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Northern Light Lodge

Continues Work at Fort Garry


W.B. Ed Halpaus

The Lodge at Pembina was named Northern Light Lodge. When the Masons who obtained the Dispensation from Grand Master A.T.C. Pierson were moved to a different location they left the dispensation with the Brothers who were raised in the Lodge rather than have them without a Lodge. Grand Master Pierson approved this and gave those remaining Brothers a Warrant for Northern Light Lodge.

The Lodge moved to Fort Garry, Red River Settlement. This settlement was at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers where "Verandrye established Fort Rouge in 1738." Later, in 1804, The North West Company built Fort Gibraltar. Shortly afterwards the Hudon's Bay Company built Fort Douglas, named after Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk and founder of the Red River Settlement. "The building of the first Fort Garry took place in 1821 and was named after Nicholas Garry, a director of the Hudson's Bay Company." In 1835, construction of a new Fort was started. The first one was made of wood; the second was made of stone. This new Fort was the center for business, education, government, etc., for more than 30 years and became the nucleus of the present city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Freemasonry entered Manitoba through and by Northern Light Lodge warranted by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota in 1864. This lodge had the unique distinction of being the first and only Military Lodge under Dispensation and Warrant in a territory of the United States by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, and then the Grand Lodge of Minnesota a Warrant for the same Lodge but this tiime in the "Red River Settlement," British Possession. It is doubtful that any other Lodge in the British Empire had the distinction of being first warranted by any Grand Lodge of the United States.

On March 17, 1864, the following appeared in the newspaper for the Settlement called The Nor' - Wester:

"A party from this settlement proceeded to Pembina a few weeks since to join the Masonic Order, through the Lodge established there. They took the necessary degrees to qualify them to open a Lodge here, which it is their intention to do on receipt of a dispensation from the Grand Lodge, application for which has already been made.

"We will be glad to see Masonry fully established in our midst, for in its organization and teachings it is admirably adapted to do good in every community, irrespective of class, creed, or nationality. It has its secrets - - the secrets of the ages - - and what others have been so well kept?

"Pretended revelations have been made by those who know the public was always eager to find out a secret, and would be willing to pay well to satisfy their curiousity; but they know little, for the working of the order is as much a mystery to outsiders now as it was in the far distant past from whence it dates its origin."

It might be interesting to know that Dr. John Schultz and his partner, William Coldwell, at the time jointly owned the newspaper, The Nor'-Wester; they were the first Master and Secretary of the Lodge, respectively. It is also of importance that this newspaper account establishes the fact of the introduction of Freemasonry into the Province of Manitoba.

A few weeks prior to the departure of the Officers and Members then composing Northern Light Lodge at Fort Pembina, the following petition was written by Brother A.G.B. Bannatyne and sent to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota:

To the M.W. Grand Lodge Of the State of Minnesota:

The undersigned petitioners being Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, having the prosperity of the fraternity at heart, and willing to exert their best endeavors to promote and diffuse the genuine principles of Masonry, respectfully represent that they are desirous of forming a new Lodge in the Red River Settlement, Rupert's Land, to be named Northern Light Lodge; they further pray for letters of dispensation or a warrant of constitution, to empower them to assemble as a legal Lodge to discharge the duties of Masonry in a regular and constitutional manner, according to the original forms of the order, and the regulations of the Grand Lodge.

They have nominated and recommended Brother John Schultz, to be the first Master, Andrew G.B. Bannatyne, to be the first Senior Warden, and William Inkster, to be the first Junior Warden of said Lodge.

In prayer of the petition is granted, they promise a strict conformity to the constitution, laws, and regulations, of the Grand Lodtge.

Signed by - - Andrew G.B. Bannatyne, William Inkster, Charles Curtis, W.B. Hall, Robert Morgan, William Caldwell, Johnb Schultz, Matthew Connar, at Assiniboine, British America, April 27, 1864.

The petition was received by Grand Master A.T.C. Pierson and granted on May 20, 1864. The Grand Master mentioned this dispensation in his annual address to the Grand Lodge at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, held in St. Paul, on October 25, 1864.

"During the year, I renewed the dispensation of Northern Light Lodge, removing it to the Red River Settlement, application for a charter will be made during the present session."

The first public announcement of a Masonic Lodge meeting held in the Red River Settlement was in the Advertising Column of The Nor'-Wester in the November 2nd issue:


The members of


Of F. & A. M.

Will meet in the Lodge Room in the

Building of A.G.B. Bannatyne, Esq.


Thursday, 8th November, at 7 p.m.

By order of the W.M.


The minutes of Northern Light Lodge on the occasion of the first communication of the Lodge in the Red River Settlement are reproduced in the book Freemasonry in Manitoba 1864 - 1925. Some of the Minutes are:

"The Grand Lodge of Minnesota having issued a warrant empowering the opening of a Lodge, U.D. at Fort Garry, Red River Settlement, and having, for the better carrying out its views, appointed John Schulz, Esq., W.M., A.G.B. Bannatyne, Esq., S.W., and W. Inkster, Esq., J.W. of said Lodge, a meeting of Master Masons was convened in the Lodge Rooms, in the building of A.G.B. Bannatyne, Esq., on Tuesday evening, November 8th, A.D. 1864, at which the following officers were elected to serve during the year.

"On motion of Brother A.G.B. Bannatyne, seconded by Brother C. Curtis, Brother W. Coldwell was elected Secretary. Brother Curtis, seconded by Brother R. Morgan moved that Brother W.B. Hall be the Senior Deacon. Carried unanimously. Brother W.B. Hall, seconded by Brother W. Inkster, nominated Brother C. Curtis as Junior Deacon. Carried unanimously. Brother A.G.B. Bannatyne, seconded by Brother W. Coldwell, nominated Brother J.E. Sheal as Treasurer. Carried unanimously. Brother W. Inkster, seconded by Brother W.B. Hall, nominated Brother R. Morgan as Tyler. Carried unanimously.

"The petition of Rev. T.T. Smith to be made a Mason, accompanied by the required fee, and recommended by Bros. John Schulz and A.G.B. Bannatyne, was presented, read, and referred to a committee.

"The petition of Mr. William McMurray to be made a Mason, accompanied by the required fee, and recommended by Bros. Bannatyne and Coldwell, was presented, read, and referred to a committee.

"The petition of Rev. W.H. Taylor to be made a Mason, accompanied by the required fee, and recommended by Bros. Hall and Morgan, was presented, read, and referred to a committee.

"The Treasurer reported the receipt of an invoice from Brother Curry of St. Cloud, containing charges, amounting to $158.00 for outfittiing furnished Northern Light Lodge. The box contained the articles on account of which the charges had been made, not having yet arrived. Brothers Schultz, Bannatyne, and Sheal were appointed a committee to take stepos to procure the box as speedily as possible.

"At the suggestion of the W.M., the subject of fixing the admission fee for the Lodge was taken up, and it was moved by Brother Inkster, seconded by Brother Sheal, that the fee be fixed at 5 pounds sterling.

"Brother Bannatyne, seconded by Brother Curtis, moved in amendment that the fee be 4:10/ - sterling.

"The amendment was then put, and lost, and the original motion carried.

"On motion of Brother Curtis, seconded by Brother Hall, the nights of the regular communication were arranged to be on every alternate Monday, commencing 14th inst. (November 1864).

"Brothers Bannatyne, Inkster, Sheal and Coldwell, were appointed a committee to look after the necessary ornaments, fixtures, etc., needed for the Lodge.

"The Lodge was closed until the next regular communication, peace and harmony prevailing.
John Schultz, W.M., W. Coldwell, Secy."

In the issue of The Nor'-Wester on November 9, 1864, the notice of the first "Regular Communication" was inserted in the Advertising Column. The notices in the paper are important, because by them it can be determined the dates of the first, and the first regular meeting of a Masonic Lodge in the jurisdiction of the Red River Settlement, now the Province of Manitoba, and more exactly in the city of Winnipeg.

On November 21, 1864, Rev. Thomas Thistlewaite Smith and Rev. W.H. Taylor received their 1st Degree. One week later Rev. Archdeacon J. Hunter was initiated as a Freemason. The Lodge at that tiime met every alternate Monday for the transaction of regular business, and also on the intervening Monday Nights in Special Communication, and in the records there have been found instances where two degrees were conferred on the same candidate on the same evening.

It being remembered that the Master of the Lodge U.D. at Fort Pembina was W.B. Charles W. Nash, the Brothers of Northern Light Lodge at the Communication of January 9th, 1865, elected Brother Nash as an honorary member of the Lodge.

On January 30, 1865, a discussion was taking place in Northern Light Lodge to obtain a Charter from some source other than the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. A committee of Brothers Bannatyne, Rev. T.T. Smith, and William Coldwell to take the necessary action forward, and if possible, to accomplish this by making application for a Charter to the Grand Lodge of England. No further record of this is found in the Lodge records and the Grand Lodge of England has no record that any such request had ever been made.

At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, held October 24, 1865, Grand Master George Washington Prescott made this special reference to Northern Light Lodge: "Whereas, they have been informed that Northern Light Lodge, U.D., at Fort Garry, is working under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, and with a commendable degree of diligence and success, for the best interests of Masonry, and said Lodge desires a renewal of their dispensation until the next annual communication of this Grand Lodge, your committee would, therefore, recommend that a renewal of their dispensation be granted to them in accordance with their request."

Norther Light Lodge went dark for the summer months as of May 1865 and resumed again on November 17, 1865. The desire to obtain a charter from the Grand Lodge of Canada occupied the minds of the members of the Lodge in a meeting held April 18, 1866, when it was resolved that Brother Schultz be authorized to procure a Charter from the Grand Lodge of Canada, and to be assisted in this by Brother T. Bunn. The Minutes of this particular meeting contain this statement: "That this meeting be the last regular meeting for this season." It was approved by all the members present. This is the last written record that can be found of the Old Lodge. If Minutes were later taken they were not writtten in the original Minute Book. However, there were mentions of the Lodtge from other sources, one of them being the December 20, 1965, editiion of The Nor'-Wester:

The Masons of Northern Light Lodge U.D., will meet at their Lodge Room, Town of Winnipeg, on the second Monday of the New Year.

By order of the W.M., H. McKenzie, Secretary

From the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota it is learned that $22 was remitted "on account of dues had been received by the Grand Secretary, but the remark is added - no returns had been sent in by the Lodge."

M.W. Brother Thomas Tweed, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba received in 1895 a letter from W. Bro. Dr. John Schulz.

". . . and a novelty it was indeed in this country at that time. It was spoken of far and wide, and the description, which did not decrease in detail, or increase in accuracy as to what was done therein, was listened to with much curiousity, and in some cases with awesome wonder, which was enhanced by the jocoseness of Brother Bannatyne's clerks, who pointed out from the room below (to wit, the trading house), exactly in what part of the upstairs room the W.M. hung his hat while the Lodge was at work.

"The Lodge Room itself was made as tasteful as circumstances of that day would admit, and it may interest the curuious to know the exact cost of some of the furniture as given in a memorandum which I happen to have near me, in the sterling money of the day, namely:

Tables 1:19:6; Inner Door 1/-; Altar 19/6; Wallpaper 39/-; 24 black beads, 1/6; 24 white beads 1/-; 100 copies of by-laws 40/-; and it may be inferred that the craft was not always at work, for I find on the same list, 15 tin plates, 15 iron tablespoons, 15 teaspoons, 12 cups and saucers, 1 tin pan, 4 cans pickled oysters, 1 pound butter, and 2 pounds sugar, which would seem to show that there were intervals for refreshment. The jewels were borrowed from the Pembina Lodge, and were used until the following January (the Lodge commenced work in November 1864) when these were replaced by fine ones from Chicago through the good offices of N.W. Kittson."

In the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota for 1867 Grand Master Charles W. Nash reported: "I also renewed the Dispensation without additional fee, for Northern Light Lodge, Fort Garry, British North America, 21st November 1866."

M.W. Brother Nash added, "Northern Light Lodge is located at Fort Garry, British America. The long distance to be traveled rendered it difficult to have a representative in Grand Lodge." A further reference is found in the proceedings that Northern Light Lodgte having made their return and settled accounts was Granted a Charter on October 24, 1867, and Northern Light Lodge received number "68" on the register of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

Northern Light Lodge Article 3