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History of Buffalo Park Lodge

The history of Buffalo Park Lodge No. 44 dates back to 1908, and is intertwined with the History of the Town of Wainwright, Alberta. Freemasonry is hundreds of years old. The First Grand Lodge was established on Saint John the Baptist Day, the 24th of June 1717 in London, England, by four of the Masonic Lodges which already existed at that time. This formation was made public. Prior to that date written Masonic records are less available, and the fraternity was more secretive regarding its existence. Much can be, and indeed and has been written about the origins of Freemasonry. Some of it is well written and reliable, and some of it is not. The task of every historian is to be able to know which is which.

R.W. Bro. N.S. Kenny - First Worshipful Master of Buffalo Park Lodge

R.W. Bro. N.S. Kenny ~ First Worshipful Master of Buffalo Park Lodge

The early history of this lodge and that of the Town of Wainwright were closely knit, for the two were brought to realization for the most part, by the same men. The early records of the community mentions many prominent citizens who were later to form the nucleus of this lodge. The tremendous growth of the community in 1908 brought together many brother Masons from distant points. Thus it was natural that the brethren should meet together and discuss the possible formation of their own lodge. This resulted in a petition being sent to to the Grand Lodge of Alberta for a dispensation to form a lodge. The following charter members’ names appeared on the petition: Nicholas S. Kenny; William E. Washburn; Edward C. Logan; Henry V. Fieldhouse; John Barry; Fred T. Perkins; T. Gilbert Cook; Walter J. Musson; Hunter C. Duff; Percy E. Ross; Cecil G. Fieldhouse; Conrad T. Lally; James H. Dawson; and Robert A. Snyder.

The Lodge was sponsored by Vermilion Lodge No. 24 on March 30th. 1909. Dispensation was issued on April 7th. 1909 for the formation of Buffalo Park Lodge at Wainwright in the Third Masonic District. Grand Lodge officials journeyed by horse drawn conveyance on April 27th. 1909 to institute the lodge. M.W. Bro. George H. Hogbin, Grand Master and W. Bro. G. MacDonald, Grand Secretary deputized R. W. Bro. A.K. Dewar as installing officer. The first W.M. of Buffalo Park Lodge was W. Bro. N.S. Kenny a school teacher in Wainwright at the time.

An excerpt from the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Alberta covering a report by A.K. Dewar D.D.G.M. is of note. “ I instituted this Lodge April 27th, 1909 assisted by Bro. Montgomery, S.W., and Bro. O’Brian, secretary of Victoria Lodge. They have a splendid hall to meet in. The secretary has a full set of books and appears to be well qualified for the position. I saw them exemplify the Third Degree and it would have done credit to a much older Lodge. The brethren are very enthusiastic and the prospects for Buffalo Park are good.”

The Lodge elected to work in the Canadian Rite of Masonry, for although the York Rite was practiced under the Grand Lodge of Alberta and the majority of the brothers favoured that work, yet the other was adopted as a compliment to their first master who had already wielded the gavel in the Rite in his own Lodge in Ontario.

Prior to the formation of the Lodge the Dominion Government had acquired a tract of land south of the community and announced their intention of establishing a park for the conservation of buffalo and other native animals in danger of becoming extinct. There was ample evidence that the site selected had long been the natural range of the ”Monarchs of the Plains”, the mighty buffalo. It was only natural therefore that when members of the “Craft” in Wainwright took steps to form a Lodge that the name “Buffalo Park Lodge” should be selected.

The 1910's

On May 2nd, 1910 the official visit was made by M.W. Bro. J.J. Dunlop, Grand Master, who found the Lodge worthy of a charter, which was issued on June 15th, 1910, and thus the Lodge became No. 44 on the Grand Lodge Registry of Alberta. On the 18th of August 1910 at a regular meeting of the lodge, the election of officers was held by authority of Grand Master Bro. J.J. Dunlop. Following the election the Lodge was visited by the Grand Master and R.W. Bro. Christie D.D.G.M. who consecrated Buffalo Park Lodge and installed the newly elected officer. The report of the D.D.G.M. of May 27th, 1911 taken from the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Alberta concerning his visit to Buffalo Park Lodge No. 44, “Visited this Lodge in company with the M.W. the Grand Master, August 18th and had the pleasure of taking part in the ceremony of constituting the Lodge and installing the W.M. and investing the other officers, and a better and more enthusiastic number of Masons could not be found.”

Thus Buffalo Park Lodge No. 44 attained official status. Through its formative years it kept pace with the community.

During the intervening years since the formation of the Lodge many eventful occurrences have taken place. As the town prospered, the lodge increased in membership and stature. Similarly, when hard times came along, known to many as the ‘dirty thirties’ and during the First and Second World Wars activity was a low ebb

Records indicate that discussions were taking place as early as 1911 to form a Royal Arch Chapter in Wainwright but nothing came of this until some 35 years later. Also, in 1914 a committee was formed to look for a suitable site for the building of a Masonic Hall and a lot on 4th Ave. was suggested but nothing further was done. The seriousness of the European War in 1915 was now being realized and when not engaged in lodge work many Brethren were engaged in patriotic committees for the relief of soldiers’ dependents providing comforts. Many were also on committees selling Government War Bonds. The W.M. G.G. Harper along with seventeen other Lodge members enlisted early in the year in the 49th Battalion. The lodge thus came under the supervision of the S.W. and in June of that year it was decided to remit the dues of the members engaged in active service until the close of the war. The lodge suffered more losses when in 1916 the offices of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway were moved to Edmonton. The superintendent and staff had been in Wainwright since the railway was built and this meant that almost thirty families had to move. Many of the heads of these families were members of Buffalo Park Lodge. These were trying times for the lodge and it was difficult to fill the chairs.

The 1920's

A report by the lodge historian of an event on September 22nd, 1921 is worthy to note. “A Lodge of instruction was held with large attendance from District No. 3 as well as many visitors. The F.C. and M.M. degrees were conferred on the occasion. An elaborate banquet was then given in the Park Hotel for which preparations had been under way for several weeks. A menu card containing several cartoons prepared by photographer R.W. Bro. Bell from the original drawings of Bro. E.J. (Bud) Cotton was a unique souvenir of the occasion. While it was a wonderful example of hospitality on the part of the brethren of the lodge the expense was later the cause of many heart burnings and adverse criticism. In fact to meet the bills the lodge was obliged to make an assessment on the members. “A lesson well learned”.

The Lodge Hall above Musson & Ross’ store had for a long time failed to provide a satisfactory meeting place so once more steps were taken in building their own hall. A building committee headed by W.Bro. Alderman purchased lot 6 in Block 27 at the corner of Main Street and 5th Ave. with the intention of building in the spring of 1928. While the lodge had very little money the members were very enthusiastic and through various donations, promises of free labour and a mortgage of $2000.00 the first sod was turned in April 1928. While difficulties and problems arose from time to time all were surmounted and on October 30th 1928 the new hall was opened. It’s interesting to note that while it was a single story building it was raised so that entrance was gained from the street by “seven or more steps”.

One unfortunate occurrence took place on July 21st, 1929 when a fire destroyed all of the town’s business section. The lodge minute books for some years previous were lost for the period January 6th to the above-mentioned date. Fortunately a competent member of the Lodge who was able to fill in many of the important occurrences during these years was maintaining the Historical Register.

The 1930's

The Great Depression...

The 1940's

World War II...

The 1950's

The Fiftieth Anniversary Celebrations, held on Tuesday October 20th, 1959 was a gala and well attended event and marked this important milestone in Masonry in Wainwright in a most appropriate manner. The new floor covering has been installed in time for the occasion and the lodge interior had been improved with wood paneling on the east and west walls. New seating had also been installed. Seventy-two visiting officers and brethren were present from Grand Lodge and our sister lodges. Heading the Grand Lodge representation was M.W. Bro. David Little, G.M. and in charge of Buffalo Park Lodge was W. Bro. Forest Keith Seale. A number of commemorative presentations were made including an honorary life membership to the Most Worshipful, the Grand Master David Little. In the evening at the Elks Hall a banquet brought to a close this important occasion in the History of Buffalo Park Lodge.

The first to receive a 50-year jewel in Buffalo Park Lodge was Bro. Chas. McClennon on November 8, 1956. Next to receive this honour was W. Bro. Wilbur C. Lyle, June 12, 1958 followed closely by W. Bro. R.A. Snyder on November 6, 1959 and W. Bro. W.T. Lane in June, 1964.

The 1960's

The 1960’s saw Buffalo Park off to a good start on its third quarter century with a total of 21 degrees conferred. R.W. Bro. Tom Hawkins of Provost suggested the idea of an annual District bonspiel and this, in somewhat a different form, continues today. Freemasonry over a wide area was at this time feeling the effects of growing prosperity. Wainwright was favored in this regard by the proximity of Camp Wainwright, and its own tendency to grow after a period of static population. It did not suffer as severely as many smaller centres. On the negative side several of the older members had left for the Grand Lodge above and were keenly missed. Buffalo Park Lodge did not overlook Canada’s Centennial in 1967. It was observed by improvements to the exterior of the lodge building and to the grounds. In April a Centennial Social was sponsored by the O.E.S. and members attending dressed in appropriate centennial costumes.

The 1970's

Highlighting the 70’s were numerous 50-year and 60-year Bar jewel presentations. W. Bro. R.A. Snyder received his 60 year Bar in March 1970 and then, sadly, in February of 1971 passed away. He was the last of our original Charter members. Bro. Bud Cotton received his 50th in November 1970. Bro. J. Bracegirdle March 1972, 60 year Bar to Bro. J. Forsythe in 1972, and W. Bro.Jim Robinson December ’74. In April 1978 Bro. J. Harkness now a resident in England was presented with his 50-year jewel and later his life membership on our behalf in Sussex, England.

During the latter part of the 70’s high taxes and a desire to improve our accommodations were the subject of much discussion. It was felt that the building was not saleable, and that the increasing assessment on business lots made it feasible to sell the property and rebuild on a new location. Therefore it came to pass that the property was sold and on June 25th. 1979 the last meeting in the old hall was held with the traditional joint installation of officers with Gratton Lodge.

It took a few years before plans for a new lodge hall to formulate. However, after much deliberation it was decided to cooperate in a joint venture with the Wainwright Golf and Country Club. This had the advantage of enabling both institutions to share common parts of the facilities as well as provide much needed parking. With considerable volunteer effort from the brethren the new home was brought to usable condition and officially opened on November 11th, 1982. During the period of building September’79 to its opening the Lodge made use of the Elks Hall to conduct its business.

At the opening ceremonies an excellent program was arranged by R.W. Bro. Martin Daniels with Most Worshipful Brother Stanley Harbin, Grand Master, officially opening the new building. He was especially high in his praise of the achievements of Buffalo Park Lodge. A large number of members of the Masonic Fraternity and invited guests were present for the afternoon program. It was followed by a banquet with Bro. Donald MacKee as master of ceremonies and M.W. Bro. Harbin as guest speaker. Buffalo Park Lodge members are justly proud of their new home, and many fine masonic occasions have been enjoyed in its comfortable atmosphere.

The 1980's

In 1984 we had the rare privilege of seeing R.W. Bro. Lorne Mitchell obligate his son and grandson at the same time, providing us with three generations of one family as members at the same time. He was assisted in the degree by his brother W. Bro. John Mitchell and his other son W. Bro. Edgar Mitchell.

During the mid 80’s Buffalo Park celebrated its 75th Anniversary. This was an exciting event and a great many brethren from lodges near and far as well as a number of officers from Grand Lodge attended. The occasion was well planned and we had wonderful weather on this memorable day, April 27th, 1985. The lodge was tyled at 3:30 p.m. by W.M. Donald Mackee. Within the lodge a special service of Thanksgiving was conducted by the Chaplain, Bro. David Summers. One of the 75th. Anniversary projects was to provide each officer of the Lodge with an apron showing the insignia of his office. This project was completely supported by voluntary donations.

A social hour and banquet were held in the Wainwright Communiplex with the J.W. Bro. Stuart Iverson presiding. Greetings were brought from the Province, Town of Wainwright, and the Municipal District of Wainwright. Following the banquet and the customary round of toasts the assembled brethren and guests were able to hear an excellent address delivered by M.W. Bro. Stan Harbin. The following morning a church parade was held with services at Grace United Church.

Another major project during the 1980's was the move into a new building to be shared with the Wainwright Golf Club. In March 1981, a building committee from the Wainwright Golf Club planned to build a clubhouse at the golf course and proposed that the Masonic Lodge consider a joint building venture. The concept was discussed and a decision was eventually made for the Lodge to draw up a floor plan to be assimilated into the golf club project. Approval in principle, subject to Town approval, was established on March 31, 1981 and formal agreements were drawn up. The joint venture was underway. As in most construction projects many meetings were held and there were several on-site changes along the way. But overall, the venture was a positive and co-operative one with both groups as full partners. During this construction phase Buffalo Park Lodge gave an outright donation of $25,000.00 to the Wainwright Golf Club and in addition paid over $30,000.00 for the development of the west wing which included the washroom, storage rooms and kitchen area. As a result, both the Lodge and the Golf Club benefited in having their own spaces, shared common areas, and had the much needed parking space. The project was completed by September, 1982 with all joint agreements between the Town, the Lodge and the Wainwright Golf Club in place. There has continued to be excellent co-operation between the Lodge and the Golf Club with the most recent agreement finalized in January 2011.

The 1990's

During the 90’s and into the present time there have been some significant events worthy of mention.

W. Bro. Larry Wright of Buffalo Park Lodge No. 44 was appointed Grand Chaplain by Most Worshipful Brother Myron Lusk Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Alberta in 1993.

On October 6th, 1994 Wor. Bro. Douglas Mayne of Tilsmore Lodge No 4499 of Heathfield, Sussex England was made an Honourary Life Member of Buffalo Park Lodge.

R.W. Bro. Derek Tizzard became the tenth D.D.G.M. from Buffalo Park Lodge to represent our District in June of 1995 and R.W. Bro. W. E. (Bill) Riome became the tenth member to receive a 50-year jewel. Another noteworthy event occurred on June 26th, 1995 when four lodges, Buffalo Park (Wainwright), Gratton (Irma), Connaught (Viking) and Dynamic (Holden) held the first ever four lodge installation. To quote from the Grand Lodge Bulletin – “This was no ordinary installation team, for it was composed, almost exclusively of Past Grand Masters. The gold in the room left an aura of delight ….The Worshipful Masters and all their officers were quite convinced they were well and truly installed and invested. This is one time when the proclamation was hardly necessary! …Those who attended felt that this was an outstanding event in the annals of Alberta Masonry.

Buffalo Park Lodge hosted the Sask./Alberta speaking contest ‘Hands Across the Border’ on April 10,1999 and were enthralled to listen to R.W. Bro. Norman Thomas as our guest speaker for the evening banquet. At the church parade the following day, as per register, there were twelve different lodges represented from Alberta. and Sask.

The Millenium - (The 2000's)

During the millenium year Buffalo Park Lodge rewrote their by-laws to correspond more closely with the new constitution and regulations of Grand Lodge. Also, we were pleased to honour six members of our Lodge with their 50-year jewel: W. Bro. John Murray; V.W.Bro. J.E. Bradley; W. Bro. F. Seale; R.W. Bro. M. Daniels; W.. Bro. S. Chynoweth; and W. Bro. D. Rattray. Upon checking our records we find that Buffalo Park Lodge has presented a total of seventeen 50-year Jewels with three of these receiving a 60-year Bar. A very high quality Group Picture of the 100th Anniversary of Buffalo Park Lodge No. 44 A.F. & A.M. was taken.

In 2002/2003 R.W. Bro. Edgar Mitchell (age 65 years) became the eleventh D.D.G.M. from Buffalo Park Lodge No. 44 to represent Grand Lodge within Battle River and District Number 17. It’s interesting to note that his father R.W. Bro. Lorne Mitchell (age 65 year) held this same position thirty-three years prior in 1969. The very first D.D.G.M. elected from Buffalo Park Lodge was R.W.Bro. N.S. Kenny in 1913. However, he became the D.D.G.M. of District No. 10 not District No. 3. The next D.D.G.M. elected was R.W. Bro. Bell for District No. 3 in 1922. The jurisdiction then changed in 1929 and lodges east of Tofield on the railway line became District No. 17. The first D.D.G.M. of District No. 17 was R.W.Bro. W.W. Yeager. Great efforts have been made to maintain the quality of Masonic work at a high level, and this has been made possible by the diligent effort of many skilled brethren over the years.

Buffalo Park Lodge has experienced a great many losses in the last few years as many of our long standing and dedicated Masons have been called to the Grand Lodge above and others have moved away from the community. These losses are difficult for any organization to overcome but with perseverance and a few more ‘good men’ Buffalo Park Lodge No. 44 will continue to be strong, just as the ‘Monarchs of the Plains’ were in the days of old.

The 2010's

A Brother receiving his 50 Year Jewel, for 50 years in the fraternity.

Jan 2000 ~ 50 Year Jewel Presentation to F.K. Seale.

Left to Right: J.D. Bradley, Wm. Riome, E. Mitchell, S. Chynoweth, and seated F.K. Seale

(All 50 year recipients except E. Mitchell).

In June 2011, Bro. Warren Spence was installed as the Master of Kempenfeldt Lodge No. 673 in Barrie, Ontario, for that ensuing year (having affiliated with it in 2006).

On the 9th of Dec 2012, the Lodge website went live. On 17 Oct 2018 it was rebuilt to make it more mobile friendly.

What is a Lodge?

Freemasonry within the Province of Alberta is organized by The Grand Lodge into Districts, and the Districts are organized by individual Lodges. Every Freemason belongs to a Masonic Lodge. Most Towns have a Masonic Lodge, and in cities, one might find more than one Lodge.

Contibute To Our History

Please help us to improve our Lodge History by sending in information to the Lodge Historian (or the Secretary), who will then forward it on to the Webmaster. It is helpful if it is in electronic form, but hand written or typed information will also be accepted.

Past Masters of Buffalo Park Lodge

1909 *R. W. Bro. N.S. Kenny

1910 *W. Bro. W.J. Musson

1911 *W. Bro. W.E. Washburn

1912 *W. Bro. R.A. Snyder

1913 *W. Bro. A.E. Mills

1914 *W. Bro. G.E. Harper

1915 *W. Bro. J.H. Dawson

1916 *W. Bro. W.E. Washburn

1917 *W. Bro. M.G. Cardell

1918 *W. Bro. J.S. Sutherland

1919 *W. Bro. H.C. Munn

1920 *#W. Bro. F.W. Bell

1921 *W. Bro. H.W. Crampton

1922 *W. Bro. W. Yeager

1923 *W. Bro. A.E. Mills

1924 *#W. Bro. P. Dewar

1925 *#W. Bro. D.O. Mathers

1926 *W. Bro. J. Alderman

1927 *W. Bro. J.H. Clipston

1928 *#W. Bro. J. Cuthbertson

1929 *W. Bro. C.T. Lally

1930 *W. Bro. J. Fuller

1931 *W. Bro. E.L. Cork

1932 *#W. Bro. F. Redgewell

1933 *W. Bro. R.G. Robertson

1934 *W. Bro. J. Robinson

1935 *#W. Bro. H.P. Schlitt

1936 *W. Bro. G. Graham

1937 *#W. Bro. C.G. Forryan

1938 *W. Bro. J.C. McKenzie

1939 *W. Bro. J.A. Hamilton

1940 *W. Bro. W.T. Lane

1941 *W. Bro. W.T. Lane

1942 *W. Bro. R. McLeod

1943 *W. Bro. R. McLeod

1944 *W. Bro. L.H Baxter

1945 *#W. Bro. J.A. Crawford

1946 *#W. Bro. J.A. Crawford

1947 *W. Bro. F.E. McLeod

1948 *W. Bro. N.W. McTurk

1949 *W. Bro. H.E. Buckle

1950 *W. Bro. J.L. Mitchell

1951 *#W. Bro. L.L. Barlow

1952 *W. Bro. H.F. Karr

1953 *W. Bro. J.A. Kelly

1954 *#W. Bro. J.S. Robblee

1955 *V.W. Bro. J.E. Bradley

1956 *#W. Bro. S.H. Ryan

1957 *RW. Bro. W.E. Riome

1958 WQ.Bro. J. Humphries

1959 *W. Bro. F.K. Seale

1960 *W. Bro. F. R. McTurk

1961 *W. Bro. S.J. Chynoweth

1962 *W. Bro. D. Rattray

1963 *W. Bro. A.M. Daniels

1964 *W Bro. L.F. Mitchell

1965 *W. Bro. F.R. McClennon

1966 *W. Bro. W.A. Murray

1967 *W. Bro. L. Basso

1968 W. Bro. O.V. Bengtson

1969 *W. Bro. J. Farrugta

1970 #W. Bro. J. Vrolson

1971 *RW. Bro. W.E. Riome

1972 *W. Bro. L. D’Albertanson

1973 *W. Bro. D. Rattray

1974 W. Bro. K. Byron

1975* W. Bro. W.P. Gutsch

1976 *W. Bro. J.R. Kaye

1977* W. Bro. J.R. Kaye

1978 W. Bro. A.A. Measor

1979* V.W. Bro. L. Basso

1980 *W. Bro. E.A. Butler

1981* W. Bro. L.D. Heinemann

1982 *W. Bro. M. Ponech

1983 W. Bro. J.L. Smith

1984 W. Bro. D.M. Mackee

1985 *W. Bro. S.J. Chynoweth

1986 W. Bro. S.B. Iverson

1987 W. Bro. A.F. Ford

1988 W. Bro. M.O. Nysetvold

1989 W. Bro. G.T. Corcoran

1990 RW. Bro. D.D. Tizzard

1991 W. Bro. V.E. Bazley

1992 W. Bro. J.E. Porter

1993 W. Bro. M.E. Rodgers

1994 VW. Bro. L.K.Wright

1995 #W. Bro. L.T. Myggland

1996 W. Bro. A.M. Treffry

1997 W. Bro. V.W. Callaghan

1998 W. Bro. A.B. Kish

1999 W. Bro. E.L. Mitchell

2000 W. Bro. E.L. Mitchell

2001 W. Bro. M.E. Rodgers

2002 W.Bro. A.P. Melin

2003 W.Bro. G.T. Corcoran

2004 W.Bro. G.T. Corcoran

2005 R.W. Bro. E.L. Mitchell

2006 R.W. Bro. E.L. Mitchell

2007 W. Bro. M.E. Rodgers

2008 R.W .Bro. E.L. Mitchell

2009 R.W. Bro. E.L. Mitchell

2010 W. Bro. A.M. Treffry

2011 W. Bro. V. Callaghan

2012 W. Bro. V. Callaghan

2013 W. Bro. M.E. Rodgers

2013 - 2014 W. Bro. R. Thompson

2014 - 2015 W. Bro. Vic Bazley

2015 - 2016 W. Bro. Vic Bazley

2016 - 2017

2017 - 2018

# Demitted

* Deceased

50 Year Jewel Recipients

1. Charles McClennon November 1956

2. Wilbur Lyle June 1958

3. R.A. Snyder November 1959

60 Year Bar March 1970

4. W.T. Lane June 1964

5. Bud Cotton November 1970

6. James Bracegirdle March 1972

7. J. Forsythe March 1972

60 Year Bar March 1972

8. Jim Robinson December 1974

9. James Harkness April 1978

Resident of Sussex, England

10. Bill Riome June 1995

11. John Bradley March 1999

12. John Murray June 1999

13. S. Chynoweth January 2000

14. F. Seale January 2000

15. D. Rattray March 2000

16. M. Daniels October 2000

17. O. Bengston October 2005

18. J. Flagler October 2007

19. K. Byron Nov. 2008

20. W. Guetch Dec. 2008

Past District Deputy Grand Masters

N.S. Kenny Dist. No. 10 1913

F.W. Bell Dist. No 3 1922

W.W. Yeager Dist. No. 17

C.T. Lally Dist. No. 17 1937

L.A. Myggland Dist. No. 17 1947

J. Davidson Dist. No. 17 1954

N.W. McTurk Dist. No. 17 1962

L.F. Mitchell Dist. No. 17 1969

W.E. Riome Dist. No. 17 1975

L. Basso Dist. No. 17 1982

A.M. Daniels Dist. No. 17 1988

D. Tizzard Battle River 1995

E.L. Mitchell Battle River 2002

What is a Past Master?

The Term 'Past Master' is a Masonic term used to refer to a man who was previously in charge of the Lodge. The 'Master' is the person elected to run the Lodge for that year. After he hands over the reins to the next Master, he becomes a Past Master.