By S. Fraser Hale
Coverdale Lodge, like Christianity, had its humble beginning with but 12 good men who assembled on the evening of May 22, 1957, to be exact, at the residence of then Brother Harry J. Livingstone on Coverdale Road in Riverview. Attending that meeting were O.V. Northrup, A.F. Steeves, C.B. Stymest, Basil Mitton, Ronald Kay, H.T. Brand, C.H. Webber, Retus MacFadyen, Ken Forbes, Jack Veness, LeBaron Stubbs and of course, H.J. Livingstone - many of whom later served Coverdale Lodge in varied offices and ways; some are still serving us, faithful and dedicated.
Their mission was to determine the potential for the establishment of a lodge on the south side of the Petitcodiac River and, to find out certain points which would eventually enable formation of the lodge formally. The name Coverdale was chosen for the new Lodge. Accordingly, a committee was formed to draft by-laws, procure necessary furnishings and a tentative slate of officers was agreed upon, the concensus being that there was sufficient interest to proceed.
Approval from the Grand Lodge granting Coverdale Lodge permitted to conduct Masonic business was confirmed by letter dated October 17, 1957 and signed by the Grand Master, Dr. D.A. Somerville. So, Coverdale Lodge was free to commence Under Dispensation from Grand Lodge and meetings were to be held on the first Monday of each month.
The first meeting of Coverdale Lodge was December 1, 1957. It was held at the United Church Hall in Gunningsville.
The officers were:
|O.V. Northrup||Worship Master|
|E.E. Lewis||Immediate Past Master|
|H.J. Livingstone||Senior Warden|
|B.A. Mitton||Junior Warden|
|K.W. Forbes||Senior Deacon|
|Retus McFadyen||Junior Deacon|
|A.F. Steeves||Senior Steward|
|W.A. Shaw||Junior Steward|
|C.H. Webber||Director of Ceremonies|
|D.G. Chisholm||Inner Guard|
The meeting was preceded by a banquet served by Fidelity Chapter No. 36 O.E.S. in the grand style, at the extravagant price of $1.50 a plate. Speaker on that occasion was Rt. Wor. Dr. A.S. Robinson, Past Grand Master. Attendance was about 100. Participating in the meeting ceremonies were Rt. Wor. Chesley R. Bateman, and Rt. Wor. E.E. Lewis, then District Deputy Grand Master for 2 and 7 respectively. The lodge officially began with 55 charter members and was the recipient of various furnishings from other District Lodges, notably Zetland, Lebanon, Keith and Acacia. As well, many gifts were received from members and business firms in the community. Two years later, n official proclamation was made by the Most Wor. Frank Crocker Thomas, Grand Master, concerning the constitution and dedictaion of Coverdale Lodge, which took place t the Moncton Masonic Temple on Saturday, November 14, 1959, preceded by a banquet at which the speaker was Rt. Wor. D.A. Somerville, PGM. This was indeed an important day for Coverdale Lodge as it achieved full status on the registry of the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick, having worked under dispensation up to that time.
Coverdale Lodge continued prospering and growing and moving. It was mobile. Meetings were held in Gunningsville United Church until September 20, 1965. Then at Bridgedale United Church from October 4, 1965 to March 4, 1968; when we moved to the United Church Social Centre in Riverview from April 1, 1968 to November 5, 1973. It was decided, upon motion by Temple Board on August 15, 1973 to buy the present structure we now occupy which was, at that time known as St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, finally taking it over December 31 that year as a home of our own.
On March 8, 1980 a mortgage burning ceremony was held as the entire debt had been cleared, a notable achievement which resulted from the tireless work of many of our own members and the members of Fidelity Chapter in joint effort, and with your support, each one of you. It might be of more than passing interest to you to note that this very building we meet in today, once stood in Waterside, Albert County where it served from its erection in 1938 as an Anglican Church. Outliving its usefulness there, it was cut up in eight pieces and [the] roof and moved along the highway to Riverview and re-erected with church services held here on March 23, 1952. It was enlarged in 1959 by an ELL., which became familiar to all of you until very recently. This considerable effort of transplanting the church from Waterside to Riverview was well documented over the 50 mile journey, so while Coverdale Lodge has moved around, so has its home also done some travelling, as we so often say to one another.
Just as foresight was evident in the purchase of the building, so was it again evident when the building committee comprised of Robert Jessiman, Chairman; Keith Trenholm, Charles H. Webber, Brenda Saunders and Marion Mark, obtained necessary authority to modernize and enlarge the building to make it more suitable for the needs of both Lodge nd O>E>S> The reults you see today and it is a structure of which we are all justly proud. There anre many fine Masons in Coverdale Lodge, their names and what hey did will never be forgotten - and rightly so. Of particular note is Wor. Bro. LeBaron Stubbs who is still actively attending and promoting this Lodge - another is Wor. Bro. F.E. Mitton; his drive and determination are well know to us all. And, of course, we could go on mentioning them - many who have labored long and well.
Sadly, it is not possible for all who planned and hoped for the success of Coverdale Lodge to be with us today, for time and the Grand Architect have called them to their labors above - yet, we pause to honor their memory, remembering and thereby thanking them as we pay tribute to our departed Brethren.
One fo the things that has made a strong lodge is our very close relationship with Fidelity Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. This relationship has flourished and grows richer with each passing year of fellowship and sharing - we help one another because we need one another and we are good friends. While it sis right to look back and remember, it is equally important to look ahead and to be prepared to assume responsibility.