Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
July 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Free Masons in Canada


[This article was written in the 1930's and published in 1948. For the precise citation, see the end of the document.]

Freemasonry in Canada commenced between 1737 and 1749 when a lodge was instituted, under a Boston warrant, at Annapolis Royal in the preset Nova Scotia. In 1849 a lodge was established at Halifax. Various lodges were organized in the British forces attacking Canada between 1756 and 1760. Freemasonry in the province of Quebec began to assume organized form in 1759 with the appointment of provincial grand masters who made Quebec the Grand East of a territory extending westward to the Great lakes. In the period 1759-91, about forty warrants were issued for lodges in the city of Quebec and in other parts of the province. The history of freemasonry in Upper Canada as a separate entity commenced in 1792 when the Provincial Grand Lodge of Upper Canada was established at Newark, under William Jarvis. Previously, under the auspices of the Quebec Grand Lodge, ten lodges had been established in Upper Canada. In 1802 occurred a schism in Upper Canada when, despite the removal of Jarvis to York, the Newark lodge claimed the right to remain the legitimate Grand Lodge of Upper Canada. Between 1817 and 1822, moreover, the Masonic Convention, formed at Kingston, performed the functions of a regular Provincial Grand Lodge. In 1822 this period of triangular control from Newark; York, and Kingston was ended by the appointment of Simon McGillivray as provincial grand master; and he reorganized masonry in Upper Canada. In the period 1834-45 the meetings of many lodges in the province were intermittent, and the craft did not exhibit the zeal which had been manifested between 1822 and 1827. Efforts were made by Z. M. Phillips in 1842-3 to revive Upper Canadian masonry. Until 1855 the various Canadian Grand Lodges had occupied a very subordinate position in relation to the Grand Lodge in England. In that year, at the instigation of W. Mercer Wilson, a convention at Hamilton, including representatives of Canada East and West, established the Grand Lodge of Canada as an independent and sovereign governing body. By the Zetland-Wilson agreement of 1859 the Grand Lodge of England recognized the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Canada over Canada East and West, but on condition that the rights and privileges of the Grand Lodge at Quebec should be recognized and respected. The Provincial Grand Lodge of Lower Canada had existed from 1792 to 1822. It had then been divided into two districts: Montreal and William Henry, and Quebec and Three Rivers. By 1855 the Provincial Grand Lodge of Montreal had virtually ceased to exist; but the Provincial Grand Lodge at Quebec still existed and retained jurisdiction even after the formation of the Grand Lodge of Canada. The Grand Lodge of the province of Quebec was organized in 1869 as independent of the Grand Lodge of Canada, which accepted the inevitable and granted recognition in 1874. The failure of the Grand Lodge of Canada to secure jurisdiction in Quebec was finally marked in 1888 by the change of its name to "The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free, and Accepted Masons of Canada, in the Province of Ontario." The movement toward centralized control, therefore, failed, and freemasonry in Canada has developed upon a provincial basis. See W. S. Herrington, The history of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the province of Ontario, 1855-1930 (Hamilton, 1930) ; J. Ross Robertson, The history of Freemasonry in Canada (Toronto, 1900); John H. Graham, Outline of the history of Freemasonry in the province of Quebec (Montreal, 1892).

Source  : W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 395-396.  





© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College