A TREE GREW IN OSHAWA
Our history from 1872 to 1997 is a condensation of "A TREE GREW IN OSHAWA" which was compiled by Worshipful Brother Harry L. Wallace in March of 1947 to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Cedar Lodge.
Synopsis of this by W.Bro.Mike E. King and V.W.Dave J.I. McCullough celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Cedar Lodge
The first recorded Masonry in the Oshawa area was of a clandestine nature. R. W. Bro. Avery's book, entitled "101 Years of Craft Masonry in the Town of Whitby" contains a chapter entitled "The Disunity of Unity Lodge". In Ontario County, records show that a Lodge dated from 1808, but without apparent history, was named the Rising Sun Lodge. It was in Port Windsor, now Whitby. In 1825 10 charter members of the Rising Sun Lodge petitioned the Provincial Grand Lodge, and Unity Lodge, No. 19 P.R. came into existence on the 30th of November, 1825. They met in either Whitby or Pickering until 1842. This was unusual, because during this period (1828 through 1845) the Provincial Grand Lodge was dormant, because of the "Morgan incident".
A July 1842 resolution over the practice of elections resulted in considerable discord within the Lodge and generated two factions. One faction continued to meet in Pickering under the leadership of Dr. Annes, while the other, lead by his brother Ezra Annes, moved to Oshawa and met in the "Oshawa House". Irregularities over legal possession of the dispensation, by-laws, constitution and Lodge funds eventually led to the dissolvement of early Masonry in Oshawa, but not Unity Lodge.
With the 1845 revival of the Provincial Grand Lodge, and seven more years of meetings reaping the fruits of "the split", Unity Lodge decided to surrender its Dispensation. After ensuring that the organization of the newly formed Composite Lodge was well underway, the Provincial Grand Lodge received the Dispensation. Composite Lodge held its first meeting on June 4th, 1852. With jurisdiction over several townships, Oshawa residents were initiated during the early years. Over incidents which today appear trivial, in 1859 M.W. Bro. W.M. Wilson urged the Brethren of Whitby to improve understanding within the Fraternity. This urging resulted in a petition to Grand Lodge for the formation of a new Lodge in Oshawa, thus Lebanon Lodge was conceived.
While receiving its Warrant in 1860, no Lebanon records can be located prior to 1864. Lt. Col. Silas B. Fairbanks was its first W.M.. Oshawa residents continued to apply to Composite Lodge (suggesting an "inactive" Lodge in Oshawa). William McCabe, a Past Master of Composite Lodge, was instrumental in putting Lebanon Lodge on its feet, organizing Pentalpha Chapter, R.A.M. and was its first Principal. He also became the D.D.G.M. of Ontario District. It was suggested by W. Bro. Harry Wallace that the departure from Oshawa of R. W. Bro. McCabe and the passing of V. W. Bro. Fairbanks may well have contributed to the formation of Cedar Lodge. Bro. Wallace felt that the wearing of "dress suits" - again a trivial issue - could have been resolved by these capable and distinguished Masons. Such was not the case. This issue caused yet another split among our Brethren.
From these ashes on October 10th, 1871, a motion was given and presented at the next meeting that permission be given to 7 members of Lebanon Lodge for the formation of a new Lodge. The Lodge, Cedar, was granted the use of the Lebanon furniture and Lodge Room for a period of eight years. Ten members applied for and were granted demits. Bro. Phillip Taylor, and later W. Bro. Jas. P. Smith contributed to bringing order out of the chaos, and ensure that the interests of both Lebanon Lodge and the Grand Lodge were protected. In 1871 Oshawa was a small village in the newly formed Dominion of Canada. These 10 men, lead by Phillip Taylor, either through dedication, a pioneering spirit, or perhaps just plain foolhardiness, planted "The Tree" in Oshawa, a Cedar of Lebanon.
THE TREE IS PLANTED AND TAKES ROOT 1872-1886
The first Cedar Lodge meeting was held on March 26, 1872 utilizing the furniture and room of Lebanon Lodge in a building on the North East corner of Oshawa's "four corners". The following Officers were appointed at the meeting:
With eleven charter members, six applications for initiation, two for affiliation and a motion from W. Bro. Jas. P. Smith to the D.D.G.M. that the Lodge be governed by the By-laws of Lebanon Lodge, our journey began. Meetings would then, as now, be held on the fourth Tuesday of the month with the initiation fee set at a rather steep $40.00.
Lebanon Lodge records indicate that the meeting was followed with a banquet. After the receipt of our Warrant in November of 1872 our by-laws were sent in and approved by M.W. Bro. William Mercer Wilson during his third term as Grand Master. The fifteen year period following saw many adjustments to our By-laws such as a reduction of initiation fees to $30.00 in 1877, and the removal of By-law No.4, which had empowered the W.M. to censure any officer for non-attendance. This same period had 68 initiates and 26 affiliations bringing the original 11 to 105. Death, demits and suspension for non-payment of dues resulted in a membership of 60 at the end of 1886.
By way of explanation for a "slump" during this period, some rather unusual events may have contributed, such as a resolution to cease advancement of candidates until they were more proficient. Three Masonic trials were necessary which resulted in investigation teams, fact finding travel, and eventual sentences ranging from a written reprimand read to the charged in open Lodge, to a suspension.
Masonic funerals were both unusual and expensive. Bands were hired at costs from $15.00 to $30.00, tokens of mourning (crepe) were required, and the "mournful events" demanded refreshments at their conclusion. One recorded event orders the members to go in mourning for a period of one month as a token of respect to a departed brother. Lacking today's social programs, the "Charitable Committee" was very active. Grants ranging from $1.00 or $2.00 for emergencies to yearly $70.00 donations to the widows of our brethren are recorded. Considerations to ill, injured or those in "dire distress" also reflected actions matching our Masonic beliefs. In conjunction with Lebanon Lodge, the Oshawa Masonic Board of Relief was constituted by the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Henry Robertson in 1886.
While the relationship between the two Lodges was cordial, the 1880 expiration of the agreement witnessed the formation of a committee to evaluate and arrange for joint ownership of the Lebanon furniture. This group studied the issue for approximately ten years before consensus was reached.
Phillip Taylor was the delegate to the Regular Communications of Grand Lodge for the first 7 or 8 years after Cedar Lodge was started and securing our Warrant was his objective. Appointed as an acting Grand Steward for the day, our W. Bro. C. A. Jones attended a Special Communication of the Grand Lodge in Simcoe in 1875, when our first Grand Master, M.W. Bro. W. M. Wilson was buried.
In 15 years only two D.D.G.M. visits comparable to to-days visits are recorded. In early visits the D.D.G.M. would sit in the East, the W.M. from Lebanon in the West and the W.M. from Cedar in the South. The D.D.G.M. would then proceed to show how the work should be done. In later years he would watch and critique the work as done by the Lodge. While the details are unknown, Ontario District was geographically divided during this period. Two members of Cedar Lodge received Grand Lodge rank during these years: R. W. Bro. H.B.F. O'Dell was elected D.D.G.M. for 1884-85, and V. W. Bro. Phillip Taylor was appointed Grand Steward as recorded in the January, 1880 minutes.