of these early settlers in Pictou 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 these early settlers, when 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 Pictou, of 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 was probably 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 Halifax, for we 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, where the 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 who were settled at 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 River.

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 1785, a 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."

On this occasion, there was present at 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 the Lodge, and Walmsley Lodge No. 14 came into being, the Charter Members of which were as follows:

John Fraser, the first Master, was a 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., was 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 Pictou County.

Robert Patterson was a Land Surveyor, 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.

Robert Stewart (sometimes spelled "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 very few, only the principal officers for 1785, 1788 .and 1789 are known and are as follows:





W. M.

S. W.

J. W.



John Fraser

James Carmichael

George Brown

John Fraser

James Elmslie

Samuel Herbert

Robert Patterson

George Brown

John Fraser

James Elmslie

James Chambers


Thomas Morris

 The Members of Walmsley Lodge No. 14, 1785 - 1795 were:



George Brown
Robert Patterson
John Fraser
James Carmichael


Robert Stuart
Alex MacKenzie
James Elmslie
Richard Mason

Samuel Herbert
Simon L. Fraser
Hugh Denoon
James Chambers
Thomas Morris

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 Lodge Archives is a 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.

John Fraser, Master of the Lodge, attended Grand Lodge Meetings on several occasions.

In the Index to the Grand Lodge 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."

This concludes the last of the known 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 1795 when Walmsley Lodge 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 find a 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."

The first Officers named in the 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.

It is interesting to note that Hugh 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?

The Prayer of their Petition was answered, and the Warrant No. 35, dated January 26th 1810, was granted to New Caledonian Lodge.

At its inception on February 13th,1810, 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 meeting February 24th 1810, 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 meeting, Bros. John 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 the first eleven months (Dec. 27, 1810), the original ten members had increased to twenty-four by imitation and affiliations, after deducting five "declared off" and one dead.

The first Candidate to 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.

New Caledonia Lodge worked without 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 the demands 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 present date.

1985 marks the 175 anniversary of New Caledonia Lodge No. 11, Pictou.

Lodges in Pictou County

Albion Lodge No, 5; 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 1869.

Year 1985 Albion Lodge in existence for 147 years.

Keith Lodge No. 23, Stellarton received a Dispensation, June 1860; Warrant No. 1172, E.C., 14th June 1861; No. 870, 1863; No. 23 Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, 1869.

1985 marks the 125 anniversary of Keith Lodge No. 23, Stellarton.

Western Star Lodge No. 50, Westville: On September 11, 1868, The Grand Lodge of Nova 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.

Year 1985, Western Star Lodge in 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.

Lodge in existence for 11 years - now extinct.

Curren Lodge No. 68 Hopewell: Dispensation, 17th March, 1873; Warrant No. 68, 3rd June 1874; Amalgamated with Keith Lodge No. 23, Stellarton, 24th. December, 1895; Warrant restored 9th. June, 1920.

Year 1985, Curren Lodge in existence for 112 years.

Hudson Lodge No. 77, Thorburn: Dispensation, 15th. May, 1881; Warrant, No. 77, June, 1882.

Year 1985, Hudson Lodge in existence for 104 years.

Doric Lodge No. 91, Trenton: Dispensation, June 1916; Warrant, No. 91, 13th June, 1917.

Year 1985, Doric Lodge in existence for 69 years.

Euclid Lodge No. 92, New Glasgow:Dispensation, 24th April, 1918; Warrant No. 92, June, 1918.

Year 1985, Euclid Lodge in existence for 67 years.

Membership Pictou Count District as of December 31 1983

Albion Lodge No. 5, New Glasgow


New Caledonia Lodge No. 11, Pictou


Keith Lodge No. 23, Stellarton


Western Star Lodge No. 50, Westville


Curren Lodge No. 68, Hopewell


Hudson Lodge No. 77, Thorburn


Doric Lodge No. 91, Trenton


Euclid Lodge No. 92, New Glasgow





Interesting Dates and Events

The Bride over the East River at New Glasgow was reported completed on February 7th 1877 New Glasgow was then considered a �thriving little Village�

The General Mining Association took over the coal-fields, both of Sydney and Pictou. Coal having been discovered in Pictou County in 1798.

The First Steam Engine ever, erected in Nova Scotia, was put in operation at the Albion Mines, on Friday, December 7th 1827.

The First Newspaper to be started in Pictou County, began on December 7th 1827, its name "The Colonial Patriot".

The population of the Town of Pictou 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 Truro had started a 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

Transportation by water was first 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.

The Great Outdoor Sacrament, 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.

Coronation Celebration, Queen Victoria, at Pictou on Thursday, June 28th, 1838.

Opening of the Albion Railroad, 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.

Another event of note which took place was the first recorded "Strike" at the Albion Mines, in 1842.

The Pictou Curling Club was organized, November 7th 1850

The Wreck of the Fairy Queen, October 17, 1853

The Pictou Iron Foundry commenced operations February, 14th. 1856

The Pictou Boat Club was organized, 1856

Acadia Village changed its name to Westville, May 30, 1868

Albion Mines changed its name to Stellarton, February 1, 1870


Home | Grand Lodge of NS | Loge La France No 138 | The Pcitou County Craft

This page was last updated 09/07/08