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StarRed Special Project 2009 StarRed
PS Review of Freemasonry meets the Australian and New Zealand Masonic Research Council.

Ten selected papers first published by
the Australian and New Zealand Masonic Research Council.

Plus an illustrated account of the formation and activities of the ANZMRC:
by W.Bro. Tony Pope, Editor of the ANZMRC’s publications.

PS Review of Freemasonry
The Australian & New Zealand Masonic Research Council (ANZMRC) is an inter-jurisdictional association of research lodges for the promotion of Masonic research and education on an international basis.

by R.W.Bro Prof. Wallace McLeod
Grand Historian of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario.
Chapter 15 of The Quest for Light, a paper prepared by R.W. Bro McLeod for his lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1997.

© No part of this paper may be reproduced without written permission from the The Australian & New Zealand Masonic Research Council. HTML code is property of PS Review of Freemasonry - All rights reserved ©



Perhaps I should confess that the title of this paper, ‘An Exile from Canada to Van Diemen’s Land’, is ‘borrowed’ from a book that provided much of the information. The author was Fred Landon (1880–1969), a professor of history at the University of Western Ontario. He had the good fortune to find a collection of letters and journals written more than a century and a half ago. He arranged them in order, provided enough background to set them in perspective, and produced a fascinating story that was published in 1960.


With that preamble, let us proceed with the narrative. But I can hardly assume that you will know very much about the history of my part of the world. So, first, a bit of background. Not very many Europeans lived in Ontario until the time of the American Revolution. As I wrote twenty years ago: ‘There were a few French traders, three more or less ruined forts at the sites of Kingston, Toronto, and on the American side of the Niagara River, and a small settlement along the Detroit River. Otherwise the whole vast region was trackless forest and wilderness, tenanted only by Indians’.


ANZMRC publishes a quarterly newsletter, Harashim (Hebrew for Craftsmen), which is circulated worldwide in PDF format by email. Subscribe Harashim.
But towards the close of the Revolution, more settlers began to move in. The earliest Masonic record in what is now Ontario is the certificate, dated 11 February 1780, of Henry Nelles, a New Yorker who supported the British during the conflict; he was initiated in the Lodge in the 8th or King’s Own Regiment of Foot, No 5 on the Provincial Register of Quebec. After the war many of those who had been on the losing side migrated north to Canada, so that they could remain under the familiar flag. More than 30,000 of them moved into the Atlantic colonies, 2000 settled in Quebec, and 7500 came to what is now Ontario.


After this first influx, settlers kept coming in, both from the United States and from Britain. As a result of this immigration, the population increased so much that, in 1791, Ontario was made into a separate colony, with the name of Upper Canada. The first Lieutenant-Governor was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, Lieutenant-Colonel John Graves Simcoe (1752–1806); he had been made a Mason in Union Lodge, No 307 on the English Register (Moderns), Exeter, England, in 1773. The inaugural session of his First Legislature was held in Freemasons’ Hall, Niagara, Upper Canada, on 17 September 1792. During Simcoe’s term, on 9 July 1793, his government passed a law forbidding the importation of slaves—the first step towards freeing the African-Americans, seventy years before the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States.


Despite this evidence of progress, in general the traditions of government were very slow to change. There was an elected representative Legislative Assembly, but it could be overruled by two appointed bodies, the Executive Council and the Legislative Council. By and large the authority tended to remain in the hands of a fairly restricted coterie. Sir Francis Bond Head, who was sent out as Governor in 1835, lacked both military and civil experience, and was, we are told, ‘entirely unfitted by temperament for dealing with a frontier community or with an Assembly that was demanding self-government’. He was consistently hostile to any notion of democracy or responsible government.


There was a mildly radical party, who felt that the system was undemocratic, and wanted the government to be made more responsible to the citizens. They were known as the ‘Reformers’, and they called the ruling class the ‘Family Compact’ and accused it of administering the country ‘according to its own good pleasure’.


There were Masons on both sides, as so often happens in political disputes in democratic states. The ‘Reformer’ William Lyon Mackenzie (whose application for Masonic membership had been rejected by St George’s Lodge No 9, York, in 1827) provided a list of members of the ‘Family Compact’ that included five who were members of the Craft and several who were to become Masons in later years. At least three ‘Reformers’ in the Legislative Assembly were Masons, and we shall refer to others shortly.


Eventually, things came to a head, with several unsuccessful rebellions in 1837, followed in 1838 by invasions of ‘Patriots’ who had escaped across the border.



Elijah Crocker Woodman: the first forty years (1797–1837)


I want to look at one of these ‘Patriots’ in more detail. Elijah Crocker Woodman was born in Buxton, in southern Maine, in the northern United States, on 22 September 1797. In February of 1819 he married Apphia Elden, of Buxton, and they proceeded to have seven children. He was a farmer and lumberman by occupation. He was initiated into Masonry in Phoenix Lodge, No 24, Belfast, Maine, on 20 September 1820, two days before his twenty-third birthday. He was passed to the second degree on 18 December and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason on 15 January 1821. Soon after receiving his third degree he became Junior Deacon of the lodge (1821–22), but there is no record that he progressed any further in office. (I am grateful to MWBro John E Anagnostis, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Maine, for providing these details about Woodman’s Masonic career.)


In 1830 he migrated to Upper Canada; whether he originally intended to pass on through and take up residence in the western USA is not clear. As things happened, he decided to stay in Canada. He settled on Otter Creek, near what is now Tillsonburg, and worked as a lumberman. He established a lumber mill there, and floated his timber down to Port Burwell, on Lake Erie, at the mouth of the creek, fifteen miles away. He brought his family to Canada in 1832, and that year their seventh child was born there, in Bayham Township.


These were not active days for Freemasonry in Upper Canada. The Provincial Grand Master, Simon McGillivray (c 1785–1840), was one of the finest Masons who ever lived; but for various personal reasons he had not been able to visit his Province after 1825. Then there was the horrible Morgan affair in neighbouring New York in 1826. The Masons were accused of abducting and murdering William Morgan, who had threatened to publish the full texts of their rituals. This generated a lot of hostility, gave rise to the Anti-Masonic political party in the United States, and caused many lodges to close their doors. Inevitably, the effects of this disaster spilled over into Canada.


In May 1837 the Provincial Grand Master appointed a Deputy, John Auldjo (1805–1886), and sent him out to investigate the situation and get things running smoothly. On his return to England, Auldjo submitted a report which was very discouraging. He said that he had heard of only three lodges in the whole colony that were still active. Before he could take any remedial action, word reached him that his brother had died, and he was required to return to Europe without having any chance to revitalise things. At all events, there seems to have been no lodge that was active in Woodman’s vicinity, so he was not able to maintain his Masonic connections.


After a couple of years, an economic depression overtook the colony. Even though Elijah Woodman had thousands of feet of cut timber in his mill and at the outport, he was unable to sell it, because people simply didn’t have the money. In 1836 he went broke and had to give up his mill. He moved to the village of London, thirty-five miles further west. We don’t know how he managed to survive.


There was a Masonic lodge in London, Mount Moriah, No 773 on the English Register and No 20 on the Provincial Register; it did hold two meetings early in 1836, before going into recess for nine years. Woodman’s name does not appear in the minutes, but apparently he was a close friend of several of the members, if one may judge from the similarity of names. In September 1837, while he was in Detroit, Woodman was in contact with a Canadian named William Putnam, and in fact he delivered a message from Putnam’s brother Joshua, who was still in London District. Joshua Putnam had served as Secretary of Mount Moriah Lodge in 1829, and William Putnam was its Master in 1834. Moreover, in August 1838, Woodman wrote to his wife, naming two friends whom she should consult for advice if it became necessary for her to leave home; one was Mr Van Buskirk. H Vanbuskirk had been passed to the second degree in Mount Moriah Lodge on 1 September 1835. In 1843 Woodman’s family was living in a house south of London that belonged to Mr Odell. Joshua S Odell’s home had been the meeting place of the lodge in 1830, and he served as Tyler in 1836.



Disaster (1837–1839)


A year after Woodman’s move to London, the violence broke out. On 4 December 1837, north of Toronto, there was an unsuccessful armed uprising against the government. A few days later, plans were laid for another one near London. But this one was anticipated by the Loyalists, and fifteen of the Patriots were captured. Fresh arrests soon followed, and many Reformers, even if they had played no part in the planned rebellion, found themselves imprisoned. There were, of course, Masons on the Patriot side. The actual leader of the abortive uprising was Dr Charles Duncombe, who had been the first Master of Mount Moriah Lodge, in 1820. And on 8 December 1837 the Reformers had met in Flanagan’s Hotel, in London, to make a plan of action if they should be attacked by the Tory Orangemen, who were scheduled to meet on the following Monday. Fourteen men attended the meeting, of whom four were past officers of Mount Moriah Lodge: William Niles, John O’Neil, Joshua Putnam and William Putnam.


After the Reformer prisoners had been placed in jail in London, Woodman visited them and tried to provide for some of their needs. On 9 June 1838 he too was arrested, on the charge of ‘furnishing prisoners with knives and files to enable them to break out of their cells’. After about ten weeks he was released, but then four days later he was arrested again. ‘These rascally proceedings made me a rebel’, he later wrote, and he decided to leave the Province. He went as far as Wisconsin, but came back to Detroit in the autumn months of 1838, with the intention of moving his family into the United States.


Woodman was by no means the only Patriot who escaped across the border. There were quite a number of them and several times that year they invaded Canada with the assistance of American ‘Liberators’. As one of the latter subsequently wrote: ‘I entered the Patriot service with the best of intentions, only wishing that our Canadian neighbours might, in the end, enjoy the same civil, religious, and political freedom, with which the citizens of the United States are blessed’. In June of 1838 came the Short Hills raid, an incursion across the Niagara river into Upper Canada. The colonel and commissary-general was Bro Samuel Chandler (1790?–1866), of the settlement of St John in the Niagara District. He was the first of the raiders to be captured.


The biggest fiasco of the whole dreary sequence was the invasion from Detroit, and the battle at Windsor—in which Elijah Woodman took part. On 4 December 1838 the Patriot army crossed the Detroit river and landed at Windsor. The commander was Major-General Lucius Verus Bierce (1801–1876) of Akron, Ohio, who on this occasion displayed neither courage nor leadership. (He subsequently became Grand Master of Ohio, in 1853.) The second-in-command was Woodman’s Masonic friend, Brigadier-General William Putnam (1793–1838), who was killed in the battle. Within 48 hours Woodman himself was captured and lodged in Sandwich jail. Other Masons in the ill-fated venture included two Americans, Chauncey Sheldon (born 1781/1782) of Utica, Michigan, and Samuel Snow (born 1800/1801) of Strongsville, Ohio.


On 4 January 1839 Woodman was transferred to London. On January 18 he and Chauncey Sheldon, the last two prisoners (and the two oldest, Woodman being 42 and Sheldon 57), were brought to trial; they were found guilty of violence against the state, and condemned to death. Altogether, 43 of these prisoners were condemned to death and at least five were actually hanged. But the new Governor of Upper Canada, appointed in March of 1838, was Sir George Arthur, who had arrived from Van Diemen’s Land, where he had been Governor since May 1824. And so, on 27 March, the punishment for 18 prisoners was changed from death to transportation. In fact, 58 prisoners from Lower Canada (now Quebec), and 92 from Upper Canada (now Ontario) were sent to the penal colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land. These people included at least four Masons: Chauncey Sheldon; Samuel Snow; Elijah Woodman; and Samuel Chandler, the prisoner from the Short Hills Raid.



From Canada to Tasmania (1839–1847)


From the notes that Woodman kept, we can trace the slow progress of his journey. On 2 April he left London for Toronto. At the end of May he moved to Kingston. On 23 September he left Kingston for Quebec and on his arrival, four days later, he was immediately transferred on board HMS Buffalo, which ultimately held 144 prisoners. The ship at once set sail, and on 12 November it crossed the equator. On 28 December it doubled the Cape of Good Hope and finally, on 13 February 1840, after a voyage of four and a half months, it landed at Hobart Town, in Van Diemen’s Land.


For the next two years Elijah Woodman worked in ‘road gangs’. We have descriptions of what was involved here. There were teams of four to six men; it was their job to pull a cart full of stones, weighing close to a ton, from the quarry to the work-site, a distance that might measure as much as two miles, over rough and unfinished roads. They were expected to draw at least twelve such loads a day. Woodman tells us that he worked like this successively at Sandy Bay, Lovely Banks, Green Ponds Station, and Bridgewater.


Finally, after two years of hard labour and satisfactory behaviour, on 15 February 1842, Woodman was given a measure of personal liberty, by being granted what is called a ticket of leave to work elsewhere. This allowed him to get a job on the estate of the Hon William Kermode, of Mona Vale.


During his sojourn, there are occasional indications of his Masonic attitude, and sporadic mentions of his Masonic colleagues. In a fragment of a journal dated 3 April 1840, he expresses his worry about his family, and adds the words: ‘All I can do is to pray the Chief Architect to preserve, protect and direct them’. In 1841, we are told, his fellow-Mason Chandler escaped from Hobart by sea, ‘assisted at various stages by fellow-Masons’ whom he had approached. The others lingered on. Finally, early in 1844, Bros Elijah Woodman, Chauncey Sheldon and Samuel Snow addressed a joint petition to the Master, Wardens and members of Tasmanian Operative Lodge, No 345 of the Irish Constitution, at Hobart, asking for help in finding work. In November of that year Sheldon and Snow were pardoned, and at once they sailed for home. On 1 September 1845 they got to Honolulu on board the whaling ship Stieglitz. After he reached home, Samuel Snow wrote a thirty-two page pamphlet on his adventures, called The Exile’s Return; or a Narrative of Samuel Snow, who was banished to Van Diemen’s Land, for participating in the Patriot War, in Upper Canada, in 1838 (published at Cleveland in 1846).


Woodman was less fortunate. His pardon did not come through until 23 July 1845. By that time his health was broken, and he could not arrange his passage home. He was ill and destitute. On 8 July 1845, he had ‘approached the Masonic lodge in Hobart, outlining his connection with the fraternity’. Bro John Shick began to bring him a weekly allowance of four shillings. On one occasion several brethren visited him and, as he says: ‘They also examined me, to prove that I was a master mason which I did to their satisfaction’. Then, on 25 November 1846, John Shick died. Another friend and supporter was Bro Wallace the proprietor of the Prince of Wales Inn. He and his wife provided many kindnesses to Woodman and even paid for his medical treatment.



The ordeal ends (1847)


Finally, on 8 February 1847, the Captain of the Young Eagle, a whaling ship, agreed to take Woodman home. When at last he was preparing to go on board, the members of the lodge set about collecting the warm clothing, the medicines, and the petty comforts he would need for the long voyage. Before departing, Woodman wrote a brief note to his Masonic brethren:


I return you my sincere thanks for your charitable kindness toward me in making me comfortable on my passage home. I do not know how to express myself in terms suitable for the occasion. My feeble pen fails and my feelings are better felt than described . . . I now leave you, praying God to protect our Institution and to overshadow the brethren with his tender care and protection.


It was on 1 March 1847 that he finally boarded the ship. One may well imagine that he was tempted to echo Samuel Snow’s parting words:


Farewell, Van Dieman, ruin’s gate,

With joy we leave thy shore:

And fondly hope our wretched fate

Will drive us there no more.


By now Woodman had several severe medical problems, including tuberculosis. His condition deteriorated and on 13 April he was no longer able to write his diary, but began to dictate it. By 6 June he was no longer able even to dictate. On 13 June he died, and two days later he was buried at sea. A few days later the ship was wrecked; by some miracle, the notes he had written managed to survive.


Meanwhile, back in Canada, things had become somewhat better. As a result of the troubles of 1837–38, in 1838 the British government sent out a notable Mason, the Earl of Durham (1792–1840), as Governor of Canada in 1838; he had been initiated into Masonry in Granby Lodge, No 124, Durham, in 1814. On his return to England from Canada, he presented detailed recommendations as to how the problems should be dealt with. In effect, Lord Durham’s report, we are told, ‘set the pattern for granting responsible representative government’ to the British colonies overseas.


Woodman’s wife and some of his family continued to live in London. His eldest daughter married Elijah Leonard (1814–1891), a successful iron-founder of London, who went into politics, and eventually was called to the Senate of Canada.


So here, in Elijah Crocker Woodman, we have a man who felt a certain sympathy for those who protested against what they perceived to be oppressive government excesses, who was driven to violence by the injustices inflicted on him because of this sympathy, who was sentenced to a punishment that seems to us excessive today, who was transported thousands of miles away from his family, who was forced to do physical labour that eventually destroyed his health, but who seems to have preserved his Masonic ideals, and was helped by the Masons in a far-off land. Once again, as so often, we find Masonic lessons in the lives of our predecessors.





Landon, Fred: An Exile from Canada to Van Diemen’s Land: Being the story of Elijah Woodman transported overseas for participation in the Upper Canada troubles of 1837–38 (Toronto, 1960).

McLeod, Wallace (ed): Whence Come We? Freemasonry in Ontario (Hamilton, 1980).

McLeod, Wallace: ‘A Report on Masonry in Upper Canada in 1837’ in Proceedings of the Grand Lodge AF&AM of Canada in the Province of Ontario, vol 126 (1981), pp 1A–9A.

Robertson, J Ross: The History of Freemasonry in Canada from its introduction in 1749 (Toronto, 1900).

Rudé, George: ‘Woodman, Elijah Crocker’ in Dictionary of Canadian Biography 7, 1836–1850 (Toronto, 1988) 923–924.

Snow, Samuel: The Exile’s Return; or a Narrative of Samuel Snow, who was banished to Van Diemen’s Land, for participating in the Patriot War in Upper Canada, in 1838 (Cleveland, 1846).


ANZMRC The Australian & New Zealand Masonic Research Council (ANZMRC) is an inter-jurisdictional association of research lodges for the promotion of Masonic research and education on an international basis. A brief account of its aims, formation and development is contained at
Masonic Research in Australia and New Zealand. Full membership is open only to research bodies in Australia and New Zealand, but associate membership is extended to research bodies worldwide, and ANZMRC has associates in Africa, America, Asia and Europe.

Every two years ANZMRC holds a three-day conference at which major research papers, designated Kellerman Lectures, are presented. These are published prior to the conference in ANZMRC Proceedings. The venue for conferences is rotated between New Zealand and the six states of Australia.


In the ‘off’ years when a conference is not held, ANZMRC organizes a lecture tour by an overseas Masonic scholar, and publishes a book of the lectures offered in the tour. Past lecturers include: Yasha Beresiner, Robert Cooper, Neville Barker Cryer, James Daniel, John Hamill and Wallace McLeod.


ANZMRC publishes a quarterly newsletter, Harashim (Hebrew for Craftsmen), which is circulated worldwide in PDF format by email. This contains research articles (originals & reprints), book reviews, news and comment. ANZMRC is also developing a digital library of full-text research papers from Australia and New Zealand (about 2000 to date).


Membership of ANZMRC is restricted to organizations (lodges, study circles, etc), but its products (publications, lectures, etc) are available to individuals (Masons and non-Masons).
For purchase of Proceedings, tour books & CDs, free enrolment for the newsletter, and general enquiries, contact by email:
Colin Heyward (Secretary) or Kent Henderson (Assistant Secretary). For further information please visit ANZMRC website.

ANZMRC – Something Worth Reading


masonic-digital-library The Paper Masonic Research in Australia and New Zealand, by W.Bro. Tony Pope  talks about a project that was in development in 2007 when the paper was written.


The first edition of the “Masonic Digital Library”, sponsored by the ANZMRC was issued in March 2008, and a further edition is planned for release during 2009.


Many readers of Pietre–Stones Review of Freemasonry are also members of a ‘masonic research organisation’. They know that the publications of ‘research lodges’ cover the whole range of Freemasonry, and that within that huge range of material are some real gems – information to cover most general enquiries, talks that have inspired, discussions that have clarified uncertainty, and topical lectures that illustrate matters of concern to freemasons through the last century.


The problem is that these are inaccessible – often even to members of each organisation. The Digital Library gathers a file for each ‘paper’ or item of Masonic interest, collects these in electronic form, and allows the generation of lists by author, title, subject – or searches by any word or phrase. With many research lodges coming up to their centenary, the Masonic Digital Library offers a way to make past papers accessible to members – as well as sharing these with members of other research organisations, and giving your members access to papers from other research lodges.


The collection (currently over 2,100 files and growing) will only be accessible by members of participating research organisations – similar to sharing copies of transactions. The plus is that it is free to those who qualify for access.


This desirable reference collection can only get better as more publishers participate. If you are a member of a Masonic research lodge or association, make sure someone contacts the Secretary of the ANZMRC to discuss participation. 


W. Bro. Ed Robinson


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