The History of Scottish Freemasonry in Western Australia
Early in 1895, several Brethren met in the Bohemia Hotel in Perth and resolved to apply to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a charter to establish a Scottish Lodge in the colony. Their approach was made through the District Grand Lodge of Queensland, by then the only remaining Scottish District Grand Lodge in Australia. As the only means of communication was by sea, progress was slow, so it wasn't until May 7th 1896 that Western Australia's first Scottish Lodge, St Andrew No 829, was granted its charter.
On 6th January, 1897, with Right Worshipful Bro. R.L. Bryce, Depute District Grand Master (Queensland) in the chair, the first combined meeting of Scottish Lodges took place in Perth, with Lodges St. Andrew (829), Caledonian (830), Bonnie Doon (839), Golden Thistle (840) and Guildford (843) attending. At a meeting in Fremantle on the following evening, Bro. Bryce appointed Bro. The Rev. George Edward Rowe as Acting Depute District Grand Master of W.A. and appointed District Grand Office Bearers. Officially District Grand Lodge was formed in July 1897 with the commissioning of Bro. The Rev. Rowe as the first Right Worshipful District Grand Master.
Since 1897, there have only been fourteen Grand Masters of the District, due some extent to the 25 year term served by Bro. James McFarlane Lapsley, who held the Office from 1906 to 1931, and Brothers W.W. Raad and P.M. Cameron, who each served for 15 years.
In the late 1890's there were 35 Scottish Lodges in Western Australia, and several of these transferred their allegiance to the new Grand Lodge of Western Australia after it was formed in 1900. The 1908 Articles of Recognition from the Grand Lodge of Scotland recognised the Grand Lodge of W.A. as an independent and sovereign Masonic Body and agreed not to erect any further Lodges here. Therefore no new Scottish Lodges have been formed in Western Australia since 1904. Agreement, however, between the two Constitutions could not be reached in forming a United Grand Lodge of Western Australia, although several endeavours to do so have been attempted between 1900 and 1942.
In 1937, a splendid casket, inlaid with various Western Australian timbers and enclosing a gavel, was crafted by Bro. Hunt and sent as a presentation to the Grand Master Mason, H.M. King George VI, who acknowledged the gift by letter, praising the beauty of the design. The casket is now on display in the Grand Lodge Museum, Edinburgh.
The Grand Master Mason of Scotland is the only Grand Master Mason in the world, and by invitation visits Western Australia to intall newly elected Right Worshipful District Grand Masters.
In the 1960's, through the initiative of many Senior Members of the District under the guidance of the then District Grand Master, Bro James Cresswell, a decision was made to build twelve self contained units for the aged on a Crown grant site allocated by the WA Government in Freedman Road Menora. This complex became known as Scottish Masonic Homes of WA Society. Members of the District worked very hard over the next 40 years to increase the capacity of the site to 79 self contained units. Due to change in Government legislation a decision was made to transfer the Crown Grant to another Service Provider. Proceeds received from the transfer of the Grant together with funds accumulated over the years now form the capital base of the Scottish Masonic Charitable Foundation of WA Inc. It is through this Foundation that Freemasons in this State, owing allegience to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, continue their proud record of providing Charitable support to the community of Western Australia. There is more information about the Foundation at smcfwa.com.au.
In 1973, Lodge Menzies Doric relocated from the Goldfields to the Perth Metropolitan area, and in the 1990's, Lodges Breadalbane (905), Balmoral (896), Broonhill (983) and Ivanhoe (879) did likewise due to falling membership. In November 2002, Lodge Broonhill (983) was relocated to Esperance under the jurisdiction of the District Grand Lodge of the Goldfields, further emphasising the revival of interest in Scottish Freemasonry in this region. In January 2016, because of increasing interest in the pratice of Scottish Freemasonry in the South Western part of Western Australia, the then District Grand Master Bro George Rogers received approval from the Grand Lodge of Scotland to repone Lodge Tarbolton (869). As a result there are now ten daughter Lodges in the District Grand Lodge of WA, whilst Lodges Golden Thistle (840), Golden Feather (855), Sir William Wallace (868) and Broonhill (983) remain under the jurisdiction of the District Grand Lodge of the Goldfields, which was established in 1906. These District Grand Lodges remain the only two in Australia.
Music has always been a significant factor in our Festive Boards. In 1923, when James McFarlane Lapsley was proclaimed Right Worshipful District Grand Master for the fourth term, the District Grand Organist was accompanied by the Lodge Midland Junction Orchestra whilst the Brethren sang the odes. Lodge Robbie Burns (860) had its own band playing in the "South" for many years and Lodge Pipers add to our Ceremonies.
The District Grand Lodge and all Daughter Lodges have achieved their centenaries, and all look forward to the challenges of the new century.