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Moodyville Lodge Hall
Mount Hermon Lodge No. 491 S.R.
While Masonic Lodges were being established on Vancouver Island and at New Westminster on the mainland and among the mountains of the Cariboo at Barkerville, a settlement was growing up on the shores of Burrard Inlet. Here was a safe, sheltered harbour, easy of access and on its shores grew what has been called the finest stand of easily accessible timber in British Columbia, and that meant the world. It did not remain long untouched.1
As early as the Spring of 1863 men were at work cutting the timber on the north side of the inlet. A sawmill, under Sewell Prescott Moody's capable management soon became so prosperous that he was forced to increase his office staff, and his employees included a number of men whose very names are an essential part of our early Masonic history. At that time New Westminster was the centre of all business in the vicinity. Even the head office of Moody's firm was there. There, also, was Union Lodge No. 899 ER, the only one in that part of the colony, and Moody, as well as many of his assistants, was a member of it. Moody and Captain James van Bramer were the first of this group to join, becoming members in 1863. Captain Philander Swett and Josias Charles Hughes joined it in 1864; and Coote M. Chambers, destined to become the 5th Grand Master, in 1867-8.2
The employees of Moody's Mill were busy men. To cross the Inlet on the little ferry Sea Foam, and then to travel over the road to New Westminster to visit the Lodge, was a luxury which could only be indulged in at long intervals. Why not have a Lodge of their own near the mill? The matter was discussed among themselves, and with other Freemasons in Victoria and elsewhere, and it was decided to establish such a Lodge. The name chosen was "Mount Hermon Lodge" and it was agreed to apply to the Provincial Grand Lodge for a charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Josiah Hughes was to be the first Worshipful Master, Coote Chambers was to be the first Secretary, while Moody himself was quite satisfied with the minor office of Inner Guard.
As almost all the persons who proposed to become members of the new Lodge were employees or otherwise connected with the mill, it was desirable that the hall should be as close to the mill as possible. The mill was located some distance east of the grain elevators (1944) at North Vancouver; the Masonic Hall was directly north of the mill on the first higher ground. Having arranged for the site, they set to work and built their own Masonic Hall at their own expense and furnished it in the same way.
Lodge Mount Hermon No. 491, SC was instituted on January 15, 1869, at Moodyville, by RW Brother Israel Wood Powell, Provincial Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, who also installed the officers. The warrant from the Grand Lodge of Scotland dated May 3, 1869, was received the same year. This warrant was later returned to the Lodge for its Archives, duly cancelled.3
Because of their place in the history of British Columbia, a quick glance at some of the names on Mount Hermon's first slate of members is interesting. Brother George Black was the owner of the hotel which was established where the road from New Westminster reached the inlet. The locality was at first simply called "The End of the Road." Later it was known as Brighton, and for a time as "Maxie's" from Maxie Michaud, first Postmaster on Burrard Inlet, and eventually Hastings, now Brighton Beach Park in Vancouver. Brother William O. Allen, the Senior Warden, was a man of some standing in the mill who took a leading role in the organization of the Mechanic's Institute, the object of which was to provide a Public Library and reading room for the people of the little town and Moody himself was the first subscriber to this project. Philander Wheeler Swett, the Junior Warden known to all as "Cap," later left Moodyville and became owner of the Paul Swenson farm at Canoe Pass. He boarded the young schoolmaster who was in charge of the new Canoe Pass School and who later became a Charter Member of King Solomon Lodge No. 17 at New Westminster—Frederick W. Howay, one of British Columbia's outstanding historians who passed away on October 3, 1943 after having served as the County Court Judge at New Westminster for thirty years.
In 1886 Mount Hermon Lodge had for many years been located on the north shore of Burrard Inlet at Moodyville. During this existence it had a very small membership, between fifteen and twenty. Vancouver, on the southern shore was commencing to grow, and promised to become a large city, while there was, at that time, no immediate growth expected on the North Shore. As there was no Masonic Lodge in the new city on the south shore, it was deemed advisable to remove the Lodge across the Inlet, and on February 20, 1886, the Lodge voted unanimously to make the change. An application was made to the Grand Master for permission to do so, which was granted on February 27, 1886.4

1.History of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia 1871-1970, John T. Marshall. Vancouver : 1971. pp. 46-47, 352.
2.Historical Notes and Biographical Sketches, Robie L. Reid. Vancouver : 1945. pp. 42-43. Also see 46-47.
3.Marshall, p. 349.
4. Reid p. 192. Also see Proceedings of Grand Lodge, 1934, p. 153 et seq., "'Some of the Early History of Cariboo Lodge, No. 466 (469) G.R. of Scotland; Now No. 4, G.R.B.C.", by R.W. Bro. Louis Le Bourdais; and Canadian Masonic Research Association, Bulletin No. 88 (1967), "Cariboo Gold," by V.W. Bro. J. T. Marshall. p. 46.


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