HISTORY OF STRONG LODGE NO. 423:
Early in 1889 a group of Masonic Brethren met to consider the formation of a Masonic Lodge in the village of Sundridge. It was decided to take the necessary steps to procure dispensation from Grand Lodge. The requisite submission was forwarded and approval was received under the date of August 12th 1889. The name of the new lodge was adopted from Strong Township and quarters were leased from the Loyal Orange Lodge which was located on Main Street East on the site of the present DePueter’s Decorating. Barnabus Wickett, a past master of Unity Lodge, Huntsville, was active in the conception of Strong Lodge and served as the first Worshipful Master.
Charter Members: Barnabus Wickett WM, Alfred J. Brennan SW, Daniel C. Shields JW, William G. Armstrong, Hugh S. Brennan, John Irwin, Adam Bannerman, Charles Towle. The first meeting of the new lodge was held on September 9th, 1889 in the Orange Hall. A passage from the report of R. W. Bro. Thomas McCarroll to Grand Lodge in 1888/90 contained this statement. “I was instructed by the Grand Secretary to open a new lodge under dispensation at Sundridge and named Strong Lodge and did so on the 9th of September 1889, assisted by W. Bro. Hamill. I was very much pleased in performing this duty with the members of this Lodge is composed, and I can say that I consider they are well qualified to carry on their work.”
On September 17th 1890, R.W. Bro. D. F. McWatt DDGM of Georgian District No. 9 consecrated the lodge room with corn wine and oil. The lodge was constituted Strong Lodge No. 423. Barnabus Wickett was installed as the Worshipful Master by R.W. Bro. McWatt.
The original By-laws of Strong Lodge in 1890 set the initiation at $25.00, affiliation fee $2.00 for Master Masons and $3.00 for Entered Apprentices and Fellowcraft. In 1893 there was a discussion about moving the Warrant to Burk’s Falls. However, in the same year disaster struck; the lodge and its furnishings were destroyed by fire. The brethren persevered and the Lodge continued to grow and the search for larger quarters was necessary. On May 24, 1904, W. M. W.W. Robertson received M.W. Bro. J.E. Harding the Grand Master and his Grand Lodge officers for the purpose of dedicating the rooms to Craft purposes. Lodge was well attended with twenty members and thirty visitors present.
On July 10, 1916 at a special emergent meeting Brethren from the 162 Battalion, who were camped outside the village prior to being shipped overseas, were permitted to occupy the chairs to initiate the Battalion Chaplain.
The Lodge had attained a membership of 104 members by 1925. In 1939 rental space was secured above the W. Lang Store for $15.00 per month. On May 16, 1940 the Masonic Quarters were dedicated under the direction of M.W. Bro. Dr. J.A. Dobbie assisted by R.W. Bro. E.G. Dixon, grand Secretary, V. W. Bro N.J. Attocassemi and a retinue of Grand Lodge Officers and members. In attendance were approximately 100 visitors and 30 members.
Members of Strong Lodge 423 enlisted in the active forces during the Second World War. At the August 17, 1942 meeting lodge dues of members serving were suspended for the duration. On May 21, 1945 a special Victory Service of Thanksgiving for victory in Europe was conducted by the worshipful master, W. Bro. George Tough and his officers.
Strong Lodge celebrated its 60th Anniversary on September 19, 1949. The first Tourist Night was held on Monday August 21, 1950. This tradition was a long and rewarding one which continued until 1998.
In 1989 Strong Lodge celebrated its 100th anniversary. A banquet was held at the Caswell Resort dining room with many distinguished brethren attending including Most Worshipful Brother William R. Pellow, the Grand Master.
In 1993 Strong Lodge members bought their first building to use as a temple. Due the economic downturn in the area the building that they had been using since the 1939 was sold and they had to find an alternate location; a building which had been a church was purchased at Union Street and through the hard work of members was converted into the present temple. The First meeting was held April 5 1993. It was an emergent meeting, and The Worshipful Master was, W. Bro. Brian Thornborrow. The building was dedicated by M.W. Brother Norman E. Byrnes, Grand Master in 1993.
The purchase of a building meant that there were more expenses incurred and resulted in the necessity of holding some fund raising events. The most successful and longest running is the Annual Fish Fry. It started out being held in the lodge banquet room. However due to the popularity and increased attendance, it is now held at the Legion in Sundridge, on the long weekend in August. Other fund raisers are; yard and bake sales, an annual meat draw and golf tournaments. An annual ladies night has been held since the 1960s, in cooperation with Powassan, Corona and Algonquin Lodges.
The meetings held in August were known as Tourist nights and had been an annual occurrence since 1950. Unfortunately due to the aging of these Brethren it was discontinued in the late 90's. Early in the millennium, a new tradition has been started for this August date. A barn degree has been held at the Hornibrook residence in their barn; which has a rich Masonic history. Most Worshipful Brother Raymond S. Daniels attended in 2006 while he was Deputy Grand Master. This has become well known and visitors from around the province have attended.
PAST DISTRICT DEPUTY GRAND MASTERS:
Right Worshipful Brothers: A. J. Whitby. A. Carmichael, J. Edgar, A. M. Church, E. Bailey, T. A. Mitchell. M.J. Gulley, Wm. Clark, T. B. Hearn, Don Stevenson, Mingus Moore, Lionel Peake, Bertram Sinclair, Larry Jeffery, Gord Williams and Terry Hornibrook.
Appointed Grand Lodge Officers:
Very Worshipful Brothers: Don T. Johnson, George H. Tough, A. H. Bower, James Sims, Joseph Hornibrook ,Charles Johnson, Harold Brant, James Detta, Brian Thornborrow and George Carpenter.
Strong Lodge membership has declined in the past 25 years to the current 64 members, but the quality has remained at a very high standard. Strong is known throughout the district for their support of Masonry, through visitation, cooperation and their willingness to work towards common goals.
Our past is full of stories of the men who truly appreciated the privilege of belonging to this great Fraternity. Men who walked from winter logging camps, travelled by horse and buggy, rode the train to the nearest junction, endured overnight stays and long treks. These are the men who sustained Strong Lodge and are its foundation. Over the years we have suffered many setbacks, fires, conflicts, inadequate quarters and personal losses; but from all this we have learned to adapt and meet all these challenges. Day by day, month by month, and year by year Strong Lodge No. 423 has moved forward. As we blend the excitement of youth and the experience of age, the members of Strong 423 meet our Masonic obligations to our families, our community and our fraternity.
Let us all resolve to keep Strong Lodge No. 423 “STRONG”.