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Museum & Archives

117 years of documents and antiquities
In November of 1906, railway contractor Swan Swanson signed a contract to build a section of the roadbed of the Grand Trunk Pacific, northeast of Dryden.  Making his headquarters in the village of Dryden, Swanson needed lodging and meals for his men when they were in town.  While he was staying at the Central Hotel he overheard the owner, Mr. Wm Kerney say that he would like to sell or rent the hotel.  Swanson at this by offering to rent the hotel.

Swanson was very interested in Freemasonry and felt there should be a lodge in Dryden.  He invited Masons from Kenora to a banquet at the new rented Central Hotel, held in February 1907 A.D.

On the day of the banquet, Swan was out on his contract site and had to walk 25 miles through the wilderness to attend the event.  About fifty people attended, most from Kenora as well as Rev. H.D. Cooper of Wabigoon and some of the railway contractors. 

The object was to discuss this matter of organizing a masonic Lodge in Dryden.  It was agreed by all present to apply to the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario for a charter.

This banquet was a fine affair.  There were no electric lights in Dryden at the time and a large gas lantern was hung in the festively decorated dining room of the Central Hotel.  While guests were in the barroom having refreshments, a loud explosion was heard.  The gas lantern had exploded onto the paper decorations and the dining room at the Central Hotel was ablaze.

There was no fire department back then or running water for that matter, only a lone barrel of water was in the kitchen.  One of the men grabbed up a tub of oysters sitting on the table and with a mighty sweep spread the water and oysters over the burning end of the room.  This saved the day and allowed for the time needed to control and put out the fire.  The dining room was cleaned up while the guests continued to refresh themselves in the barroom.

The banquet continued (minus the oysters).  The dinner started at 12 midnight and was greatly appreciated by those attending.


Reverend Cooper presided for the evening and following the meal he asked all present to fill their glasses and toast to the health of the King.  Mr. Gall of the G.T.P. responded with a toast to “the Empire”. 


Then followed a musical selection by a small orchestra.  Mr. McGregor, a Kenora Mason, proposed a toast to the Craft, following which a solo was by Mr. Crabb.  Mayor Belyea of Kenora toasted to the Grand Master which was responded by to by Mr. Sherman. 


A toast to the Guests was made by Mr. Harrington and responded to by Mr. Reed of Dryden, who bid all visitors present most welcome.  A second solo was rendered by Mr. Crabb, followed by an address by Mr. Ailsley of Kenora Masons.

An amusing reciting was given by Mr. McGregor who then made a toast to the Press.  Mr. Joe Osbourne the local Publisher responded with thanks.  Mr. Davidson sang a patriotic song “Long Live the King” followed by a toast to the host.  Mr. Swanson responded in  a most becoming manner.  A toast to the Church was responded to by Rev. A.J. Bruce as was a toast to the Ladies which was responded to by Mr. Gough of Dryden. 


The banquet concluded with the singing of Auld Lang Syne….


And that folks, is how the Masons came to Dryden Ontario. The rest is History.


When Brothers Work Together

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