The history of the Freemasons began on Vancouver Island during the earliest time of colonization on the west coast of Canada. Many of the early members of the organization were integral in establishing the communities we all live in today. In this post we will take a look at two of the Masonic Lodges we were lucky enough to be invited into to photograph, those being the Temple Lodge No.33 in downtown Duncan and the Ashlar Lodge No.3 in Nanaimo. These facilities have a deep historical background on Vancouver Island and today are cherished as important heritage buildings in both communities. We believe it’s important to acknowledge the impact the Freemasons have had in our cities, and to appreciate the heritage value of the buildings of the Lodges as an important link to our history.
Let’s take a look at the Nanaimo Freemasons first as this is the earliest group out of the two we are featuring in this article. The official site of Ashlar Lodge No.3 in Nanaimo states:
Freemasonry started in Nanaimo in 1865, when English and Scottish Freemasons began to meet in informal Lodges, since there were no constituted Lodges in what was then the Colony of Vancouver Island.
This goes back to the time when colonization was just beginning here on Vancouver Island. Between 1843 and 1858 Fort Victoria was constructed on the lower part of the island, one of our most well-known early communities of the colonization period. This time period was really the beginning of the big push to establish new colonies on the west coast of Canada, and over time this all formed the very foundation that was responsible for the major cities we see here today.
In October of 1873 construction began on the first Masonic Temple constructed in British Columbia, and the building was completed and consecrated in the fall of 1874. That building stood on the same spot that the current building we see today resides upon. In 1923 the original building was removed and the new building was created, becoming a landmark in the city. It is listed on the Canadian Historic Places Register and the City of Nanaimo Heritage Registry, and we are hopeful these designations will form the required protections to ensure the building endures for generations to come.
Photographing the interior of the facility was a pure joy for us. We were allowed access to the main areas and spent hours exploring the various architectural features and items the Freemasons use during their meetings. The people who hosted our visit were open and forthright with some of the details and stories of the Lodge, and we came away with a deep appreciation and understanding of the importance the members bring to the communities they serve. For a deeper look at the history of Ashlar Lodge No.3 in Nanaimo we encourage you to visit their website where in-depth articles and links are available.
Now let’s head over the the Temple Lodge No.33 in Duncan, our hometown. Constructed in 1912 it exhibits many of the great architectural features found in our local buildings of this era. Members of the Lodge were responsible for quite a few of the early local buildings in downtown that formed the basis of the earliest businesses. Today many of these buildings have a heritage designation assigned to them, which is critical to ensure they remain as they are for years to come.
As we head inside to explore the interior, we find that the similarities between the two Masonic Lodges is quite extraordinary. This is by design, no doubt. The spaces used inside for the meetings are expansive and rich in texture and detail. Again, we had great access to many of the areas in the building, and used that opportunity and time to explore as much as we could.
See our complete gallery of high resolution photographs: Gallery – Ashlar Lodge No.3 – Nanaimo
History buffs will find deep sets of links on both of the Lodges websites in the history sections. Please follow these links to learn much more about the Freemasons and the Masonic Lodges on Vancouver Island, and the incredible impact they have had on our contemporary lives. The sites to note are: Temple Lodge No.33 – Duncan – Our History and Ashlar Lodge No.3 – Nanaimo – Our History.
At this point we’d like to extend a special thank-you to our hosts at both of the Lodges, and to T.W. Paterson, our dear friend and local history expert who facilitated these sessions. None of this would have been possible without their gracious support, and as such we owe everyone a sincere thanks.
Thank you for taking the time to visit us here at The Hollow today, we really appreciate that. If you wish, please feel free to leave us any comments you may have below as we love to hear from all our visitors.