The Laying of the Foundation Stone
for the Brockville Railway Tunnel
Copied from the original newspaper article in the Brockville Recorder of 21 September 1854.
The second important event of the week was that connected with laying the foundation stone of the Brockville Tunnel. This great event took place on Saturday, when the town was well filled by a great number of visitors from the country.
As the Free Masons had been requested to take charge of this important ceremony, according to ancient custom, a number of brethren from Perth and other places were in
attendance, with banners and other regalia. Invitations had also been sent to the Mayor and Corporation, the Ministers of the town, the members of the Bar, the Brockville Lodge of Oddfellows, the Sons of Temperance, the Knights of Jericho, and the Firemen; while the Brockville Amateur Band, like a band of noble fellows, headed by their leader, Mr. Gilbert, came forth gratuitously to cheer the march of the procession with their enlivening strains, and made the welkin ring again with “The Merry Masons. ”
At a little after twelve o’clock, the procession formed on the Court House Square, in the following order, No. 2 Fire Company taking the lead in their neat uniform, under the command of Capt. Amos Abbott; Fire Company No.1, we are sorry to say, having declined to take part in the proceedings, although several of the members joined themselves to other bodies in the procession.
After the Grand Marshall had his arrangements completed, the procession started in the following order:
Grand Marshall, Hiram Fulford,
Queen Fire Company, No.2,
The Knights of Jericho,
The Sons of Temperance,
The Bar and Medical Faculty,
The Clergymen of all Denominations,
The Mayor and Town Council,
Independent Order of Oddfellows, juniors walking first,
The Masonic Lodges, according to rank and seniority, juniors first,
Two Tylers with Drawn Swords,
Brethren not members of any Lodge, two and two,
Brethren of the Lodge, two and two, juniors going first,
Architect and Builder, with plans,
Directors of the Railroad,
Cornucopia with corn, borne by a Master, supported by two Stewards,
Silver Vessels with corn and wine, borne by two Masters,
Grand Director of Ceremonies, Dr. Ashton of Bath,
Grand Superintendent of Works, with plate to be deposited in the stone,
Deputy Grand Marshal,
Grand Secretary, with Book of Constitution,
Grand Register, with his bag,
Grand Treasurer, bearing box containing coin, records, &c. &c. , to be deposited in the stone,
Visitors of Distinction, two and two
The Corinthian Light, by the Master of a Lodge,
The J. G. Warden with plumb rule,
Steward – Banner – Steward
The Doric Light, by the Master of a Lodge,
The S. G. Warden with Level,
The J. G. Deacon,
Grand Chaplain, with Holy Bible,
Deputy Grand Master with Square, William B. Simpson
The Ionic Light, borne by the Master of a Lodge,
Brother of Eminence, bearing a Mallet,
Steward – Standard – Steward
Grand Sword Bearer,
Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Adiel Sherwood,
The Senior Grand Deacon,
Two Grand Stewards,
The procession walked along Church Street to Perth St. down Perth St. to the Main St. along Main Street to Park Street down Park Street to Water Street, and along Water Street to the site of the Tunnel where the foundation stone was to be laid.
Along the whole line of Procession the streets were filled with gay and happy people, but the scene which met the eye on arriving at what will be the mouth of the Tunnel, was of the most interesting nature. The banks of earth thrown up on each side of the opening were crowded by a dense mass of ladies and gentlemen all eager to witness the solemn Masonic ceremonies connected with laying the foundation stone. As these ceremonies, however, took place in a spot where those engaged in the Holy Work could not be seen, the masses were unable to witness the performance.
When the acting Grand Master, Adiel Sherwood, Esq., reached the spot, he was met by the contractors, John and David Booth, Esq., to whom the various officers who were to take part in the ceremony were introduced. The Grand Chaplain, the Rev. William Smart, then offered up an impressive prayer, asking God’s blessing on the work, and desiring that the workmen employed in constructing the Tunnel might be guarded from hurt either in life or limb.
The acting Deputy Grand Master, William B. Simpson, Esq., then read a list of the various documents to be deposited in the stone among which were a parchment stating by whom the stone was laid, and for what purpose, with the names of the Masonic officers officiating, and those of the Committee of Management; a copy of the Act of Incorporation of the Railway Company; another parchment containing the date of organization and the names of the present officers of the Oddfellows Lodge; also a copy of the Recorder and one of the Monitor, also several coins, and a plate bearing the following inscription, being laid over the whole:
Chief Corner Stone of the Brockville and Ottawa R.R. Tunnel, in the Town of Brockville, was laid with due Masonic Honours, by Acting Deputy Grand Master, Adiel Sherwood, this 16th day of September, A.D. 1854, in the year of Masonry, 5854.“
These articles, being placed in a tin box, were then deposited in a cavity beneath the Stone; the stone was then lowered into its position, when the Level, the Square and Plumb Rule were applied to it, and the Corn, the Wine, and the Oil poured upon it, the Master of the Ceremonies, Dr. Ashton, of Bath, repeating after each pouring, the appropriate Masonic prayer, the brethren responding, “So mote it be.”
Mr. Sherwood then took the mall and gave the Stone three knocks, invoking while doing so, the blessing of the Grand Architect of the Universe, to which the brethren again responded “So mote it be.”
The stone having been laid, the bank struck up God Save the Queen, after which Lieut. Kincaid brought the Artillery Ordinance into play and fired a Salute of fifteen rounds. The Rev. William Smart, in consequence of the illness of Mr. Sherwood, who unfortunately was compelled to retire as soon as the stone was laid, addressed the assembly as follows:
(The speech Itself Is omitted from this copy. It is a long, and rambling effort and would require almost four pages to reproduce it here.)
After Mr. Smart concluded, three cheers were given for the Queen; three for Mr. Sykes; three for the Tunnel; three for the Sheriff; and three for Mr. Smart An invitation was then given to all persons who joined in the procession to retire to Mr. Willson’s in order to partake of a dejeuner.
Having been requested by the Railway Directors to act as a steward on the occasion, the writer was prevented from taking notes, consequently our readers must be content with a few random recollections of what occurred at the Hotel.
When we entered the room, we were more than astonished at the appearance of all things around. Mr.Willson, it is well known, never does things by halves. When he puts his best foot foremost, people generally know what the result is likely to be, and in all his undertakings of this nature, he is well and ably sustained by Mr.Brennan. On the present occasion, everything was prepared in the most superb, yet substantial style, and when we state that about 250 persons partook of the good things provided, some idea may be formed of the extent of the preparations required for as large an assembly of able men with good appetites. The only regret felt by Willson was that after the first company was satisfied, sufficient time was not given for properly loading the tables with a second supply, consequently the articles for the second company had to be sent up in the order of Brockville lampposts – one here and one there – without regularity.
The Mayor (John Crawford) presided for some time, after which Ormond Jones, Esq., took the chair. The first toast proposed was given by the Mayor. It was “Mr. Sykes, and good health to him.“ This toast was rapturously received, and to which Mr. Sykes appropriately replied in a few brief sentences. On the conclusion of his speech, he gave “The health of Sheriff Sherwood,” and regretted that from indisposition the worthy Sheriff had been forced to retire so soon to his home.
The Mayor then gave “The Masons and Oddfellows,” Dr. Thomas Reynolds, the Provincial Grand Master, replying for the Oddfellows, and William B. Simpson, Esq., Acting Deputy Master, returning thanks on behalf of the Free and Accepted Masons.
Many other toasts were given, but we were unable to note them from the arduous duties the writer was compelled to perform as a steward. Suffice it to say the proceedings terminated about five o’clock p.m., in the most harmonious manner, not one ,jarring or angry word having escaped a single person present.
In the evening we had the pleasure of attending another very interesting party at Willson’s. This was a dinner given to the workmen employed on the tunnel by the contractors Messrs. John and David Booth. At this party there were upwards of thirty, the chair being occupied by Mr. John Booth.
If the public wish to know the character of an employer, he will best gain his object by talking with the employed. The Messrs. Booth are strangers to Canada, yet they have recognized the building of a very important __?__and character they bore elsewhere is, therefore, of some importance to the community. Being present on the occasion referred to, we derived some knowledge of the estimation in which the Messrs. Booth are held by their workmen, many of whom were employed by them in England, and have, at the invitation of their employers, left “Old England on the lee” in order to try their fortunes “in this here Canada.”
One of the workmen, Mr. George Scott, a very intelligent man, and a really good speaker, toasted the health of the Messrs. Booth. In doing this, he laid down in a clear manner, how important it was for employers and employed to understand each other. Like those around him, he said he was a son of toil, and as such it was his duty, as it was the duty of each of them, to render a day’s labour for a fair day’s wages. Their present employers were men whom they know, and knowing could trust, and he hoped they would excercise the same justice towards their workmen as they had ever done. The toast was then done amid great applause.
Mr. Booth returned thanks and stated that many of them had left their wives and families behind them, he thought they ought in their rejoicings to remember them. He gave a statement in accordance with the spirit of that remark, which was replied with __?__ three and one more.
Mr. Scott then proposed “The Press” concluding it with the name of Mr. Wylie. In doing he passed a few excellent remarks on its __?__ power. Mr. Wylie returned thanks, and gave “Mr. Scott, and the sons of toil,” to which Mr. Scott responded.
After enjoying themselves for an hour or so in the greatest harmony, the party separated, and so ended the public proceedings connected with laying the Foundation Stone of the Brockville Tunnel.
Brockville Railway Tunnel – ca. 1895