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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GRAND LODGE OF QUEENSLAND, G.L.E., OVER THE PAST EIGHTY YEARS

Compiling the history of any organisation is no easy task. An author is confronted with conflicting dates, wrongly stated venues, and more than often, wrong names of persons involved.

RAOB_certAnyway, enough of that. The Grand Lodge of England Banner in Queensland owes its existence in no small measure to the formation, in March 1926, of the Queensland Banner, which was formed when a group of four Lodges broke away from another Banner.

The life of this new Banner was extremely short, for they were Buffalo outcasts, being not recognised by any other Banner in Queensland or Australia. The founders of the Queensland Banner were C. Morgan, G. Cervetto, J.H. Donnelly, L. Cervetto, W. Cutting, L.J. Fubbs and A. Tornaros.

The Brother behind the formation of the Q.B., Bro. L.J. Fubbs K.O.M., was vilified and suspended by his former Banner. An application was finally made for a Charter from the Grand Lodge of England, and so on 13th April 1927, the G.L.E. Banner was born in Queensland and a Grand Lodge constituted. The ceremony was performed by Bro. Hatchett C.P. In other reports, Bro. Les Fubbs K.O.M. was given the credit.

The first chief officer, the Grand Primo, was Bro. Charles Morgan C.P. and the first official meeting of the G.L.Q. was stated to have been held in a hall in Elizabeth Street, Brisbane. A few years later, Grand Lodge was able to purchase a hall in Ann Street, Brisbane, (on the right hand side, midway between Brunswick and Constance Streets, travelling north from Brunswick Street). It was a very narrow-gutted building, with the Grand Secretary’s office and storeroom on the ground floor, and the Lodge room on the first.

This was reported in the “Daily Mail” newspaper dated 8th March 1930, to wit: “The R.A.O.B. had moved into more up-to-date premises, facing Warner Street. A large number of Brethren gathered for the consecration of the hall by Bro. Charles Morgan K.O.M., the W.G.P.”

Phenomenal Growth

Over the years, the G.L.Q. continued to expand, with 314 Minor Lodges being opened, plus four Provincial Grand Lodges, nine R.O.H. Assemblies, eighteen Knights Chapters, forty-nine Primo Lodges, and a large number of Examining Councils. As most members would know, a new body was opened, combining the three Degree conclaves, which are known today as Degree Guilds, of which ten have been formed, with possibly more on the drawing board.

With such rapid growth came the purchase of real estate by Lodges, and the erection of a huge number of Buffalo Halls; as a matter of fact, at one stage, there were six such halls in the Brisbane area; today only three remain. In total, the G.L.Q. had 75 Lodge halls; with another six Lodges owning land only.

It has not always been “smooth sailing” in the past 80 years, with internal friction, suspensions and misappropriation of Lodge funds. One suspension of three Brothers resulted in an expensive court case in which G.L. came out the loser.

Then came the closure of three Provincial Grand Lodges; and the loss of a huge number of Minor Lodges caused by falling attendances, old age of members and lack of new members joining. This problem is not confined to the G.L.E. in Queensland, it is worldwide, and affects all Banners, and many other organisations.

Any infamous ban on Brothers of a Sister Banner did little to help attendances or relationships between the two sections. Eventually, Delegates at a G.L.Q. meeting restored the situation to the status quo. Sadly, the Order in 1998 in Queensland completely lost the Grand Council Banner with the final closing of the last of their 52 Lodges.

In 1956, the Grand Lodge of Queensland, G.L.E., having previously purchased a block of land in Constance Street, the Valley, were able to move to their brand new hall, the Victory Temple, a building of four floors.

The Grand Lodge of Queensland, G.L.E., in all its long history, never lost a Minor Lodge by secession; however, it did gain three: Royal Zillmere, which came over from the G.C.A., and brought with it a hall; then came Concord Lodge in Toowoomba, from the Grand United Banner; and many years previous, Lodge Childers from the G.A.B., which later went back to its former Banner.

Throughout the years, the G.L.Q. has had many great stalwarts among its members; it would be impossible to mention all, however, it would be a remiss not to mention two, who were outstanding in their desire to see the Banner prosper and grow. They were Bro. George Kallinicos R.O.H. and Bro. Ron B. Taylor R.O.H. These two Brothers were both members of the G.L.E. under the G.L.Q., when they first met in the Blue Bird Café, Townsville. As a result of this meeting, Temperance Lodge No.41 was formed. This Lodge was the first of two such “dry” Lodges to be formed under the G.L.Q., the other being Cairns Temperance No.47.

Before proceeding any further, mention must be made of the opening of the Provincial Grand Lodge of North Queensland, on 11th July 1930, in the Buffalo Hall, Sturt Street, Townsville, by the W.G.P., Bro. Charles Morgan K.O.M. The first P.G.L. Grand Primo was Bro. Leo Cattana K.O.M.

The Annual Report for the year 1954, gave the following statistics: Initiations 2260, Raisings 366, Elevations 147, Exaltations 39, and no fewer than 27 new Lodges opened.

Unique G.L.Q. Lodges

The Grand Lodge of Queensland, G.L.E., is the only Australian section to have a Lodge opened in Japan, and this took place on 18th June 1949, during the occupation of Japan after World War II.  The Lodge was B.C.O.F. Japan No.30.  Another unique Lodge was one opened in a lazaret (Leper Colony), on Peel Island, during April 1950.  The G.L.Q. also had members who had joined Changi Lodge No.1, which existed in a P.O.W. Camp, Singapore, during the Japanese occupation.  Papua New Guinea also had a G.L.Q. Lodge opened in Port Moresby.

In 1963, a Dispensation was granted for Royal Cobra Lodge No.237 to be opened in Thailand.  There is no evidence to prove that this Lodge ever became a reality.  Another Lodge of which there are no records, other than a Dispensation being granted, was Berrett Lodge No.41.  Lodges were also proposed, but no Dispensation granted, for South Molle Island; and Bedourie, in the outback town of that name.

As at 1st July 1971, the G.L.Q. had among its members, Brothers who had been appointed representatives of the O.B.A. (Overseas Buffalo Association).  A total of 16 Brothers.  In later years, a branch of the O.B.A. was opened in Brisbane, but eventually closed.  Thanks to the efforts of one Brother, an R.A.O.B. Tape Club was formed in 1960, with a group of 24 Brothers exchanging audio tapes with Brothers in Australia, New Zealand, and various countries around the world.

The “Queensland Buffalo Gazette” was first printed in 1940 with Bro. Ron B. Taylor R.O.H., as its first editor.  Prior to the publication of its own magazine, Lodges of the G.L.Q. sent material to the Gazette published by the G.L. of Victoria.  Over the years there have been a number of editors.  The Brother who was appointed in 1957 transformed the journal from Lodge reports only, to a magazine with articles of R.A.O.B. interest.  He held the position for 20 years.

The Federal Council of all G.L.E. Grand Lodges in Australia was formed in 1946, in an effort to unify Rule Books and Rituals.  Bro. Ben Babbidge R.O.H. (G.L.Q.) was Secretary at one time; while Bro. George Kallinicos R.O.H. (W.G.P., G.L.Q.) was a Delegate.  Another G.L.Q. Brother, Ron B. Taylor R.O.H. (G.S.) also served as President.  The Federal Council was disbanded after six years.

Over the past 80 years, quite a few G.L.Q. Conventions were held to make changes and additions to the Rule Book and Ritual.  Sadly, one such gathering, the one in 1968, was declared null and void.

Let’s transgress a little.  In January 1955, tenders were called for the erection of the Valley Buffalo Hall, and that year a contract was signed by builders, K.D. Morris and Sons; and on Sunday, 6th November at 10.30am, the foundation stone was laid by Bro. George Kallinicos R.O.H., W.G.P.  In October 1956, Lodges began moving into the new building.

Buffalo Clubs

On 5th July 1957, another G.L.Q. milestone was reached with the Premier of Queensland, the Hon. Vince C. Gair, MLA, opening the Buffalo Memorial Club.  It is interesting to point out that one of the original plans submitted for the Victory Temple was the building of eight floors, plus the ground floor.

On the first Saturday night of each month, a Cabaret Night was held on the first floor ballroom, with a band, artists, Monte Carlo, spot waltz, 60/40 dancing, and a lucky door prize.  The cost: 60c per head.  The function was a joint venture by the Buffalo Memorial Club and Grand Lodge.

The Buffalo Memorial Club had a few “sub clubs”, namely Indoor Bowls, Amateur Fishing Club, Snooker Club and regular Darts competitions.  Accommodation in the residential sections was priced at: Single room $2 per night and $9 a week; double room $3.50 per night and $12 a week.

The Buffalo Memorial Club was not the only such club granted a liquor licence.  In all, there were three others associated with the G.L.Q.  One at Mt. Isa (still trading); Dunwich, Stradbroke Island (closed); and Mackay (still trading).  There is no doubt, the G.L.Q. was a progressive Banner.

Not only were Buffalo Clubs opened by Minor Lodges under the G.L.Q., but one Lodge, Nundah No.66, purchased a Bowling Club in 1949.

Records show that four G.L.Q. Buffalo Halls were destroyed over the years.  In 1948, the hall in Cairns went up in smoke; then in 1959, a cyclone demolished the hall at Ayr, the property of Burdekin Lodge No.86; in 1966, a freak storm flattened the Pentland Lodge No.209 hall.  The year 1958 was a bad one for Lodges in Mackay when the Buffalo Hall was washed away by a flood.

Then there was the near disastrous fire at the Victory Temple, which started in the top floor and spread down towards the main Grand Lodge room and the office.  But for the prompt action of the Fire Brigade, the whole building would have been gutted.

Past Notable Events

Colin Mc Master Lodge No.58 held Annual Mothers Day Dinners in Rockhampton with a Guest of Honour from notable members of the Order being invited.

The combined G.L.E. and G.A.B. Lodges in Rockhampton sponsored Miss Francis Ball in the 1969 Miss Australia Quest.  The amount of $2,215 was raised and presented to the Central Queensland Spastic League.

On 19th February 1949, the G.L.Q. hired a special rail-motor to take 30 Brisbane members to Maleny for the opening of Maleny Lodge No.27.  The Grand Secretary, Bro. Ron B. Taylor R.O.H., was the organiser of this excursion.

In 1964, the G.L.Q. was honoured with a visit by the Grand Primo of England, G.L.E., Bro. Harold Deforges K.O.M., who visited a number of city Lodges, and the Provincial Grand Lodges in Mackay and Cairns.

Charity Knows No Bounds

Buffalo Lodges are well known for their donations to charitable projects, both in kind, and financially.  The G.L.Q., via its Lodges and constituent bodies, has always been to the fore in times of natural disasters.

In the early days of the G.L.Q., say in the 1950’s, quite a few Lodges teamed together and raised money to purchase Iron Lungs for their local hospitals.  These machines assisted children with Infantile Paralysis to breathe.

The two G.L.Q. Lodges in Mt. Morgan, each year, staged a Pensioners Dinner for local inhabitants.

15th August 1987, saw the staging of a Memorial Harmony Night in the Waterloo Bay Lodge Buffalo Hall, with the amount of $3,900 being raised and presented to the Queensland Cancer Research Fund.  A photograph of the cheque presentation appeared in the local newspaper.

It would be well nigh impossible to list all the work of a charitable nature performed by, not only Lodges of the G.L.Q., but throughout the worldwide Buffalo fraternity.  For some reason or other, for many years the Order “hid its light under a bushel”, in other words, shunned publicity.

However, mention must be made of the G.L.Q.’s Concert Party which entertained at Old Peoples Homes; and the Buffalo Films Committee which screened movies at various Institutions in the Brisbane area, before TV.

Auxiliaries and Glades

The wives of Lodge members have always been supportive, and at one stage, no fewer than 24 Ladies Auxiliaries existed.  On Sunday, 9th April 1967, the Order of Ladies Glades was opened in Queensland.  The first chairlady was Sister Lorna Shanks; and on that wonderful day, 34 ladies joined the Glades.  More Glades were opened over the years, approximately 20; but like Minor Lodges, quite a few have since closed.

The first conference of Ladies Auxiliaries was held in Brisbane on Sunday, 12th August 1962.

Homes for the Aged

Two charitable projects in which the G.L.Q. was, and in one area still is, are the Buffalo Memorial Homes at Redcliffe, and the not so well known Glen Eagles Aged Home Units at New Farm, Brisbane.  Let’s deal with the latter first.

The twin towers of Glen Eagles at 19 Moray Street, New Farm, sponsored by the Corporation of the Buffalo Memorial Homes, G.L.Q., was officially opened by the Hon. A.J. Hulme, MP, Postmaster General, on Saturday, 8th August 1964 at 1.00pm.  An all day fete was a feature of the day, with entertainment by the Eta Band.

The Hon. S.R. Ramsden, MLA, representing the Premier of Queensland, gave an address; after which the Invocation of Blessings by the Venerable Archdeacon C.S.C. Arkell of the Anglican Church, and Father K.H. Aspinall of the Roman Catholic Church, took place.  This was followed by a solo by Miss Gloria Eiser, accompanied by Wilbur Kentwell with “Bless This House”.  Bro. R.B. Taylor R.O.H., the Grand Secretary of the G.L.Q., then closed the formal meeting with an address.  The official party then retired for afternoon tea at 3.30pm.

Sadly, the construction of Glen Eagles and the prior announcement of a project, Glen Phoenix, did not go down too well with the northern Provincial Grand Lodges.  However, on a tied vote at a meeting of the Corporation of the B.M.H.A., the against vote of the chairman stopped the Glen Phoenix project at Fig Tree Pocket from proceeding.  

A few years down the track, the management of Glen Eagles was handed over to the Churches of Christ in July 1972, after eight years under G.L.Q. management.  This enabled the Corporation of the B.M.H.A. to concentrate their efforts with the Homes at Redcliffe.

The Redcliffe Aged Homes Facility

In early 1960, twenty-one acres of land had been cleared at Anzac Avenue, Redcliffe, and the first section of the proposed eighteen single units and six married units were erected.  A bowling green and a vegetable garden were also planned.

The Buffalo Memorial Homes were officially opened on 15th April 1961 at 2.30pm by the Hon. A.S. Hulme, MHR, after his introduction by Alderman J.E. Howton, the Mayor of Redcliffe.  A grand fete took place with Pipe Bands, Marching Girls, and a display by the Fire Brigade.  In all, approximately $1,000 was raised from the fete.

The original statistics for the Homes at Redcliffe read: Memorial Stone $724; buildings $101,367; land $574; crockery $118; furnishings $6,236; kitchen and garden requirements $528.  Subsidies: Federal Government $68,114; State Government $5,362.  Number of cottages completed – 15.

Today, one will see a vast difference in what the Homes looked like on that opening day, many, many years ago.

The G.L.Q. Banner Today

The years have not been over kind to the Buffalo fraternity as a whole, with a huge loss of Lodges and membership.  However, we as a Brotherhood should not look on the future with foreboding; but hope for better times, and have the will to do what we can to foster the continuance of a truly living Brotherhood.

All Brothers today must realise that there is a lot to be done in the next 20 years, prior to the G.L.Q. celebrating its 100th anniversary.  The challenge is there for a concerted effort to be made to bring the fraternity back to that which the Founders expected…a vibrant, living Brotherhood, of harmony and good fellowship.

Grand Primos

Please visit the Grand Primo Page

Grand Secretaries

Please visit the Grand Secretaries Page