When Premier Aberhart came to Spirit River in 1936, he made his famous social credit speech at the Masonic Hall, home to Spirit River Lodge No. 116. This was an important building in the days before the Centennial Hall existed. In the 20s space was shared with the Dramatic Society; in the 40s there were balls and Hallowe’en Masquerades; in the 60s there were shows by the Art Club. The Masonic Hall on Main Street was Spirit River’s social destination until the 70s, when expenses finally caught up with Spirit River Lodge No. 116. It was time to move to a more modest, but specially adapted location under the sanctuary of the United Church. The new Centennial Hall would provide a venue for the town’s social events.
There is more about the history of Masonry in Spirit River in Chepi Sepe, and here is a paragraph from an article entitled “History of the Grand Lodge of Alberta: In the Beginning” from MasonicWorld.com:
Masonry had not heard the final word from the new pioneers in the far north. Spirit River is seventy miles directly north of Grande Prairie and in April 1917 the hardy Masons met regularly to talk about the future of the Craft in that locality. By April 1919 they had actually purchased a lot for $125.00 and sold it again a year later for $200.00. Arrangements were then made with the local dramatic club for a Lodge room and a five year lease. They were now ready to ask for a dispensation which was granted and Spirit River Lodge No. 116 was instituted on August 5, 1920 with W. Bro. R. R. MacLeod being installed as the first Worshipful Master. On August 1, 1921 the Masons of Spirit River received with pride their Grand Master, M.W. Bro. J. W. Young, the Grand Secretary, M.W. Bro. S. Y. Taylor P.G.M. and the D.D.G.M., R.W. Bro. M. E. Grimshaw who had come to constitute Spirit River Lodge No. 116. The financial sharpness of this Lodge, evident from the beginning, appeared once more when it took over the mortgage of the Dramatic Club Hall in 1925 with a payment of $325.00 and established for themselves a home. Membership had grown to 48 in 1926 with three applications pending. In six years their Lodge Hall was cleared of debt.
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