GORE BAY – With declining membership and with meetings and gatherings curtailed because of the current pandemic, the Gore Bay Masonic Lodge No. 472 (1906-2020) has shut down permanently.
Willis Campbell, a member of the Masons, told the Recorder, “membership has been declining for a while now and with COVID-19 we can’t hold meetings, so that put this whole issue on the table. We said, ‘let’s go ahead with what was going to be inevitable.’ So we applied to the Grand Lodge to go dark as of December 31, 2020.”
Mr. Campbell pointed out, “we have surplus funds on hand with closing down, and these funds have or will be going to four organizations, all good causes: the Gore Bay Medical Clinic, Mindemoya Hospital Auxiliary, Shriners Kids Hospital in Montreal and NEO Kids in Sudbury.”
“Some members will continue on and affiliate with other lodges in the district,” said Mr. Campbell, noting one member has indicated they will be transferring to the Sudbury Mason and others will be transferring to the Masons in Little Current. He pointed out among the membership, Bro. Beverly McGill is now 101 and he still belongs to the Lodge (despite living in southern Ontario). W.Bro. Aus Hunt of Kagawong is a life member at the age of 95 as of December 28. R.W. Bill Clark of Gordon/Barrie Island has been a Lodge member for 43 years and during that time he has not missed a regular monthly meeting.
The Gore Bay Lodge was instituted on May 24, 1905, with Dr. J. Johnston serving as worshipful master. M. McFadden was the district deputy grand master for the 18th Masonic District (Algoma). Dr. Johnston had been the final master of Lodge No. 407, and several other members of that Lodge became charter members of Lodge No. 472. Gore Bay Lodge had had over 450 members in its existence.
The lodge did not receive its charter until July 1906. The lodge was consecrated on September 4, 1906, with the district deputy grand master, Bro. J.D. Way, in attendance, along with Bro. Quibell, district chaplain.
According to Albert Gallatin MacKay’s ‘The History of Freemasonry: Its Legendary Origins,’ many scholars believe that masonry existed in some form as far back as the construction of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem—approximately 559 years before the birth of Christ.
Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons established a Lodge No. 407 at Gore Bay in September 1884, and the warrant for this lodge is dated July 8, 1885. Lodge No. 407 operated until the charter was withdrawn on July 15, 1893. There are indications that the difficulties of settler living, transportation challenges and the extreme isolations of the lodge with respect to other Ontario lodges (the closest lodges were No. 287 in Thunder Bay and No. 455 in Mattawa) contributed to this first Gore Bay lodge becoming inactive.
However, during its existence, Lodge No. 407 welcomed approximately 47 new members from various walks of life, and from various locations in and around Manitoulin.
Mr. Campbell explained, “the lodge was in the Forester’s Hall until it burned in January, 1907. This incident was a serious blow to the new lodge, although the fact that the lodge had insurance was a major blessing, allowing for a relatively quick recovery.”
“The lodge room moved to the second floor of the Gamey Block (above Island Promotions today),” said Mr. Campbell. “In 1920, the lodge room moved to the third floor of the Gamey Block. The third floor had been a dance hall, but the space became vacant when the new community hall was constructed next door. The stairs became hard to climb and it was decided to build a new lodge building on Agnes Street, which was completed in 1988.”
With declining membership and an opportunity to sell and relocate, the Lodge moved to the newly renovated old Gore Bay Fire Hall building on September 1, 2018.
The late Brian Hester, in his greetings and message outlined in the Lodge Centennial Celebration program (September 9, 2006) as V.W. Bro. Worshipful Master, read fittingly enough, “our history is of taking good men and making them better—a tradition that can be seen throughout the world for those who are free and accepted Masons. The influence Masonry has on our communities can be seen in our many good deeds. This positive influence would be sadly missed if we did not have Gore Bay Lodge.”
True to Mason tradition, members of the Gore Bay Lodge have not trumpeted their charitable works. However, cumulative support for worthy community causes, locally, regionally, and nationally has been substantial.