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The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Canada

by Bro.Nelson King FPS
Editor and Vice President The Philalethes Society

In Upper Canada, the earliest record of Royal Arch work is adocument issued in 1787 by Lodge No. 156 , in the 8th Regiment of Foot that had beenstationed at Niagara in 1782. It is written on a certificate given to Bro. JosephClements: "We have raised him in the Sublime degree of Master Mason and have entitledhim as such to the mysteries and most secret work of the Royal Arch." These wordsshow that this Lodge assumed to have Royal Arch powers, and that the degree was workedabout two hundred and twelve years ago at Niagara. [ there is now some debate as tothe wording "Royal Arch - some say the wording is Royal Art - NK]

Another actual record of Royal Arch work in the Province of Ontarioand under supreme authority is in the issue of a warrant by R. W. Bro. William Jarvis,Provincial Grand Master, to a Royal Arch Chapter at Kingston on June 7, 1795, inconnection with a Craft Lodge No. 6, now Ancient St. John's Lodge No. 3, G.R.C. Kingston,which just celebrated its 200 Anniversary as a Craft Lodge. Then a warrant was issuedknown as "St. John's Royal Arch Lodge No. 16 P.C.". In 1801 it was renamed St.John's Royal Arch Chapter, and in 1819 it be came St. John's Chapter of Royal Arch Masons,under the Provincial Grand Chapter of Upper Canada.

A Grand Masonic Convention met at Kingston in August, 1817, toreorganize the Craft and have a Grand Lodge established under the leadership of R. W. Bro.Ziba M. Phillips. It was decided also to form a Provincial Grand Chapter for Upper Canada,and this body held its first meeting at Kingston, in February, 1818. The Royal ArchChapters forming this Provincial Grand Chapter were Frontenac No. 1, Kingston, Union No. 9Ernestown, and St. John's No. 4 York [Toronto]. The officers of this body were designated: High Priest, King and Scribe, following the United States system. The American Ritualand degrees of Mark Master Mason, Past Master, Most Excellent Master and Royal Arch wereto be worked.

In connection with Royal Arch Masonry there was at this period muchfriction especially in 1828 - 1829 in Upper Canada, and it seemed impossible to secure thereestablishment of the Provincial Grand Chapter which had become inactive and finallylapsed about 1831. In February, 1842, it was revived, but it proved to be more local thatgeneral. It now came to be more fully realized that something must be done to get agoverning body for Capitular Masonry in Canada to secure its future success.

For the purpose of considering the state of Royal Arch Masonry inthe then know Province of Canada, a circular had been issue by suggestion of MostWorshipful Bro. Colonel William Mercer Wilson, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canadafor the calling of a "Convention" of Royal Arch Masons to meet in the MasonicHall, Hamilton, on Monday the Nineteenth day of January, 1857. The first Convocation wasattended by eight members of the Royal Craft and the proceedings were brief, yetcomprehensive enough to suit all purposes.

Comp. William Mercer Wilson presided with Ex. Comp. Charles Magillas Secretary.

Companion Wilson said the interest in the Royal Craft in Canadadeclined during the past thirty years, and this laxity was due solely to the diversity ofthe interests, and the want of uniformity in work and action existing in the Chapters ofthe Province; bodies holding warrants from different Grand Chapters working underdifferent Constitutions, had neither assimilated in their views nor feelings.

That the system of work authorized by the Grand Chapter of Englanddid not recognize the degree of Mark Master, Past Master, and Most Excellent Master, andthat, as this work was an essential feature in the Chapter of the United States; theChapters of the Province were placed in an embarrassing position, as all Chapters in theUntied States absolutely required that all visitors should have previously received these degrees before they could be admitted.

Recognizing that the Grand Lodge of Canada had been legally andconstitutionally established on a firm and permanent basis two years previously, it wasdecided to proceed to the establishment of the Grand Chapter of Upper Canada. TheConstitution of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter of England was adopted and taken as a guidein the arrangement of officers except that the principle established by the Grand Lodge ofCanada of having the Chief Officers elected annually be adopted by Grand Chapter, andthat, in order to assimilate with Royal Arch Work of the United States, the three degreesnot recognized by the Grand Chapter of England be recognized: namely The Mark Master, PastMaster and Most Excellent Master Masons' Degrees, and that they be taken by all persons,to entitle them to be admitted to membership in any Chapter in this Province when workingin the Royal Arch Degree, or on any degree which such visitor may have taken under aregularly warranted Lodge of Chapter, and that, in conformity with the foregoingrecommendations, the Most Worshipful Master be the First Grand Principal Zerebual; theDeputy Grand Master to be the Second Grand Principal Haggi, the other officers to be leftto the discretion of the Convention.

The meeting adjourned to meet at the Masonic Hall on Tuesday, theTwentieth day of January, 1857, when the following Chapters were duly represented.

It was decided that the title of the Grand Chapter should be"The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Canada," and the it be declared dulyestablished. Thus came into existence the present Grand Chapter of Canada with thefollowing officers.

Most Excellent Companion Czar Jones, Past Grand High Priest of theGrand Chapter of Michigan, installing the officers declared, "The Grand Chapter ofRoyal Arch Masons of Canada, duly formed."

And thus The Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Canada came in tobeing.

Copyright by The Philalethes Society. All rights reserved.


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