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Masonic Pioneers
Josias Charles Hughes
by RW Bro. K. P. Warwick
To W. Bro. Josias Charles Hughes belongs the honour of laying the foundation stone of Freemasonry on the shores of Burrard Inlet.
In the year 1862, when British Columbia and Vancouver Island were still Colonies under the British Crown, a sawmill was founded on the north shore of Buxrard Inlet on a site immediately west of the present Second Narrows bridge.
This sawmill was purchased in 1864 by Sewell Prescott Moody and his associates and the man appointed to take charge of the clerical duties of the firm was one Josias Charles Hughes.
Mr. Hughes was initiated in Union Lodge, No. 899, E.R., November 10th, 1864, passed December 8th, 1864, and raised January 5th, 1865; he served as Secretary of Union Lodge in 1867.
After settling in Moodyville, as the settlement was now called, and finding that many of his associates, including S. P. Moody, the owner of the mill, were members of the Masonic Fraternity, he conceived the idea of starting a Masonic Lodge and applied to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a dispensation to start a Lodge to be known as "Lodge Mount Hermon."
The dispensation was eventually granted and on January 15th, 1869, M.W. Bro. I. W. Powell, Provincial Grand Master, S.C., installed the Officers with W. Bro. Josias Charles Hughes as the first R.W. Master.
He served as Wor. Master for the year 1869 and again in 1875 and 1876 although there is no record that he had ever served in the office of Warden.
W. Bro. Hughes was elected an Honourary Life Member of Mount Hermon Lodge on September 6th, 1884, presumably about the time that he decided to return to Union Lodge which, in the meantime, had become No. 9 under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia.
He immediately took a very active part in the affairs of Union Lodge for, after persuading the Brethren to adopt the ritual as practised by Mount Hermon Lodge, he was presented with a silver cup in recognition of his services and was elected Wor. Master in 1886, thus serving as presiding officer of the two older Lodges on the mainland. He held several appointments in Grand Lodge and was elected to the office of Senior Grand Warden in 1886, but did not live to complete his term of office.
W. Bro. Hughes was born at Omeme, in the County of Victoria, Province of Upper Canada, May 5th, 1843, a son of Josias Lendbeater Hughes, whose famlly had come to Canada in the year 1823 from the County of Westmeath, Ireland.
At the age of 18 he was sworn in as Poll Clerk at Peterborough, September 21st, 1861, but he came to the Colony of British Columbia in the following year and joined the lumbering firm of Moody, Dletz and Nelson in the capacity of clerk, with which firm he moved to Burrard Inlet.
While employed at the Moodyville mill he was elected to the Provincial Legislature for the Constituency of Burrard in 1871 at the age of 28 years.
He returned to New Westminster as a Government Collector two or three years later and was shortly thereafter appointed Provincial Government Agent in that city.
He passed away on November 8th, 1886, in his 43rd year and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery, Sapperton.
And thus in early manhood passed one of the brightest lights in the annals of Freemasonry in this Province.

Masonic Bulletin. Vancouver : Grand Lodge of British Columbia, February 1946 vol ix no. 6pp. 1-2.

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