At the outbreak of the "European War" in 1914, 13 of our Brethren immediately enlisted for overseas service. You will note that it was not called World War I as we now distinguish it. By 1916, we had 44 Brethren in the war and 4 of our members had been killed in action "somewhere in France" or while flying in their "airships". In August 1917 a joint memorial service was held by Acacia and Strathcona to commemorate the deaths of nine members of the Craft in the war. The service was held in the Princess Theatre and was conducted by the Respective Chaplains.
1918 was marked not only by the Armistice but more particularly by the Registrars report of that year we have the following: During the year this continent was visited by an epidemic of Influenza which had been prevalent in Europe for sometime. Starting in the State of New York it soon spread to Eastern Canada and thence to the West. In consequence of the serious nature of the epidemic, resulting in many deaths, all meetings of any nature were prohibited by the Authorities. Consequently, regular and also emergent meetings for the month of November had to be abandoned.
As the epidemic spread, and the fatalities increased, it became apparent that greater efforts were needed to cope with the situation. Pressing calls were made from the Provincial Department of Health and the Civic authorities. The Grand Master therefore called a meeting of the Brethren of the District, that a committee might be formed for the purpose of cooperating with the Municipal and other bodies in an effort to render assistance to our Masonic Brethren and their families and the citizens in general.
The Committee having been appointed, notices dated the 29th of October were sent out by the Secretaries of all the Lodges to the Brethren resident in the city. By this means much valuable assistance was given, not only to the members of the Lodges but to many others in need. This Committee was called the "Masonic Volunteer Aid Committee".
On January 13, 1922 Acacia celebrated its Silver Anniversary. By this time we were 177 strong and our cash assets were just under $500. By 1923 our membership dictated that the Lodge room in the Richard's Block be enlarged and consequently the entire upper floor was leased and modified to our needs. During the year we disposed of a 1/2 interest in the Lodge furnishings and equipment to Strathcona # 77. The alter and the three pedestals which were part of this material are now on display in the Masonic Hall in Fort Edmonton Park. At the same time a Hall committee comprising two members from each Lodge was appointed to take charge of the leasing, lighting and heating of the new quarters.
1924 marks the first time that a formal ladies night is mentioned. Entertainment was provided by many including Mrs. Hale and the Mandolin Orchestra. In December a unique ceremony in Masonic history took place. A joint installation involving Acacia # 11 and Commercial # 81 was held at which time Rt.Wor. Bro. E.J. Flavin installed his son Charles as Worshipful Master of Acacia and his son Bruce as Worshipful Master of Commercial.
During 1926 we find the names of a couple of young fellows cropping up, i.e. Polley and Hartley. The reports of their investigating Committees are not readily available so this matter will rest.
During the year the Brethren decided that the burden of the increased taxes on our lot on Whyte Avenue was too much and the ownership of the lot reverted back to the City for non-payment of the taxes. Oddly enough we subsequently purchased our present site at a tax sale for $750.00.
In 1929 Acacia # 11 obtained a home of its own. We have all heard many remarks about the great debt that we owe to our Bro. Thomas Rist. Although many of our senior members are familiar with this period the facts deserve to be set out for the benefit of the newer members and as a reminder to all of use of the appreciation we still owe to our departed Brother. From the Registrar's report for the year 1929 we have the following: Without going into finances, although we must pause for a moment to remind ourselves of the good work and the generous contribution made by our members, allow me to carry you through a retrospect of the difficult stages of promoting and the building of our new home, Acacia Hall.
I am given to understand that years ago the building of a Temple for the south side of the river was discussed at great length and a lot was purchased on Whyte Avenue. So that it has always been the ambition of Acacia Lodge to have a home of their own in Strathcona.
We all know the years that followed, which impeded and affected every organization in the Country. Thus it was not until this year that anything really definite was accomplished. Rumours were heard early this year of the possibility of a Temple for ourselves. This was possibly aided by the fact that similar ambitions were in the minds of Masons on the North side of the River.
At the regular meeting held on Thursday, February 14, 1929 Bro. A. Bartlett introduced the subject to the Lodge, discussion followed and this Bro. was asked to consult with Strathcona Lodge # 77 on the matter. This was necessary as we did not know whether they contemplated moving to the proposed new Temple on the North side of the River.
A committee was appointed to devise ways and means for promoting the building of a new Temple. At the regular meeting in April the prospectus of the proposed building was presented - a committee was empowered to canvass the members to ascertain what amount could be raised for the Building Fund.
Bro. A. Bartlett and Bro. Duncan reported progress at the regular meeting in May, explaining the feeling of Strathcona Lodge as regards the new Hall, intimating that they would rent from us. The desire of other organizations to do likewise was also brought to the attention of the Lodge. Among these being, the Native Sons, Strathcona Chapter # 25, the Chairman's Local and the Eastern Star. It was intimated that the Hall could be rented to private parties, meetings, etc., and would fulfil a need in the community as there was no hall on the south side of sufficient size to accommodate any large gathering.
A great stimulus was given the building fund at the regular meeting in June when Wor. Bro. E.E. Pfrimmer moved that 50% of all initiation fees from January 1929 be placed to the credit of this fund. On motion of Wor. Bro. Pfrimmer the secretary was directed to write Bro. T. Rist thanking him for his generous donation of one thousand dollars and his offer of loading the Lodge sufficient funds to carry the project through. These motions were unanimously carried.
The above was enough, I believe, to cure any superstitious or doubting Brethren as to the building of the Hall, for this meeting was held on the 13th of the Month.
On Thursday, August 1, 1929, at 7:45 p.m. a few members witnessed a pleasing ceremony when Bro. Thomas Rist turned the first sod on the lot east of the south side Telephone Exchange on 83rd Avenue. Thus commencing operations of which Acacia has dreamed for years. On Saturday, August 24, 1929 Most Worshipful Bro. Middleton laid the cornerstone. The eventful day was commemorated by the presentation of a Trowel suitably engraved to the Grand Master. Bro. Thomas Rist was the recipient of an engraved spade.
In order to properly handle the financing, construction, maintenance and leasing of the new Hall it was necessary to form the Acacia Building Association. This separate company is still active today carrying out the duties assigned to it almost forty-three years ago. Besides Bro. Rist's donation a great number of our Brethren purchased shares in this company to assist in financing the Hall. These shares are pretty well all owned by Acacia Lodge now as the lodge has brought them up from the original shareholders as they become available or became the beneficial owner of the shares on their death. The first meeting in the new Lodge room was held on October 10, 1929 although the Hall was not officially dedicated by the Grand Master until December 1, 1929.
After such a busy and outstanding year it is difficult to see how this inertia could be continued in 1930. The Registrar sums it up very well as follows: "It was our first complete year with a fine new, well equipped, lodge room and two courses were open to us, either to placidly accept our good fortune and consider our work done or to properly appreciate the new working tools to fashion a structure in our community that might more nearly approximate the ideals of the Great Architect himself".
With our new home, the social nights commenced under the direction of Bro. McCool. These nights lasted for many years as many of you know and eventually fell prey to the changing social attitudes.
In 1931 the Edmonton Central Temple was completed. The first indication of the great depression of the thirties enters our history. Despite the continuing Depression, 1934 was a special year for the lodge. Due to the magnificent generosity of Bro. Rist in cancelling, without payment, a large mortgage which had fallen due, the lodge found itself in a viable position as regards the practical possession of an excellent lodge premise, almost free of debt or other encumbrances.
In 1935 we celebrated our first Burn’s and Irish nights and in 1936 our first Young Canadian's night and the St. George's night. These might have been held before but if so did not warrant special mention.