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Affliction facing many service clubs today, 111 year-old club folds

The Unity Kilwinning Masonic Lodge No. 73 will no longer exist.

UNITY After 111 years of service, Unity’s Kilwinning Masonic Lodge goes dark.

When a service club goes dark, what does that mean? It means they are closing their doors due to lack of members. It’s an affliction facing numerous decades-old service clubs today.

A lodge spokesperson said, “Many members have stayed loyal to the mother lodge but now live far away. Of the local membership, a number of them are snowbirds so are away for five months or more. With an aging membership, a decline is also due to longtime members passing away. This leaves the lodge too short of members for a proper meeting program.”

At one time, Unity’s Masonic Lodge had between 40 to 50 active members. Those days are gone.

Did you know Shriners and Masons are somewhat related? To become a Shriner, one should be a Mason. A common phrase is said that Shriners were the playground of freemasonry. People were familiar with the Shrine circus and Shriners in the parade either with a marching band or their famous large and mini motorcycles. Don Wallace was one of Unity’s Mason members who was also a Shriner.

Unity’s Kilwinning Masonic Lodge No. 73 has a long history in the community. The first Masonic Lodge in the district was Prairie Lodge in Wilkie, chartered on June 14, 1910. The following year, Unity Lodge was charted on June 29, 1911, and on the same day, the grand lodge of Saskatchewan charted Adanac Kilwinning Lodge. The Meridian Lodge in Macklin was chartered on June 21, 1912 and Cut Knife Lodge on June 16, 1921.

In the early years, all of these lodges saw large membership, with many of them holding steady for a number of years. By mid-century, populations began to shift as the agriculture sector changed. In 1975, the Meridian Lodge in Macklin amalgamated with the Unity Lodge, hence the name change, Unity Meridian Lodge No. 73. In 1983, Wilkie amalgamated with Adanac Kilwinning Lodge and took the name Kilwinning Lodge No. 74. 1995 saw the Cut Knife Lodge amalgamate with the Kilwinning Lodge and by 2004, the amalgamation then led to what is now known as Unity Kilwinning Masonic Lodge.

Philanthropy included thousands of dollars towards youth

Unity’s Masonic Lodge has always held youth as their main philanthropy target. They encouraged and maintained the high school bursary program for decades and as a result, a number of families received scholarships in honour of their Masonic family members. These scholarships included the Jimmie and Ethel Anderson Masonic Award, Tommy Rutherford Masonic Award, John Coid Masonic Award and the daughter of Jimmie, Isabel Anderson, who provided a physical science award.

Member Bryon Trapp says, on a regular year, $13,500 were presented in scholarships however in 2021, one of the Anderson Foundations needed to lower their funds, therefore $62,187 was presented to 2021 graduates. Trapp says it is estimated the Unity Kilwinning family/members have given out over $150,000 in the last decade alone.

The service club also provided years of scholarships to the Unity Music Festival Association for students. Through the years, the service club also sponsored numerous young people to attend the Masonic Youth Leadership Camp at Wakaw Lake.

Not only was their lodge room interesting, being 111 years old, but the furnishings and rug are true museum items. The blue rug has many masonic symbols woven into it in gold. The group hopes that those visiting the Unity Museum, where these artifacts now reside, enjoy looking through the Masonic Lodge Room.

The service club’s remaining funds are being dispersed into an endowment for the future which will include scholarships, donation to Unity’s Music Festival and a $6,000 donation to the museum.

Trapp says, “The Masonic fraternity takes good men and tries to make them better. Caring for one another, our family and our Masonic widows is paramount. Some members will transfer to Britannia Lodge in Lloydminster to continue their Masonic life. It is our hope Unity and district youth will continue to receive scholarship assistance for the near future, but things may change over time.

After 111 years, what remains for Unity’s Lodge will now belong to the Britannia Lodge in Lloydminster, numbering 23.

When the Adanac Hall was moved to the Unity Museum grounds, Unity’s Kilwinning Lodge used a room upstairs, the  home for the club for a number of years. The service club is pleased this lodge room will be preserved intact as a museum piece in the Adanac Hall for future generations to learn and know theirremarkable 111 years of Masonic history in the area.

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