Northern Light Lodge No. 266

A.F. and A.M - G.R.C.


History of the Lodge

Constituted 1872

More than a century ago, when the great pines were falling and giving rise to the Town of Stayner, among those pioneers who here sought homes for themselves were a number of Masons.

Always eager for the fellowship of the Lodge, they soon became members of Manito Lodge already meeting in the Town of Collingwood. But as the Town of Stayner grew so did the number of Masons. With the increase in numbers came the desire to form a Lodge in the Town. On February 8th, 1871, Manito Lodge passed a resolution recommending to Grand Lodge the petition of the Brethren of Stayner for a Lodge of their own. On October 4th of the same year the recommendation was again made and steps were then taken for the institution of Northern Light Lodge in Stayner.

The Charter bears the signatures of M. W. Bro. James Seymour as Grand Master, Thomas Harris as Grand Secretary, W. Bro. Arthur Moberly, Worshipful Master, Robert B. Hannah, Senior  Warden, Benjamin Beatty as Junior Warden. The date of the Charter is July llth, 1872, so it is now at this time of writing, one hundred and thirty-five years since the Lodge was instituted.

For the first few years the Lodge met on main street in Stayner in a room over Devitt's Furniture store on the site later occupied by Besse's Dairy Products for a long period and is now two smaller retail stores. Here it met with misfortune when the building and much of the Lodge equipment was destroyed by fire. Following the fire the Lodge met in an upstairs room in the Gartland Block. It then moved to the 2nd floor of the building, just then completed by Mr. Richard Coleman, which later became the Pearson Block.

It should be noted, however, that the history of Northern Light Lodge includes other and more serious difficulties than that of finding shelter. During its earlier years the Lodge was not numerically strong and the revenue was frequently less than adequate. Indeed it is recorded that concerts were sometimes arranged as a means of balancing slender budgets. In those days it did not occur to the Brethren to raise their dues, or if it did the idea may have been dismissed as impractical. However that may be, it is recorded that on one occasion the financial outlook was so dark that M. W. Bro. John Ross Robertson advised that the Lodge be closed.

Happily such drastic action never became necessary, for early in the 1900's there fortunately came a new era of growth and prosperity. Gradually but steadily the membership of the Lodge increased and, down through the years, the Townships of Nottawasaga and Sunnidale as well as the Town of Stayner, (now known as the Township of Clearview) and in more recent years the Town of Wasaga Beach, have continued to offer some of their finest sons as candidates for Masonry. Indeed this healthy growth reached such proportions that in 1961, it finally became necessary to abandon the inadequate Lodge quarters in the Pearson Block, and to erect the new building on Louisa Street in which the Lodge is now comfortably housed.

It is perhaps an understatement to say that the building of a new Temple in the summer of 1961 was an accomplishment of which the brethren of Northern Light Lodge are proud. The completion of that project was the realization of a long-cherished dream and the story of how it came about that the dream was realized is long, interesting, and even dramatic. But here it must be told briefly.

There had been, of necessity, much previous deliberations and planning. Delegations from Northern Light Lodge had visited other Lodges with a view of gaining inspiration and studying their building plans. Indeed Grand Lodge had already approved a building plan that had been drawn by W. Bro. C. V. Tebbey to embody Northern Light Lodge's ideas. But it was not until the Lodge meeting held April 4th, 1961, that the Trustees introduced the following resolution. "That we be empowered to acquire land for a building site, and to build a Lodge building thereon, and to furnish it, and that we be further empowered to incur such expenditure as in our judgment shall become necessary and desirable."

As a matter of record, not only did the brethren of Northern Light Lodge clothe their trustees with those broad powers, but they also proceeded to set up executive committees: R. W. Bro. W. A. Blackburn was named General Chairman; W. Bro. Clarence Wood became Chairman of the Building Committee; and W. Bro. N. A. Oehm was appointed Chairman of the Finance Committee. Clearly the stage was set for action and, by way of underlining that fact, the Worshipful Master, Paul Stotesbury, spoke these significant words: "Brethren, it is time for us to be on the move."

With those marching orders ringing in their ears, the brethren moved accordingly. By common consent, Bro. Aubrey Perry (who mysteriously acquired the unofficial title of "Hiram") organized and directed the willing workers. So expeditiously and efficiently did they work that, in less than five months after the turning of the first sod on May 22nd, 1961, the new Temple was completed. With special dispensation from Grand Lodge, the first Lodge meeting was held in the new Lodge building on November 7th, 1961, on which occasion this resolution was adopted: "Resolved that we, the brethren of Northern Light Lodge here assembled in this newly-built Lodge Hall, desire to place on record our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Worshipful Master, to the Committee men, and all others who have assisted in erecting this new building with its splendid appointments. Realizing as we do that it would be invidious to mention the names of the individuals, we nevertheless wish all those whose support made this project a success, to know that we are sincerely grateful for a job well done. We salute all who gave of their time, their talent, and their substance."

Although the first meeting of the new lodge was held in November, 1961, it was not until April 9th, 1962, that the Grand Master, M. W. Bro. R. W. Treleaven, and his Grand Lodge Officers, found it possible to come to Stayner to dedicate the new Temple. On this auspicious occasion they were welcomed on behalf of the brethren of Northern Light Lodge by W. Bro. Alex H. Walker, Worshipful Master, as were a host of other distinguished guests including the D.D.G.M. of Georgian District, R. W. Bro. T. J. Purvis, and all twenty Masters of Georgian District.

Thus ninety years after the founding of the Lodge in 1872, history was made; thus was a project completed; and thus did a dream come true.

The brethren of Northern Light Lodge had hardly had time to settle in their new home when they began to make preparations for yet another important and historic milestone. In just ten short years, they would celebrate their one hundredth anniversary and the brethren looked ahead with eager anticipation to the centennial festivities.

Many months of hard work and preparation culminated on the evening of February 22, 1972 when a gratifyingly large number of members and visitors gathered for the dedication, rededication and consecration of the regalia, etc., of Northern Light Lodge. The packed Lodge room received a special treat that evening as the M. W. Bro. Harry L. Martyn journeyed from Toronto to be the guest speaker of the evening, and to invest our centennial Master, W. Bro. Ken Heatherington. On that splendid evening as the sun set in the west to close the day, the glitter of gold in our Lodge room was matched only by the proud, beaming faces of the brethren who had given so much of their time and resources to make this night the dazzling success it turned out to be. Northern Light was fortunate indeed in their centennial year to share several of our biggest moments with the brethren of Seven Star Lodge of Alliston, who were also celebrating their centennial.

On June 16th, 1972 an enthusiastic and happy throng of brethren and their wives crowded the Nottawasaga Inn in Alliston, where the two Lodges hosted a joint Ladies Night. The evening was without a doubt an unqualified success. Following a brief summer recess, the brethren of both Lodges gathered on Sunday, September 10th, for an outdoor church service in a beautiful outdoor setting in Stayner. The officials of the United Missionary Church had generously made the facilities of their Camp Grounds in the Pine Grove available for a Masonic Church Service jointly sponsored by the two Lodges. The speaker that afternoon was R. W. Bro. The Rev. Marshal Jess, Past Grand Chaplain of Collingwood. R. W. Bro's. Mancini and Borthwick assisted. The soloist, W. Bro. John Agnew, contributed greatly to the success of the service. Members of the two Lodges, their families and many well wishers from the whole District thus worshipped together on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with the scent of pines adding to the sacredness of the hour.

Unquestionably the high point of our year came on Friday, October 13th, 1972, when again in conjunction with Seven Star Lodge from Alliston we hosted the Grand Master M. W. Bro. William K. Bailey at a reception held at the Nottawasaga Inn in Alliston.

A large crowd of interested Masons from near and far gathered on that occasion to pay tribute to the Centennial Lodges and to greet the Grand Master. One could only say that the evening surpassed the most hopeful expectations of all who attended and provided a fitting climax to the centennial celebrations of our Lodges.

At such a time, it may not be amiss to pause and once again glance retrospectively at the past one hundred and thirty-four years.

On eight occasions Northern Light Lodge has been honoured by having its members elected as D. D. G. M. of Georgian District, R. W. Bro. W. B. Saunders in 1894, R. W. Bro. J. W. Bethune in 1908, R. W. Bro. R. J. Campbell in 1921, R. W. Bro. R. E. Ives in 1938, R. W. Bro. W. A. Blackburn in 1949, and to add further honour to our centennial year, R. W. Bro. T. Borthwick was elected to this high office in 1972. In 1990 the district was divided into Georgian South and Georgian North District, with R. W. Bro. Robert M. McArthur being elected in 1997 to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the Lodge, and R. W. Bro. Earl T. McGauley in 2005.

Other members of Northern Light Lodge who are Past Grand Lodge Officers are: R. W. Bro. George Hinton, Past Grand Junior Warden; V. W. Bro. Ken Kerr, Past Grand Steward; V. W. Bro. J. R. Flynn, Past Grand Steward; V. W. Bro. E. E. Pottage, Past Grand Steward; V. W. Bro. Douglas Culham, Past Grand Steward; V. W. Bro. Robert Bates, Grand Steward in 1997; V. W. Bro. William Bates, Grand Standard Bearer in 1998. V. W. Bro. William Trotter, Past Grand Steward in 2005; and most recently V. W. Bro. Gary Christopher, Grand Steward in 2006.

In 1974 the first District Curling Bonspiel was held, the trophy was the Thomas Borthwick Trophy donated by R. W. Bro. Thomas Borthwick, Past D. D. G. M. During the 1980's the Lodge exchanged visits with Phoenix Lodge in Perrysburg, Ohio.

In 1993 Northern Light was again honoured when W. Bro. James Cooper was appointed Grand Chaplain and at a special meeting held at Northern Light Lodge on September 21, 1993, was installed into that office by M. W. Bro. C. Edwin Drew, Grand Master, and a number of Grand Lodge officers.

We in Northern Light Lodge have reason to be proud of these members of Grand Lodge. Masonry in this district is more highly respected and honoured because of their splendid contributions.

Our Lodge has now grown to a membership of one hundred and fifty and in one hundred and thirty-four years has initiated just over six hundred candidates.

In retrospect, the current members of Northern Light Lodge can indeed be proud of their Masonic Heritage. The hard times, though often trying, were endured with faith and served only to strengthen the spirit of Masonry in the brethren. The good times were a cause for joy and inspiration to all concerned.

In 1886, the cost of the Lodge notices was 23 cents per month. For the year 1906 our Secretary's account for postage and stationary was $5.10. By 1908 the rent for our Lodge Hall had risen to $36.00 per year and in 1916 annual dues were increased to $3.50.

Those days of course are gone forever and are memories for us to cherish. We similarly revere the memory of all who have preceded us in Northern Light Lodge.

In 1989 Northern Light Lodge changed their installation date from December to June with the first June installation in June of 1989.

In 1998 Northern Light Lodge celebrated their 125th Anniversary along with Seven Star Lodge in Alliston again and were joined by Minerva Lodge from Stroud. A reception for the Grand Master, M. W. Bro. William T. Anderson, was hosted and held in the Community Centre in Stayner. A total of 350 Masons from all over Ontario joined the three Lodges in their historic celebration.

Northern Light Lodge has been a generous donator to many community projects such as supplying a Palliative Care room in Collingwood Hospital, donation to Stayner Arena, donation to Stayner Library. Northern Light Lodge is a regular contributor for a bursary to the Stayner Collegiate.

Today, Northern Light Lodge is in a flourishing condition following our one hundred and thirty ninth birthday. We enjoy a steady stream of new members of high quality. We have adequate revenue. Peace and Harmony prevail; none may more truly say, "Happy to meet, sorry to part; Happy to meet again."