Finding a Home for Sudbury’s Masonic Lodges Where Masons Could Meet

As the Historian of Nickel Lodge, I have been asked to prepare a series of articles reporting on the involvement of our Lodge in the creation and develop of my hometown. I have drawn my information from numerous articles in other publications and from personal experiences. Some readers will be familiar of such movies as the National Treasure series starring Nicholas Cage and The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons starring Tom Hanks. Their connection to Sudbury Ontario consists of having been presented in the theatres, video stores and the books in the libraries. Though full of action and very entertaining, they don’t match the thrills and chills that went into the developing of our Community. Many readers will know that Sudbury was founded as a result of the building of the C.P.R. – the Canadian Pacific Railway. Future Nickel Lodge Masons were there from the start and continue to support the growth of their Community.

R.W. Bro. Robert South 

You can read Part One of Robert South’s story The Founders of Sudbury’s Nickel Lodge Masons here.

Nickel Lodge members needed a home to meet in, and their first one was a new frame building known as the “Warren Block” on Cedar Street. The lumber was manufactured in a sawmill operated by W. Bro. J. Sharp. This was converted into a more substantial and business like “Tough Block” on Durham Street. Much of the furnishings of the Lodge were the product of local industry. The adjoining Hall was occupied by the Odd Fellows and the Sons of England.

Cochrane Block Nickel Lodge

The Cochrane Block on Durham Street, home of Frank Cochrane’s Hardware Store and Traders Bank was also home to the Nickel Lodge in 1897. GSPL MK0699

In 1897, Nickel Lodge found accommodation in Bro. Francis (Frank) Cochrane’s “Cochrane Block”. He had established the Cochrane Hardware Company, which was later named Cochrane –Dunlop Hardware. He helped establish the “Sudbury Board of Trade” in 1895 and became its first president. (This writer worked for Cochrane –Dunlop Hardware in the summer of 1965 and 1966.)

Bro. Cochrane was elected to the town council in 1896. He became the Mayor of Sudbury a year later, after defeating his Lodge Brother – James A. Orr. Bro. Cochrane would serve as Mayor for two years. In 1905, he was appointed Ontario Minister of Lands and Mines, a position he would retain until 1911. He was responsible for attracting foreign investment in the north, settling mining disputes and encouraging railway expansion. The Town of Cochrane was named in his honour by the Government of Ontario. He would then become Minister of Railways and Canals in the Federal Government. He held this position until 1917.

In 1903, Nipissing District No. 18 received a new distribution of Lodges which included two Lodges in Sault Ste, Marie, one in North Bay, Nickel Lodge, one each in Thessalon, Sturgeon Falls, Little Current and New Liskeard. R.W. Bro. and Dr. R.H. Arthur, a Past Master of Nickel Lodge became the first D.D.G.M.

With Nickel Lodge establishing itself as the strongest Lodge in the District, its members in 1905 made donations going to the “ Home for Incurable Children” and the “Hospital for Sick Children”. In 1908, the Lodge set up a Charitable Fund to support a charity to be selected by the Worshipful Master each year.

By 1916, 25 Brethren of Nickel Lodge were “doing their bit in uniform” in the First World War.

In 1916, Nickel Lodge celebrated its 25th Anniversary and passed a resolution recommending to Grand Lodge that a Lodge be instituted in Copper Cliff. That Lodge would be named Algonquin Lodge No. 536 which celebrates its 100th Anniversary in 2017.

In 1919, Nickel Lodge presented a motion and recommendation that a Lodge be formed in Capreol. The Lodge would become known as National Lodge No. 588.

In 1919, Nickel Lodge held it’s last meeting in the Cochrane Block and was presided over by R.W. Bro. James Alexander Orr, He had chaired the first meeting of the Lodge in that building.

On May 3rd, 1919 the Lodge held it’s first meeting in the Burrough’s Block. (I remember my father, a fellow Mason) referring to various buildings in the city as “such and such a Block”. Unfortunately, I am not able to locate details of where some of these “block’s” were located. I do remember as a child going into the Cochrane’s Hardware Store located where the Scotiabank is now. There was a Cochrane’s Sporting Good’s Store, where the parking lot is now along the south side of Cedar Street, just west of Durham Street. There was a Cochrane Dunlop Warehouse located where Kelly Lake Building Supplies on Brady Street is now, and a store in Copper Cliff.)

The highway between Sudbury and North Bay was completed in 1912.

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