10318 – 100 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
If less than seventy years already qualify as “history,” then we should not hesitate to speak about Edmonton’s centrally located Masonic edifice with pride, as if it were in the same league with the medieval cathedrals or even the pyramids! Although lacking such antiquity, some of the information to follow may be of interest to our younger generation of Freemasons.
During the early years of the 20th century, the Edmonton Masonic Lodges – with some exception – were housed in a building on 102nd Street, south of Jasper Avenue, a replica of which now stands in Fort Edmonton Park. Masons of those days, however, felt the need for a larger and more representative building and, to this end, an ad appeared in the Edmonton Bulletin on September 9, 1910, stating “Subscriptions for shares in the Edmonton Masonic Temple Association Limited are now (available for purchase at $10) open at their office, 114 Jasper Avenue W.” There was less than a rush to buy these, as it took the Association another 19 years, until November 3, 1929, to purchase th eland on 100th Avenue at 103rd Street from MWBro Dr E.H. Braithwaite (a member of Edmonton Lodge No. 7 and former Grand Master of Manitoba in 1903) who had inherited the property from his mother in 1914. It was he who conducted the sod-turning ceremony on July 12, 1930. It had been suggested that, as a Mason, Dr Braithwaite was more than fair in his asking price of $12,500.
William Blakey, a well known architect and member of Ivanhoe Lodge No. 142, designed the structure, and R.W. Ritchie, a member of Empire Lodge No. 63, was selected to be the general contractor. The subcontractors included such firms as Lockerbie & Hole, Hillas Electric, Empire Marble, Marlboro Cement, Thomas Dyke and Manning Lumber – again with a number of Freemasons involved in this group.
On November 1, 1930, the ceremony of laying the cornerstone with Masonic honours was conducted by MWBro S.M. Snedden. Coins of the day, copies of the Edmonton Journal and a number of Masonic memorabilia were embedded in the cavity of th estone whose face is clearly visible and legible to this day, however, not in the NE corner of the building but, for obvious reasons, near the SW corner of the facade.
The construction of the $170,000 building continued until, after completion, during the 26th Annual Communication of Grand Lodge, it was dedicated “…to Masonry (to) be ever the sanctuary of Virtue, Chairty and Universal Benevolence…” by the Grand Master, MWBro Sylvester M. Snedden, on June 10, 1931.
The four-storey structure is constructed of steel and concrete and has a brick and artificial stone facing (crushed stone combined with cement and sand). It was two identically designed entrances, the one on the right for public access to the cloakroom and the main floor auditorium which has been incorporated from the start to generate revenue, and the left one for the “special prerogative of the Craft” (according to a 1931 article in the Edmonton Journal). Both feature double oak doors with bronze lock plates with those on the inside displaying Masonic emblems.
The exterior work follows Gothic design and the lines of piers, buttresses and turrets gives the structure a quasi medieval appearance. It is interesting to note that above the second storey windows there are six canopied recesses, meant to hold statues. These have never been added and we have no knowledge whom or what they were to represent. The foyer has a terrazzo floor, inlaid with copper Masonic emblems.
The auditorium, complete with stage, will hold an audience of 200 on the main level and 50 on the balcony. An office, library, storage rooms and washrooms make up the remainder of the main floor. An elevator, vintage 1930, serves the basement and the two upper stories.
On the second floor the original library was remodelled into a “cozy,” intimate Lodge room for small gatherings, holding modern furniture; a ladies’ dressing room, more washroom and the Scottish Rite office and regalia room.
The main attraction is found on the thrid floor which is actually a two-storey open beam ceiling unit and which houses the two main Lodge room. The larger one features oak panelling, furniture (including the aok columns in the West) and intricate canopies above the Master’s and Senior Warden’s station. There are four stained glass windows, the work of W.H. Crushing Co. Ltd., which depict symbols of the three degrees of Craft Masonry and those of the Scottish Rite and Royal Arch. The tiled floor is a fine example of the Mosaic Pavement referred to in the ritual.
The somewhat smaller Lodge room is of similar design, but done in mahogany which gives it a darker appearance, and with only three stained glass windows showing symbols of the Craft degrees of Freemasonry. Unfortunately, some time in the past, parts of the stained glass panels were broken and were replaced by plain glass, one tinted but meaningless, and one whole window replaced upside down! (It would be nice if someone would endeavour to restore these windows to their original beauty.) Both Lodge rooms provide additional seating on balconies. Originally it had been planned to install pipe organs in both room, but this did not come about. Electronic organs have taken over. The top floor accommodates a comfortable meeting room and a number of small cubicles for the storage of regalia by the tenant Lodge.
The Basement holds the main banquet room (with seating for 150), the kitchen, washrooms and the panelled and popular lounge room, tastefully decorated, with a feature wall composed of donors’ plaque, and a (more or less) well-stocked bar.
At the present time, the building is home to 14 Craft Lodges, the three bodies of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, the Chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star, one Bethel of the International Order of Job’s Daughters and, without a Masonic affiliation, the Women’s Canadian Club. Wedding and funeral receptions, as well as numerous other public functions are also accommodated there. Recently two wedding ceremonies were performed n the large Lodge room.
Grand Lodge Bulletin, Vol. 63, No. 4, April 1998