Lodge History

The number 14 on the Grand Registry of Canada is indicative of the venerable age of this lodge, which was founded in 1818 by men who had originated in the British Isles or in the Thirteen Colonies of British America.  Many were veterans of the Napoleonic Wars or of the War of 1812.  The lodge’s first Warrant was issued by The Grand Lodge of Lower Canada. In correspondence with this Grand Lodge, c. December 1818, Henry Graham (W. Master, 1826) said, “We beg leave to solicit the Warrant is called ‘True Britains’...being in general from the Army...” And so it was, even though the spelling of Briton’s has varied over the years.

The original request for a dispensation was signed by Alexander Matheson, who became the first W. Master, J. Adams, Angus Cameron, John Parker, Wm. Matheson (W. Master 1832 & 1837), Daniel Fraser and John Adamson. They had met to organize at Adamson’s home on Craig St. (now called the “Red House”) on September 24, 1818. The first official meeting of the lodge was on December 14, 1818, in the same place with 16 Masons present, hailing originally from lodges in England, Scotland, Ireland and America. The first Senior Warden was John Hughes and the first Junior Warden was David Hogg who succeeded Matheson as Master in 1829 and 1830.

The lodge conferred its first degrees (E.A.) on March 19, 1819 and had its first Divine Service in the same year. The virtue of benevolence was also exemplified in that first year with the voting of an allowance of 15 shillings for a sick brother and the purchase of a cow for the widow of a brother. The first Masonic Funeral Service was held for Bro. Robert Jamieson, the victim of a falling tree, in 1819.

In those days Masonic lodges were often invited to lay the cornerstones of important community and public buildings. True Briton’s laid the cornerstones of The Perth Court House (1822), St. James Anglican Church (1858) and the Presbyterian Church in Lanark (1860). In 1860, True Briton’s supported their brethren in Lanark in their petition to form a lodge there (Evergreen, No. 209). For reasons not known, True Briton’s fell dormant from March 1865 to 1869 but its warrant was not canceled or surrendered. In May of 1869, True Briton’s began meeting again in rented rooms in The Graham Block and then, in 1871, in rented rooms in a stone building on Gore St. owned by one James Allan. In 1876 several brethren decided to form a new lodge which they named Clandeboye. However, in 1884, Clandeboye lodge was assimilated by True Briton’s. The lodge continued to meet in The Allan Building where, in the course of time, electric light was introduced and an organ purchased.

In the ensuing years the lodge concerned itself with charity and patriotism. In May 1885 Bro. Alex W. Kippen was killed in action in Western Canada. His body was returned to Perth and interred in Elmwood Cemetery where the lodge erected a monument to his memory. In I897, The Hospital for Sick Children acknowledged a financial contribution by the lodge and, in 1900, a grant was made to The Canadian Patriotic Association for the relief of the wives and families of the Canadian contingent to The Boer War.

On February 24, 1919, the lodge celebrated its One Hundredth Anniversary with a special meeting in the lodge rooms attended by many celebrities, including The Grand Secretary and a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Quebec. This was followed by a banquet in The Town Hall.

In 1920, the lodge moved to the third floor of the Stewart Block at 61 Foster St. and has remained in this location ever since. On May 6, 1921, The Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Frederick W. Harcourt dedicated the new lodge rooms. In 1950 the lodge had the opportunity to purchase the Stewart Block and, for this purpose, The Perth Masonic Temple Company, Limited was incorporated on January 9 1950.

The new corporation capitalized at $40,000 and shares were sold to interested brethren. The first president of the company was W. Bro. P.O. McLaren. In the following year, the building was damaged by fire but repairs were covered by the insurance. In 1965, the building was completely renovated to accommodate a branch of The Bank of Nova Scotia as the tenant of the main floor. The continuation of this tenancy and the sound advice of the late Bro. E.M. Sabiston, a former bank manager, has ensured the financial health of the lodge to the present day. While portions of the second floor have been leased to various enterprises and companies over the years, they are currently vacant. The second and third floors are currently used not only True Briton’s Lodge but also the Royal Tay Branch, Order of the Eastern Star and The Prince if Wales Chapter, Royal Arch Masons.

Over the years many brethren have contributed to the furnishings of the lodge, including a set of Working Tools presented by the Past Masters, a Tracing Board hand painted by Bro. George Glossop, a cabinet to hold and display the Working Tools, along with a lectern, both hand made by brethren of the lodge, and a brass bell for use in the Third Degree.

To quote the late P.O. McLaren, “...from a foundation well and truly laid, a superstructure is being raised, which, though not completely perfect in its parts, expresses some honour to its builders.”

(The above was prepared by W. Bro. Stuart Howard, based on True Briton’s Lodge, 1816-1968, V.W. Bro. P.O. McLaren, Ed., 1968)