Lodge History

The following is extracted from “History of Freemasonry in Canada” – by J. Ross Robertson. Volume 1, 1899

Lodge No.9 P.R., Township of Bertie, County of Welland, 1796-1825.

Tracings of Masonic Work in Fort Erie. A Lodge with Thirty Years of Life but without records.

The Niagara district is composed of three counties- Lincoln, Haldimand, and Welland. In the townships of Grimsby and Niagara in Lincoln, and in the townships of Bertie, Stamford, and Welland, there were Masonic Lodges as early as 1794. Bertie is the township that is situated in Fort Erie and lies directly opposite Buffalo.

There is no trace or reference to “No.9” in any circular, or letter of record in the MSS., until January 20th, 1800, when in a circular issued by the Provincial Grand Lodge at Niagara in the list of lodge is given “No.9 Bertie”, and also in another circular of 6th April 1801. On the 29th of March 1802, the name appeared in the Grand Lodge roll. In the financial statement of the Provincial Grand Lodge on 31st December 1802, No.9 is credited L.3.0.0. The Lodge was not represented at the Grand Lodge meeting at York in 1804, which renders it probable that it adhered to the irregular Grand Lodge at Niagara. None of the lodges in the district of Niagara were represented at this meeting. In the minutes it is recorded that “No.9 Bertie, did not attend.” There is no mention of the lodge in the minutes of the Kingston Convention of 1817-1822, but of those present at the Convention was “No.9 Haldimand”, as if the number being dormant at Bertie, had been transferred to the township of Haldimand. This is a copyist’s error, for at a later date the same lodge is entered as “No.19 Haldimand”, reverting to the number under which the lodge in that township was originally formed.

No lodge on the roll has caused more research than that of “No.9 Bertie”. In the days of 1794, about the time warrants were issued by R.W.Bro. Jarvis, as Provincial Grand Master, the late Bro. Lewis Palmer, of Bertie, states that there was a warranted Lodge at the date mentioned in Fort Erie. The original warrant, he said, was brought out from England by Col. Joseph Palmer, according to the statements of many old residents, and was known as “Fort Erie No.5”. Whether after the issue of the warrant by R. W. Bro. Jarvis “No.5” amalgamated with No.9 it is impossible to state further than that there is no record of any kind in the MSS or archives of Grand Lodge of a “No.5” at Fort Erie. That there was a “No.5” at this place is proved by the evidence of brethren, twenty in number, who in 1850 were alive and who were members of “old No.5”. At the festival of St. John, the Evangelist, held at the village of Ridgeway, December 27th, 1877, Bro. Lewis Palmer, who died in 1889, and who for sixty years was a member of the Craft, was present and corroborated the statements made concerning the earlier history of Masonry in the township of Bertie. He had his father’s word for the authenticity of No.5. This celebration was held by the members of Dominion Lodge, A.F.& A.M of the Grand Lodge of Canada. Of the early names connected with “Fort Erie No.5”, were Bros. Henry Warren Sr., Benjamin Hardison Sr., Henry Warren Jr., John Palmer, Henry Trout, John Warren, Thomas Baxter, and John Baxter.

Associated with Col. Joseph Palmer, grandfather of Bro. Lewis Palmer, was Col. Henry Warren, grandfather of Bro.R.G.Warren of Victoria. These brethren were officers of the British Army and had been made Masons before leaving England, under probably a field or military warrant. It is stated that before leaving England they obtained a warrant, of which however there is no trace in the English records. On being stationed at Fort Erie the brethren organized the lodge, which was designated “No.5 Fort Erie”. Before his death Bro. Palmer stated that the lodge was under the jurisdiction of England with “a deputy Grand Master” at “old Fort Niagara”. This, of course, may have been R.W.Bro. Wm. Jarvis.

The records of Stamford 1815-20 Lodge No.12, which met in the township of that name, at what is now known as South Niagara Falls, formerly of Drummondville, give the name of some of the members of No.9. They were Bro. Mahlon Burnell, Charles Fell, John Lafferty, John Fanning, Angus McIntyre, Crowell Wilson, Asa Coltrie, Richard Moore and Francis Goring.

Shortly after formation a number of gentlemen from Buffalo were admitted to membership in Fort Erie Lodge. Their names were Dr. Cyrenisus Chapin, Messrs. Ransom, Barker, Crow, Webster, Mabee, and Johnson.

But the war of 1812 broke out and so disorganized matters that meetings could not be held. The warrant, papers, and paraphernalia of the institution were concealed by Mr. John Palmer (father of Bro. Palmer) until the close of the war when he removed the documents to his house in the township of Willougby. In the fall of 1815, a few brethren collected at Bro. Palmer’s house and determined a reorganization of the lodge, which was accomplished. The senior Bro. Palmer was the first worshipful master after the reorganization. Two years after this event, in 1817, Bro. Lewis Palmer was made a Mason. Among the members at this time were, Bros. Andrew Miller, Edward Carr, Dr. Benjamin Hall, Charles Hibbard, Mathias Haun, Benj. Hardison Sr., Peter Wintemute, John Miller, Joseph Palmer Jr., Peter Laur, Peter Edsall, Conrad House, Nicholas House, and Jacob Haun.

Bro. Lewis Palmer was installed as W.M. of Fort Erie Lodge in the year 1822 and had for his Senior Warden Bro. Benj. Hall; for Junior Warden, Bro. Andrew Miller; Treasurer, Bro. Edward Carr and Secretary, Bro. Charles Hibbard. The brethren encountered many difficulties in keeping the band together, but to make matters worse a crushing blow came when least expected, for in the early part of the year 1825 Bro. Palmer’s house burned to the ground together with its contents. Nothing was saved. The charter, books, records, regalia, jewels, and even the funds of old Fort Erie Lodge No.5 were lost beyond recovery. An attempt to resuscitate the lodge was made after the fire and an application for a new charter was forwarded, but for some reason, the lodge was never revived.

The following shows the membership of this lodge;

Thos.BaxterNicholas House? Mabee
Jno.BaxterConrad HouseAndrew Miller J.W. 1822
Mahlon BurwellBenj. Hardison SrAngus McIntyre
? BarkeyBenjamin Hall, S.W. 1822Jno Palmer
Asa ColtrieCharles Hibbard, Secretary 1822Joseph Palmer Jr
Dr. Cyrenisus ChapinMathias HaunLewis Palmer W.M. 1822
? CrowJacob Haun? Ransom
Edward Carr, Treasurer 1822? JohnsonHenry Trout
Peter EdsallJno. LaffertyJohn Warren
Charles FellPeter LaunPeter Wintemute
Jno FanningJno MillerCrowell Wilson
Francis GoringRichard Moore? Webster