Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Preceptory No. 2, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


A Brief History of

Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Preceptory No. 2, K.T.

Toronto, Ontario

1854 – 1954

by R. Em. Kt. Charles E. Wells, K.C.T.

August 21st 1854, marks the birth of Knights Templary in Toronto, for that evening saw a hopeful little group of four Knights gathered at the home of one of them, to plan for a Preceptory of their own. These four Knights were Francis Richardson, George Duggan Jr., William Murray Jamieson (their host) and William George Storm, all of whom had been installed in Hugh de Payens Encampment, at Kingston, the previous May. Another local member, Samuel B. Harman, although absent, was associated with this plan. 

The Petition 

Resulting from their discussion, a petition was drafted and signed by all five fraters. The name chosen for the Encampment was “ Geoffrey de St. Aldemar” being that of a distinguished soldier of the Cross and one of the founders of the Order. The provisional officers named in the petition were Samuel B. Harman, Eminent Commander; Francis Richardson, First Captain and George Duggan Jr., Second Captain. 

In some way this petition became lost, so another was prepared, adding two extra signatures, namely those of Thomas G. Ridout and the Rev. Francis J. Lundy, D.C.L., of the Encampment of Lockport, N. Y., and then residing at Grimsby, Ont., where he was rector of the Anglican Church. 

This petition, dated October 4th, 1854, was then sent to Col. W. J. B. McLeod Moore, Provincial Prior, and was endorsed by him and by Allan N. MacNab of Hamilton. It was later sent by Col. McLeod Moore to the Grand Conclave of England and Wales, and read as follows:


                                “To the Most Eminent and Supreme

                        Grand Master of Masonic Knights Templar

                        in England and Wales. Fr. Colonel

                        Charles Kemys Kemys Tynte.” 

“We the undersigned being regular Masonic Knights Templar, who were respectively installed in the respective Encampments mentioned against our respective names hereunto subscribed are anxious to promote and diffuse the genuine Principles of the Order.

“We do therefore pray for a Warrant or Patent of Constitution empowering us to meet as a Regular Encampment of Masonic Knights Templar to be entitled the Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Encampment and to meet on the first Fridays in the months of February, May, August and November in every year at the Masonic Hall in the City of Toronto, and there to discharge the duties of Masonic Knights Templar in a constitutional manner according to the forms of the Order and the laws of the Grand Conclave and we have recommended and do recommend Frater Samuel Bickerton Harman of Toronto, Esquire, to be the first Eminent Commander, Frater Francis Richardson to be the First Captain and Frater George Duggan the younger to be the first Second Captain of the said Encampment. The prayer of the said Petition being granted, we promise strict obedience to the commands of the Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master and the Statutes and Regulations of the Grand Conclave, AS WITNESS ours hands this fourth day of October in the year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty Four.




S. B. Harman

Hugh de Payens, Kingston, Ont.

England and Wales

F. Richardson                       

Hugh de Payens, Kingston, Ont.

England and Wales

George Duggan Jr.

Hugh de Payens, Kingston, Ont.

England and Wales

W. M. Jamieson

Hugh de Payens, Kingston, Ont.

England and Wales

W. G. Storm

Hugh de Payens, Kingston, Ont.

England and Wales

T. G. Rideout

Hugh de Payens, Kingston, Ont.

England and Wales

F. J. Lundy


United States



            In course of time a Warrant was issued, dated the 8th day of November, 1854, and reading as follows : 

            “TO ALL to whom it may concern, but particularly to Frs. Samuel Bickerton Harman, Francis Richardson, George Duggan Jr., William Murray Jamieson, and other Fraters who are empowered by a Warrant or Patent of Constitution under our Hand and the Great Seal of the Order of Masonic Knights Templar in England and Wales and dated the eighth day of November instant to assemble at the City of Toronto in the Province of Canada West, as an Encampment of Masonic Knights Templar to be called “The Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Encampment.”

            Now know ye that we Colonel Charles Kemys Kemys Tynte, Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master of the said Order in England and Wales reposing special trust and confidence in the talents and intelligence of our Very Eminent Fr. Captain William James Bury McLeod Moore do hereby appoint the said  Very Eminent Fr. Captain William James Bury McLeod Moore to constitute and consecrate the said Encampment at Toronto aforesaid in due form as a regular Encampment to be called “The Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Encampment” and to install and invest according to ancient form and the customs of the Order Fr. Samuel Bickerton Harman, Eminent Commander of the said Encampment, the said Fr. Francis Richardson, First Captain commanding Columns and the said George Duggan, Second Captain commanding Columns of the said Encampment and for doing this shall be his Warrant.


                                    Given at Halswell in the

                                    County of Somerset this

                                    Eighth day of November,

                                    A. L., 5858,  A.D. 1854,

                                                        A. O. 736

                                                        Fr. Henry Emly, - Grand Chancellor.

Grand Seal


               This Warrant was partially destroyed by fire in the period 1862 - 69, while, along with the furniture and equipment, it was stored at 38 George Street during the dormancy of the Encampment.




               It will be appropriate to say a few words here respecting the petitioners. SAMUEL BICKERTON HARMAN, the first Eminent Commander, came of an old Suffolk family, some of whom settled in Barbados and Antigua. His father Samuel Harman, received his early education at Winchester College and at Westminster, returning to the West Indies as Deputy Comptroller of Customs in Martinique, where he married in 1816. After his marriage he returned to England and resided at Cheltenham and Brampton, near London, where Samuel B, was born, on December 20th, 1819. In 1820, the father and his family returned to Antigua and later to Philadelphia, where he died in 1841.


               The son, Samuel B., shortly afterward removed to Toronto, where he married Georgina, the youngest daughter of George Huson of Barbados, to whom were born five sons. Shortly after his marriage he went to Grenada, B. W. I., where his first son Samuel Bruce Harman was born. In the West Indies he made banking his first occupation, residing at Antigua, Barbados and Grenada. In 1847 he returned to England, where be resided at various places, London, Clifton and Croydon, removing in 1849 to Toronto.


               He was called to the bar of Upper Canada (now Ontario) and practised for many years, in partnership with the Hon. John Hillyard Cameron, K. C. and later with H. W. M. Murray and with his son George T. Harman. He retired from practice in 1872 and became the Treasurer of the City of Toronto.


               As President of St. George's Society, he presented an address of loyalty to H. R. H. the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, on the occasion of his visit to Toronto in 1860. After several years of service in the City Council, he served as Mayor of Toronto for the years 1869 and 1870, and in that capacity welcomed H. R. H. Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. He also presided over receptions in honour of Lord Lisgar, Governor General of Canada, and over a welcome extended to Sir Francis Hincks on his return from British Guiana and Barbados, where he had acted as Governor. Other public receptions were those in honour of Lord Wolseley, on his return from the Red River Expedition (in which his son Samuel Bruce Harmon served as an officer) and in honour of the Earl and Countess of Dufferin.


               He was also one of the founders of the Canadian Institute organized for the promotion of literary and scientific research, and a member of the Council of Trinity College, Toronto, from its inception in 1853.


               For his zealous services to the Church of England, both in the Diocesan and Provincial Synods, as Chancellor of the Diocese of Toronto, and as Registrar of Trinity College, he was honoured by the College with the degree of D. C. L..


              On his retirement as Treasurer of the City of Toronto, on November 12th 1888, after sixteen years of service, he was granted a life annuity of $2,000.00.


               Made a Mason in Shamrock Lodge, No. 282 (Irish Registry) in Barbados December 27th, 1842, he affiliated with St. Andrew's Lodge No. 16, Toronto, in 1853; served as W. M. in 1856; D. D. G. M. for Toronto District in 1860 and became a charter member of Zetland Lodge No. 326 in 1875.


                Exalted in St. Andrew's R. A. Chapter in 1854, then attached to St. Andrew's Lodge No. 487, now No. 16 G. R. C. This Chapter amalgamated in 1870 with St. John's R. A. Chapter, No. 4, to form the present St. Andrew and St. John Chapter No. 4. Becoming First Principal in 1860, he was elected Grand First Principal in 1872.


                In the Knight Templar Order he, more than anyone else, was responsible for its establishment in Toronto. He had the assistance of such distinguished leaders as Sir Allan N. MacNab, of Hamilton, T. D, Harington of Quebec and others to be presently mentioned.


                After filling the office of Eminent Commander for  1854-55, he served as Provincial Prior in 1856 and 1857, Grand Sub-Prior 1873   to 1877 and Treasurer of his Preceptory 1870 - 1879. He was also the Grand  Representative of the Great Priory of Ireland near the Sovereign Great Priory of Canada.


                When the Toronto Chapter Rose Croix was instituted in Toronto in 1873, he was one of its charter members and served as Prelate for four years. He retained his membership until 1882, when he withdrew. He died March 26th, 1892, full of years and honours, a sterling citizen and ardent Freemason.


                A portrait of Sir Kt. Harman hangs in the Preceptory, the gift of Sir Kt. L. F. Riggs.


GEORGE DUGGAN JR. later became a judge of the County Court for the County of York.


WM. MURRAY JAMIESON was a prominent merchant.


WM. G. STORM attained fame as an architect. He designed and built Osgoode Hall, St. James Cathedral and other important buildings. He died March 8th, 1892.


WM. R. HARRIS for many years accountant for the Province served as Registrar of the Encampment for many years. He died March 26th, 1902.


THOS. GIBBS RIDOUT was cashier of the Bank of Upper Canada and also served as Commissary General of the Province. A very distinguished Mason, largely responsible for keeping the Provincial Grand Lodge alive during troublesome times in its history. He served as Deputy Provincial Grand Master from 1845 to 1858 and on the union of the Provincial Grand Lodge with the Grand Lodge of Canada, in 1858, was made a Past Grand Master of the Craft. He died July 29th, 1861.


JOHN GEORGE HOWARD, born near London, England, in July, 1803, was one of the oldest Freemasons in Toronto at the time of his death on February 4th, 1890. He came to Canada in 1832 and practised his profession as an architect and surveyor and supervised the erection of many important buildings. A member of St. Andrew's Lodge and R. A. Chapter, he was installed a Knight Templar in Hugh de Payens Preceptory in 1854, and was one of the charter members of Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Preceptory in 1855. He held several offices in the Provincial Grand Conclave of Canada in 1855 and 1857. He resided near High Park in the beautiful "Colborne” estate.




                The Hall in which the Encampment assembled in the early days of history was at the corner of Church and Colborne Streets. This large hall and anteroom were furnished at considerable expense with furniture of Gothic design, purchased from the Board of the Masonic Hall on Toronto Street.  The room itself had been formerly used by St. Andrew's Lodge, and formed part of the Russell Hotel. The original lease made between Mr. Russell and Wm. M. Jamieson was for a period of four years, at a rental of $245.00 a year.


               At a meeting held on January 22nd, 1855, William G. Storm laid before the Fraters designs which he had prepared in accordance with suggestions made by Col. McLeod Moore during a recent visit to Toronto, and included stalls and banners for the members.


                The financing of the cost of the improvements presented some difficulty to the founders of the Preceptory. Arrangements were made with the Bank of Upper Canada for the discount of notes given by the members and on April 26th, 1855, all was ready for the opening. Col. McLeod Moore came to the City and found the new hall "resplendent in glory." He held an Encampment of instruction and appointed April 30th for the opening of the Encampment and installation of the officers.




               On April 30th, 1855, the hall designated as the Masonic Templar Hall, was consecrated by the Provincial Grand Commander, Col. Wm. J. B. McLeod Moore, and the following officers duly installed:


                    Em. Commander                   Samuel B. Harman             By Proxy

                    First Captain                         Francis Richardson

                    Second Captain                    George Duggan, Jr

                    Expert                                   W. G. Storm

                    Capt. of Lines                       J. H. Howard

                    Treasurer                             T. G. Ridout

                    Registrar                              W. M. Jamieson


                The officers of the Provincial Grand Conclave present on this occasion were Col. W. J. B. McLeod Moore, Provincial Grand Commander, and T. D. Harington, Provincial Grand Sub-Prior, as Acting Prelate.

The Provincial Grand Commander was received under an arch of steel; the new Warrant read, and the Encampment consecrated in ancient form. On this occasion the Provincial Grand Commander addressed the assembly "on the connection of the Christian and Military Order with ancient Freemasonry."

On this occasion John Ross Robertson, in his History of Knights 'I'emplar in Canada, writes "The Templar cohorts of the West were out in full strength that bright day in the, Spring time of 1855, when the magnificent ceremonial of consecration was to take place. All those noted in Templar work had been invited and a goodly number came. The new home of the Fraters was resplendent in glory, and reminded one present of the accounts we find in records of the meeting places of the Knights of the olden time."

This was the second Preceptory to be installed in Upper Canada.




               A meeting was held on May 4tb, 1855, to adopt by-laws. On this occasion a resolution was unanimously passed electing the Provincial Grand Commander as an honourary member, and the members rose in their stalls to do special honour to the nomination.


               Another resolution was one of thanks to Sir Kt. Wm. G. Storm for his "valuable and substantial service in the preparation of the elaborate and appropriate designs for the fitting up of this magnificent hall, as well as his unremitting attention in superintending the progress and completion of the work."


               From the minutes of March 18th, 1856, we learn that the debt outstanding for furnishings and equipment of the Preceptory amounted to $2,350.00, and that it was decided to issue twenty-eight debentures of $212.00 each for this amount, with interest payable half-yearly. These debentures were readily taken up and were subscribed for by sixteen Knights at a meeting held on April 11th 1856.


               At the meeting held October 22nd, 1856, steps were taken to decorate the various stalls and assign one to each Knight. Later we find that the four stalls nearest the East were reserved for the Provincial Grand Commander and the first three Commanders of the Encampment; all other Knights to take the stalls by seniority, and on alternate sides; the banner of each Knight to be displayed over his stall. These stalls were made according to designs and specifications brought from England by Sir Kt. W. F. Cumberland, who had recently visited the Homeland.


               Growth of the new body was slow but steady A new frater, Samuel Zimmerman of Niagara Falls, donated £50 toward the cost of the Hall and Em. Commander Harman gave a costly and beautiful Bible. Another prominent Canadian affiliated with the Commandery in the person of T. D. Harington, who became Receiver-General of Canada and an honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge. Other notable admissions in early years included Alfie de Grassi, J. Hamer Greenwood (who later became a member of the British House of Commons, and as Lord Greenwood, a member of the House of Lords) and W. H. Howland, Mayor of Toronto.


               In 1857 financial stress required an increase in the annual dues and also caused a resolution of regret to be sent to the Grand Commandery in England, in reply to their request for help in relieving the families of brethren killed in the Indian Mutiny.


               Financial troubles seriously affected the attendance, due, it was thought, in part to the popularity of the military volunteer movement, and as a consequence the Encampment did not meet after November 7th, 1862.




                Provincial Grand Conclave met in the Hall of Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Encampment on July 18th, 1857 and July 16tb, 1858, and on August 12th, 1863, in the Masonic Hall, Toronto Street. On this last occasion the only representatives of the Encampment present were A. de Grassi, Grand Expert, and Wm. P. McMaster, 2nd Grand Herald. In 1863 we note the presence at Provincial Grand Conclave of Sir Kt. de Grassi and W. M. Jamieson, as representatives of the Encampment. In 1866 no one represented Geoffrey de St. Aldemar, except W. M. Jamieson, who attended as Grand 1st Standard Bearer, and none of its members was honoured by office in Grand Conclave.


                The  following year the Grand Commander said in his annual address, "I regret to say that the once flourishing Encampment, the 'Geoffrey de St. Aldemar' of Toronto, is obsolete, having unfortunately lost by fire the greater part of its documents and property. I here wish to remark that the last Eminent  Commander of this Encampment has not complied with the terms on which he received the warrant at his installation, not having returned it to me, when the Encampment ceased to exist, which it is necessary should be done without further delay."


                At the Grand Conclave of 1868 the Grand Commander said: "It is with regret that I have to inform you that the charter of 'Geoffrey de St. Aldemar' of Toronto has been held in abeyance (suspended), having for some time ceased to assemble or furnish returns to Grand Conclave. The furniture was partially destroyed by fire, the records and warrant being preserved exertions are now making for its revival."

                The fire referred to above occurred in the premises of W. R. Harris on Yonge St. 1867, and destroyed the lighter furniture and movable ornaments, seriously injured the warrant and necessitated the rebinding of the minute book. The heavier furniture, such as the officers' chairs, members' stalls, etc. were still in the old Templar Hall on Colborne St., where they were used by an Oddfellows Lodge.




                After an interval of virtually seven years, a meeting was held in the Masonic Temple, 36 Toronto St., on July 30th, 1869, at which the following named Sir Knights filled the several Chairs:-


Eminent Commander


V. E. Kt. S. B. Harman



E. Kt. W. G. Storm

1st Captain


Sir Kt.  J. K. Kerr (Godfrey de Bouillon)

2nd Captain


Sir Kt.  W. M. Jamieson



Sir Kt.  W. R. Harris



Sir Kt.  A. de Grassi (Godfrey de Bouillon)

Captain of Lines


Sir Kt.  W. C. Morrison

Standard Bearer 


Sir Kt.  A. T. Houel

1st Herald


Sir Kt.  M. Crombie

2nd Herald


Sir Kt. E. Hallinghead (Plantagenet)



Sir Kt.  Samuel McGowan




                Subsequently a request signed by twenty eight Sir Knights was forwarded to the Grand Prior, to which the following reply was received:-



               Whereas, owing to unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances, the Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Encampment, held at Toronto, has been suffered to fall into abeyance, but its Charter has not been annulled by the Supreme Grand and Royal Conclave: AND WHEREAS application has been made to me for authority to revive the said Encampment, and to proceed to work again: NOW KNOW YE that by virtue of the power in me vested in that behalf, and believing that it is for the good of our Order that so excellent an Encampment, being the second founded in this Dominion, and the work and appointments of which were second to none in the Masonic world, should not be allowed to become extinct and the memory of its founders be forgotten, I do accede to the said application and do hereby authorize the Very Eminent Frater, Samuel Bickerton Harman, Past Eminent Commander of the said Encampment, Past Deputy Grand Commander of the Dominion Grand Conclave, and a Past Grand Sub Prior of the Supreme Grand and Royal Conclave of England and Wales and the Dependencies of the British Crown, to act as Eminent Commander in the work of such revival of the said Geoffrey de St. Aldemar Encampment, he having been requested to act by divers of the Fraters, members thereof, and other zealous Fraters desirous of joining the same, and to appoint and install officers, and generally proceed to work until the regular period for electing officers comes around, according to the by-laws of the said Encampment; and for so doing this shall be his sufficient authority.


                Given under my Hand and Seal of Office at Laprairie, in the Province of Quebec, this 26th day of August, A.D., 1869.




    THOS. B. HARRIS,                                                                             W. J. B. McLEOD MOORE,

     Grand Chancellor                                                                                       Provincial Grand Prior."


                On November 5th, 1869, the first meeting was held of the revived and reorganized Encampment.


               Prospects were good as twelve loyal and well recommended Royal Arch Companions made application for installation and seven Sir Knights applied for affiliation.


               It would seem probable that shortly after the amalgamation of St. Andrew's and St. John's Chapter in May 1870, a room was set aside for the occupation of the Chapter and Encampment, to be known as the "Templar and Chapter Hall" and refurnished at a cost of $1,860.17.


               From a photograph in the possession of Dr. L. F. Riggs, taken in the 70's it is evident that the beautiful Gothic furniture and stalls previously in the Colborne St. rooms were removed to the new quarters.


             In 1872 a new Encampment was formed in Toronto known as Odo de St. Amand, No. 17. In the year 1873 the title Encampment was changed to Preceptory.


             By the year 1876 the membership of Geoffrey had increased to 67, but during the next few years a slight decrease in membership took place.


              In the year 1881, R. Em. Kt. John Ross Robertson affiliated with Geoffrey Preceptory. He was the owner and publisher of the Evening Telegram. He was a keen student of Masonry. He wrote several volumes on the history of all branches of Masonry and his works are still in great demand. His last will and testament decreed that upon the death of the last survivor of his family the Evening Telegram was to be sold and the proceeds turned over to the Hospital for Sick Children. The terms of the will were carried out upon the death of his daughter in 1948. In 1862 John Ross Robertson was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in Ontario, A. F, and A. M.  Geoffrey Preceptory is proud to have had such a fine gentleman and ardent Mason as one of its members.


             In 1884 the Governing Body changed its name from the National Great Priory of Canada to Sovereign Great Priory of Canada.


              In 1885 Geoffrey Preceptory became a uniformed body and adopted the American uniform as its standard.


             On July 12th, 1887 Cyrene Preceptory, K. T., No. 29, was formed in  Toronto making three Preceptories in all at that time.