The first form of a masonic organization in Whitehorse was a picnic held during the summer of 1901, at which VW Bro. Judge Chadwick of Skagway Lodge No. 113, Grand Lodge of Washington, was an honored guest. To the surprise of the organizers, it was found that there were approximately forty freemasons in the Whitehorse area.
W Bro. R.D.Pinneo, a past master of Skagway Lodge, saw the possibility of establishing a lodge here and directed his enthusiasm towards that end. He was at the time a cashier with the British Yukon Navigation Co. and a member of various masonic orders. It was mainly due to his energy and perseverance that Whitehorse Lodge was established.
The first organizational meeting was held on 6 November, 1901, at the Post Office building with twenty eight freemasons in attendance. A committee was formed and authorized to communicate with the Grand Lodge of Manitoba to obtain all the necessary information for forming a lodge in Whitehorse. At the very same meeting another committee was immediately formed to extend assistance to deserving brethren in distress. On St. John's Day, 27 December, 1901, at a general meeting it was decided to apply to the Grand Lodge of Manitoba for a dispensation. A Dispensation to form a Lodge, dated 5 March, 1902 was received and an amount of $300 was advanced by twelve worthy brethren for the purchase of furnishings and supplies. During this time Dr. H.J. Lindsay was Worshipful Master, R.D. Pinneo the Senior Warden, and C.. Pennefather the Junior Warden. On 11 June, 1903 a warrant was issued by the Grand Lodge of Manitoba, to Whitehorse Lodge No. 81. As with Yukon Lodge No. 45(79) Whitehorse Lodge successfully petitioned the Grand Lodge of British Columbia for a warrant, and on 26 June 1907 it was issued. Whitehorse Lodge now has the distinction of having two Charters on its walls.
After a disastrous fire in the city in 1905 from which the lodge emerged unscathed, the entire building (which was originally the Savoy Hotel on the east side of the river) was moved across the Yukon River on the ice during the winter of 1900-1901 where it continued as a hotel for a few years.
W Bro. R.D. Pinneo
The lodge occupied the building on Second Avenue in the 1920s. It was used regularly for many years, especially during the construction of the Alaska Highway, when 10,000 servicemen were in town. On 18 September, 1967, the lodge moved into a new home on Lambert Street.
In the early days enthusiasm was high, gold was king and there were few counter-attractions. The lodge prospered, the winter population was about 350 and the summer population about 450. During the first World War the Yukon suffered from the exodus of men, but during the twenties, better days returned.
When Whitehorse became the central point for the construction of the Alaska Highway, and later the Canol Project, the masonic hall was often found to be inadequate to hold the many visitors most of whom were USA army personnel. Various American degree teams exemplified their different ritual workings from time to time and Courtesy Degree work kept the lodge officers busy.
The lodge carries a very wide scattered membership as a result of the days when soldiering brethren took their degrees only to leave for the "outside" shortly afterwards. During the period between 1946 and 1948 the lodge was enhanced by visiting brethren from the RCAF and Canadian Army. They also participated as a combined degree team on numerous occasions, particularly when a serviceman was to be initiated into the Craft. It was a very colorful ceremony, as the brethren would wear their regimental uniforms. The Canadian Army departed the area in 1965 and the RCAF station closed down in 1968.
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