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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part IV: Toronto: Benevolent and Secret Societies

It would be impossible within the restricted 1imits of a work take this, to make anything more than the briefest reference to the Secret and Benevolent Societies of Toronto. The mere mention of the names of the different lodges, and of their officers, occupies eight pages of the City Directory. An exception may, however, be made in the case of the Masonic Order, an account of whose progress in the city will doubtless prove acceptable to many readers of this volume. At the present time the Order has fourteen lodges under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Canada ; seven Royal Arch Lodges, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Chapter; one Chapter of Royal and Oriental Freemasonry ; two lodges of Cryptic Masonry ; two lodges of the Ancient Scottish Rite, and four lodges of Knights Templar. Previous to 1820, the only lodge in the city was Rawdon Lodge, which worked from 1793 until 1800 under a military warrant, which it surrendered in the latter year, and received another from the Grand Lodge of England. Subsequently the lodge merged into St. Andrew's Lodge, which in 1825 absorbed St. George's Lodge. At this tune the meetings were held in a frame building on what is now known as Colborne Street, and which was also used as a church, a school-room, and a public hall. From 1843 to 1854 the quarters of the lodge were shifted three times; in the year first mentioned to Turton's Buildings (afterwards Lamb's Hotel) on King Street West; then in 1848 to the upper story of Beard's Hotel, on the north-west corner of Church and Colborne Streets; and finally, in 1854, to the third story of the St. Lawrence Buildings. King Solomon's Lodge, which had been formed in the meantime, in 1815, at first met in the Tyrone Inn, on Queen Street West, and subsequently moved to the Ionic. Lodge Room on King Street; and still later, in 1850, to the Odd-Fellows' Hall, on the corner of Church antl Court Streets. Three years later it moved to the hall over the Western Assurance Building, on the corner of Church and Colborne Streets. Finally, in 1857, Mr. A. Nordheimer, a member of the Craft, offered the upper part of the Canada Permanent Building, on Toronto Street, for the use of the Order, and in April, 1858, ir was taken possession of. The building, which is now far better known as the Masonic Hall than by any other name, was erected in 1857-8 from designs by Mr. Wis. Kauffrnan. It is an imposing edifice of Ohio Freestone and iron, with a frontage of 101 feet. The Hall itself is on the third story, and is the meeting-place of nine lodges, one Chapter, and one Knights Templar Preceptory. Other Halls in the city are the Victoria Street Hail, in Victoria Chambers, used by two Chapters, one Preceptory, a Council of Cryptic Masonry, the Conclave of the Order of Rome and Constantine, and a Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners ; the Hall of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, on Kuig Street West, over Coleman's ; Occident Hall, on the corner of Queen and Bathurst Streets; and halls respectively in St. Paul's and St. Matthew's Wards, and at Parkdale.

Of the other orders the Odd-Fellows have eight lodges and two uninformed encampments; the Orange body three District lodges; the United Workmen, seven lodges and two legions of Select Knights; the Good Templars, eight lodges, and the Sons of Temperance three divisions; the Knights of Pythias, two lodges; the Foresters, twelve courts; the Sons of England, ten lodges; the Sons of Scotland, three camps; and the Knights of St. John and Malta, one coinmandery.

Of the purely Benevolent Societies, the principal are the St. George's and St. Andrew's Societies, the Irish Protestant Benevolent Society, the Irish Catholic Benevolent Union, and the Emerald Beneficial Association. In addition to these each trade has its own beneficial union.

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