The Masonic Lodge
When the land board met in 1791 to layout the town of Newark, they wanted a tavern (public house) and a Masonic Lodge to be built, both were to be constructed beside each other. At this time there were two lodges in the area, Newark (St. John’s Lodge, no. 19) and Queenston (St. John’s Lodge of Friendship, no. 2), but their origin story, like much of Masonry in southern Ontario, originates from Fort Niagara and the Lodges that were established there. When the two lodges amalgamated, they received their warrant as Lodge No. 2, which was issued by Sir William Jarvis, Provincial Grand Master of Upper Canada, in 1795, and the lodge has been in operation ever since. Jarvis spent much of his time in Newark, the First Capital of Upper Canada, as a member of the Executive Council of the Legislative Assembly and was involved in masonry while here. He was installed in 1792 as Grand Master of St. John’s Lodge, no. 19.
When the Act to Limit Slavery was proposed, Jarvis one of the 12 men on the Executive Council who owned slaves, one of them being Henry Lewis. While in Newark, Henry fled his enslavement to New York and in 1798, Henry wrote to William Jarvis requesting that he be able to buy his freedom. Henry wrote, “My desire to support my self as free man and enjoy all the benefits which may result from my being free in a country whear a blackman is defended by the laws as much as a white man is induce me to make you an offer of purchasing myself. … the reason why I left your house is this your woman [Jarvis’ wife Hannah] vexed me to so high a degree that it was far beyond the power of man to support it it is true and I will say in all company that I allways lived as well in your house as I should wish.”