Unity Lodge No 376, Huntsville, ON - Nipissing Muskoka District
This is an updated excerpt from the booklet prepared by Bro Austin Cronk, the Historian of Unity Lodge No 376, for the occasion of the 125th Anniversary of the Lodge which was celebrated in 2004.
Unity Lodge No 376 received its Charter on September 10th 1879, although the first meeting had been held prior to that date, more precisely on May 7th, 1879. That meeting was held in a room above White’s Hardware Store in Huntsville.
The Charter members were Bro. (Rev.) W. Macaulay Tooke (the first Master), Bro. Alfred Denton (the first SW), Bro. Frederic Harris (the first JW), Bro. Barnabas Wickett, Bro. John R. Reece, Bro. Chas Rumball, Bro. Eliakim Monaghan and Bro. James Richie.
It was 1884 before the Lodge’s finances were adequate to rent and furnish a more permanent site for meetings. In June 1885 the Lodge moved to a building just north of the bridge on the east side of the Main Street.
In 1894 the Lodge rented space from Bro. E.J. Ecclestone for $75 per year. The building was located opposite Trinity Church. Unity Lodge was a happy tenant at the Ecclestone building for 40 years.
However, the building was eventually sold and Unity Lodge had to look for new premises. The Building Committee members were W Bro. George Hutcheson (Chairman), Bro. J.W. White and Bro. W.J. Smith.
Own Lodge Building
In 1934 the building at the corner of Main Street and Brunel Road was purchased for $4,300. Down payment was $ 1000 and the remainder was a mortgage from the Dominion Bank. The mortgage was paid off in full in February 1943.
The first meeting at the new building was held on January 9th, 1935. The Lodge room was officially dedicated on October 4th, 1935. Members of Unity Lodge No 376 enjoyed many happy fraternal years at their own building located at 69 Main Street East.
However, in 2012 & 2013 it became obvious that the building no longer met the requirements of the Grand Lodge, which were that all Masonic buildings in the Province should be fully compliant with the fire and building regulations in force in their municipalities. The costs to bring the, now old, building to meet the regulations, would be prohibitive and not affordable.
A Sad Goodbye to the beloved Old Home and Hopes for the Future
The old beloved building was sold in 2013 and current premises were rented at 1 Crescent Road, Huntsville. These new, rented premises were officially dedicated by the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge officers on June 6th, 2014.
The corporation of Unity Lodge purchased in the autumn of 2013 a light industrial and warehousing complex on Muskoka Road 3 in Huntsville in order to establish a more stable financial base for the future generations of the Lodge. The property includes an acre of vacant land where the brethren of Unity Lodge hope to build, sometime in the future, a new Lodge building, a permanent new home for Unity.
The Brethren of Unity Temple Board led by WM W Bro. Kip Coggins were instrumental in the sale of the old lodge, in the purchase of the commercial property as well as in the leasing and furnishing of the current rented premises. They accomplished all this within a few months between May and September 2013.
Service to the Craft
Unity Lodge No 376 has during its existence introduced virtues of the Craft to many good men in the community and many members of Unity have served in various capacities as Grand Lodge officers and in the Grand Lodge committees. To name a few:
RW Bro. William Henry John Adams, DDGM 1984 – 1985
VW Bro. John J. Haig, Grand Steward 1985 – 1986
RW Bro. Raymond R. Porter, Grand Registrar 1988 – 1989
RW Bro. A. Paul Stephen, DDGM 1991 – 1992 and Board of General Purposes 1995 – 2001
VW Bro. Ronald Munroe, Grand Steward 1992 – 1993
RW Bro. Herman Waxl, DDGM 1999 – 2000 and Director of Masonic Foundation, 2000 – 20003
VW Bro. Joseph A. Stocking, Grand Steward 1999 – 2000
VW Bro. Gordon L. Finbow, Grand Steward 2000 – 2001
RW Bro. Harold Johnson, DDGM 2007 - 2008
VW Bro. Robert Romberg, Grand Steward 2008 - 2009
RW Bro. Robert Romberg, DDGM 2013 – 2014
Bro. James Darling Millest, recipient of the William Mercer Wislon award medal
It should be noted that a great number of our affiliated members as well contributed to the Grand Lodge in various capacities:
MW Bro. Terence Shand, Grand Master 2001 – 2003, and Grand Secretary
RW Bro. Robert Summerville, Grand Junior Warden, 1989 – 1990 and member of the Board for GP
RW Bro. Victor Cormack, Grand Registrar 1997 – 1998
RW Bro. William J. Hawkins, DDGM Hamilton District “B” 1987 – 1988
RW Bro. Douglas A. Conway, DDGM Georgian South District 1999 – 2000 and member of Board for GP
RW Bro. Patrick J. McGrenere, Grand Junior Warden 2002 - 2003
VW Bro. James Schell, Grand Steward, 2014 – 2015
We are grateful to all for their endeavours.
It is appropriate to conclude with the words of our RW Bro. A. Paul Stephen who said: “While the reasons for naming our Unity Lodge are obscure, it is fitting because there are certain things we look for in a fraternal organization, among them friendship, fellowship, a chance to perform community service and an opportunity to socialize with friends. Psalm 133 verse 1 reads: Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity. May this long be so for Unity Lodge.”