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​​History of St. Paul’s Lodge - by the late W. Bro. Alan Black, PJGD

St. Paul's Lodge, No.374 on the register of the United Grand Lodge of England, can fairly claim to be the oldest English language institution in Montreal, having been established in that city in 1770 by virtue of a warrant dated 8th November1770. This warrant was granted by R.W. Bro. the Hon. John Collins, Provincial Grand Master for Canada, by virtue of a Patent from the 6th Duke of Beaufort, Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge of England (the so-called 'Moderns') from 1767 to 1772. Because of the uncertain and intermittent nature of communications between England and the

Canadas in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the direct reporting line and the identifying number of the Lodge underwent a series of changes, until the establishment, under the UGLE of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Montreal & William Henry in 1823, when it became No. 782 on the register of the parent Grand Lodge. Subsequent renumbering occurred in 1832 (to no.514) and in 1863 (to its present number 374). On 24th April 1833 a fire destroyed the Masonic Hall, where St. Paul's had held its meetings since the Hall's dedication in 1824, and with it virtually all the Lodge records to that date. The first Provincial Grand Master of Montreal & William Henry, the Hon. William McGillivray, appointed in 1823, died in December 1825, and the Hon. John Molson was appointed in his place. Molson resigned the office in December 1833, which remained vacant until the appointment of the Hon. Peter McGill in 1846. McGill resigned in 1849, and William Badgley succeeded to the office in December of that year. 1855 witnessed the formation of the Grand Lodge of Canada, and the subsequent adherence thereto of the vast majority of those Lodges in Lower Canada warranted by the UGLE. On 10th November 1857 the Lodge adopted the following resolution:- " That in view of the existing condition of Masonry in Canada and the present reduced number of Lodges in this District hailing from the Grand Lodge of England, it is inexpedient to continue the ‘Provincial Grand Lodge of Montreal and William Henry’ - and that in consequence this Lodge do, on the dissolution of that body - hold their communications direct with the United Grand Lodge of England." St. Paul's continued to deal directly with Great Queen Street until advice was received, in a letter from the Grand Secretary dated 6th June 1955, that:-

"The Grand Master has been pleased to include your Lodge in a Group to be called 'The Montreal and Halifax Group of Lodges' and that he has been further pleased to appoint W. Bro. J. Charles Hope OSM, as Grand Inspector of the Group."

Successive Grand Inspectors since then: Hazen Hansard 1971-1984; John Berth – Jones 1984 -1985; Stanley Waters 1986 -1996; John Fookes 1996 – 2009; Peter Vatcher 2009 – 2019; and Richard Brousseau 2019 – Present.

Between 1770 and 1930 the Lodge had held its meetings in at least 15 different locations within the city. Then in 1930, the Grand Lodge of Quebec having been unable to meet the conditions under which St. Paul's had made a substantial contribution towards the new Temple to be constructed on Sherbrooke Street, the Lodge purchased the property at 2130 Mackay Street which we were happy to call home from 1930 to 2000. In that year we finally moved out of the downtown area of Montreal and are now established at Harmony Hall, in Pierrefonds-Roxboro. The fortunes of the Lodge have fluctuated over the years, as has, in more recent times, the makeup of its membership; the latter largely a reflection of the substantial changes in patterns of social and recreational behaviour.

Order of Service to Masonry - OSM

The Grand Master’s Order of Service to Masonry was instituted in 1945 by the then Grand Master, the 6th Earl of Harewood, who wished to have power to confer on Brethren who had rendered special service to Freemasonry a distinction to be known as The Grand Master’s Order of Service to Freemasonry, to rank immediately above Grand Deacons, with the prefix Very Worshipful. Two brethren from St. Paul’s Lodge have been appointed to this award.

The following year V. W. Bro. Arthur Browning was appointed to the Order at the Annual Investiture. There was no citation given in Grand Lodge at that time but we know that Bro. Browning was instrumental in enabling our Lodge to have its own building on Mackay Street in Montreal.

In 1960 in the Grand Mastership of the Earl of Scarbrough, V. W. Bro. J. Charles Hope was appointed to the Order. Bro. Hope was the first Grand Inspector for the Group of Lodges in Montreal and Halifax and a well-known and respected figure in the several Canadian Grand Lodges with which UGLE maintain friendly relations.

History of the Lodge 1770 to 1970

by the late W. Bro. John M. Coupland – Master 1970

Extract from our History published in the year of our Bi-Centennial: -

It was the year 1770. The memories of the Seven Year’s War were fading; French and English subjects of George III lived and worked well side by side. Soldiers and Priests, Trappers and Farmers, Clerks and Voyageurs came and went in the muddy streets as

they proceeded on their various occasions.

The Nineteenth Century was still three decades in the future. The seven-month-old Baby William Wordsworth slept in his cradle. It would be another five weeks before

the Baby Ludwig van Beethoven would be born. Thomas Gainsborough had just completed his masterpiece, "The Blue Boy" and Oliver Goldsmith sent "The Deserted Village" to the printers. In April of that year, James Cook had discovered and named Botany Bay. In March, a mob of civilians had brawled with troops in a small town named Boston. The daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, Maria Antoinette, had been married to the Dauphin of France in May: their execution at the hands of the rabble was twenty-three years in the future. The American Revolution was not to begin for another five years.

On the eighth of November, in the upper room of a tavern on Saint Paul’s Street the Worshipful Master and Officers of Saint Peter's Lodge No. 4, installed the Worshipful Master and Officers of a newly formed Lodge. During the subsequent banquet, and following the enthusiastic honouring of the Loyal Toasts, The Worshipful Master of St. Peter's Lodge no doubt asked leave to speak; he desired, he would have said, to urge the next health.

Down the centuries we can hear his ringing tones as he welcomes the new Lodge to the ranks of Freemasonry. Looking into the future, he predicts a long life of undeviating loyalty to the cause of English Freemasonry. Doubtless he peeps into the past and

speaks about the traditions and principles of the Craft. It is very likely that he spoke at length and spoke well in the rolling periods of the time, until he bade the Brethren rise and empty a bumper to the future well-being of the new Lodge.

The dinner ending, the Brethren departed in harmony into the dark, narrow streets to wend their several ways home. We can assume that many speculated briefly on the future of their Lodge, but their wildest dreams would not envisage their baby Lodge, two hundred years later strongly striding into her third century still bearing the original name of Saint Paul 's; deeply and proudly loyal to the Mother Grand Lodge of all Grand Lodges; having been through nine changes of number to be now number 374 on the registry of the United Grand Lodge of England.

Neither War, Invasion, Rebellion, nor Riot, Fire and Plague have served to halt the progress of Saint Paul's Lodge since its foundation.

The Grave of the late W. Bro. John Greatwood's – Worshipful Master 1803.

Extract from our History published in the year of our Bi-Centennial: - Before we take leave of the lodge in its “far bygone days” mention may here be made of an interesting fact which became known to the Lodge in the Spring of 1875 and which helped to bridge the gap, created by the loss of our old records, between St. Paul's Lodge of more modern days and the early part of the present century. This was the accidental discovery, in the old Dorchester Street Protestant Burying Ground, in May 1875, of the grave of one of the old worthies of the Lodge, Worshipful Brother John Greatwood, who was elected Master in June, 1803, and died in the month of October following, during his actual tenure of office. The grave was in the S.E. portion of the Burying Ground, nearly in a direct line from the door of the Old Chapel, and not far from the fence which formed the southern boundary of the ground. The tombstone, which had been erected so many years ago, was still standing, but the destroying hand of time had very much obliterated the inscription, and rendered much of it all but illegible, but quite enough remained to record the interesting fact, and the Masonic emblems on the stone were in comparatively good preservation. This, "a voice from the tomb", was the oldest extant record that St. Paul's Lodge could point to, in her career, and the accidental discovery of the grave, and means of identifying it are memorable facts, and a somewhat singular incident in the history of the Lodge. The existence of the grave was made known to the Lodge through Brother James Vaughan Morgan, and as, at the very time, the remains of all that still lay undisturbed in the old Burying Ground were, preparatory to its being converted into a public square, about being removed to Mount Royal Cemetery, the Lodge took immediate steps to have the remains collected and again consigned to the grave in the Cemetery, and appointed Brothers David R. McCord, S.W., and David Sinclair, S.D., to carry out its wishes. The remains were removed on 25th May, and reinterred on the 15th June, 1875, in a lot purchased by the Lodge, No. 503, Section G, on the S.W. side of the Cemetery, and a new tombstone was placed over it with this much of the old inscription on it.

ERECTED By the Members of ST. PAUL'S LODGE No. 12 (Ancient York Masons) To the Memory of their late WORSHIPFUL MASTER JOHN GREATWOOD Who Died 13th October, 1803. Aged 23 Years.

In taking out the old tombstone, it fell to pieces, and could not be put in sufficient repair again to withstand the elements, and it was unfortunately broken up and the fragments scattered.


In August 2010 Mount Royal Cemetery were contacted by Bro. Gould and attempts were made to find this gravestone. It had broken into many pieces and was eventually found partially buried under grass. We were informed by the Cemetery that many of the souls were transferred from the Dorchester burial grounds to Mount Royal because the cemetery (located where Complexe Guy Favreau now stands) was considered downtown then and the City bylaws forbade the existence of a cemetery downtown. So, the trustees of the Dorchester burial ground bought land on the mountain and established the present cemetery. They then proceeded to send letters out to the families and even offered a 2- for-1 deal to entice them to purchase a new lot on the mountain. The Lodge purchased the societal lot on 26th June 1875 at a price of 40 cents per square foot. The lot measures 100 square foot and has room for 8 caskets and many urns.

At a Permanent Committee Meeting on 1st October 2011 a sub-committee was formed of Bros. P. Vatcher, G. Gould and T. Jones to select a gravestone and to obtain prices for a new memorial. Finally, after much discussion a suitable gravestone was selected and installed in July 2013. This was all made possible and paid for by the Lodge Bequest Fund.

Photos below show the gravesite before and after restoration

Holding from United Grand Lodge of England
No.12 -1813 to 1823

On the Registry of

(Photo L-R) Bro. Garry Gould and V.W.Bro. Peter Vatcher, Grand Inspector, at the new Gravestone erected July 2013 for W.Bro. John Greatwood in Mount Royal Cemetery. 

New Stone

On the Registry of Lower Canada
(Ancient York Masons)
No.12 - 1797 to 1813

Original Stone

On the Registry of the United Grand Lodge of England
No. 782 -1824 to 1832 / No. 514 - 1832 to 1863
NO.374 from 1863

On the Registry of Canada
Holding from the Grand Lodge of England
No.10 - 1770-1785 / No.4 - 1786 to 1797
and No.515 on the Registry of England (Moderns)

On the Registry of the P.G.L. of Montreal and William Henry
Holding from United Grand Lodge of England
No.3 - 1823 to 1846 / No.1 -1846
until the discontinuance of the Provincial
Grand Lodge, in 1857