A Priceless Masonic Relic from the Goose and Gridiron Tavern

by J. Paul Gomez December 16, 2019

A Priceless Masonic Relic from the Goose and Gridiron Tavern

Yesterday my wife and I along with our four kids attended the Children's Christmas Party which was hosted by the oldest Masonic lodge in the Greater Toronto Area- St. Andrew's Lodge No. 16 Perpetuating St. John's Lodge No. 75

It was a fun-filled day that was enjoyed with delicious refreshments! There were activities and entertainment for kids (and for the young at heart)! Even brother Santa made an appearance!

Toronto Don Valley District Freemasons

There were familiar faces but I also enjoyed meeting and having a chat with interesting new brothers that I just met. 

Toronto Don Valley District MasonsOne of the brothers that stood out to me was V.W. Bro. Dennis Rankin, a Masonic history buff and Past Grand Steward of GLCPOO. He was introduced to me by the Senior Warden of St. Andrew's, Brother Arthur Redublo. Brother Rankin was wearing an inconspicuous sprig of acacia pin, a symbol of his lodge Acacia No. 430.  

FraternalTies Acacia Wooden WatchI complimented him on it and told him that I have a fascination with acacia as I showed him my acacia wood and steel automatic Masonic watch. It is known that the Ark of the Covenant as well as many other ancient and sacred objects from various cultures were made of acacia wood, but did you know that the ancient Egyptians believed that the first Gods where born beneath its sheltering branches in Heliopolis? The hind part of the Celestial Boat of Ra was made of acacia wood. To them, it is the Tree of Life.

The Goose and Gridiron

Goose and Gridiron Freemasons SweaterAttending families were encouraged to wear their ugly Christmas sweatshirt so I also happened to be wearing my FraternalTies Goose and Gridiron Christmas sweater. When brother Rankin noticed it, he let me in on a piece of Masonic history that is not widely known. 


The John Ross Robertson Chair


John Ross Robertson Chair Toronto Don Valley District FreemasonsI learned from brother Dennis that sitting in a room right next to us is a chair of immense importance to the Craft. I even used the word "priceless" in the title of this article to describe it because how exactly do you put a price to an important artifact that is intrinsically linked to Freemasonry as we know it today? It's an old and solid chair made from the oak beam that supported the floor of the room in which the first Grand Lodge of England was organized in 1717 A.D., in the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in London Yard. The tavern was demolished in 1895 and the contractor on the job saved two of the oak floor joists and presented them to M.W. Bro. John Ross Robertson, who had a substantial chair made from that wood. It is also said that all Grand Masters of The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario are seated thereon whenever Grand Lodge meets in Toronto for the installation of the new Grand Master every two years.

John Ross Robertson Chair Toronto Don Valley District FreemasonsI asked brother Rankin if I can crawl under to see what's beneath. He said as long as I don't sit on it, it should be ok so I crawled. The inscription on the underside of the seat reads: "This Chair is made from the Rafters which supported the first-floor room of the Goose and Gridiron Tavern, London Yard St. Paul's Churchyard, London England, built 1670 in which Election of Anthony Sayer, First Grand Master, Grand Lodge of England, took place June 24th, 1717. Secured by J. Ross Robertson of Toronto on its demolition in 1897." 

What is the UGLE?

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is the governing Masonic lodge for the majority of Freemasons in England, Wales and the Commonwealth of Nations. It is the oldest Grand Lodge in the world. All regular Grand Lodges in the US are in mutual amity with each other and with UGLE. If a Masonic lodge or Grand Lodge is not in amity with UGLE, it is deemed to be clandestine and considered "irregular". 

How did the Goose and Gridiron get its name?

The Goose and Gridiron FreemasonsIn the old days, speculative masons draw or form their lodge on the floor of the tavern where they hold their meetings. Back then the name of a lodge is derived from the name of their preferred pub. This particular ale-house that became the birthplace of UGLE was previously been a music-house named The Mitre. One of the groups that meet there is a musical society known as the Swan and the Lyre. The goose standing on a gridiron was a sarcastic allusion to the swan and the lyre- as if to say, in a cheeky British way, that the sound of the goose and the gridiron is more harmonious than any melody coming from the other group's rehearsals!



J. Paul Gomez
J. Paul Gomez


W. Bro. John Paul Gomez (aka Paul, JP, JPG) is an artist by trade and a full-time father-of-4. He currently serves as the W.M. for Doric Lodge No. 316 AF&AM in Ontario, Canada. He is a Senior DeMolay and an honorary member of Harmonie Lodge No. 699 F&AM in Buffalo, New York. He likes to cook and is a big fan of Muaythai.

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T-shirt Sizing Chart 1

Size guide

  S M L XL 2XL 3XL
Length (inches) 28 29 ¼ 30 ¼ 31 ¼ 32 ½ 33 ½
Width (inches) 18 20 22 24 26 28