Cornerstone Lodge #19 History
A wintery view of our Lodge Hall
An updated photo of our Lodge Building
Cornerstone Laid by MW Bro Sam Hardin in 1964
Wor Bro Dan Hitchener, MW Bro Sam Hardin and RW Bro G.H Moxham at the laying of the Cornerstone of the Lodge
A History of the Lodge
A century ago, High River was still a village, and Alberta had just been established as a province. Homesteaders were moving in by the trainload and the village was on the threshold of a building boom that would last for a decade.
On Oct. 1, 1905, a group of men assembled in the Astoria Hotel to discuss the feasibility of forming a fraternal Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons in the village. There was enough interest that a week later, a second meeting was organized where formal application was made to form a Masonic Lodge.
Dispensation was granted by the newly-formed Grand Lodge of Alberta, and on Nov. 28 the lodge was instituted. As this lodge would be the first to receive a charter from the new Grand Lodge, the name Cornerstone was chosen.
A distinguished resident of the town, Percy Taylor, was elected as master of the new lodge. He had been reeve of the village, and would be the second mayor following High River's incorporation as a town. Taylor is recognized as the towns' leading builder, having constructed the Town Hall, the skating rink, Eastward school, and many other of High River's early commercial and residential structures. He served as master for three years. Other officers of the new lodge included W.C. Laycock, H.H. Gould, Dr. H.E. Bedingfield. W.B. Thorne and W.T. Baird. Charles Clark was the secretary and the chaplin was the Rev. George Howcroft.
The first established meeting rooms for Cornerstone Lodge were on the second floor of the Koch & Pflughaupt Block on 3 Ave. S.W. (The most recent occupant of that building was the Fields Store. See Times Capsule page 7) There were many wonderful fraternal and social events held in the old lodge, including a visit by Edward, Prince of Wales in 1923 while he was at his EP Ranch at Pekisko. At the time he was the Grand Senior Warden of the Grand Lodge of England.
An annual social event of the lodge was known as the At Home. That event in 1907 was reported in the High River Times, which called it undoubtedly the most successful and pleasant function ever held in High River.
By 10 p.m. the Lodge room was crowded with an animated group of Masons and their lady friends. A large phonograph from the Fair Store provided music, while the banqueting room was made ready. Although a more than usual feast had been expected on this auspicious occasion, the Astoria Hotel truly did itself and Cornerstone Lodge full justice in preparing this feast for the gods.
During much of its first decade it was necessary to hold meetings on a weekly basis in order to initiate all the applicants for membership.
For several years during World War II, High River was the site of an Elementary Flying Training School. Cornerstone Lodge was pleased to welcome young Masons from all over Canada and the British Empire who came here to train as pilots.
New lodge hall opens
In 1963 the lodge purchased a corner lot at 3 Ave. and 4 St. S.E. and constructed a modern single-storey lodge and banquet room. This cinder block structure put all facilities on the ground floor, eliminating the need to go up and down the stairs, as they had to do at the old downtown location.
Cornerstone Lodge, Golden West Chapter Royal Arch Masons, and the Occidental Chapter Order of the Eastern Star jointly own the new hall. These three Masonic groups moved into the building in January 1964. The official opening took place in May with the laying of the cornerstone.
During the past two years this hall has undergone a major upgrading to completely modernize the 40-year-old structure. New ceiling tile, paint, appliances, drapes, floor refinishing in the banquet room were first-year projects. This year the exterior was stuccoed and painted in preparation for the centennial.
What is Freemasonry?
Despite 100 years existence as a society in High River, the activities of Cornerstone Lodge, and Masonry in general, are not widely known. Some say it is a secret society, or a religion, or a service club. It is none of these.
According to the Grand Lodge of Alberta Web site, Freemasonry is a fraternal organization, where men of any race or religion can sit together as brothers determined to improve themselves to the highest level of morality and integrity. It is not a religion, although members must believe in a Supreme Being. The actual form of that belief is never discussed in lodge, however, as it is a personal matter. Discussion of religion and politics at meetings, in fact, is discouraged.
It is not a service club, but all members are strongly encouraged to practice charity and benevolence. The lodge does offer scholarships and bursaries to high school graduates, and the Masonic Foundation is totally supported by Freemasons of Alberta as a charitable organization for the development and assistance of younger people.
The modern system of Masonic governance started in England in 1717. Little is known of any lodges there prior to that time. Written records of lodges in Scotland go back to 1598. Before the written records, there is nothing but theories and speculation that has provided much enjoyment for Masons and non-Masons in their research of Masonic roots.
Freemasonry promotes: kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, resistance toward the wicked, pity and concern for the unfortunate, help for the weak, trust in the strong, forgiveness for the penitent and, above all, love for one another and reverence and love for God. Freemasonry is a way of life.
A View of the Lodge Room
A view of the South East corner of the Lodge room
A view of the North East corner of the Lodge room.
A view of the west side of the Lodge room.
A view of the south side of the Lodge room
A view of the north side of the Lodge room.