Craig Bakay | Jun 26, 2019
In 1819, Thomas Wildey founded an Oddfellows Lodge in Baltimore, MD, the first in North America.
In 2019, the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs of Harrowsmith gathered in their Golden Links Hall to commemorate that event.
It was a time to remember and honour those who have served the longest with the presentation of jewels and recognitions, such as June Carruthers, who joined the Rebekahs on Dec. 7, 1943, in Belleville, making her a Rebekah for 75 years. She was the longest-serving member in attendance.
“I’ve enjoyed all of my years,” she told the crowd. “I love you.”
Howard Warner and Howard Fellows are the last remaining Odd Fellows who served in the old hall in Harrowsmith that burned down in 1972. They each have 51 years of service.
“There was a post office, a garage and a hall there,” said Fellows. “It’s been a lot better working in this (Golden Links) hall than the first one.
“The old hall had two floors.
“The lower floor was a bingo hall and we had our meetings upstairs. We had to put posts under the beams so the floor wouldn’t bounce.”
The Athena Lodge #306 (instituted Mar. 4, 1894) and Princess Elizabeth Rebekah Lodge #358 (instituted Mar. 14, 1952) have been involved in many charitable and community functions over the years including eye research and the eye bank, arthritis society, and Odd Fellow and Rebehaka Sniors Home.
They are particularly involved with Camp Trillium, having taken out and paid off a $1 million loan to secure property for the camp.
They give financial and moral support to local families in need, loan out a variety of hospital equipment and participate in local events such as Canada Day in the Park and the Santa Claus Parade.
Each they give a $500 bursary to a Sydenham High School student to assist in furthering their education.