By Gareth Kellett
This year Arcadia Masonic Lodge celebrates its 125th anniversary. The lodge has always been involved in the community and has had a presence from its beginning. It has been an integral part of the mosaic that makes Minden.
When Minden became a community in the mid 1800s, many of the men who settled here were masons. However, the closest lodge was The Spry Lodge in Fenelon Falls. With the lack of roads, it was very difficult to attend lodge meetings. In 1896, eight brethren from The Spry Lodge, approached Grand Lodge with a petition to institute a lodge in Minden. The request was granted and in August 1896, a new lodge was instituted in Minden as the Algonquin Lodge U.D..
Very shortly it became Arcadia Lodge. Meetings were held in two rooms over Donald Hartles’ general store which was situated on the corner of present day Water Street and Main Street.
The lodge grew in numbers very quickly. By 1928, it had outgrown the two rooms and more space was needed. Practically every man, 21 years or older in town and the surrounding area were masons – store keepers, lawyers, ministers, bankers, farmers, police constables, even teachers. As well men came from the surrounding regions of Haliburton and Kinmount. In 1903 the lodge was responsible for starting a new masonic lodge in Haliburton and in 1905, a new lodge in Kinmount.
The lodge acquired a piece of property at the east end of the main street which had been the fire station and in 1928 built a two-storey building which became the new masonic lodge. The building is still standing and is now the Gravity Coffee House.
The lodge continued to grow and make its presence known throughout the region. By 1947 it was time to, again, find a larger facility. They acquired the building where we are presently. It had been the Parish Hall for St. Paul’s Anglican Church. The building beside the Rockcliff Hotel was purchased by the owner of the hotel who felt he would need more space.
The new building has continued to be home for the masonic lodge until the present time. By 2005, it was becoming evident that the foundation of the lodge building was becoming compromised by water seepage and a new foundation was needed. At the same time, it had come to the attention of the lodge that the Food Bank was looking for accommodation with more space. After much consultation, the lodge and the Food Bank agreed to join forces. The end result is the building that we have today which houses the masonic lodge, the Minden Food Bank and Community Kitchen.