Russell Lodge is located at 1129 Concession street in Russell, Ontario.


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History of Russell Lodge

The following text was authored by V.W. Bro Michael Jenkyns, Grand Historian, Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario from his book ‘Ottawa District Then and Now, Freemasonry in Eastern Ontario 1855-2010’. Permission was received from the author to use his text on our website. We also want to acknowledge the many members of Russell Lodge who assisted with this history.

  • Russell Lodge, No. 479 GRC, Russell 1906-present
  • Russell Lodge, UD GRC, Russell 1906-1906

The township of Russell, in the united counties of Prescott and Russell, was named in 1798 after Peter Russell, administrator of Upper Canada between the departure of Lieutenant-Governor Lt.-Col. John Graves Simcoe in 1796 and the appointment of Peter Hunter as the new Lieutenant-Governor in 1799. It had first been called Elmsley while the present-day Elmsley township (west of Smiths Falls) had been called Russell, but the names were exchanged. The community of Russell was first called “Castor” (beaver in French) after the nearby river, but the name “Russell” was given to the post office when it opened in 1848, with William Duncan, a developer, as first post master. His son and successor as postmaster, John Duncan, had the community name changed to Duncanville in 1852, but the government would not change the name of the post office. In 1898 “Russell” was restored as the community name when the united counties made it into a police village.

At the 46th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario (July 17-18, 1901, Hamilton), the Board on Warrants recommended (1901 Annual Proceedings, p 296) that petitions to form four lodges should be rejected, including one for Russell Lodge at Russell, Russell County, St. Lawrence District No. 15 . Interestingly there is no reference to this premature attempt at startup in the Lodge history.

During the winter of 1905-06, several members of Henderson Lodge, No. 383 GRC, Winchester who were residents of Russell and its surrounding district decided that they wished to form a new Lodge close to their homes. A petition was prepared and signed by fourteen Masons and, with the sponsorship of Henderson Lodge, was submitted to the Grand Master.

At the 51st Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario (July 18-19, 1906, Toronto), the Grand Master, M. W. Bro. James Henry Burritt, KC, reported (1906 Annual Proceedings, p 48-9) that he had issued five warrants and five dispensations , in the latter category he had issued a dispensation on March 16, 1906, to form Russell Lodge at Russell. R. W. Bro. Dr. Arthur Stirling Gorrell, MD, DDGM of Ottawa District No. 16 reported (1906 Annual Proceedings, p 300) that he had instituted Russell Lodge at Russell on June 6, 1906. He reported that the Lodge had acquired a good hall with “proper ornaments, furniture and jewels, and the future of the lodge seems bright.” The Committee on Warrants recommended (1906 Annual Proceedings, p 336) the issue of six warrants and that three dispensations should be continued , including that just recently issued for Russell Lodge.

The Charter officers were: WM, W. Bro. David Wishart (a carpenter from Russell); SW, W. Bro. Philip Proudfoot (PM of Henderson Lodge); JW, W. Bro. William McKeown (PM of Plantagenet Lodge, No. 186 GRC, Riceville (instituted 1867) and a merchant of Russell); Chaplain, Rev. J. B. Robinson; Treasurer, Bro. James A. Fielding (member of Chesterville Lodge, No. 320 GRC, Chesterville, Instituted 1874); Secretary, Bro. William H. Lowrie; Director of Ceremonies, Bro. William T. Faulkner (member of Chesterville Lodge, No. 320) and Tyler, Bro. Charles F. McArthur (a foundry operator). The other Charter Members were Bros. Rev. Thomas A. Sadler (clergyman); Duncan McArthur (brother of Charles F. and also a foundry operator); John I. Rankin (bank manager); Dr. Dougald S. McDougall (physician); William Kippen and William Hanshaw (of Houston).

Russell Lodge was dedicated and consecrated on September 30, 1906 by the District Deputy Grand Master, R. W. Bro. R. W. Kenning, who presented Charter No. 479 to the Lodge. As no Lodge By-Laws had been written, the Lodge adopted those of Henderson Lodge. From the time of formation until June 24, 1925, Installation was held on St. John the Evangelist Day (December 29), except when this fell on a Sunday. Effective June 24, 1925, the installation was changed to St. John the Baptist Day (June 24), except when this was a Sunday. In 1960 the installation was moved to the regular meeting in June (third Monday).

It is not clear from the Lodge Minutes where meetings were held in the early years although rents for Lodge rooms were paid by the Lodge (W. R. Cherry, $60.00 per year until 1912 when Stanley Stephenson was paid $80.00). A disastrous fire in Russell village in 1915 destroyed the central part of the village, including the Hall then used for Lodge meetings. It was then agreed to acquire the necessary land and build a suitable Hall. Land was acquired from J. B. McVey for $400 and a building program costing $3,000 was undertake. The new Lodge facility was Dedicated on July 3, 1916.

The building program attracted attention to the Fraternity and by 1924 Lodge membership had reached 124. As with the Craft across the province, Russell Lodge has seen decreases and increases in membership over the years—99 members in the mid 1930’s; 91 by 1944; 122 by 1958; 127 in 1963 and 82 in 1999.

Twelve members of the Lodge served the colours during World War I and all survived their service.

Over the years, members of the Lodge have been recognized by Grand Lodge for their Service to the Craft and their community. At the 140th Annual Communication of Grand Lodge (July 19, 1995) the Grand Master, M. W. Bro. C. Edwin Drew announced the award of a Certificate of Commendation for outstanding service to Bro. Wallace D. Hall of Russell Lodge.

The Lodge was administered in Ottawa District 16 until the reorganization of 1970 which saw it placed in Ottawa District 1. During its existence, five members of the Lodge have served as DDGM: R. W. Bros. L. Wilfred Latimer (Ottawa, 1935-36), Wendell M. Stanley (Ottawa, 1965-66), Keith M. Boyd (Ottawa District 1, 1977-78), Grant B. Bowman (Ottawa District 1, 1987-88) and Kenneth Alan Sharp (Ottawa District 1, 2005-06). In addition, six members of the Lodge have served Grand Lodge in various offices, including: Grand Sword Bearer – V. W. Bro. J. Lorne MacRae (2003-04); and Grand Steward – V. W. Bros. Walter Rowan (year unknown) Philip B. Proudfoot (year unknown), E. Ernest Sutherland (1936-37), John Mills Boland (1953-54), Sydney W. Cotton (1966-67), J. Edgar Young (1976-77), William C. McVey (1978-79), Hjalmar O. J. Hansen (1988-89) and Kenneth Alan Sharp (1996-97).

On Saturday, June 10, 2006, Russell Lodge celebrated its centennial with an afternoon ceremony of remembrance, rededication and recommitment at the Lodge rooms and a Ladies Night Dinner and Dance at the Russell Community Center.

Russell Lodge meets on the third Monday of each month from September to May inclusive at the Masonic Hall, Russell.

[Sources: (1) Annual Proceedings of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada and the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario. (2) Secretary’s Notes on the origins of Russell Lodge. (3) Place Names of Ontario, by Alan Rayburn, University of Toronto Press, 1997, ISBN 0-8020-7207-0.]