EXTRACTS FROM NORWOOD LODGE #90 HISTORICAL REGISTERS
In July 1903, Alexander Rowland sold his original “squatters claim” of 132 acres east of the Hudson Bay Reserve to Messrs McDougall and Secord for the lavish sum of $16,500. Mr. Hubel, a book-keeper in the firm, named the area Norwood after his home town in eastern Canada. For the next five years few of the lots, selling for as low as $60, were sold. In 1908, Mayor John A. McDougall extended the Edmonton Radial Railway down Alberta Avenue (now 118 Avenue) to 81 Street and the following year to the Swift Canadian Packing plant in North Edmonton. The introduction of the radial Railway encouraged the settlement of the Norwood area.
Six years later, on May 19, 1915, the Norwood Chapter of the Royal Arch Masons, acting under the dispensation from the Grand Chapter of Canada, was instituted at McQueen Hall on the second floor of 8907 Alberta Avenue (the building is still in use today). Sixty masons were present. After the luncheon, a number of them met and “hinted at the bright prospects” of forming a Lodge in the Norwood district. There was some reluctance, however, because all the North side Lodges met in the second Street Masonic Hall which was owned by Edmonton Lodge #7. Apparently, there was some dissatisfaction with the renting, but none of the Lodges felt they were sufficiently self reliant to branch out into new premises. Another deterring factor was that, on one or two occasions, a Lodge in Norwood, “had been set on foot but for one reason or another had never reached maturity.”
However, “the necessity for the formation of a new Lodge smouldered in the breast of a few,” and W. Bro. E.H. Wilson arranged a private interview with M.W. Bro. E.T. Bishop, the then DGM, to test his feelings upon the subject. He objected on the grounds that it would rob existing Lodges of members. Later, when a group of Masons from Empire Lodge #63 approached him, he chastised them for thinking of forming a Lodge in any “outlining district, especially at such a time when all available men were needed to help in the great struggle with Germany.” It should be noted that he later became an ardent supporter of Norwood Lodge.
Eleven Masons were signed up as Charter members: from Edmonton #7, Bros. Henry and John Southworth; from Unity Lodge #51, Bros. Dr. McPherson, Clark and Wright; from Empire Lodge #63, W. Bro. Wilson and Bros. Thompson, Turner, Spalding, and Moss; from King George Lodge #59 in Calgary, Bro. Morris. These masons sent an application form to Edmonton Lodge #7, the senior Lodge in Edmonton. On June 17, 1915, Edmonton Lodge #7 unanimously passed a resolution recommending the new lodge. Initiation fees for the new lodge were set at $50; dues at $2.50 for each six months or part thereof and an affiliation fee at $10.
A formal request for the formation of a Master Masons’ Lodge was finally sent to M.W. Bro. C.W. Rudy (?), the then DDGM on June 29, 1915. On July 21, 1915, a reply was received from M.W. the Grand Master S.Y. Taylor stating that he had signed the dispensation and that on August 20, 1915 he would be in Edmonton to institute the new Lodge.
As the hall, owned by Montgomery and McQueen, was rented to Norwood Chapter and the Eastern Star, a new lease was drawn up. On August 20, 1915 the Lodge Room was filled to Capacity for the institution of Norwood Lodge #90. It is noted in the registers that at the close of each meeting, cigars were handed around and whilst the smoking was being indulged in, visitors and candidates were expected to express themselves. Apparently this did not always work out so the W.M. gave notice of subjects to be discussed at future gatherings.
On December 29, 1915, sixteen members from the Lodge attended a joint installation of Norwood #90, Patricia #91 and Saskatchewan #92. A banquet followed at the McDonald Hotel. On June 16, 1916, a similar installation was held with a total attendance of 165 members and visitors. As at May 1916, there were 44 members with an average attendance of 26.
In 1922 the Lodge purchased the German Lutheran Church building at 93 Street and now 116 Avenue for $5,000 with a $1,000 down payment. On April 3, 1923 the Lodge building was dedicated. In the early 1950’s the Lodge moved to the Freemasons’ Hall in downtown Edmonton, when the building on the 93 Street was sold, and a property purchased on the Southeast corner of 95 Street and 116 Avenue. However, before any building was constructed, the land was sold to the city who built the present Sprucewood Library on the site.
Over the years, Ladies' Nights were held and, in the 30’s and 40’s children’s Christmas parties were held in the Alberta Avenue Community Hall. The writer R.W. Bro. Alan Bell, performed at some of the Ladies' Nights and attended the Christmas parties. Ladies' Nights and Christmas parties are still yearly social events organized by Norwood Lodge #90. For many years, the Ladies' Night was sold out no doubt due to the “skit” that was written and performed by the members.
During the First World War, four members enlisted in the war. Tragically, one, Bro. Webster, was killed in action on September 8, 1916. The Lodge set up a benevolent fund for the youngest of his three sisters so she could attend Alberta College, as his mother was a widow. Another member, Bro. Samual Grills, died of an influenza and pleurisy while on active duty in England. He had been a popular member of Edmonton teaching staff and in 1914-15 was the male assistant at Norwood School and the following year succeeded Mr. McKnight as principal of Macauley School.
At one time there was a “druggist” degree team composed of members who were druggist. Rt. W. Bro. Len. Sanders and Bro. Arnold Cowan, members of the Lodge participated. During that period three members, W. Bro. Graham Harris, W. Bro. H. Massey and W. Bro. Doug Massey, were admitted. They were known as the Massey-Harris group after the farm implement firm of that time.
In 1991, on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary, the Lodge began a partnership with Norwood School (an Elementary School in the Norwood area). Since then the Lodge has sponsored the year-end picnic, bought a dishwasher, provided a trophy for Citizenship award, and retired members and their wives have read to the students and acted as role models. In recent years members have supported a home for homeless men (Urban Manor), and sponsored a mentally and physically handicapped student at the summer school. Members have also worked bingos, primarily to assist in the building of a home for Habitat for Humanity. Widows of our deceased members are visited on Good Fridays and presented with flowers.
Since its inception, 23 members have been District Deputy Grand Masters, 1 Grand Chaplain, 4 Grand Stewards, 2 Senior Grand Deacon and one each of G.P., J.G.D., and G. Organist. Seven members, Bros. James Hamilton, Bill Herbert, George Christensen Sr., Ron Stroud, Ken Schmidt, Ed Lyka, and Bob Tomlinson have received the Masonic Medal of Merit.
As noted earlier, there were 44 members at the inauguration of the Lodge. In 1966 when W. Bro. Gilles was Master of the Lodge, there were 210 members. Currently there are 69 members. Click here for the list of Past Masters of the Lodge.
Submitted August 2, 2011 by
R.W. Bro. Alan Bell, PDDGM, Past Historian of Norwood Lodge #90
Updated June 2020