Some will argue that the history of Wellington Lodge No. 271 must begin with a study of the name. Located in a community with an Irish name and established in 1872, how came this Lodge in Rural Ontario to be named Wellington lodge? The members of the Lodge have studied this question, and the obvious and simple answer of course is to say that Lodge was named Wellington Lodge because it is located in Wellington County. Lodge historians however prefer to look for the source of the name in early nineteenth century Europe, where a young Irishman named Arthur Wellesley, who was Initiated into Masonry in the Grand Lodge of Ireland, became a famous British military figure and eventually became the Prime Minister of England.

Arthur Wellesley Wellington

Arthur Wellesley led a British Army expeditionary force of 25,000 or so crack British troops to Portugal and Spain in the early 1800’s to do battle with Napoleon’s Grand Army. Out numbered and out gunned,
Wellesley fought with daring and zeal, and eventually, with much help from the Portuguese and Spanish Troops and civilians, was able to win back the country, pushing the Grand Army back to France.

Later of course, in Belgium in 1815, Arthur Wellesley, who had become the Earl of Wellington commanded the combined forces which won the day at the famous Battle of Waterloo. Historians claim that Wellington (The Iron Duke), sat astride his horse on a hilltop next to an elm tree and directed his forces at that decisive battle. Napoleon of course after this battle retreated to Paris to face his parliament and was soon thereafter sentenced to exile. And so The Duke of Wellington became a hero and received worldwide acclaim for his skill as a military leader.

Just as the events and the heroes of World War Two are still fresh in our minds 55 years after the fact in 1997, so were the Napoleonic wars still fresh in the minds of the men who came together in 1872, 55 year after those great European land and sea battles, to create Wellington Lodge in Erin Township.

To the soldier-immigrants from overseas who served in the military in Europe during the period 1800-1815 And also to the Veterans of the war of 1812 who fought under the Union Jack, and who may have sat in Lodge in Georgetown and Orangeville while the discussion was taking place about a Lodge for Hillsburgh, Erin and Belfountain, the name Wellington Lodge would have been especially significant. And so it came to Be that the little Lodge in Erin Township was named after an Irishman, Arthur Wellesley, The Duke Of Wellington.

The History of Wellington Lodge begins of course with a look at the History of Freemasonry in Ontario In general. The national body of Freemasonry is called a Grand Lodge. These Grand Lodges have Jurisdictions. The Canada’s came under the Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodge of Ireland At different geographical areas. Clarified in 1857, the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario Became the governing body for Freemasonry in this province. The Grand Lodge office is situated in Hamilton to this day.

The first Lodge meeting in Ontario was probably held by a military lodge somewhere on the Niagara Frontier in the late eighteenth century. This Lodge would have been continually on the move, as were Most military lodges. Lodges are numbered in sequence for the most part according to their date of Constitution. Wellington Lodge is numbered 271 on the roll of Grand Lodge. The immediate preceding Numbered five lodges are located in Oshawa, Claremont, Bobcaygeon, Chatham and Stayer. The five Lodge. The five lodges number immediately after Wellington Lodge are located in Ancaster, Blenheim, Teeswater, St Catharine’s and Cambridge. In Ontario the lowest numbered lodge, No. 2 is located in Niagara on the lake, and they have celebrated their 200th anniversary. Number 3 is in Kingston and Number 5 is in Brockville, then comes number 6 in Hamilton, 7 in Grimsby and 9 in Napanee. The Highest numbered Lodge is Number 741 in Ottawa.

There are 46 Masonic Districts in Ontario, 645 Lodges and approximately 73,000 registered members. Wellington Lodge is part of Wellington District in which there are 12 Lodges, 5 in Guelph, 2 in George Town, 1 each in Acton, Fergus, Elora, Drayton, Erin.

One of the largest lodges in Ontario, in terms of membership, is St John’s Lodge No. 20 in London ONT with 340 members. One of the smallest Lodges with 25 members, is located on Pelee Island Near Kingsville, Ont. By comparison, Wellington Lodge has approximately 115 members.

While some Lodges have many members, and some have few, one thing remains constant across Ontario, large or small, old or new, the hospitality and friendship in every Lodge is superlative.

Members of Wellington District Lodges have visited Pelee Island and St John’s in London and can> Attest to the fact that Brotherly love, Relief and Truth are indeed the three principle tenets of Freemasonry.

Wellington Lodge received its charter in 1872, seven years before the incorporation of the Village Of Erin in 1879. The lodge has met and has maintained quarters in four different buildings, none of which Were owned by the lodge. The first meeting place was located near the south end of the business District in the village near the bank of the Credit River.

This new Lodge was formed by a nucleus of Masons from other Lodges coming together as Officers Of the new Lodge and beginning the work of initiating, passing and raising new Masons.

Wellington’s first Master was Worshipful Brother David Kirkwood who served for two years, 1872 – 1874 And who was a member of Harris Lodge No. 216 Orangeville.

The first meeting hall burned to the ground on May 22nd 1903. The Worshipful Master of the Lodge at That time was John House and he received special dispensation to hold meetings in the old A.O.U.W rooms Located in Woodman's Hal also situated by the Credit River, fronting on Main Street, Erin. All of the early Records of the Lodge were lost in this fire and so reconstruction of our early history is difficult. We do know At the first meeting after the Brethren from Harris Lodge No. 216 in Orangeville brought the necessary Furnishings and regalia to Erin so that Wellington Lodge could meet and continue what has become a long Tradition.

The third location of Wellington Lodge was above the old Bush Hardware store on Main Street. The Lodge Window is visible upstairs in the following photograph.

Wellington Lodge met until the early 1950’s above the Bush Hardware store and some of the active current members were initiated there. They can tell stories of old wood stove, the spittoons around the Lodges room and the staircase leading up to the hall. As tenants, the Brethren were asked to find a new Building in 1953 and immediately set about to build their own meeting hall. Many of the day were associated with the Agricultural Society and a deal was struck whereby the lodge would oversea The construction of the new building at its present Fairgrounds location and a lease was arrange between The two groups that allows joint use of parts of the building at different time of the month. The arrangement Has been ideal for both parties and in particular for the Agricultural Society while they were rebuilding after A disastrous fire destroyed their main arena.

Wellington Lodge has met continuously on the first Thursday of each month, excluding August and July, for the 45 years of so that it has been located at the fairgrounds in Erin Village. On regular meeting Nights there will be 20 or 30 cars in the parking lot. Twice each year, once in October when the Deputy Of the Grand Master for Wellington District makes his official inspection visit, and once in December When the new slate of Officers is installed and invested, there may be up wards of 80 cars parked in the Front and rear of the Lodge building.

Several years ago, Grand Lodge commissioned the production of a Video called Friend to Friend. Wellington Lodge was honoured to have taken part in this Video, and if viewed closely one can see that Erin Village was portrayed as being typical small town Ontario with a strong Masonic lodge presence In the community. Wellington Lodge helps support a breakfast club which meets in the downstairs Banquet hall on every school day morning. The Lodge has adopted Sick Hospital as its provincial level Charity and the Wellington County Rural Women’s Shelter as its local Charity. The Brethren regularly and on a personal level respond to needs within the community. Grand Lodge records show that Wellington District stands first in blood donor ship, and Wellington Lodge is proud to be part if the District Blood Donor Teamwork.

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