While doing some research our Temple Lodge No. 33 Historian came across this 1927 advertisement for Raybestos Brake Linings, which lists the Vancouver Island Raybestos dealers in 1927.
We know that three of the Raybestos dealers names listed were Freemasons: Thomas Pitt, Duncan (Temple Lodge No. 33), Ira Lowe, Ladysmith (St, John’s Lodge No. 21) and Thomas Plimley, Victoria (Britannia Lodge No. 73). It is possible that other names listed were also Freemasons but we will need to do more research on that.
Thomas Pitt built 231 Government Street for his automobile dealership and garage, Thomas Pitt Ltd., in 1929. We think he operated in a previous building on this site in 1927 but we are working to confirm that.
Ira Lowe operated his Lowe’s Garage in Ladysmith at 341 1st Avenue in downtown Ladysmith. The building is still standing.
Thomas Plimley operated his automotive business at two Victoria locations in 1927: 727 Johnson Street (still standing) and in a now demolished building at the corner of Broughton Street and Broad Street in downtown Victoria.
While doing some historical research we came across this 1926 advertisement for Dodge Brothers Motor Cars, showing the Vancouver Island Dodge dealers of the time, including the Duncan “Associate Dealer”, Thomas Pitt Ltd. owned by Temple Lodge No. 33 memberThomas Pitt (1870-1937).
Thomas Pitt Ltd. seems to have been operating in downtown Duncan in the triangular block bordered by Government Street, Jubilee Street and Kenneth Street.
Although this seems an unlikely location for a car dealership today, it would have been a prime location for a car dealer and garage in 1926 because Government Street was part of the Island Highway through Duncan. It would have made complete sense to have automobile related businesses located on the Island Highway, in the same way that most Duncan car dealers are located on the current Island Highway today.
Here is a map showing the location of this downtown Duncan block bordered by Government Street, Jubilee Street and Kenneth Street. We know there were car dealers operating at 261 Government Street until the 1950’s.
After Thomas Pitt‘s death in 1937, there was other car dealers operating on this block, primarily where 267 Government Street (now Habitat For Humanity) now stands, until the 1950’s or early 1960’s.
In 1929 Thomas Pitt retained architect Douglas James to design and build a new office for Thomas Pitt Ltd. at 231 Government Street. , on the south east corner of the triangular block bordered by Government Street, Jubilee Street and Kenneth Street. The building is still standing today, although the arched windows in Douglas James‘ original design have been removed.
Other members of Temple Lodge, No. 33 known to have been associated with St. John’s Anglican Church are Roland Clayton Fawcett, Kenneth Forrest Duncan, James Grieg, Thomas Pitt, Hugh George Savage, John Dick, Thomas Gibbins, William H. Purver, John Homer, Steven Hamilton Hoskins.
“The meeting of the Grand Lodge of Masons to be held in Duncan on the 26th of this month for the purpose of laying the corner stone of the new church promises to be very interesting. Every one should see this ceremony.”
Source: Cowichan Leader, 16 August 1905
Here is the Grand Master of British Columbia’s report of the cornerstone ceremony at St. John’s Church:
“…….On the 26th of August, 1905, I convened a Special Communication of Grand Lodge at Duncan’s, B.C., for the purpose of laying the corner stone of St. John’s Church. A large number of Brethren from Duncan’s, Victoria, and other parts of the Province, took part in the ceremony. M.W. Bro. C. Ensor Sharp delivered a most eloquent address. During the ceremony I was presented with a magnificent silver trowel which I will always treasure as a memento of one of the pleasantest duties of my Masonic experience. In the afternoon the ladies of St. John’s Church entertained the Grand Lodge and other visitors at afternoon tea, and the members of Temple Lodge provided carriages and took us for a drive through the magnificent country surrounding Duncan’s……….
Report of Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Thomas J. Armstrong, Grand Lodge, 21 June 1906, Victoria, B.C.”
Source: Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of B.C., A.F. & A.M., 1906, page 8
“……………..On August 26th, 1905, I visited Temple Lodge No. 33, Duncan’s. They had no work on, but a social session was held and a very pleasant evening spent……….
Report of Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Thomas J. Armstrong, Grand Lodge, 21 June 1906, Victoria, B.C.”
Source: Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of B.C., A.F. & A.M., 1906, page 11
“PARISH HISTORY ——————— Canon Leakey Refers To Beginnings of Anglican Church in Duncan ———————————————–
The services at St. John [the] Baptist church on the day of its patron saint were marked by a sermon by the Rev. Canon Leakey at evensong.
His texts were those used by the then Bishop of Columbia and himself at the consecration services in 1906, namely, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” and “Let us go on to perfection.”
The canon recalled his first impression of Duncan in 1886, when there were two farms, namely those of Messrs. W.C. Duncan and James Evans, and one shack, that of Mr. E.B. McKay. Elsewhere there was dense dark forest.
Services were conducted by himself as vicar of St. Peter’s Quamichan, in Mr. Duncan’s house, until 1890, when the old agricultural hall was utilized. Then the Masons offered their hall and finally, it was decided to build a church, which stood in a veritable wilderness and, like its patron saint, cried its message.
On August 26th, 1905, the corner stone of the building was laid by the Most Worshipful the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of B.C. It is of interest to record that General Currie on that occasion acted as Grand Marshal. In December of that year the church was opened for service, and about June 22nd 1906, it was consecrated.
Canon Leakey said their gratitude was due to the Masonic fraternity for their interest in the church in the past.
From its name the church spoke of repentance and urged them to go on to perfection. These yearly stages should be marked in their own lives.”
Source: Cowichan Leader, 8 July 1920, page 8
Here are the records of a report given to Temple Lodge, No.33 by M.W.B. Claude Green in February 1979 regarding research he done on the history of St. John’s Anglican Church.
M. Wor Bro Green told the Lodge that his wife has been compiling a “scrap book” and had two identical newspaper pictures giving conflicting accounts of corner stones being laid by local Freemasons. Under one picture it said it was the laying of the corner stone of the first Duncan Hospital which took place on October 22nd, 1910. The other picture stated it was the laying of the cornerstone of St John’s Church, Duncan, B.C. on August 26th, 1905.
Bro Green said his wife was able to prove the correct account of the two pictures was the laying of the corner stone of the first Duncan Hospital by virtue of the fact that two small girls shown in the background were the daughters of our late Wor Bro Wm Dwyer who are approximately the same age as Mrs Green who was born in 1904. The two girls in the background of the picture are approximately six and seven years of age. Mrs Green has verified this with the two Dwyer girls.
Bro Green stated he was aware of the laying of the corner stones of the first Duncan Hospital and our present Masonic Building but had no knowledge of the St John’s Church corner stone. He stated he had found the Church corner stone text but it did not have the customary A.F. & A.M. and Square and Compass inscribed upon it he had therefore doubted that the corner stone had been laid under the auspices of the local Freemasons.
Not satisfied Bro Green looked up the Minutes of 1905 and found that an Emergent Meeting dated August 4th, 1905 was called especially to make arrangements for the laying of the said corner stone and that Grand Master Armstrong had been invited to officiate at the ceremony.
An Emergent Meeting was held in the Lodge on Saturday, August 26th, 1905 at 8:00 p.m. in which the Grand Master paid an Official Visit to Temple Lodge. No mention being made of the laying of the corner stone.
Research of the Grand Lodge Proceedings dated 1906 Bro Green found that Grand Master reported in his Address to the Brethren of his Official Visit to Temple Lodge on the evening of August 26th 1905. Still no mention of the laying stone of St. John’s Church.
Further research in the Grand Lodge Proceedings and under the heading of Special Events Grand Master Armstrong states he had laid the corner stone at St John’s Church, Duncan’s in the afternoon of Saturday, August 26th, 1905. Thus a Masonic laying of the corner stone at St John’s Church had now been established.
Unfortunately, the Lodge Secretary of that period failed to record that Temple Lodge #33 together with the Grand Master had participated in that historic event.
Bro Green asked permission of the Lodge to Insert in the proper space of the Minutes of 1905 a memorandum recording this important historic event. This was immediately authorized.
The Worshipful Master thanked Bro. Green and his wife for the trouble takes by them in order to establish the correct version of the two newspaper pictures and the consequent research undertaken to establish the fact that the St John’s Church corner stone had been laid under the auspices of the local Freemasons and the Grand Master of that period.
Of interest the St John’s Church corner stone bears the following inscription:-
Aug 26, 1905
These are the initials of the following Latin sentences-
AD MAGNA DEO GLORIA
which translated says
TO THE GREATER GLORY OF GOD
There being no further business the Lodge was closed at 8:00 p.m. in Short Form.
Peace and harmony prevailing.”
Source: Temple Lodge, No.33 Minute Book, Meeting of 13 February 1979
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