Welcome to the Victoria's Victoria site on Freemasonry in Victoria. This site will explore the founding of the first Lodge and the impact of Freemasons on the development of Victoria and the province of British Columbia.
What is Freemasonry?
Freemasonry is the World's oldest and largest fraternal organisation. Its origins are open to speculation with the oldest known documentation being from 1390 and the oldest known Lodge minutes dated July 31st, 1599 from the Lodge of Edinburgh.
Freemasonry currently has an estimated worldwide membership of 6 million with lodges in almost every country in the world. Membership in Freemasonry is made up of men who are "free and of good report" and over the age of 21.
The Lodge is the main organisational unit of Freemasonry. Every new Lodge must have a Warrant or Charter issued by a Grand Lodge, authorising it to meet and work. A Lodge must hold regular meetings at a fixed place and with published dates. It will elect, initiate and promote its members and officers; it will build up and manage its property and assets, including its minutes and records; and it may own, occupy or share its premises. Like any organisation, it has formal business to manage: its meetings and proceedings, annual general meetings and committees, correspondence and reports, membership and subscriptions, accounts and tax returns, and special events. A man may only be initiated, or made a Mason, within a Lodge.
Freemasons meet as a Lodge, not in a Lodge, the word "Lodge" referring more to the people assembled than the place of assembly. However, in common usage, Masonic premises are often referred to as "Lodges."
In British Columbia the lodges meet under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon, formed in 1871 with Israel Wood Powell being elected as the first Grand Master. In Victoria there are 9 different Lodges, including Victoria Columbia no. 1, the first Masonic Lodge formed in B.C.
Microhistory is a branch of historical study concerned with the small scale - the every day. From this small-scale study we can then extrapolate to the larger picture. This is what we are attempting to do with this website.
By looking at a small group of men - the Freemasons of Victoria - we get a glimpse into the world of the Victorian era in Victoria, B. C. We get an intimate look behind the great movements that shaped our city - and ultimately our province - in that era and this gives us a better understanding of those events. The members of the first lodge in the West were instrumental members in the creation of the colony of British Columbia and the inclusion of that colony with the nascent confederation of Canada.
These men came from every segment of society; they joined religious groups, founded artistic organizations, and helped every political office. They were the explorers and the traders. We only have to look at a map of the province to see the legacy they left behind with names like Burnaby, Powell, Pender, and Southgate.