Bruce Chapter #53 marks 150 years of Royal Arch Masonry in the Town of Petrolia
Petrolia’s Bruce Chapter #53 recently celebrated 150 years of Royal Arch Masonry in the Town of Petrolia.
A special luncheon and presentation ceremony was held Jan. 12, 2013,
at the Petrolia Masonic Hall in conjunction with the organization’s annual installation of officers.
Founded in 1872, Bruce Chapter is among the town’s oldest continuously-functioning institutions
with many of its founding and early members being among the area’s oil pioneers.
While the organization’s original ledger and minute books were lost
in one of the many fires that often threatened Petrolia’s very existence in its early days thanks to the lack of an adequate town water supply at a time when most of the town’s buildings were wooden structures, most of what is known of the Chapter’s
early history has been derived from two old by-law books, dated 1897 and the other 1908.
From those sources we can conclude that Bruce Chapter was granted dispensation
on June 25, 1872 and a warrant was granted Aug. 14, 1872. Charter members were listed as being George E. Murphy, J.E. Nesbitt, J. Clement, C.W. Chamberlain, Hugh Smiley, David Trotter,W.H. McGarvey, O. Prince, J. MacKenzie, G. McDonald, W.B. Clement, E. R.
Jones, W. Oliver, L. Bigelow, N. Sinclair, W. E. Reynolds, R.Sawyer, T.E. Lombard and T.G. Melrose.
Wawanosh Chapter No. 15 of Sarnia (instituted in 1859) is credited with coming to Petrolia to assists in starting
Bruce Chapter and it in turn was instrumental in forming Vimy Chapter in Inwood. A very close relationship existed between Bruce and Vimy Chapters over the years and in 2001 they were amalgamated.
books don’t exist to substantiate it but it is thought that prior to 1889 Bruce Chapter held its meetings in the same building as did Petrolia Lodge #194 and Washington Lodge #260 which were in rented quarters above J.H. Watson’s tin shop in the