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Over our nearly 275 years of existence, the history of St. Andrew's Lodge is as rich and dynamic as the history of our home in the province of Nova Scotia.  From our formation as a lodge in a burgeoning province,  our traditions and values have stood the test of time, shaping generations of men in self and community betterment.


The first lodge at Halifax was formally established by Edward Cornwallis, the founder of Halifax, along with William Steele, Robert Campbell, William Nesbitt and David Haldane, after petitioning for a Warrant from Erasmus James Philipps, Provincial Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England.  

A copy of the petition to Philips dated June 12th, 1750, signed by Edward Cornwallis and the other Brethren, is in the archives of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, but this would seem to have been a second application, for the Halifax Lodge is referred to in the Grand Lodge minutes of April 13th, 1750, a circumstance probably explained by the fact that the petitioning Brethren had previously applied to the St. John's Grand Lodge, Boston, and had been referred by that Lodge to the Provincial Grand Master. 

Petition letter of 1750

Freemasonry begins in Halifax

Received on July 19, 1750, the Lodge held its first meeting under this Warrant on that very date with Edward Cornwallis as its first Master.   Lord Alex Colville and several Navy Gentlemen were entered apprentices of the Lodge on that date

On the return of Cornwallis to England in August 1753, the Hon. Charles Lawrence, Governor, became Master with the Hon. William. Nesbitt, being his Deputy Master.

In 1757 the members of the First Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge of England (Ancients) for a Provincial Grand Lodge Warrant (called No. 1, N. S.) and warrants for two additional subordinate lodges, organized from among their own members, and called Nos. 2 & 3, N. S..  These warrants were dated December 27th, 1757, and were numbered 65, 66, and 67 on the English Registry.


The Provincial Grand Lodge is formed

On the organization of the Provincial Grand Lodge in 1758 and the two subordinate lodges, the remaining portion of the First Lodge became Lodge No. 4 on the Provincial Registry.  In 1768, Lodge No. 4 obtained an English Warrant No. 155, "Ancients" dated March 26th, 1768;  John Cody, Master.

About 1776, the Provincial Grand Lodge became dormant, following the death of Hon. Chief Justice Jonathan Belcher, the Grand Master.  From 1776 to 1784, Lodge 155 Acted as a Grand Lodge and established, or assisted in establishing, seven Lodges in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick andPrince Edward Island, including the present St. John's and Virgin Lodges.

In 1783, Lodge 155 and St. John's 211, took steps for the revival of the Provincial Grand Lodge.

About the same time the name Saint Andrew's was adopted by No. 155, probably due to the influence of Loyalists from Boston or New York, where St. Andrew's Lodge was most prominent

Travelling Maons's Introductory Letter - 1780

An 18th century travelling Mason from St. Andrew's Lodge

An enduring masonic custom which remains to this day, travelling Masons would carry a letter of introduction from their lodges with them on their journeys to establish their bona fides in foriegn lands. This particular introduction letter, issued by St. Andrew's Lodge No 1 (then Halifax No. 1 lodge) in 1780, travelled far and wide until being generously returned to the lodge 244 years later in 2024 by the Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan where it had been discovered in their archives. What is this document's story? In 1780, what is now the Canadian province of Saskatchewan had only 30 years previously been reached by the first fur trading Voyageurs. TEXT "Halifax, Nova Scotia Lodge No. 1 of Free and Accepted Masons ​These certify that the bearer thereof Captain Jonas Fawson has been duly and truly Entered an Apprentice, passed a Fellow Craft and raised to the Dignity of a Master Mason in Lodge No. 1. Aforesaid according to the Antient Rules and Customs of the Royal Craft and has hitherto behaved himself as became a true and faithful Brother and worthy of the especial trust reposed in Him. We therefore the Subscribing Master and Wardens of said Lodge recommend him to all true and faithful and well disposed Brethren as a worthy member of the Society. Given under our hands and seal of our Lodge at Halifax in Nova Scotia aforesaid this twelfth day of January, A.D. 1780 in the year of Masonry 5780, By order of the R W Master,  John Pollard Smith James George Pyke WM Thomas Newell SW Edward Wyes JW"

The 19th Century

The United Grand Lodge of England is formed

In 1814, the United Grand Lodge of England was formed and the number of Saint Andrew's Lodge was changed to No. 188.

In 1832 the Lodges on the English roll were again renumbered, and Saint Andrew's became No. 137.

Between 1832 and 1838 matters Masonic in Nova Scotia were at very low ebb. St Andrew's had only eleven members which, however, was more than any other Lodge had in Halifax at the time.  The Lodge, however, never ceased to hold its regular meetings, and about 1840, a revival of interest took place.


In 1863 Saint Andrew’s became No, 118 on the English Registry.

The Grand Lodge of England Ancients
Grand Lodge. of Nova Scotia

The Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia is formed

In 1866 the Scottish lodges in Nova Scotia organized an independent Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia which continued until 1869 when the English lodges in Nova Scotia united with it to form the present Grand Lodge.  Saint Andrew’s Lodge became No. 1, G.R.N.S. Two years before, the Dominion of Canada was confederated.

A century of St. Andrew's Lodge is recognized

In 1871 the United Grand Lodge of England ·granted to Saint Andrew's Lodge the privilege of wearing the Centenary Jewel of the Grand Lodge of England in recognition of the fact that the Lodge had been for over a hundred years on the Registry of that Grand Lodge.  Saint Andrew's enjoys the distinction of being the only Lodge on a Canadian Register to which the Centenary Jewel has been granted.  Any member of the Lodge who is in good standing is entitled to wear this Jewel.


In 1892 the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia authorized the Lodge to adopt gold chain collars and gold trimmings on their aprons and regalia, in recognition of the fact that the Lodge was over one hundred and twenty-five years old.

St. Andrew's Lodge No 118 1768 Centenary Jewel
Centenary Collar
Sircom Jewel St Andrew's No 1
Sircom Jewel Virgin No 3
Sircom Jewel St Johns No 2
Sircom Jewel Royal Sussex No 6
Sircom Jewel Royal Sussex No 6

The Sircom Jewels

In Halifax, four Jewels rival the best of the travelling jewels worn by the installed Masters in our province. These jewels were called the Sircom Jewels. They were crafted in the latter part of the 1800s, all of a similar design. On the back, each contained a hidden chamber in the center, which when opened, revealed a tiny set of gold working tools. Sadly, most of these working tools have been lost over time.


Originally thought to be only three jewels possessed by St. Johns Lodge No. 2,  Virgin Lodge No. 3, and Royal Sussex Lodge No. 6, it was later learned that a fourth Sircom Jewel had also been created. As was common practice in costly and complex jewel commissions of the day, jewellers would make a pilot piece using less expensive materials to validate their design. Such was the case with the Sircom Jewels. The 4th Jewel was crafted in silver and was eventually presented to St. Andrew’s Lodge No. 1

These jewels have some elements and contain much symbolism within their designs. While travelling in Halifax, look for these jewels as they remain today. They are works of art and form a rich part of our Masonic history

The Future Prime Minister 

The Lodge has numbered on its long roll ten Grand Masters of the Province, several Governors, Premiers, Members of the Legislature and Parliament of Canada, Bishops and leaders of the Church, Officers of the Army and Navy and others distinguished in the Church and State.

In 1881, St. Andrew's Lodge No. 1 raised a young man who would go on in the 20th century to become the Right Honourable Robert Laird Borden, 8th Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada.

Rt Hon Robert L Borden

The 20th Century

Officers 1919_edited_edited.jpg
Tne Halifax Explosion

A century begun in war and disaster

In the wake of the Halifax Explosion,  Masonic life must have undoubtedly been one of day-to-day survival and care for the community. St. Andrew's Lodge was now upwards of 150 years of age


Our Book: "The History of St. Andrew's Lodge No 1 1750-1920"

Compiled from lodge minute books and numerous other extant sources of the lodge and of our town of Halifax this book, written by R.V. Harris and published in 1920, represents the best record of the early history of our ancient lodge from our formation in the mid-eighteenth century to the early 20th century.

Our Book: "The History of St. Andrew's Lodge No 1 1750-1920"
St. Andrew's Lodge No. 1 A.F. & A.M. is the oldest Masonic lodge in Canada and the British Commonwealth overseas.

Our Armorial Device

In the early 1920’s R.V. Harris, who was then Secretary of the Lodge, obtained permission from the Grand Lodge of England and designed our armorial device which was subsequently adopted by the Lodge in 1926.

The shield of the Arms consists of two parts.  The right half, as worn by the wearer, has reference to the Premier Grand Lodge of England, founded in 1717, from which Masonry in Massachusetts derived its origin in 1733 and from which source in turn Saint Andrew’s derived its origin in 1750.  In this section are depicted three towers with the Square and Compasses together constituting the grant by King Edward IV to the Freemason’s Society in 1470.


The left half depicts the ancient Coat of Arms of Nova Scotia granted in 1621 by King James I of England (James VI of Scotland), to Sir William Alexander, on whom he bestowed Nova Scotia.  Set in the center of the whole Shield is an in escutcheon or “Shield of Pretence” bearing the arms of our Founder and first Master, Edward Cornwallis, who was also the founder of Halifax.


Above the shield is displayed the motto of the lodge, “Sit lux et lux fuit,” “Let there be light and there was light”.

Below the motto is a representation of Saint Andrew upon the cross on which he was crucified, the legend being that he regarded himself as unworthy to be crucified on a cross of the same shape as that on which his Lord and Master had been put to death.


The Lodge was founded in 1750 as the First Lodge at Halifax.  Its present title and number are shown on the scroll beneath the shield.

The St. Andrew's Lodge Bicenntennial

In 1949-50 the Lodge marked its Bicentenary by erecting in St. Paul's Church, a bronze tablet, unveiled by Baron Cornwallis, Provincial Grand Master for Kent, and a descendant of Edward Cornwallis, who in association with the Hon. William Nesbitt and Hon. Richard Bulkeley were, in 1749-50, the Founders of the City of Halifax, the Church of St. Paul, and Saint Andrew's Lodge.

In 1950 Grand Lodge authorized the Bicentennial Apron, a further distinctive decoration upon the aprons of the members of the Lodge in recognition of the fact that the Lodge has attained its 200th anniversary.  This decoration consists of two strips of gold soutache overlaid upon the dark blue ribbon trimmings of the apron.

Tne bicentennial Apron

The 21st Century

250th Anniversary Jewel

The 250th Anniversary Jewel

In 2000, Saint Andrew's celebrated its' 250th anniversary and commissioned a 250 Year Jewel to celebrate the Lodge having been in existence and meeting regularly since 1750. 

The ascension of a Grand Master

On June 8, 2024, at the 158th annual communication of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, our dear brother, Most Worshipful Brother Andrew Beeler, culminated his stellar career of Masonic service by being installed as the 100th unique Grand Master of Masons of Nova Scotia and the 11th Grand Master to hail from the scrolls of St. Andrew's Lodge No. 1

Consituted in 1750, St Andrew's Lodge No. 1 will celebrate its 275th anniversary in 2025

So what comes next?

In 2025, St. Andrew's Lodge celebrates our 275th year of Freemasonry in Nova Scotia. We have endured, we have thrived and we are progressing from strength to strength as we move towards our third century of building good men and serving our community.

Join our journey and be part of history.

Masonic Square & Compass
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