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Hornepayne Lodge A.F. & A.M. No. 636 G.R.C. - History

The early history and beginnings of Hornepayne Lodge  No 636 was really a series of trials and disappointments, many of which would have daunted less ardent Masons, who were however finally rewarded in the institution of a lodge under dispensation in January 1926 to be followed in July the same year by granting of a full fledged charter.

A movement towards formation of a Masonic Lodge at Hornepayne, the first as our records go, was started in 1918. The movement failed through lack of numbers and suitable lodge quarters.

The next start was made in 1922, with Masons from Toronto, Winnipeg, Port Arthur, Sault Ste Marie, Ottawa, Kingston, Pennsylvania and Connecticut in attendance. At this meeting a lot on the corner occupied by the old school house was discussed a possible site for a Lodge, and also the type and size of building required. The secretary was instructed to contact CNRealty re purchasing the property, and also to contact the DDGM in Sault Ste Marie regarding obtaining a charter, as it was ascertained that Hornepayne  was situated in that district. At a later meeting of that year the agreed name of the proposed lodge would be “Hornepayne Lodge” and the regular meeting would be the first Monday on or before the full moon of each month. Unfortunately, a conflict with the DDGM as to where to meet to discuss a charter led to the matter of a lodge at Hornepayne being dropped at this point.

The next move towards establishment of  a lodge appears to be in September 1924. A petition for a charter was sent to the present DDGM with recommendations from lodges in Port Arthur, Chapleau and Capreol. However the petition was turned back due to the fact that the Worshipful Master chosen had not served as a warden in a warranted lodge in Ontario. Another petition was raised in September 1925 and forwarded to the DDGM. At this meeting it was decided on to purchase the lot and school house for the purpose of converting it into a lodge.

The movement was at last to succeed. In November 1925 the Grand Master advised the brethren that dispensation for a lodge in Hornepayne was granted. The lot and building was bought and renovations began immediately. On January 15th 1926, Hornepayne Lodge UD was instituted. On March 1st 1926 the first initiation in the lodge took place and also the first affiliation. In July 1926 a warrant was granted to Hornepayne Lodge UD entitling it to known as “Hornepayne Lodge No 636 AF & AM. Thus the happy members at Hornepayne had attained the goal they had started out for in 1918. These hardy pioneers had placed high the “torch” of Masonry, at that time, the only one of its kind in 600 railway miles of northern wilderness from Capreol to the Lakehead at Port Arthur.

At the Grand Lodge session of 1937, Hornepayne Lodge received a signal of honour when its first District Deputy Grand Master, Rt Wor Bro CM McIntyre was elected as personal  representative of the Grand Master for the Algoma District. He immediately appointed Wor Bro Thos Butters as District Secretary. He paid his official visit to his own lodge on April 13th 1938.

The first lodge building which was originally the old school house was in constant need of repair and it was decided early on than at some point in time it would have to be replaced. It wasn’t until January of 1973 that serious discussion took place in this regard and at a following meeting of that year a building committee was formed. Numerous discussions took place as whether to sell the present lot and building and purchase a lot at the corner of Third and Neesomadina. It was finally decided in 1975 to build a new lodge on the present site. Construction was to begin in 1976, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Hornepayne Lodge.

The last regular meeting in the old lodge was held on May 12th 1976 and the building demolished on May 15th 1976. Construction of the new Lodge was completed by September and the first regular meeting was held on October 13th 1976. The dedication ceremony was held on May 27th 1977 officiated by MW Bro Archibishop Wright.  The time and effort, sweat and toil of the brethren involved in the planning and construction of the new lodge building would make the “pioneering” brethren of 1918 proud that the “torch” of Masonry was still carried high in the year of 1976.

It has been over eighty years since our early brethren first envisioned a lodge of their own in Hornepayne, and some thirty years since the plans were laid for the construction of a new lodge building. Time has a way of fading the past, but we, the benefactors, should ever look back with pride and humility at their tireless efforts, and continue on with that same spirit and the ever burning torch held higher.