R.W. Bro. Thomas Pitt (1870-1937) was Initiated and Passed in Temple Lodge No. 33 in 1900 and Raised to a Master Mason in 1901. He served as Lodge Secretary in 1902-03, Treasurer in 1904, Junior Warden in 1905, Senior Warden in 1907 and Worshipful Master of the Lodge in 1908 and 1909.
He was an Alderman of the City of Duncan in 1914 and 1922-1924. He served as Mayor of Duncan from 1919-1921.
He was also prominent in local business. In 1902, he formed a partnership with fellow Temple Lodge, No.33 member Andrew Hans Peterson under the name Pitt & Peterson, which purchased the Duncan Emporium business of W.B. Harry Smith.
With W.Bro. Andrew H. Peterson, he was one of the founders of Cowichan Merchants Ltd. in 1909. He sold his interest in Cowichand Merchants Ltd. to Andrew H. Peterson in 1919.
He later ran a garage under the name of Thomas Pitt Ltd. before retiring in 1932. The building he built in 1929 for his automotive business is still standing at 231 Government St. in downtown Duncan, B.C. This building was designed by local architect Douglas James.
Here is a brief biographical sketch of Right Worshipful Brother Thomas Pitt from Temple Lodge records, newspaper articles and from his obituary and the report of his funeral the Cowichan Leader newspaper:
“…An application was then made by Mr. Thomas Pitt of the town of Duncans (Hotel Keeper) as a fit and proper person to be made a member of this Lodge. The application was made by Bro. Harry Smith seconded by Bro. Louis Truesdale. Carried. The Worshipful Master then appointed a committee on the application of Thos. Pitt. Bros. S. Robinson, Wm. Gidley, J.M. Mutter…”
(Source: Temple Lodge No.33, Minutes of Regular Meeting, 10 February 1900)
“..The application of Mr. Thos. Pitt was then read with a favourable report of committee upon the same. Brother Evans moved, and Bro. Truesdale seconded the motion to receive the application of Mr. Thos. Pitt and discharge the committee. The motion carried…..
The application of Mr. Thos. Pitt was then taken up and a ballot ordered after which the W.M. declared Mr. Thos. Pitt duly elected to become a member of this Lodge by Initiation….[Note: at the same meeting, applications for Initiation were also received from Cap. H.H. Addington, Robert Telford and Melville Franklin Lucas. All were elected members of Temple Lodge, No.33 at the Regular Meeting of 10 March 1900.]”
(Source: Temple Lodge No.33, Minutes of Regular Meeting, 10 March 1900)
“…Mr. Thomas Pitt a candidate for initiation being in waiting, was duly prepared, brought forward [and] initiated as an Entered Apprentice, he paying the usual fee…”
[Note: Cap. H.H. Addington was also initiated at this meeting]
(Source: Temple Lodge No.33, Minutes of Emergent Meeting, 24 March 1900)
Here are the local newspaper reports of the formation of Cowichan Merchants Ltd., a partnership between Thomas Pitt, Andrew H. Peterson and William Penn Jaynes.
“Business House In New Home
This morning at 9:30 when the doors of the new home of Cowichan Merchants, Ltd. are thrown open to the public, one of the finest buildings of its kind west of Winnipeg will be in use as a general store.
The actual commencement of the mercantile business in Cowichan district dates back to 1879, when Mr. W.H. Jaynes first opened a business house here. On July 1st, 1899 the house which was destined to become the strongest mercantile firm in the district was founded by Mr. Harry Smith, who carried on business in the I.O.O.F. block until 1901, when he removed to the corner of Station and Craig Streets now being vacated by the Cowichan Merchants Ltd.
In February 1902, Mr. A. Peterson, who had been with Mr. Smith from the inception of the ‘Duncan Emporium’ formed a partnership with Mr. Thomas Pitt, purchased the business from its originator and by foresight and good management this firm has built up what is conceded to be the most extensive general merchandise business on Vancouver Island.
Last year the business which Mr. W.P. Jaynes had carried on successfully for many years was amalgamated with that of the Duncan Emporium, and the two houses, when the merger was complete, became known as the Cowichan Merchants, Limited, with Mr. A. Peterson as managing director…….”
(Source: Cowichan Leader, 8 December 1910 – from Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives collections)
“AFTER SEVENTEEN YEARS
Mr. Thomas Pitt Severs Connection With Well Known Firm
Mr. T. Pitt has severed his connection with the Cowichan Merchants Ltd., having disposed of his interests to Mr. A.H. Peterson. Thus the associations of some seventeen years are broken.
Mr. Pitt started business in partnership with Mr. Peterson, trading under both names in the building at the corner of Craig and Station Streets, Duncan. Its boards still show the old sign under certain weather conditions.
Subsequently the firm of Pitt and Peterson amalgamated with Mr. W.P. Jaynes and thus the Cowichan Merchants Ltd was brought into being.
Mr. Pitt was the recipient of a handsome case of pipes on New Year’s eve at the store, presented on behalf of the employees by Mr. T.J. Reeves. For the patronage extended to him by the public during the past seventeen years Mr. Pitt proffers his sincere thanks and appreciation.”
(Source: Cowichan Leader, 9 January 1919 – from Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives collections)
Here is Thomas Pitt’s obituary in the local Cowichan Leader newspaper:
“Pitt – Cowichan learned with deep regret yesterday of the death in Duncan of Mr. Thomas Pitt, well-known and respected resident of the district since 1890. He was 68.
A former mayor and alderman of Duncan and a Justice of the Peace, Mr. Pitt was a popular figure here. He had been active in various organizations and was prominent in many lines of business.
He was born in Worcestershire, England in 1870, a son of the late Thomas and Letitia Pitt. He came out to this country in 1890 to work on the Elkington ranch near Maple Bay.
After farming for six years, he operated the Alderlea Hotel for three years. He then went into the general merchandising business with Mr. A.H. Peterson in the firm of Pitt & Peterson. Later, the late W.P. Jaynes was taken into the partnership and Cowichan Merchants Ltd. was founded.
Mr. Pitt sold his interest in the business just after the war, and operated a sawmill at Cobble Hill for a few years. Then for 10 years he was in the garage business under the name of Thomas Pitt Ltd. [Note: Thomas Pitt had local architect Douglas James design a building for his garage business in 1929. That building is still standing at 231 Government St. in downtown Duncan.] He retired in 1932.
Mr. Pitt was mayor of Duncan in 1919, 1920 and 1921, and an alderman in 1914, 1922, 1923 and 1924.
He was a prominent Mason, joining Temple Lodge, A.F. & A.M. in 1902 [note: he actually joined Temple Lodge, No.33 in 1900. He was Raised to a Master Mason in 1902] , and holding the office of secretary in 1903 and 1904, and of master in 1908 and 1909. In 1918 he was district deputy grand master. He also belonged to Tsouhalem Chapter, Royal Arch Masons.
He was a keen hunter and angler, and the Cowichan Fish and Game Association grew under his guidance. He was secretary from its inception until illness forced him to vacate the office about five months ago. He was also largely responsible for the organization of the Affiliated Fish and Game Associations of Vancouver Island four years ago, being president for the first two years. He was a club member of Cowichan Branch, Canadian Legion.
In 1900 Mr. Pitt married Miss Alice Grassie. He is survived by her; one son, Mr. Cyril Thomas Pitt, Duncan; one daughter, Mrs. A.E. Robinson, Vancouver; four brothers, Charles W. in Duncan, Stanley and George in England and Harry in Australia; and one sister, Mrs. Nellie Clark-Baylis, in England.
The funeral will be held at 2:30 to-morrow afternoon from the family residence, the service taking place at St. John’s Church and interment in Mountain View Cemetery, Somenos. Mr. R.W. Whidden has charge.”
(Source: Cowichan Leader, 31 March 1937 – from Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives collections)
“Pitt – The funeral of Mr. Thomas Pitt on Friday afternoon showed the esteem which he won for himself from all classes during his long business career and public service in Duncan.
There was a large attendance both in St. John’s Church and at the United Church cemetery, Somenos, and among the masses of flowers were wreaths from the City of Duncan, Cowichan branch, Canadian Legion, Cowichan Fish and Game Association, Duncan Elks, Malahat and Temple Lodges, A.F. & A.M., and Tsouhalem Chapter, R.A.M.
The pallbearers were Messrs. J. Cathcart, R.K. Cairns, Frank Price, A.H. Peterson, D.R. Hattie and James Grieg. The 23rd Psalm was sung and there were two hymns, “Peace, Perfect Peace” and Abide With Me.” Mr. R.W. Whidden had charge of arrangements.”
(Source: Cowichan Leader, 7 April 1937 – from Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives collections)
Thomas Pitt is buried in Mountain View Cemetery on Somenos Road, North Cowichan, B.C.