The City of Toronto. in the year 1876, boasted a population of approximately 80,000. Within the confines of the city proper there were 12 Masonic Lodges, with a membership, measured by our present standards, comparatively small. The meeting places of these lodges being east of Yonge Street, a feeling had arisen that the time had come when it was advisable to take steps for the formation of a new lodge of Masons, situate in the western portion of the city, to meet the needs of the already large and growing number of Brethren residing in that section of the municipality. Accordingly, on the 23rd of February, 1876, a meeting was called at 604 Queen Street west, of members of the city lodges residing in the West End, and of Brethren not affiliated with any of the Toronto Lodges, living in the same locality. At this meeting 24 Brethren were present, W. Bro. Jas. Wilson, a Pastmaster of St. John’s Lodge, No. 75, acting as Chairman, and Bro. Wm. Watson of Albion Lodge, No. 80, as Secretary.
After a thorough discussion of the mat ter it was finally resolved to forward a request for a Dispenstion for the formation of a new lodge, to be known as “The Occident.” It was’ also recommended that W. Bro. Jas. Wilson be the first Master; Bro. Wm. Watson, the first Senior Warden, and W. Bro. Josiah Green, P.M. of Stevenson Lodge, No. 218, the first Junior Warden. Also, that V.W. Bro. Bernard Saunders, of St. John’s Lodge’, No. 75, be the first Immediate Pastmaster.
The Petition, when fully signed, contained the names of 89 Brethren. To the Petition was attached a recommendation from the Masters of all the City Lodges that the request be granted.
This Petition and recommendation were presented to the District Deputy Grand Master. Right W. Bro. Daniel Spry, on March 9th. and on the 15th of the same month a reply was received from the R.W. Brother, informing the petitioners that Most Worshipful Brother J. K. Kerr, Grand Master. had been pleased to accede to the request, and had instructed the Grand Secretary to issue and forward a Dispensation to the D.D.G.M. to institute Occident Lodge.
A second meeting. for the purpose of examining the credentials of the several petitioners, was called on March 23rd, at 155 Little Richmond Street (later Farley Avenue, and now again Richmond Street), at which R.W. Bro. D. Spry, D.D.G.M., examined the credentials presented, finding the seventy names later incorporated in the Charter satisfactory. At this meeting it was announced that the Lodge would be formally instituted on April 5th, and that the following fees would prevail: Initiation, $30.00; Affiliation, $5.00; monthly dues, 40 cents; each charter member to be assessed $3.00, to help defray expenses already incurred.
FIRST REGULAR COMMUNICATION
The first regular communication of the Lodge was held at 155 Little Richmond Street (temporary quarters) on April 5th. 1876, the meeting being opened in the First Degree at 8.00 p.m.; R.W. Bro. Daniel Spry, D.D.G.M in the East; V.W. Bro. Bernard Saunders acting as Senior Warden, and V.W. Bro. Thos. Sargent as Junior Warden. After the reading of the Dispensation, dated March 17th.
1876, that document was handed to the Master-elect, W. Bro. Jas. Wilson, by the District Deputy Grand Master, who placed him in King Solomon’s Chair, and requested him to name the remaining officers, who were as follows: I.P.M. V.W. Bro. B. Saunders; S.W., Bro. Wm. Watson; J.W. W. Bro. Josiah Green; Treasurer, Bro. Jas. Price, Jr.; Secretary, Bro. John Linton; Chaplain. Bro. John Campbell; S.D Bro. Wm. Walker; J.D. Bro. John Gray; Master of Ceremonies. Bro. Wm. Cruit; Organist, Bro. Wm. Long; S.S. Bro. E. B. Gibson; J.S., Bro. E. ]. Firman; Inner Guard, Bro. Geo. Ward; Committee of General Purposes. V.W. Bro. B. Saunders, W. Bro. J. A. Richardson; Tyler, Bro. Wm. Will.
Among the visitors at this meeting was Bro. (now V.W. Bro.) John A. Cowan, who is still living in Toronto, and who expects to be with us at our Anniversary meeting. At this meeting a committee was appointed to arrange for securing a suitable hall for lodge purposes. It was also decided to adopt the By-laws of Zetland Lodge, No. 326. with the exception of that part relating to fees for Initiation and Yearly Dues. Bro. Wm. Watson, S.W., presented the Lodge with a handsome Bible, and was heartily thanked for the gift. The second regular meeting was held on May 3rd. at 155 Little Richmond Street, which premises had been secured as a temporary meeting-place at a rental of $20.00 per month. At this meeting, the committee appointed to secure a more suitable and permanent Lodge Room. presented their report, recommending the acceptance of the offer of Messrs. West and Watson, who were preparing to at once erect a large building at the corner of Queen and Bathurst Streets, the third or top storey of which was offered for use as a lodge room, at an annual rental of $400.00. After considerable discussion and explanation the report of the committee was adopted.
This meeting was marked by an application for initiation from one who was later to become one of the best beloved and most energetic members of Occident Lodge the late V.W. Bro. Robert Charlton, who until the time of his death in April. 1921, was untiring in his efforts to assist and to further the interests of the Lodge with which he had been so long connected, and which he loved so well.
On July 5th, a motion to instruct the Junior Warden to provide refreshments for each and every meeting of the Lodge was declared lost.
On August 2nd, 1876, at the first meeting of the Lodge to be held after the session of Grand Lodge, in the City of Ottawa, it was announced that the Charter had been granted, and the Lodge would hereafter be recognized as “The Occident Lodge,” A.F. & A.M., No. 346, G.R.C.
FIRST EMERGENT MEETING
The first Emergent Meeting in the history of the Lodge was held on August 16th, 1876, at which one candidate was initiated, one passed to the Second Degree, and two raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason.
The report of the Committee on By-laws was submitted at the September meeting, but after a lengthy discussion it was decided to postpone its consideration to a later date, when a special emergent meeting would be called to further consider that report. This meeting was held on the 20th of the same month, when the report of the committee was finally adopted.
At the November meeting, held on the 1st, the election of officers took place, resulting in the return of all the old officers, with three exceptions- Junior Warden, Director of Ceremonies and Junior Deacon.
December 27th, 1876, the Festival of St. John the Evangelist, Occident Lodge met for the first time in the lodge room which was to be its home for many eventful years – the building situated on the south-east corner of Queen and Bathurst Streets. Seventy-four members and visiting brethren were present.
The total membership of the Lodge on December 27th, 1876, was 93.
Year 1877- Very little change took place in the officers for this year, practically the same set of officers being installed by R.W. Bro. Daniel Spry as held office during the first year. Accounts totaling $1 ,849.15 for the furnishing and fitting of the new lodge rooms were presented and passed, and it became necessary to authorize the issue of bonds to the amount of $1,200.00, in amounts of $10.00 each, bearing interest at 8%, in order to defray the expenses incurred in connection with the new hall.
The first funeral in which Occident Lodge took part was that of late Bro. D. Williams, and at the request of Humber Lodge, Weston, the members marched in procession from the residence of Bro. D. Williams to the Depot, where they entrained for Weston and, on arrival, Humber Lodge took charge of the proceedings.
Among the candidates of the year were The Hon. Thos. Crawford and Wor. Bro. J. S. Williams, who still take an active interest in the affairs of the lodge to-day-49 years after their initiation into the craft.
Receipts for the year amounted to $2,521.73 and expenditures $2,444.25. Although only in its second year, the progress that was to mark Occident Lodge in the future had. been made. Membership 107.
Year 1878- About this time the creditors began to bring pressure for the settlement of their accounts, and in order to satisfy their claims the Lodge authorized the Trustees to transfer by chattel mortgage the property of the Lodge as security to raise the necessary funds to meet their obligations. St. George Lodge was instituted in this year, and requested that Occident Lodge rent to them the use of the Lodge rooms, St. George Lodge agreeing to assume half the debt incurred in furnishing and fitting the lodge rooms, less 10% for depreciation, and to pay one-half of the rent per year. Accordingly this was carried into effect.
A bare summary of the financial position of the Lodge at this time proves interesting, as from a statement submitted by the Committee of General Purposes it was found that we had $52.97 in cash with total assets of $1,354.00. A considerable portion of this was very doubtful as to whether it was a real asset or not, $300.00 outstanding dues being included in the assets, the balance consisting of furniture, etc., of the lodge rooms. The liabilities amounted to $911.64.
The Worshipful Master was upheld by the D.D.G.M. when he was appealed to regarding the Master’s action in voting a second time when he had erroneously declared a motion carried the first time.
Bro. John Charlton. of St. John’s Lodge, No. 20, London, Ont., was given a Masonic funeral by Occident Lodge. Bro. John Charlton was the father of Brother Robert Charlton,
who later became Worshipful Master.
1879 – Up to this time it appears that refreshments were not provided for every regular meeting, and, on motion being presented to the Lodge to instruct the Junior Warden to provide beer, coffee. bread and cheese, the motion was lost. The membership had now grown to 101.
1880 – The request of Alpha Lodge to meet in Occident Hall during the preparation of their Hall in Parkdale was granted. A deputation from the Masonic Benevolent Board spoke before the Lodge suggesting the advisability of a burial plot for indigent deceased Masons. Very Worshipful Brother Alf. Curran was a candidate during this year. Members at the end of the year, 98.
1881 – The year does not appear to have been a happy one, many little differences arising to disturb the harmony of the Lodge, chiefly due to financial difficulties, and the members on the roll were reduced to 95.
1882 – The motion to provide refreshments at all. regular meetings at a cost not to exceed $6.50 was carried. The secretary was instructed to insert notice of the Lodge meetings in the Evening Telegram before each regular meeting. Membership 97.
1883 – The minutes of this year would again indicate that the harmony of the Lodge was often disturbed, the brethren failing to agree on many points, which carried the discussion well on to midnight. The membership had increased to 103.
The minutes covering the years 1884 to 1888 inclusive unfortunately are missing. It would, therefore, be impossible to give any details for these years. We find, however, that during this time the night of the regular meeting was changed to the Third Wednesday in each month.
1884 – Fourteen candidates were initiated, but membership had dropped to 99.
1885 – Eight initiations during this year and membership increased to 105.
1886 – Candidates to the number of 17 were initiated, but owing to suspensions the total membership at end of year was 106.
1887 – 16 candidates joined throughout the year, bringing the membership up to 119.
1888 – Though there were but eight initiations, the membership at end of year was 142, due to affiliations and re-instatements.
1889 – The year appears to have been one of harmony, and it was during this year that our late beloved Chaplain, W. Bro. Wm. Crackle, who held this office for 15 years, became a member by affiliation. Bro. F. M. Bell-Smith entertained the brethren with his famous “Chalk Talks.” An excursion was held during the summer to Elora, Ont., the Lodge being entertained by Irvine Lodge. Bro. John Lillie, secretary for eleven years, was initiated during the year. The membership had now grown to 143.
1890 – The outstanding event of the year was a reception by the City Lodges to the Duke of Connaught. Membership 162.
1891 – The Fifteenth Anniversary of the Lodge was celebrated this year. A Minstrel Show was held in the Lodge Room, and afterwards a communication was received from the Grand Master, J. Ross Robertson, objecting to it having been held in the Lodge Room. Membership 168.
1892 – M.W. Bro. J. Ross Robertson visited the Lodge and gave his address on the “History of Masonry.” Wor. Bro. Robt. Charlton was appointed Grand Standard Bearer during year. The membership was reduced to 158.
1893 – A group photograph of the Ruling Masters of the City for the year 1892 was presented to the Lodge. No change in membership.
1894 – R.W. Bro. E, J. B. Duncan was initiated during the year. It is of particular interest to note that four Fellowcrafts were raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on the night of the official visit of the District Deputy Grand Master.
1895 – Membership had been reduced to 149, due to suspensions for non-payment of dues.
1896 – This appears to be the first year that the Lodge called off for the months of July and August. V.W. Bro. John R. Dunn was presented with Grand Lodge Regalia.
1897 – This year, being the twenty-first since the dispensation was granted, a celebration was held to mark the Lodge’s coming of age. Another outstanding event was the celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s Reign, which was commemorated jointly by the lodges of the City. At this time many of the brethren were in arrears for dues; they were accordingly suspended and a motion was passed in the Lodge allowing them to be re-instated on special reduced terms. The membership at the end of year was reduced to 136.
1898 – A motion to change the place of meeting to the new lodge rooms of the Temple Building, Bay and Richmond Streets, was lost. Bro. R. G. Stapells was engaged as organist. The Lodge to pay the sum of $40.00 per year for his services. Masonry in the city had now grown to the extent of 40 lodges. which up to this time had been one District, was now divided into two Masonic Districts of twenty lodges each. Membership was still further reduced to 128.
1899 – Membership increased to 154 during this year.
1900 – Wor. Bro. A. M. Browne presented the Lodge with a silver plate. Membership 152.
1901 – An effort was made during this year to prohibit the use of intoxicating liquors at the banquet table. and when put to vote of the Lodge the motion was defeated. Membership 155.
1902 – Wor. Bro. E. J. B. Duncan. on behalf of Right Wor. Bro. Geo. Tait. presented the Lodge with an enlarged portrait of the Right Worshipful Brother. Very Wor. Bro. J. R. Dunn was presented with a set of dining room chairs by the Lodge. The brethren assisted in the laying of the corner-stone of the monument erected to the memory of Robert Burns in the Allen Gardens. It may be of interest to note that an item was passed by the Lodge for the payment to Michie & Co. for 10 dozen bottle of ale at a cost of $10.80. A committee was appointed during this year to report on
new quarters for the meetings of the Lodge. The membership had now grown to 164. the highest in its history.
1904 – V.W. Bro. Robt. Charlton and Wor. Bro. Wm. Crackle were elected Treasurer and Chaplain respectively offices which they each held for many years until their death. It was during this year that the recommendation that no intoxicating liquors or beer be served at the fourth degree was carried. Membership at the close of this year had reached 174.
1904 – A copy of Robertson’s “History of Freemasonry” was presented to the Lodge. Occident Lodge was honored at the Communication of Grand Lodge of this year when one of our own members was elected District Deputy Grand Master, Wor. Bro. E. J B. Duncan brought this honour to the Lodge. Membership at the close of this year 192.
1905 – Membership grew to 212 during this year, among the list of candidates appearing the name of’V. Wor. Bro. R. B. Magill.
1906 – Initiation fee was increased to $40.00. Bro. John Lillie, who had been secretary for a number of years, resigned. Membership at close of year 249.
1907 – Membership at close of the year, 247.
190B – Membership during the year increased to 252.
1909 – The membership grew to 266. W. Bro. Wm. M. Williams, present Secretary, was among the candidates initiated this year.
1910 – It was during this year that Right Worshipful Bro. R. L. Shriner became a member of Occident Lodge by affiliation. Membership 29B.
1911 – During this year the dues were increased to $4.BO, and $6.00 if not paid within the time limit. The Lodge appears to have accumulated during this years some money, as a vote was passed to buy stock in the new Masonic Hall, College Street (our present quarters).
New College Street Masonic Temple was dedicated September lst by Most Worshipful Bro. Aubrey White, Grand Master, and Occident held their first regular meeting there on the 20th of the same month. Membership at close of year, 322.
1912 – Brother Wm. Dalton was elected Tyler, which office he held up until the time of his death in 1926. A presentation was made to Wor. Bro. J S. Williams and his wife on the occasion of the celebration of their golden wedding. Membership 345.
1913 – Wor. Bro. Alf. Curran received the appointment of Grand Director of Ceremonies, and was presented with the regalia of his office. Membership 390.
1914 – Amount of stock in Freemasons’ Hall, College Street, was increased. Membership 391.
1915 – Among the names of candidates during this year appear those of Rt. War. Bro. Chas. S. Hall and V. War. Bro. T. C. Johnson. Membership at close of year, 410.
1916 – Owing to conditions created by the Great War, Grand Lodge passed a by-law permitting the lodges to confer more than one degree in one night on those who were leaving for overseas.
Occident Lodge subscribed to fund for equipment of Convalescent Hospital.
Occident Lodge was again honored by the election of one of its members to the office of District Deputy Grand Master, when Wor. Bro. j. W. Lawrence was elected District Deputy Grand Master of Toronto District B. Membership now 402.
1917 – The Lodge passed a motion whereby all brethren who at the time of their enlistment in the Great War were clear on the books and who saw active service in the firing zone, life members ith full privileges. Wor. Bro. R. B. Magill appointed Assistant Grand Secretary, and presented by the Lodge with the regalia of his office. Membership 412.
1918 – On retiring from office Wor. Bro. Smeall presented to the Lodge a set of ebony Working Tools.
This year saw the end of the Great War, and Wor. Bro. Jos. Howlett presented the Lodge with an Honour Roll of the members of Occident Lodge who had served in the Great War together with a cabinet for same.
During the period of the war the members of Occident Lodge. in common with those of the Craft in general throughout Canada, responded nobly to the call of King and Country. A large number of our brethren answered the call to arms;1 made the supreme sacrifice; many were wounded. and several earned promotion and decoration for valor on the field.
August of this year was the occasion of the first visit of Occident Lodge to Electric Lodge. Hamilton. over one hundred of Occident members joining in the trip. Membership 456.
1919 – During this year the first of the popular visits to Niagara Lodge took place and for several years the members went in large numbers. A visit was also paid to Composite
Lodge of Whitby. Grand Lodge again honored Occident Lodge in the election of Wor. Brother Tim Barber to the office of Grand Senior Warden. Occident Lodge presented Right Worshipful Bro. Barber
with a set of regalia. The fee for initiation was increased during this year to $65.00 and the membership had grown to 512.
1920 – Worshipfu! Bro. W. M. Crackle. Chaplain since 1903. was called to the Grand Lodge above. In his death the Lodge lost a faithful and much beloved member. The Initiation Fee was again increased. this time to $100.00. Membership at close of year. 581.
1921 – Most Worshipful Bro. Fred Harcourt. Grand Master. visited Occident Lodge during the year. The Lodge was again called upon to suffer a loss in the death of Very Wor. Bro. Robert Charlton. Treasurer of the Lodge since 1903. and one of the candidates of the Lodge in its first year. V.W. Bro. Charlton was buried with full Masonic service. Bro. L. Pinnell, the only surviving charter member of the Lodge, was made a Life Member with full privileges. Membership at the close of year, 590.
1922 – On the night of 18th of October a Memorial Service was held for the late Very Wor. Bro. R. Charlton. The Lodge having authorized that an oil painting be made, this was unveiled by Right Wor. Bro. j. W. Lawrence. The entire service was a very beautiful mark of respect to departed merit. Membership at close of year, 596.
1923 – Membership at close of year, 617.
1924 – Grand Lodge once again honored Occident Lodge. This time it did not come singly, when Wor. Bro. Chas. S. Hall was elected District Deputy Grand Master and Wor. Bro. R. L. Shriner was elected Grand Registrar. Membership 637.
1925 – The dues were increased during the year to become effective for the year 1926 to $7.00, and $9.00 if not paid within the time limit. Worshipful Brother T. C. Johnson was appointed by the Grand Master, Grand Director of Ceremonies. Occident Lodge presented Very Worshipful Brother T. C. Johnson with the regalia of his office. Membership at close of year, 624.
1926 – A resolution was passed in Lodge to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Lodge, the date set being October 20th. It is with regret that with our closing remarks we have to record the loss of Bro. Wm. Dalton, who had so long and faithfully served the Lodge as Tyler.