A BRIEF HISTORY OF PERFECTION LODGE
About 1920, the St. Catharines Brethren began to discuss the possibility of forming a new Lodge, since existing Lodge memberships were getting quite large. This came to fruition when in the Lodge room at 8:00 p.m. on the 13th of November, 1922, the D.D.G.M., Wm. F. Fawcett declared that all the preliminaries had been met and that the Grand Master had approved of a dispensation to hold a Masonic Lodge to be known as Perfection Lodge. In October 1923 the Ceremony of Constitution and Consecration was conducted by M.W. Bro. Drope. Perfection was numbered 616 on the registry of Grand Lodge.
Perfection Lodge showed progress from the beginning. Starting with sixteen (16) charter members, five (5) Past Masters, and twenty (20) Master Masons. At the second meeting, January 8, 1923 six (6) Master Masons affiliated and three first degrees were conferred. The next couple of meetings went on as follows; third meeting, January 15, 1923 four first degrees, fourth meeting, January 22, 1923, four first degrees, one of which was G.B. McCalla, our tenth Worshipful Master and the first D.D.G.M. from Perfection Lodge, fifth meeting, February 12, 1923 two second degrees, sixth meeting, February 26, 1923 two second degrees, seventh meeting, March 9, 1923 two second degrees and one Master Mason affiliation, eighth meeting, March 26, 1923 three third degrees, ninth meeting, April 9, 1923 one third degree, tenth meeting, April 23, 1923 two first degrees, to bring the membership to forty seven. Sixteen new candidates were initiated during the first year. Perfection hit its high of about 230 members in the early 1960's.
Perfection Lodge had taken its name from the Scottish Rite designation "Lodge of Perfection" as its Charter members were of the Scottish Rite. It was natural therefore, that there was a close association with Morton Lodge of Perfection 14th degree Hamilton. In 1926 Morton Lodge presented a gavel to Perfection Lodge No.616 that was made from the chair used at the First Assembly of the Scottish Rite in Hamilton in 1874.
Two brethren of Perfection Lodge became active members of Supreme Council. R.W. Bro. Dr. C.A. Sankey obtained this rank in 1973 and although assuming "post active" status in 1980, remained chairman of Supreme Council's Committee on Ritualistic Matters and Vice-President of the Scottish Rite Charitable Foundation of Canada for many years after. R.W. Bro. G.K. Trenholm became an active member in 1980.
The depression years of the '30s were especially hard on Perfection Lodge as it was still in its adolescence. No history of the Lodge would be complete without special mention of R.W. Bro. George McCalla and V.W. Bro. W.A. Brown whose efforts made its continuing operation possible during this time. When R.W. Bro. McCalla died in 1960 a special memoriam notice was issued. The funeral from his home (he had requested a full Masonic Service including Committal) saw perhaps 200 Masons in attendance.
In 1972 M.W. Bro. F. Glenn Fox D.G.M. of Alberta and a member of Perfection Lodge No.9 G.R.A., who had met several of our members the previous July at our Grand Lodge Annual Communication, asked M.W. Bro. W.K. Bailey, our Grand Master and the Grand Lodge Representative of the Grand Lodge of Alberta if he could visit our Perfection Lodge during an emergent meeting to be set up on his return with M.W. Bro. Bailey from a Grand Masters Conference in Washington D.C.. The result was a special meeting on Saturday, February 26, 1972, attended by the Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Secretaries from both jurisdictions and more Grand Lodge Officers than at any time in Perfection Lodges history. M.W. Bro. Fox and M.W. Bro. Bailley subsequently were elected Honourary members of the Lodge.
A similar event occurred in 1982 when M.W. Bro. Donald James McLaurin G.R.B.C. a good friend of R.W. Bro. Dr. C.A. Sankey, paid us a visit and was elected to an Honourary Life membership in the Lodge.
A unique event occurred on May 18, 1977 when the Lodge, under W. Bro. Sam Meltzer held a divine Service in B'nai Israel Synagogue. The Synagogue was filled to capacity by Masons and their families. The service, based essentially on the Psalms, was conducted by Bro. Rabbi Israel Freidman, who gave the sermon and was assisted by several members of the craft.
In 1979 Perfection Lodge sponsored a reception for R.W. Bro. Dr. C.A. Sankey, honouring him for his many years of service to Perfection Lodge and to the Craft. R.W. Bro. Dr. C.A. Sankey had represented the District and Perfection Lodge as the D.D.G.M. in 1968. M.W. Bro. N.R. Richards, G.M., G.L.C., M. Ex. Comp. Aube Weisman, Grand First Principal, Royal Arch Masons, and Bro. The Rev. Dr. A.L. McKay, G.M.., Royal Order of Scotland, joined some 250 Brethren in this tribute to R.W. Bro. Dr. Sankey.
Perfection Lodge had the honour of supplying a brother to serve the office of D.D.G.M. in 1982. R.W. Bro. Fred Spencer was chosen from among the many able members of Perfection Lodge to represent the district. R.W. Bro. Spencer named W. Bro. George Mitchell as his district Secretary and after a year of faithfully performing his duties, George was awarded the office of Grand Steward.
It was during the years 1984 through 1996 that Perfection Lodge fell on hard times. Several of the brethren advancing through the chairs were forced to leave their offices because of the demands of their private avocations. Job transfers and new careers took their toll on the upcoming officers and several of the Past Masters took the time to fill the offices several times, some serving as Master multiple times during those years.
In 1995-1996 Perfection Lodge was once again given the opportunity to provide the District Deputy Grand Master for Niagara "A", providing a very unique opportunity. R.W. Bro. James E. James was elected by the Past Masters to that Office. The same year, his son, R.W. Bro. Gary James, a member of Perfection Lodge No.616 as well as Perfection Lodge No.9, G.R.A. was elected to the office of D.D.G.M. of Alpha District in Alberta. Each attended the others installation. During the investiture of R.W. Bro. Jim James, at the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge, the Grand Master interrupted the proceedings to introduce R.W. Bro. Gary James and allowed him to personally congratulate his father. It would appear this was the first time a father/son combination from the same Lodge were elected D.D.G.M.s the same year. R.W. Bro. Gary James along with the Grand Master of Alberta attended R.W. Bro. Jim James Homecoming at Perfection Lodge on April 15, 1996. M.W. Bro. G.V. McCauley was also elected an Honourary Membership to Perfection Lodge at this meeting.
Also in 1996 Perfection Lodge hosted an emergent meeting so that visiting Brethren from Lankashire England could visit with a Lodge in our area. These Brethren were travelling around North America visiting various Lodges. A Second Degree was put on and the Masters of each Lodge in Niagara District "A" assumed a Chair and conferred the degree.
Perfection Lodge has a tradition of having strawberries and ice cream at their meeting in June. This tradition has its origin in 1933 when a "Garden Party" was held at the home of W. Bro. George McCalla. Beautiful prose written by the Secretary, Bro. P. Hulse, preserve the event. It reads: "On this evening a delightful event took place when the Officers, Members, and their friends assembled for a garden party and strawberry festival. Nature and weather combined to form a most beautiful setting for this occasion. A lovely picture it was to see the lovely ladies chatting here and there with the members, the ladies in their pretty summer frocks, members in flannels against the backdrop of summer twilight, velvety lawns, and arching elms. Music was provided and entertainment of magic and slight of hand." This tradition has recently been restored through the hard work of our Secretary V.W. Bro. Robert Macara.
It has become a tradition for the Immediate Past Master Of Perfection Lodge to wear the Past Masters jewel of R.W. Bro. George B. McCalla for his term of office. R.W. Bro. McCalla was Perfection Lodges tenth Worshipful Master in 1932 and the first D.D.G.M. for Niagara District "A" from this Lodge in 1942.
Throughout the years, Perfection Lodge has remained in the forefront of Masonic activities in the District. May it continue to do so.
In 2003 Dr. Charles A. Sankey passed to the Grand Lodge Above at the age of 104 years. By his own request a Masonic Memorial Funeral Service was held by Perfection Lodge in the Masonic Temple, 23 Centre Street where family, Lodge brothers and many distinguished guests attended. An extensive display of Charlie's medals, tokens, aprons and books took up an entire wall of the Lodge. Charlie's ashes were placed by his son on a shelf over-looking the proceedings to make sure things were “done right".
Brock University where Dr. Sankey was the Second Chancellor in 1969 then established the “Dr. Charles A. Sankey Memorial Lecture Series". Once a year a visiting expert presents on some aspect of Freemasonry.
In 2007 it was our honour to have Bro. George A. Mitchell affiliate with Perfection Lodge. He served as Sr. Warden in 2007 and as W. Master the next year. He was then honoured with the new title of R.W. Bro. George A. Mitchell by the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, Honourary Grand Senior Warden, before commencing his year long term as the most recent Canadian to serve as Imperial Potentate for Shriners International. After that he was made a Member of the Board of Grand Lodge where he served as Chairman of Fraternal Relations for three years.
Also appointed to the Board by the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario in 2014 was our Secretary V.W. Bro. Michael Locke. His focus in the Board was Web Technology. In 2017 Grand Lodge made him Honorary Grand Senior Warden with a promotion in title to R.W. Bro. Michael Locke. He is an active member of many concurrent bodies in Masonry. Currently, he is Second General of Rose Croix, Niagara Valley.
In 2007-08 Perfection Lodge was once again given the opportunity to provide the District Deputy Grand Master for Niagara "A" District in the person of R.W. Bro. Stewart Greavette who was elected by a Board of Past Masters to that office. His District Secretary was V.W. Bro. Larry Penton. He had a particularly busy year in which he visited more than 170 times and raised more than $14,000.00 for Diabetes Research at Hamilton McMaster Hospital. This was different than the Grand Master's charity for the year. Dr. Hershal Gerstein of the McMaster Diabetes Clinic visited Perfection Lodge several times to update the research successes.
Also, in 2007 R.W. Bro. George Fairbairn affiliated with Perfection Lodge and has been a wealth of knowledge. He was Past District Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Quebec. He is a 33 Degree Scottish Rite Mason. He holds the Order of the Purple Cross of the York Rite Sovereign College. In that organization he was past Grand Governor of Ontario. Currently, he has been installed Third Principal of Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario.
During our Centennial Year of 2022-23 it will once again be the honour of Perfection Lodge to provide Niagara "A" District with a District Deputy Grand Master. W. Bro. James Harper has been duly nominated and elected by a Board of Past Masters to that office. W. Bro. James Harper has been Master of Perfection Lodge in 1997 and 2001. In 2008 he was Coroneted Honorary Inspector-General of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Canada (33 Degree). Currently he serves as Commander in Chief of Moore Sovereign Consistory for the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry of Canada.
W. Bro. James Harper is the sixth member of Perfection Lodge to attain 33 Degree status. Before him were V.W. Ross Yeo, R.W. Bro. Charles A. Sankey V.W. Bro. Ross Kenneth Yeo, R.W. Bro. Fred Spencer and V.W. Bro. Gordon Trenholm.
Perfection Lodge has long been known as a familial Lodge starting with its first chosen Master, V.W. Bro. Robert Lancelot Dunn (1922-23). All three of his sons were initiated into Perfection Lodge, but only W. Bro. Robert Wallace Dunn (1944) became Master. His son, V.W. Bro. Timothy Arthur Dunn (1999-2001) became a third generation Master. And his son, Bro. Robert James Dunn is in line.
- R.W. Bro Stewart Greavette (2008) is followed by sons Bro. Dr. Thomas Greavette and Bro. Michael Greavette,
- V.W. Bro. Larry Penton (1989/96 and 2006) and Bro. Gary Penton,
- V.W. Bro. James Macara (1970) and his sons V.W. Bro. Robert Macara (1980/86/93 and 2005) and V.W. Bro. Kenneth Macara (1981/95)
- W. Bro. Gordon Harper (1992/2001) and his brother, Bro. James Art Harper and his two sons, W. Bro. James Harper (1997/2006) and Bro. Jason Harper
- W. Bro. Hank Wiebe (1979) and his sons W. Bro. Gerry Wiebe (1998) and Bro. James Wiebe
- V.W. Bro. Ross Yea (1948) and son V.W. Bro. Ross Kenneth Yeo (1957) and his son Bro. Robert Yeo
There would have been more, but those members had daughters.
Perfection Lodge has attracted many police officers or those associated with law enforcement, including:
William Watson Robert Macara Edward lake Douglas Roberts
Larry Penton William Mutch Lloyd Allen Dennis Connors
Michael Cross Nathaniel Armstrong Leslie Smith Cyril Cresswell
Peter Sawatsky Frank Frazer Harold Fox Frank Parkhouse
John Stevens Joseph Balzer James Taylor Harry Gilbert
Robert Little Harry Artinian Edward Johnson James Cherry
Richard Dunne Alex Luciak Laurie Leonard Gerald McKeown
Brian May Ronald Tilbrook David Jastrubecki Lambertus Koiter
Gary Morrison lan Burbidge Michael Locke
More recently Perfection Lodge has been designated a Corner Stone Lodge for the third consecutive time, having exceeded the Grand Master's requirements for that honour each time.
Respectfully submitted, V.W. Bro. Tim Dunn, Historian,