HIRAM LODGE AF & AM #490 GRC
It was in 1848 when the Toronto to Sydenham Road was surveyed through the area that later became known as Markdale. By 1851 the census records listed several early land owners: George Walker, Joseph Price, Mark Armstrong and Eliza Atkinson. The latter subdivided her land into smaller lots, calling her plan Cornabus that, in 1864 was the name adopted for the community. Later the railway linking Orangeville with Owen Sound was established through the considerable efforts of Mark Armstrong. In his recognition the new station was named Markdale and in 1870 the post office accepted that name for the village.
The early years were kind to Markdale and the community flourished with steady growth. More people arrived and established homes, schools and churches. Businesses were established such as grist mills, lumber mills, hotels and a variety of merchants as well. In 1891 telephone service arrived followed by electricity in 1896. By the turn of the century there were Masonic Lodges in surrounding municipalities, but none in Markdale. Several of the leading citizens were members of the well established Prince Arthur Lodge in Flesherton. There was increasing interest in the formation of a lodge in Markdale.
After receiving approval from Grand Lodge, Hiram Lodge #490 held its first official meeting on November 17, 1908 and was first placed in Georgian District and transferred to Georgian 9a District in 1912 and then was placed in the newly formed Grey District in 1916.
At the first regular meeting the following brethren were installed as the first officers and recognized as the Charter members are as follows:
W.M. William A. Armstrong,
S.W. Richard E. Ennis,
J.W. William L. McFarland
Chaplain Rev James A. Robinson
Secretary J. William Tuck
S.D. Rev. J.S. Ivison Wilson
J.D. Isaac B. Lucas
S.S. Herbert Smith
I.G. William J. Bellamy
Tyler William Neely
A contingent consisting of 45 visitors were present, hailing from Lodges in Flesherton, Dundalk, Thornbury, Alliston, Guelph, Waterford, Toronto, and Hamilton.
The Lodge rooms were on the upper floor of the McFarland Building on the south west corner of the main intersection of the village. The meeting commenced with members entering the Lodge and being introduced to the D.D.G.M. and presiding Grand Lodge Officers. The petition to form the lodge was read out and the petitioners were asked to give their final approval. W.B. Armstrong was seated in the east where he received the Letters of Dispensation from Grand Lodge. The remaining officers of the lodge were escorted to their respective positions.
Following the ceremony the first order of business was the receiving of applications for initiation, which numbered seven. The master appointed three officers to make the necessary enquiry into all seven applicants.
A scale of fees was set at $25.00 for initiation, $2.00 for affiliation and $5.00 a year for dues. Masonry in Markdale is firmly established.
Regular monthly were held “on the Tuesday on or immediately preceding the full moon”.
During the first few months additional furniture was donated to the lodge such as two ashlars from Thornbury Lodge and 18 chairs from a Toronto Mason. In the first year a total of eighteen meetings were held, mainly consisting of degree work. There were 10 initiations, 10 Fellowcraft Degrees and 9 Master Mason Degrees conferred. It was not unusual to have four degrees conferred at one meeting.
Hiram Lodge was officially constituted and consecrated on October 26, 1909. It was an impressive ancient ceremony conducted by officers of Grand Lodge from surrounding districts. Thus by ancient custom the officers of the Lodge were formally placed in their chairs and the Lodge was officially denoted as Hiram Lodge #490 on the register of Grand Lodge.
One month later the first by-laws were approved and remained the same for 70 years. There was at that time 23 Lodge members.
The first inter-Lodge visitation was held in February 1910 when brethren from Flesherton and the two Owen Sound Lodges journeyed to Markdale. To commemorate that visit, an ebony gavel was presented to Hiram Lodge. The gavel is still in use today.
During the first two years of its existence Hiram Lodge held no formal elections, although several officers were replaced due to resignations. Then in January 1911 the first general election and installation of officers took place. Thereafter, new officers were installed at the beginning of each year until 1936 when that ceremony was moved to June 24th, St John the Baptist day.
Official visits by the D.D.G.M. were held on special rather than regular meetings The D.D.G.M. set the date and the work he wanted done.
In 1911 the first of several “at home” nights were held for the pleasure of members their wives, friends and guests. They were very popular.
Toward the end of 1917 it was realized the financial position of the Lodge needed strengthening. Fees for new members, annual dues and affiliation rates were increased. William McFarland a Mason and owner of the Lodge Hall reduced the annual rental by $15.00.
In October 1921 Masons from Shelburne and Owen Sound visited Markdale. Officers from each Lodge in turn conferred degrees with William Halbert being one of the candidates. W.B. Halbert at the time of his death in 1989 had been a Mason for 68 years, one of the longest memberships in Hiram history.
The September 1924 meeting saw the origin of the Hiram Benevolent Fund. The fund received a healthy start by donations from the 13 members present.
A year later the first Visiting Committee was appointed. Both committees have continued to function through the years.
Through the years the Lodge progressed steadily and at the end of its first 20 years there were 70 members. A by-law change in 1930 moved the Lodge meeting day to the second Thursday of the month.
Early history made little reference to Masonic Education. In 1933 there was an “Educational and Research Movement” undertaken at the suggestion of Grand Lodge. One representative was selected from the district and he travelled to each Lodge and delivered a prepared paper on the origin of various Masonic topics.
The year 1933 marked Hiram’s 25th Anniversary. Hiram had a close association with Prince Arthur Lodge Flesherton. W.B. William Armstrong had joined Masonry in Flesherton and had progressed through the chairs to become Master of the Lodge there. He was selected to be the first Master of Hiram Lodge. To commemorate the first 25 years, a portrait of W.B. Armstrong was presented to Prince Arthur brethren.
The depression years created a financial problem when some members found the annual dues to be a burden. In 1933 it was decided to lower the dues amount to $1.00 which would keep those members in paid up status who were in severe circumstances. The special consideration was not extended and by 1938 there were 12 members proposed by a single motion to be suspended. Relief was in store for those members 3 years later when, for the sum of $5.00 any who wished could be restored.
In 1937 the district began discussion on organizing a Past Masters Association. Hiram lodge appointed a representative to serve on the committee. One of the results was a program of inter-lodge visitations. A “travelling gavel” was crafted of eleven different woods to represent the number of lodges in the district. The travelling gavel was presented to the Master of Hiram Lodge in 1940 by the District Deputy Grand Master R.W. Brother T.H. Reburn. In 1942 the travelling gavel had made the circuit of every district lodge and was then formally returned to R.W. Reburn who in turn presented it to the Grand Master M.W. Brother J.A. McRae as a souvenir of Grey District.
The majority of degree work was performed by Hiram members and officers interspersed by delegations from other Lodges. Special degree teams have been invited from time to time and they have been highly regarded for their degree portrayal and near perfection of the ritual. Included have been the Fire Fighters Team of Barrie, the O.P.P Team from Walkerton and an Ontario Department of Highways Team from Owen Sound.
The year 1958 marked the 50th Anniversary of Hiram Lodge and a special commemorative service was held. It attracted a large turnout of Masons with over 80 visitors and members in attendance. W.B. Gordon Craig was Master at the time and R.W. Brother Ran Bradley had recently been elected as District Deputy Grand Master with V.W. brother William Ellison as his Secretary. A letter from W.B. J.W. Tucker was received recounting the inauguration of Hiram Lodge and the important part played by the brethren of Flesherton. W.B. Tucker was then the oldest living Past Master of Hiram Lodge and one of the two living Charter Members. After receiving many congratulatory expressions a Fellow Craft degree was conferred on Brother Gordon Hamilton.
A noteworthy even in took place in 1959 when 3 generations of a Masonic family shared in a degree. Brother Lee Bradey was initiated while his father, W.B. Jack Bradey was Master and his grand father R.W. Brother Ran Bradey was making his official visit as District Deputy Grand Master of Grey District.
In 1958 there was reference to the possibility of providing new Lodge facilities. A committee was appointed to examine all possibilities. In September 1959 the members gave formal approval to proceed with definite plans and committees were appointed to explore all avenues. It was decided that new facilities were the best probable answer to their needs. Member donations began to accumulate and in the summer of 1961 the Walker Street structure began to take shape. At the same time the existing lodge facilities were deemed no longer acceptable. All furnishings were placed in storage and Hiram brethren held their meetings in the Flesherton Lodge facilities.
Ten months after the sod turning the first regular meeting was held in the new structure. R.W Brother Robert Davies was District Deputy Grand Master at the time and assisted with the official dedication on April 2, 1962.
The financial obligation on the new lodge was retired, when a mortgage burning ceremony was held in May 1971.
Many donations and upgrades to Hiram Lodge have been received over the years. These included a new volume of the sacred law, drapes, a bookcase,
Chair, cushions, new chairs for the East, door knockers, monetary trust funds and other items to make the lodge more comfortable.
When natural gas became available in Markdale in 1995 the lodge started the replacement of the oil furnace with a natural gas unit. This was completed in the spring of 1996. Anew air circulation system was also installed and the interior of the lodge was painted as well.
A tornado struck the Williamsford and Holland Centre area in May 1996 causing extensive damage with injuries occurring to some people. Members of Hiram Lodge aided in the clean up of the area. The properties of W. Brothers Dave and Bob Comber received some damage.
On November 22, 2008 a celebration of Hiram Lodge’s 100th Anniversary was held. In attendance was M.W. Brother Allan J. Petrisor, Grand Master who assisted in the celebration. The celebration started with a light lunch at 1:00 p.m. followed by two ceremonies, the dedication of the new mosaic pavement (which had just been installed) and presentation of regalia (Gold braided collars and gold color jewels) to the Officers of Hiram.
A major renovation of the Lodge meeting room was undertaken in 2012 and Prince Arthur Lodge #333 in Flesherton graciously let Hiram Lodge hold its meetings there until the renovations were completed. Several Hiram members donated funds to assist with the renovations and several members donated their time and performed the renovations.
The following members of Hiram Lodge #490 served as District Deputy Grand Masters of Grey District:
1926 – R.W. Brother A.E. Colgan, 1939 – R.W. Brother T.H. Redburn,
1958 – R.W. Brother Ran Bradey, 1970 – R.W. Brother J.R. MacKenzie,
1982 – R.W. Brother W. C. McBride, 1994 – R.W. Brother C.S. Glasspool,
2006 – R.W. Brother Gordon Hedges