Wardrope Lodge No.555
At the time that Wardrope Lodge was formed in 1919, there was a great demand for the brotherhood of Freemasonry. Receiving applications and initiating candidates were taxing lodges to the limit! This was due to the spirit of comradeship among the men who had served in the armed forces in World War I. It prompted them to seek a continuance of that comradeship in the Masonic Fraternity. Money was plentiful which made meeting the initiation fees with only slight difficulty. Usually, it would have caused a man to stop and consider before submitting his application. The existing Lodges could not cope with this influx of candidates and obviously new Lodges had to be formed. The question was how many? However, the Grand Master was the final arbiter as to the dispensation to form a Lodge. We may be sure that he obtained the best of advice from those who were qualified to give it. Actually, five new Lodges were formed in the City of Hamilton in 1919. Those Lodges were Ionic Lodge No.549, Buchanan Lodge No.550, Tuscan Lodge No.551, Wardrope Lodge No.555, and Hamilton Lodge No.562.
In later years however, Masonic numbers decreased because of the great depression. There was much anxiety, but these Lodges could weather the storm of the depression. It was expressed then that the "economic membership of a Lodge" is when revenue from dues plus initiation fees along with investment income meets all of the expenses of the Lodge. The Charter Members of Wardrope Lodge possessed vision, and were dedicated workers. The laid a solid foundation, and left a structure in which an active membership may continue to work and to transmit the genuine tenets of our time honored institution from generation to generation. The said Lodge was to meet at Hamilton, in the Province of Ontario, on the fourth Monday of the every month and remains so to this day. The Lodge was duly consecrated and R.W. Bro. John Forth was appointed as Worshipful Master. He went on to serve in this capacity for the term of 1919 -20 - 21.
From the original Lodge records, the first meeting of Wardrope Lodge was held on August 25, 1919. It was at this meeting that the Lodge was instituted. At this meeting, there were 15 officers, 14 members, and 36 visitors present, for a total of 65 Masons. In exactly one year to the date of institution, W. Bro. John Forth had conferred the following degrees; 67 E.A.'s , 53 F.C.'s , and 48 M.M.'s. That was some first year indeed! This was accomplished in 12 regular meetings and 16 emergent meetings. By December 5, 1921, there had been the following degrees worked in Wardrope Lodge; 158 E.A.'s, 146 F.C.'s and 133 M.M.'s for an astonishing total of 437 degrees. That was an incredible record that our first W. Master John Forth attained in such a short period of time. A great amount of the credit was due to his line officers as well for their part in this great achievement.
Today, Wardrope’s membership numbers are respectable and we continue to pride ourselves on the quality ritual work that we do and the many ways in which we aim to cultivate the mind of the new Mason and senior Masons alike.
Special Happenings In Wardrope's History
In 1921, The Grand Master granted a dispensation for the Lodge to initiate Mr. Robert McFarlane, Who had lost an arm while in the war serving with the Canadian Infantry overseas. This was in keeping with the policy of Grand Masters overlooking physical imperfections caused by war service.
On May 23, 1921 it is noted that George Gaylard Sr. was initiated. This is mentioned because later both he and his five sons were all members while in Wardrope Lodge.
At the regular meeting of September 1921, it was reported by the Secretary that during its two years of existence, there had been 151 initiations, 400 degrees had been worked. The Lodge had received a total of $10,000 in fees and had a membership of 229 members. By the end of his term in office, he had worked an astonishing 437 degrees!
W. Bro. John Forth's zeal and dedication can be easily seen with the knowledge that besides his Life Membership in Wardrope Lodge he also had Life Memberships in six other Lodges as well.
At the regular meeting on March 28, 1932, Bro. W. J. Speare of Wardrope Lodge was present to witness the initiation of his four sons, George, Gordon, Alfred, and Walter at their initiation into the mysteries and privileges of the order. W. Bro. George C. Gage was the Worshipful Master in the East that evening and it was quite a unique initiation that may not have happened before that day or since then either.
On April 28th, 2008 a 5th generation Mason and 4th generation family member of Wardrope Lodge was initiated. His name is Robert James Ellison and he was preceded by 4 other family members that include his father W. Bro. Richard Neil Ellison, grandfather W.Bro. Robert John Ellison and grandfather W. Bro. Glen William Campbell and great-grandfather Bro. Robert James Ellison.
On April 27th, 2009, Wardrope welcomed its first Prince Hall visitor where he gave a presentation about the origins of Prince Hall Freemasonry and Prince Hall the man. This man’s name is Matthew Green and is an upstanding member of Mount Olive Lodge #1 of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ontario and Jurisdiction. R.W. Bro. Frank Fordham reserved the duty of closing the V.O.T.S.L to Brother Green that evening.
In 2010, Wardrope Lodge was awarded 'Cornerstone Lodge' designation for its success in advancing the lodge in all its facets. It was one of only three out of 14 lodges in Hamilton District C to be awarded this very important designation. The year of 2010 was also special for Wardrope in that one of its members, Ian Craig was elected as District Deputy Grand Master of Hamilton District C. His official title is now Right Worshipful Bro. Ian Craig. We are honoured that he not only represents the Grand Master but also as a fine member of Wardrope Lodge.
On January 24th 2011, the lodge was presented with the Master's apron of Wardrope Lodge's first Worshipful Master, W.Bro. John Forth by his grandson, also a Mason, and by historian V.W. Bro John Thombs.
Wardrope Lodge continues to be a leader in Masonic Illumination (Education) not only in the Hamilton Districts but also within the whole provincial jurisdiction. We consider our lodge to be holistic in that we strive to touch on all aspects of Freemasonry when cultivating the mind of a Mason.
In the year 2019 Wardrope Lodge will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary.
Wardrope Lodge Living Past Masters
W. Bro. Robert L. Armit 1965
W. Bro. J. Rankin Boyd 1970, 1999
V. W. Bro. John Lyness 1971, 1978
R. W. Bro. Frank R. Fordham 1974
W. Bro. James Suenaga 1976, 1990
R. W. Bro. John L. MacPherson 1979, 1982, 1989
W. Bro. Richard N. Ellison 1985, 1988
W. Bro. Glen W. Campbell 1987
W. Bro. James E. W. Court 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006
W. Bro. Ian A. Craig 2002, 2003
W. Bro. Damon A. Allan 2009, 2010, 2011
W. Bro. Jason McCulloch ; 2012, 2013
W. Bro. Greg Christoff 2014
W. Bro. Krishan Kalia 2015
W. Bro. Tim Whitfield 2016
W. Bro. Robb Ellison 2017 (present)
Wardrope Lodge Past District Deputy Grand Masters
R.W. Bro. Ian Craig 2010
R.W. Bro. John L. MacPherson 1999
R.W. Bro. Frank Fordham 1980
Wardrope Lodge No.555
4 Queen Street South, Hamilton, Ontario