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masonic matters

Refreshment and LaboR

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

What is meant when a Lodge is at either Refreshment or Labor? And who is in Charge of the Craft during those times? Who do Masons acknowledge as being the officer in charge, and how is this acknowledgement demonstrated?

Some time ago I came across something that is quite interesting. It has to do with the Lodge being at Refreshment. Some seem to think that when the Junior Warden is ordered to call the Lodge from Labor to refreshment that the Lodge is then closed temporarily and that after the Three Great Lights and the Three Lesser Lights are attended to by the Senior Deacon, that the Brethren can disburse as they please. We know that in most cases they then go into the dining room, or have a program where others are invited to be in the Lodge Room, but when the Lodge is at refreshment it is not closed.

I’ve learned that a Lodge after it is opened must be either at Labor or Refreshment. Calling from Labor to Refreshment differs from closing. Besides the ceremony being a quicker one, the Junior Warden assumes control of the craft. The Symbol or Badge of his authority is that he disposes, (erects,) his column on his Pedestal Mackey’s says; that the mythical history of Masonry tells us that high twelve, (or noon,) was the hour at the temple of Solomon when the craft were permitted to suspend their Labor, which was resumed an hour Later. In reference to this a Lodge is at all times, symbolically, to be called from Labor to Refreshment at high twelve, and be called back to Labor one hour after high twelve.

When a Lodge is at Labor and a Brother needs to enter or leave the Lodge Room he will approach the Altar and salute the Master, or upon the Masters order salute the Senior Warden since the Master is in charge of the craft when Lodge is at Labor, and the Senior Warden assists him in this effort.

There is something that is hardly ever done, at least here in Minnesota. Something that I think ought to be done when the Lodge is called from Labor to Refreshment. On page 131 of the Minnesota Counselors Guide, and on page 26 of the Masonic Service Association book “One Hundred One Questions About Freemasonry” there is this Question: “Why do Brethren entering or leaving a Lodge salute the Master?” Here is some of what the answer is; “Masons entering or leaving a Lodge salute the Master at the Altar if the Lodge is at Labor – they salute the Junior Warden if the Lodge is at refreshment.”

“This practice assures the Master that the Brother knows on what degree the Lodge is open. A Brother making the wrong sign can be instructed immediately. It informs the Master that the Brother is a Mason of the degreeon which the Lodge is open; if he makes an inferior sigh, and cannot, on request, give the right one, the Master can then use other means to ascertain that no Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft is present in a Master Mason Lodge. The Salute is a silent assurance to the Master and the Brethren: "I remember my obligations.""Brethren salute on retiring to get permission to leave. No one can enter or leave a Lodge room while the Lodge is at Labor without permission. If the Master does not wish the Brother who salutes to retire, he tells him so,instead of responding to the salute.""At refreshment the Lodge is in charge of the Junior Warden and the same salutes are given him as are usually given to the Master, and for the same reasons. In some Grand Jurisdictions, on busy evenings, during a visitationor other Masonic function, the Master will instruct the Tiler to ask the Brethren to salute the West, instead of the East, in order to not have his own labors in the East interrupted."

So there it is, a Lodge of Masons is either opened or it’s closed. If it is open it is either at Labor or Refreshment, and salutes are required unless the Master has ordered them not to be used when guests are in the Lodge Room. When it is closed no salutes are necessary.

“If the power to do hard work is not talent, it is the best possible substitute for it.”
Brother James A. Garfield – Former President of the United States

I have been able to purchase a copy of the book Freemasonry in Manitoba, by William Douglas, covering the years 1864 to 1925 and in that book is some real interesting information about the one and only Military Lodge granted Dispensation by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota we have been talking about and reporting on in the past few issues of Masonic Matters. I think you will find this next installment on that Lodge interesting.

It was reported that the Lodge at Pembina was named after all, and the name was Northern Light Lodge and our good Brother James Acker provided us with some fine information about the origin of the name. We also know that when the Masons who obtained the Dispensation from Grand Master A.T.C. Pierson were moved to a different location they left the dispensation with the Brothers who were raised in the Lodge rather than leave them without a Lodge. Grand Master Pierson approved this and gave those Brothers remaining a Warrant for Northern Light Lodge.

The Lodge was moved to Fort Garry, Red River Settlement. This settlement was at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers where “Verandrye established Fort Rouge in 1738,” later in 1804 The North-West Company built Fort Gibraltar. Shortly afterwards the Hudson’s Bay Company built Fort Douglas, named after Thomas Douglas, the 5th Earl of Selkirk and founder of the Red River Settlement. “The building of the 1st Fort Garry took place in 1821 and was named after Nicholas Garry, a director of the Hudson’s Bay Company.” In 1835 construction of a new Fort was started. The first one was made of wood the second was made of stone. This new Fort was the center for business, education, government, etc. for more than 30 years and became the nucleus of the present city of Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Freemasonry entered Manitoba through and by Northern Light Lodge warranted by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota in 1864. This lodge had the unique distinction of being first, and only, Military Lodge under Dispensation and Warrant in a territory of the United States by the GL of Minnesota, and then the Grand Lodge of Minnesota issued a Warrant for the same Lodge but this time in the “Red River Settlement,” British Possession. The book says, “It is doubtful that if any other Lodge in the British Empire had the distinction of being first warranted by any Grand Lodge of the United States.”

On March 17, 1864 the following appeared in the newspaper for the Settlement called the “The Nor-Wester.”
“A party from this settlement proceeded to Pembina a few weeks since to join the Masonic Order, through the Lodge established there. They took the necessary degrees to qualify them to open a Lodge here, which it is their intention to do on receipt of a dispensation from the Grand Lodge, application for which has already been made. We will be glad to see Masonry fully established in our midst, for in its organization and teachings it is admirably adapted to do good in every community, irrespective of class, creed, or nationality. It has its secrets – the secrets of the ages – and what others have been so well kept? Pretended revelations have been made by those who know the public was always eager to find out a secret, and would be willing to pay well to satisfy their curiosity; but they knew little, for the working of the order is as much a mystery to outsiders now as it was in the far distant past from whence it dates its origin.”

It might be interesting to you to know that Dr. John Schultz and his partner William Coldwell at the time jointly owned this newspaper, the “Nor-Wester,” they were the First Master and Secretary of the Lodge. (Respectively.) It is also of importance that this newspaper account establishes the fact of the introduction of Freemasonry into the Province of Manitoba.

A few weeks prior to the departure of the Officers and Members then composing Northern Light Lodge at Fort Pembina, the following petition was written by Brother A.G.B. Bannatyne and sent to the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

To the M.W. Grand Lodge Of the State of Minnesota:

The undersigned petitioners being Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, having the prosperity of the fraternity at heart, and willing to exert their best endeavors to promote and diffuse the genuine principles of Masonry, respectfully represent that they are desirous of forming a new Lodge in the Red River Settlement, Rupert’s Land, to be named Northern Light Lodge; they further pray for letters of dispensation or a warrant of constitution, to empower them to assemble as a legal Lodge to discharge the duties of Masonry in a regular and constitutional manner, according to the original forms of the order, and the regulations of the Grand Lodge.

They have nominated and recommended Brother John Schultz, to be the first Master, Andrew G.B. Bannatyne, to be the first Senior Warden, and William Inkster, to be the first Junior Warden of said Lodge.
If prayer of the petition is granted, they promise a strict conformity to the constitution, laws, and regulations, of the Grand Lodge.
Signed by --- Andrew G.B. Bannatyne, William Inkster, Charles Curtis, W.B. Hall, Robert Morgan, William Coldwell, John Schultz, Matthew Connar, at Assinbonia, British America, April 27, 1864

The petition was received by Grand Master A.T.C. Pierson and granted on May 20, 1864. The Grand Master mentioned this dispensation in his annual address to the Grand Lodge at the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, held in St. Paul, on October 25, 1864.

During the year, I renewed the dispensation of Northern Light Lodge, removing it to the Red River Settlement, application for a charter will be made during the present session.”

The 1st public announcement of a Masonic Lodge meeting held in the Red River Settlement was in the Advertising Column of “The Nor’Wester” in the November 2nd issue.
The members of NORTHERN LIGHT LODGE Of F. & A. M.

Will meet in the Lodge Room in the Building of A.G.B. Bannatyne, Esq. On Thursday, 8th November, at 7 P.M. By order of the W.M.

The minutes of Northern Light Lodge on the occasion of the first communication of the Lodge in the Red River Settlement are reproduced in the book, Freemasonry in Manitoba 1864-1925. Here are some of the Minutes.

The Grand Lodge of Minnesota having issued a warrant empowering the opening of a Lodge, U.D. at Fort Garry, Red River Settlement, and having, for the better carrying out its views, appointed John Schultz, Esq., W.M., A.G.B. Bannatyne, Esq., S.W., and W. Inkster, Esq., J.W. of said Lodge, A meeting of Master Masons was convened in the Lodge Rooms, in the building of A.G.B. Bannatyne, Esq., on Tuesday evening, November 8th, A.D. 1864, at which the following officers were elected to serve during the year.

On motion of Brother A.G.B. Bannatyne, seconded by Brother C. Curtis, Brother W. Coldwell was elected Secretary. Brother Curtis, seconded by Brother R. Morgan moved that Brother W.B. Hall be the Senior Deacon. Carried Unanimously. Brother W.B. Hall, seconded by Brother W. Inkster, nominated Brother C. Curtis as Junior Deacon. Carried Unanimously. Brother A.G. B. Bannatyne, seconded by Brother W. Coldwell, nominated Brother J.E. Sheal as Treasurer. Carried Unanimously. Brother W. Inkster, seconded by Brother W.B. Hall, nominated Brother R. Morgan as Tyler. Carried unanimously.

The petition of Rev. T.T. Smith to be made a Mason, accompanied by the required fee, and recommended by Bros. John Schultz and A.G.B. Bannatyne, was presented, read, and referred to a committee.

The Petition of Mr. William McMurray to be made a Mason, accompanied by the required fee, and recommended by Bros. Bannatyne and Coldwell, was presented, read, and referred to a committee.

The petition of Rev. W.H. Taylor to be made a Mason, accompanied by the required fee, and recommended by Bros. Hall and Morgan, was presented, read, and referred to a committee.

The Treasurer reported the receipt of an invoice from Brother Curry of St. Cloud, containing charges, amounting to $158.00 for outfitting furnished Northern Light Lodge. The box containing the articles on account of which the charges had been made, not having yet arrived, Brothers Schultz, Bannatyne, and Sheal were appointed a committee to take steps to procure the box as speedily as possible.

At the suggestion of the W.M., the subject of fixing the admission fee for the Lodge was taken up, and it was moved by Brother Inkster, seconded by Brother Sheal, that the fee be fixed at £5 sterling.

Brother Bannatyne, seconded by Brother Curtis, moved in amendment that the fee be £4:10/ - sterling.

The amendment was then put, and lost, and the original motion carried.

On motion of Brother Curtis, seconded by Brother Hall, the nights of the regular communication were arranged to be on every alternate Monday, commencing 14th inst. (November 1864).

Brothers Bannatyne, Inkster, Sheal, and Coldwell, were appointed a committee to look after the necessary ornaments, fixtures Etc., needed for the Lodge.

The Lodge was closed until the next regular communication, peace and harmony prevailing. John Schultz, W.M., W. Coldwell, Secy.

In the issue of “The Nor’-Wester” on November 9, 1864 the notice of the first “Regular Communication” was inserted in the Advertising Column. The notices in the paper are important, because by them it can be determined the dates of the first, and the first regular meeting of a Masonic Lodge in the jurisdiction of the Red River Settlement, now the Province of Manitoba, and more exactly in the city of Winnipeg.

On November 21, 1864 Rev. Thomas Thistlewaite Smith and rev. W.H. Taylor received their 1st Degree. One week later Rev Archdeacon J. Hunter was initiated as a Freemason. The Lodge at that time met every alternate Monday for the transaction of regular business, and also on the intervening Monday Nights in Special Communication, and in the records there have been found instances where two degrees were conferred on the same candidate on the same evening.

It being remembered that the Master of the Lodge U.D. at Fort Pembina was W.B. Charles W. Nash, the Brothers of Northern Light Lodge at the Communication of January 9th, 1865 elected Brother Nash as an honorary member of the Lodge.

On January 30th a discussion was taking place to obtain a Charter from some source other than the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. A committee of Brothers Bannatyne, Rev. T.T. Smith, and William Coldwell to take the necessary action forward, and if possible, to accomplish this by making application for a Charter to the Grand Lodge of England. No further record of this is found in the Lodge records and the Grand Lodge of England has no record that any such request had ever been made.

At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, held October 24, 1865, Grand Master George Washington Prescott made this special reference to Northern Light Lodge: “Whereas, they have been informed that Northern Light Lodge, U.D., at Fort Garry, is working under the jurisdiction of this Grand Lodge, and with a commendable degree of diligence and success, for the best interests of Masonry, and said Lodge desires a renewal of their dispensation until the next annual communication of this Grand Lodge, your committee would, therefore, recommend that a renewal of their dispensation be granted to them in accordance with their request.”

Northern Light Lodge went dark for the summer months as of May, 1865 and resumed again on Nov. 27, 1865 The desire to obtain a charter from the Grand Lodge of Canada occupied the minds of the members of the Lodge in a meeting held April 18, 1866, when it was resolved that Brother Schultz be authorized to procure a Charter from the Grand Lodge of Canada, and to be assisted in this by Brother T. Bunn. The Minutes of this particular meeting contain this statement – “That this meeting be the last regular meeting for this season.” It was approved by all the members present. This is the last written record that can be found of the old Lodge, if Minutes were later taken they were not written in the original Minute Book. However, there were mention of the Lodge from other sources, one of them being the Nor’-Wester. The Following was in the December 20, 1865 edition of the Nor’-Wester:

The Masons of Northern Light Lodge U.D., will meet at their Lodge Room, Town of Winnipeg, on the second Monday of the New Year.

By order of the W.M. H. McKenzie, Secretary

From the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota it is learned that $22. was remitted “on account of dues had been received by the Grand Secretary, but the remark is added – no returns had been sent in by the Lodge.”

M.W. Brother Thomas Tweed, a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba received in 1895 a letter from W. Bro. Dr. John Schultz.

“…and a novelty it was indeed in this country at that time. It was spoken of far and wide, and the description, which did not decrease in detail, or increase in accuracy as to what was done therein, was listened to with much curiosity, and in some cases with awesome wonder, which was enhanced by the jocoseness of Brother Bannatyne’s clerks, who pointed out from the room below, (to wit, the trading house,) exactly in what part of the upstairs room the W.M. hung his hat while the Lodge was at work.

The Lodge Room itself was made as tasteful as circumstances of that day would admit, and it may interest the curious to know the exact cost of some of the furniture as given in a memorandum which I happen to have near me, in the sterling money of the day, namely:

Tables £1:19:6; Inner Door 1/-; Altar 19/6; Wallpaper 39/-; 24 Black Beads, 1/6; 24 white beads, 1/-; 100 copies of by-laws, 40/-, and it may be inferred that the craft was not always at work, for I find on the same list, 15 tin plates, 15 iron tablespoons, 15 teaspoons, 12 cups and saucers, 1 tin pan, 4 cans pickled oysters, 1 pound butter, and 2 pounds sugar, which would seem to show that there were intervals for refreshment. The jewels were borrowed from the Pembina Lodge, and were used until the following January (the Lodge commenced work in November 1864) when these were replaced by fine ones from Chicago through the good offices of N.W. Kittson. W.Bro. John Schultz was the first W.M.. Brother A.G.B. Bannatyne, Senior Warden; Brother William Inkster, was Junior Warden. These three principle officers remained in their respective offices until the 23rd day of December, 1867 when Bro. Bannatyne was elected W.M., Bro. Thomas Bunn, Senior Warden; Bro. John Bunn, Junior warden, but am unable to find any record of their installation.

In the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota for 1867 Grand Master Charles W. Nash reported: “I also renewed the Dispensation without additional fee, for Northern Light Lodge, Fort Garry, British North America, 21st November 1866.” M.W. Brother Nash added, “Northern Light Lodge is located at Fort Garry, British America. The long distance to be traveled rendered it difficult to have a representative in Grand Lodge.” A further reference is found in the proceedings that Northern Light Lodge having made their return and settled accounts was Granted a Charter on October 24, 1867, and Northern Light Lodge received number “68” on the register of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota.

There was no Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota in 1868. At the G.L. Communication in October of 1867 it was decided to change the month of the Grand Lodge Communication to January of each year, so the next Grand Lodge Communication would be held in January 1869. That’s why there was no G.L. Communication in 1868 for the G.L. of Minnesota.

In the proceeding of 1869 it is mentioned that due to the distance it was impracticable for the Charter to be delivered to Northern Light Lodge #68, and that the Charter remained in the possession of the Grand Secretary. It was also reported that no returns had been received from Northern Light Lodge. There is no more record of Northern Light Lodge in the proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota except to say that much later there is a closing record that says, “Charter Revoked, 1870.”

In 1880 there was a booklet written by Very Worshipful Brother Joseph Hurssell and in it he says that in 1867 Brother A.G.B. Bannatyne was elected Master of Northern Light Lodge, and it ceased to work a short time thereafter, “prior to the insurrection, probably better remembered as the Red River Rebellion, and loaned their jewels to the late Thomas Bunn, in view of the opening of a new Lodge at Lower Fort Garry, to be known as Lisgar Lodge ……. When Northern Light Lodge became extinct, it numbered about 23 members, who have since scattered in various directions.”

In 1879 there was a new “Northern Light Lodge, #10 on the rolls of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba, and W.B. Bannatyne was a signatory for the Dispensation. An interesting item on this is that in both books about Freemasonry in Manitoba I have, which show the History of that Grand Lodge up to 1974, Northern Light Lodge #10 is listed as being active in both books.

Thus ends the saga of the Lodge at Pembina. At first it was a Military Lodge not having a Name, its first Master became a Grand Master of Minnesota, he named it Northern Light Lodge and arranged for the Masons raised in the Lodge to continue it in a new location with a second Dispensation for the same lodge from the same Grand Lodge. It was the only Military lodge Created under the Grand Lodge of Minnesota and was the only Lodge operating in the British Empire that was Chartered by a Grand Lodge in the United States.

I will mention that it was the first Master of the Lodge, Brother Charles W. Nash, who in 1870 as M.W. Brother Nash, Grand master of Masons in Minnesota, had the sad duty to revoke the Charter of his Northern Light Lodge, which he had been Master in 1863 and was elected an honorary member after it was established in what is now Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

In the book Freemasonry in Manitoba 1925 to 1974 – part II – by Robert E. Emmett, (which was given to me by M.W. Brother Rod Larson P.G.M. of MN, Thanks Brother Rod,) it has a little information about Northern Light Lodge too.

In 1955 M.W. Brother W.L. Hillyer, on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, presented to the Grand Lodge of Manitoba the “Original Petition” from Northern Light Lodge U.D., in the Red River Settlement, dated April 27, 1864. Also in 1964 the Grand Lodge of Minnesota presented to the Grand Lodge of Manitoba a replica, “correct in every detail,” of the Charter issued by the Grand Lodge of Minnesota to Northern Light Lodge #68 on October 24, 1867.

This research on this information is thanks to our late Brother William Douglas of the Grand Lodge of Manitoba. He compiled all this information in his book “Freemasonry in Manitoba” for the years 1864 to 1925. I did find out in reading the book “Freemasonry in Manitoba – part II” by Brother Robert Emmett, that the Grand Lodge of Manitoba has established an award called the “William Douglas Medal” and each year a Manitoba Mason is honored with a presentation of the Medal. In addition to all of that Brother Douglas is honored by having William Douglas Lodge #176 named after him.

“Education is not preparation for life; Education is life itself.” John Dewey

One final thought is about Masonic Books and Education groups. A good source for good used Masonic Books is Brother Harold Davidson of Billings Montana. He has a web site so if you would like to see what good used Masonic Books are available check out his web site, or e-mail him at:

Brother Davidson is also the Librarian for the Philalethes Society, which is a great outfit to join if you are interested at all in Masonic Education and information. It’s easy to join, and the dues are reasonable just send $40. (that’s $30 dues + $10 joining fee) to Brother Ken Roberts, 5266 Mary Ball Road, Lancaster, VA 22503 or contact him with questions by e-mail at You can also visit the Philalethes Web Site at: Members of the Philalethes receive monthly issues of “The Philalethes” a fine magazine with some real good Masonic information and Education articles.

“Half of the failures in life arise from pulling in one’s Horse as he is leaping.” Julius & Augustus Hare.

Here’s something I like: It’s called “Anyway”

People are unreasonably illogical and self-centered, love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish motives, do good anyway.
If you are successful you will win false friends and true enemies, succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow, do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable, be honest and frank anyway.
People favor the underdog, but follow the top dog, fight for the underdog anyway.
What you spend years in building may be destroyed overnight, build anyway.
People really need help, but may attack you if you help, help them anyway.
Give the world the best that you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best that you have anyway.

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