History of Kerrisdale Lodge No. 117
No history of Kerrisdale Lodge would be complete without some reference to the origin of Its name.
About 1905 the B.C. Electric Co. leased from the C.P.R. the line running through what is now known as Kerrisdale, to transport cannery workers to and from Steveston. The various stops along the way were mostly named after the districts they were in. A Mr. R. H. Sperling, the General Manager of the B.C. Electric, visiting friends, the McKlnnons, who had settled in the area we now know as 42nd Avenue, asked Mrs. McKlnnon to give a name to the stop at Wilson road nearby. She suggested Kerrisdale after her old family home Kerrydale, in Garlock, Scotland.
Zion Lodge No. 77 was constituted in 1913 and by 1924 had grown to an extent that prompted some members to think of creating a new lodge in the district. But nothing was done for another four years, when Zion Lodge had sufficient members and finances to warrant such action. Then, in 1928, a group of members decided to petition and proceed towards obtaining a dispensation to form another lodge, to be known as Kerrisdale Lodge.
Prime movers of this action were R.W. Bros. Charles Bailey and R. L. Rice, W. Bros R. H. Carson and H. W. Nye, Bros. H. S. Abbott, F. G. J. Bezsau, W. T. Ewing, E. A. Gibbs, John Hall, John Hall Jr., L. A. Howe, S. G. Percy Martin, John Muir, A. D. McKay, T. A. Kierahan, Neil M. McNeil, J. Russell Oliver and Sldney A. Smith.
This petition, bearing 63 signatures, was presented to Zion Lodge for waiver on June 5th 1928, and on being approved was endorsed by the then District Deputy Grand Master, R.W. Bro. John Warwlck. Institution was delayed for confirmation of some documents and it was not until 8 January 1929 that this finally took place. The Charter from the Grand Lodge was granted at their communication of 20 June 1929 and the new lodge numbered 117 on the Register of the Grand Lodge.
Later that same year the great depression struck. Anyone who lived through that decade, now known as the "dirty thirties", will never forget the profound and universal effect this unhappy period had upon everyone. We can only guess at the forbearance and fortitude of these early builders in keeping the fledgling lodge alive in very difficult times.
The first emergent meeting following Constitution was held 24 September 1929 when Mr. L. E. C. Manley was the first to be initiated as an Entered Apprentice into Kerrisdale Lodge. Interestingly, Lodge Hall rent at this time was $20 per month; the Secretary was given $10 per month, and lodge dues were $10 per year, payable half-yearly. Times, as Dickens might say, were very hard and getting harder. In December 1930 it was proposed that tea and coffee only be served at refreshments; the savings to be donated to the Masonic Service Bureau. This gives some Idea of the difficulties of the period.
But by 1931 the tide seems to have turned the secretary's honorarium raised to $15 per month and in 1932 annual dues Increased to $20 for the year. The election of officers In 1933 was postponed due to the Illness of the Worshipful Master elect, and there also was a problem in finding an organist (has anything changed?). A call was made to freemasons in the area to fill this position at $1 per meeting! Late that same year the bank balance stood at $80, with outstanding dues at $230 a secretary's nightmare at any time.
Conditions must have worsened during 1934 and 1935 rent was reduced to $12 a month and Secretary stipend cut to $10. But life, particularly masonic life, must go on. In 1933 W. Bro. S. G. Percy Martin became the first member of the lodge to be appointed D.D.G.M. and In 1934 R. W. Bro. R. L. Rice (our first W.M.) was honoured by being elected a Life Member.
Even the weather seemed to be against them then: in early 1935 an emergent meeting had to be canceled because of heavy snow, and later that same year no special invitations were issued for the installation ceremony to keep down costs.
In 1937 W. Bro. W. G. Kitchen, the lodge's first Chaplain, became Grand Chaplain and the lodge received new regalia, in memory of the late R. W. Bro. R. L. Rice.N evertheless, the lodge flourished, and during the decade of the Thirties initiated nineteen new members and affiliated another thirteen proof that under the greatest adversity Freemasonry can thrive.
Even before the great depression ended the Second World War burst upon the world one great tragedy after another. In October 1939 Bro. L. G. Swann became the first Initiate of Kerrisdale Lodge to be installed as W.M. of the lodge. On 9 December 1941, the second day of the war with Japan and the second night of the official black-out, fifteen members attended lodge, doubtless In a state of high excitement. Our original secretary, W. Bro. J. Russell Oliver was made D.D.G.M. and in 1943 W. Bro. K. Charles appointed Grand Steward.
On 11 January 1944, the fifteenth anniversary of the institution of the lodge, fourteen founding, ten Initiate and ten affiliate members attended. Peace in Europe was announced 8 May 1945, the day of a lodge meeting. Although a national holiday had been declared, twenty-three members attended and prayers of thanks given. Seven members of Kerrisdale Lodge served in the armed forces during the war thankfully all survived. That same year Bro. S. A. Wamsley became the first affiliated member to be Installed as W.M. During the six war years our lodge initiated sixteen and affiliated fifteen new members a remarkable record. With peace came post-war recovery, and recovery for the Lodge as well. In the period 1946 - 1950, just over five years, a total of 46 initiates and 35 affiliates joined (fifteen in 1950 alone).
In June 1947, Grand Lodge changed the districts around and Kerrisdale found itself in the new District No. 20, and that same year for the first time, a new secretary was elected, W, Bro. E. E. Barnes. In 1948 W. Bro. A. D. McKay, another of our founders, was appointed D.D.G.M. of District No. 20 and at Roll Call Night of 1949, 58% of the total membership attended and over 90% were accounted for. Then, in 1950, W. Bro. James E. Lord was appointed Grand Standard Bearer. The Fifties saw further remarkable growth of the lodge. In this time, no fewer than 80 were initiated and another sixteen affiliated. How, one now wonders, did they manage it all. R.W. Bro. J. Russell Oliver was elected a Llfe Member. In 1951 and in 1952 several members from the lodge were prominent in the creation of Evergreen Lodge No. 148 and a member of Kerrisdale Lodge, W. Bro. S. A. Walmsley, was its first W.M.
In 1953 M.W. Bro. Laurence Healey and R.W. Bro. C. Bailey were elected Life Members. W. Bro. W. H. Jamieson was appointed D.D.G.M. In 1954, and was actually invested on our 25th Anniversary; commencing his duties immediately by paying his first official visit to his own lodge. 12 July 1956 was a very sad day for Kerrisdale Lodge; R.W. Bro. J. Russell Oliver P.G.L.A. died. This revered brother, who probably more than any other was instrumental in the founding and early nurturing of the lodge, was Its first secretary, and remained so, with the exception of the years he took to progress through the chairs of Zion Lodge No. 77, until he retired as secretary in 1947. He was also at one time Grand Treasurer and acting Grand Secretary. A sad and great loss. This year also saw the appointment of Bro. John T. Freeman as Secretary of the Vancouver Masonic Service Bureau.
In 1959, V.W. Bro. James E. Lord was appointed to his second Grand Lodge office Grand Pursuivant. Although the decade of the Sixties was hectic with activities, the lodge now had settled down to a steady programme in a reasonably harmonious world. No longer the traumas and alarms of economic upheavals and war; no longer the bustle of post-war activity. And perhaps a reflection of changing times and radically different attitudes was the drastic reduction in the number of initiates and affiliates: 37 and 14 respectively.
In 1962, W. Bro. Horace Evoy was appointed D.D.G.M. and In 1964 Bro. W. G. King became the youngest W.M, of Kerrisdale Lodge one day before his thirtieth birthday. W. Bro. Stanley G. Ford, in June 1969, became the first initiate of the lodge to be appointed D.D.G.M. and that same year Bro. P. W. Barton attained his fiftieth year in Freemasonry. To celebrate the Fortieth Anniversary of the lodge in September 1969, ladies were admitted after a short meeting and with the aid of a professional musician who doubled as M.C., enjoyed a dance demonstration, music and singing.
Early the next year, on 20 February 1970; Kerrisdale Lodge and Freemasonry lost a great and good friend In the passing of M.W. Bro. Laurence Healey. He was Life Member and had Installed every Worshipful Master of the lodge since its constitution. His passing caused much sorrow. R.W. Bro. W. H. Jamieson reached his fiftieth year In Freemasonry In 1971. Another member of Kerrisdale Lodge, Bro. John T. Freeman, was president of the Masonic Relief Association of the U.S.A. and Canada In 1972 and 1973. Also In 1973 Bro. William M. Miller was elected a Life Member. A fifty-year button was presented to V.W. Bro. James E. Lord In 1972 and in 1974 the lodge celebrated his nintieth birthday with a cake and the presentation of a scroll by M.W. Bro. J. H. Nordan, P.G.M.
In 1974 also, W. Bro. P. Rive achieved his fifyieth year In Freemasonry. W. Bro. John C. McGregor was appointed D.D.G.M. In 1976, and the following year W. Bro. Fred C. Blades became the first to serve as W.M. for the second time. In 1978, W. Bro. Vernon Halverson was elected W.M. of the Vancouver Lodge of Instruction, Education and Research, and enjoyed a most successful year in office.
By the beginning of 1979 three charter members remained, but early in year two of them, V.W. Bro. James E. Lord and W. Bro. Philip Rive P.G.L.A. V.W. died. Bro. Lord attended lodge regularly until a few months before his passing at the age of 94.
The lodge lost another of its revered older members In April 1979 with death of M.W. Bro. Rev. Canon G.H. Crane Williams. He was In his 97th year, another sad but not unforeseen loss, Bro. John T. Freeman has completed a quarter century as Secretary of the Vancouver Masonic Service Bureau, and is still going strong and successfully.
To date this leaves Kerrisdale Lodge with only one surviving charter member, Bro. W. S. Anderson, who lives on Vancouver Island and cannot travel. Long-time friend M.W. Bro. W. Tyre Is still very active. This distinguished brother was D.D.G.M. of District 15 when Kerrisdale Lodge was constituted and remembers the occasion well. At present, in mid-1979, Kerrisdale Lodge finds Itself facing difficulties common, it seems, to the Craft, as well as to many other organizations.
Membership (now about half the level of the late 1950s) and attendance has fallen sharply and very few new members have been Initiated or affiliated during the 1970s. Of necessity, officers are being "re-cycled" and filling chairs is a constant problem. As a result of these changing circumstances, commencing in January 1979 only one meeting a month Is now held on the second Tuesday, combining emergent and regular meetings whenever necessary.
But Lodge activities, although somewhat curtailed, are still performed to the high standards set in earlier days, and despite what are hopefully temporary setbacks, confidence Is high that Kerrisdale Lodge will flourish and celebrate many more anniversaries.
W. Bro. Fred Blades, 1979