His­tory galore

Or­ange Lodge restora­tion first project for new Green’s Har­bour Her­itage So­ci­ety

The Compass - - NEWS - BY DANIEL MACEACHERN dmaceach­ern@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The dis­used Or­ange Lodge No. 9 in Green’s Har­bour has seen a lot of his­tory since it was built in the late 1890s.

“ The Or­ange Lodge was where all the times were held, wed­dings were held ... the Orange­men put on movies for the com­mu­nity. Back in the day pub­lic ex­ams were held there,” said for­mer Green’s Har­bour res­i­dent Nancy Brace, whose fa­ther was an Orange­man. “At one point it was a court­house when the cir­cuit judge would come through. Joey Small­wood spoke out in front of it for the pro— Con­fed­er­a­tion thing he was do­ing.”

That’s why a group of Green’s Har­bour res­i­dents — past and present — are work­ing to re­store and re­vi­tal­ize the dis­used Or­ange Lodge build­ing.

Brace, the pres­i­dent of the Green’s Har­bour Her­itage So­ci­ety, said she and sev­eral other res­i­dents in­cor­po­rated them­selves in Oc­to­ber.

“ We’ve been work­ing ever since to get own­er­ship of the build­ing and have it as a liv­ing mu­seum/art gallery/com­mu­nity cen­tre, said Brace, who used to live in Green’s Har­bour but now lives in St. John’s. She added the so­ci­ety in­cludes a past mas­ter of the Or­ange So­ci­ety as well as mem­bers of the Ladies’ Or­ange Benev­o­lent As­so­ci­a­tion.

“Ed­wina Su­ley of the Carbonear Her­itage So­ci­ety was in­valu­able in help­ing us get started. She came over and did a pre­sen­ta­tion to the orig­i­nal mem­bers at the orig­i­nal meet­ing of how to get up and go­ing,” said Brace.

Clarke March, a past mas­ter of the lodge, said the build­ing is im­por­tant to more than just for­mer mem­bers.

“Not only as a past mas­ter, but most of our his­tory ... a lot of our build­ings are de­stroyed in New­found­land,” he said.

Cen­tre of en­ter­tain­ment

“At Christ­mas­time, on Box­ing Day, it was the cen­tre of en­ter­tain­ment, be­cause that’s where they had their time, and the brass band that we had at the time used to play tunes. Ev­ery­body gath­ered and brought their sup­per.”

The so­ci­ety worked out a deal to buy the lodge from the Spa­niard’s Bay Orange­men club

— which re­cently ab­sorbed the de­clin­ing mem­ber­ship of the Green’s Har­bour chap­ter — for $17,500. Of the pur­chase price, $12,500 con­sists of loans from so­ci­ety mem­bers, and fundrais­ers will be held to pay back the loans.

“As of April 1, we will have the build­ing,” said Brace. On April 7, the so­ci­ety is host­ing a take­out sup­per — spon­sored by lo­cal restau­rant CJ’s, and the St. John’s fundrais­ing com­mit­tee of the so­ci­ety is host­ing a fundraiser the same night at the Mar­tini Bar in St. John’s. They’re also hop­ing to hold a din­ner/dance at The Ma­jes­tic in June as well as a con­cert at the Green’s Har­bour Lion’s Club in July.

And once the loans are paid off, work on the build­ing it­self be­gins.

“ The big­gest prob­lem is that there’s a leak in the roof, and there’s been dam­age done to the wood,” said Brace. “Other than that, the build­ing looks the same as it al­ways did; it just needs a lit­tle TLC.”

And once the build­ing is owned out­right, Brace said the so­ci­ety will be el­i­gi­ble for var­i­ous pro­vin­cial grants — some of which will be match­ing funds, which means fundrais­ing for the lodge will be on­go­ing.

“ We don’t want to just fix it. We want to re­store it, you know, make it a world-class venue,” she said. “ We want to stay true to the his­toric ap­pear­ance of it.”

Brace said the Or­ange Lodge is a re­minder of Green’s Har­bour’s sta­tus and his­tory.

“All the men in my fam­ily had been Orange­men, and once the build­ing is gone, it’s like they never ex­isted,” she said, while adding that, as a fe­male, she doesn’t ad­vo­cate the lodge’s ma­le­only pol­icy. Even though she could have been an aux­il­iary mem­ber of the women’s as­so­ci­a­tion, since she “grew up in the heart of the women’s lib era,” that wouldn’t have been good enough, she says. “ But, in terms of her­itage and his­tory of our com­mu­nity, it was a marker that we were a com­mu­nity of im­por­tance, be­cause not ev­ery com­mu­nity had an Or­ange Lodge or a town meet­ing place. ... It gave a cer­tain stature and im­por­tance to our com­mu­nity in its day. And the Orange­men did do a lot of com­mu­nity work. There were peo­ple in the com­mu­nity that went to uni­ver­sity that would not have gone oth­er­wise, be­cause of their af­fil­i­a­tion with the Or­ange Lodge. So all of those things are im­por­tant.”

Brace re­calls be­ing dis­tressed in the mid-’70s when the com­mu­nity’s United Church was torn down.

“I was a teenager, and I was so up­set about that hap­pen­ing, be­cause I think what makes a com­mu­nity — whether it’s a ru­ral com­mu­nity or a city — what makes it unique, what makes it it­self, is its ar­chi­tec­ture. And once you’ve re­moved ma­jor pieces of ar­chi­tec­ture, you’ve re­moved the per­son­al­ity of the place. You would no more go to Lon­don, Eng­land, and buy West­min­ster Abbey and tear it down be­cause it’s old than you would cut your arms off.”

March was sim­i­larly crit­i­cal of the de­ci­sion to tear down the church, as it was an ex­am­ple of the crafts­man­ship of builders us­ing hand tools and not ma­chines.

“The man that built it, I don’t know if he could write his name or not. He had only a fin­ger and a thumb on one hand, and he built a pul­pit,” she said. “He walked from Green’s Har­bour to Heart’s Con­tent, across Heart’s Con­tent bar­rens to Carbonear, to look at a pul­pit over there in the church, and he came back, and they say the one he built was bet­ter than the one that was in the church over there.”

Brace com­pared land­mark build­ings in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties to the Inuit stone inuk­suit land­marks — a stone sign­posts used for nav­i­ga­tion or ref­er­ence in the Arc­tic.

“ You know the inuk­shuk, and the mean­ing of the inuk­shuk — ‘ we were here’? To me, the Lodge is our inuk­shuk,” she said. “It was such an im­por­tant build­ing, whether for events or for her­itage ... and once it’s gone, my nieces and neph­ews, their chil­dren com­ing up won’t have a clue any of that ever hap­pened.”

And it’s not just the Lodge’s his­tory in New­found­land that Brace wants to pre­serve, but its rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ties over­seas, even as its in­cep­tion as a males-only, Protes­tants-only so­ci­ety dis­ap­pear.

“As we be­come less Bri­tish and more Cana­dian here in New­found­land, those sym­bols of our ties to Bri­tain will fade,” she said. “ There’s still a very strong Cana­dian pres­ence of the Or­ange Lodge in On­tario, but I’m fairly safe to say there’s not a lot of young peo­ple join­ing it.”

Just as when the United Church was torn down in the ‘70s, said Clark, there are peo­ple in Green’s Har­bour who don’t see the point in sav­ing the build­ing.

“Some peo­ple (say), ‘Oh, what do you want to keep that for? It’s an eye­sore,’” he said.

Brace said the so­ci­ety is go­ing to show Green’s Har­bour res­i­dents that the build­ing can be re­stored to its for­mer glory.

“ You have to al­most prove to (the com­mu­nity) that this is real and it’s re­ally go­ing to hap­pen, and then they’ll get on board,” she said. “ When some­body ac­tu­ally starts to grease the wheels and make them move, you will have peo­ple jump on board to vol­un­teer their time and do the ac­tual phys­i­cal work, even though they may not be in­ter­ested in sit­ting on a com­mit­tee and mak­ing the wheels move.”

Even now, Clark is re­luc­tant to di­vulge se­crets of Or­ange Lodge meet­ings, but said singing hymns on Good Fri­day is a cher­ished mem­ory.

“ You get about 200 men singing, and maybe some­one there that knows how to play the ac­cor­dion, it’s rock­ing,” he said. “ You feel the pres­ence. There’s some greater be­ing than your­self. You feel good. And when you come out, you feel good.”

The newly formed Green’s Har­bour Her­itage So­ci­ety hopes to re­store the com­mu­nity’s dis­used Or­ange Lodge, which was built in the late 1890s.

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