Lodge St Donan No 993 History

Lodge St Donan No 933 was born from the circumstances following the death of a Brother Freemason, a resident of West Helmsdale and a cooper by trade who, whilst working in Rosehearty in Aberdeenshire joined Lodge Forbes No 67. As a result of his passing, seven Freemasons who happened to be working and/or residing in the area convened a meeting for the purpose of "Accompanying the remains of the late Brother John MacDonald of Lodge Forbes No 67, resident at West Helmsdale to their last resting place". The interment took place in Helmsdale on May 24th, 1902, and was reported in the Northern Times at the time. The necessary regalia for the ceremony was loaned by St Peters Operative Lodge No 284, Thurso. I n recognition of this kind gesture the regalia worn to this day by members of Lodge St Donan is the same dark blue.

Shortly after it was resolved to form a Lodge in Helmsdale and that it be called Lodge St Donan because of the association of St Donan with the Kildonan/Helmsdale District. The motto chosen for the Lodge is "Na bitheadh comhstri on is braithrean sin" which is a Gaelic version of "Let there be no strife between us, for we are brethren" (Genesis 13, verse 8)

Eight founder members, from Lodges as far apart as Lerwick in the Shetlands, Liverpool in England and even Calcutta in India, signed the necessary petition which was then put forward for recommendation to Lodge St Peters in Thurso and Lodge St Fergus in Wick, thence forwarded to The Grand Lodge of Scotland in Edinburgh. The consecration ceremony took place on September 26th, 1902, presided over by the Provincial Grand Master of Ross and Cromarty. At the same meeting Bro. His Grace the Duke of Portland, Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of Nottingham-shire was made an Honorary member of the Lodge.

Up until this time committee meetings had been held in the Commercial Hotel, Dunrobin Street, (now the Bridge Hotel Tackle Shop and the residence at the rear called 'the retreat'), and Lodge meetings held in the balcony of the Drill Hall. The former proving unsuitable and the latter becoming too small for an expanding Lodge, premises were purchased in Sutherland Street where subsequently the existing Masonic Hall was erected. The ceremony of the laying of the foundation stone took place on 10th August 1905, conducted by Bro. The Honourable Charles Maule Ramsey, Most Worshipful Master Mason of Scotland and his office bearers. A bottle, or what we call today a time capsule, is buried in the foundation, containing various items of interest from that era, including a copy of the Northern Times reporting the funeral service of Brother John MacDonald. The bottle is encased in a lead box hermetically soldered and sealed to preserve its contents.

Adapted from the Centenary History Lecture, researched and written by Past Master Bro. Ron MacDonald