On entering the Ladysmith Cemetery, on the left, one sees an imposing stone monument with the inscription “To the Sacred Memory of All Oddfellows and Rebekahs, erected by Harmony Lodge No.6 and Rebekah Lodge No.9 1953”.
In the early 1900s, the Oddfellows had a lodge in Ladysmith in their own hall on Roberts Street (now, 2011, the site of the telephone exchange) which was destroyed by fire in 1932, then rebuilt on the same site.
Why were they called Oddfellows? Originally, it was a secret society formed in England in the 18th century and one possible origin is that it was odd in those times to find a group of men organized to help those in need, and “to pursue projects for the benefit of all mankind.” The Prince of Wales became a member. The Credo is that Oddfellows are synonymous with brotherhood, and their ultimate goal is universal brotherhood.
The society started in Baltimore in 1819 and in Canada in 1843; no longer a secret society, their main aim is the welfare of its members giving mutual support, and raising money for charitable purposes, such as establishing a Chair of Visual Research at John Hopkins Hospital. In 1999, they sent youths on tours of the United Nations building, the only fraternal organization allowed to conduct such tours.
The logo of three links represent Friendship, Love, and Truth
Laurel Rebekah Lodge No.9 I.O.O. was instituted in Wellington in November 1895. When the coal miners moved to Ladysmith, they followed in 1901; the degree of Rebekah was originally appointed in 1851.
Their aims are similar to the Oddfellows, mutual support and charitable activities.
Their ritual includes lessons from biblical stories of women in the Old Testament of the Bible. Their emblems – a beehive representing associated industry and the result of combined effort; the moon and seven stars which teach us the value of regularity in all our work; the dove, the beautiful emblem of peace; and the white lily, the symbol of purity.
Ladysmith Chronicle July 31 1953
Oddfellows honor Departed Brothers. In memory of their brethren and Rebekahs who have passed this vale of tears, the I.O.O. of Ladysmith are erecting a beautiful memorial in the Ladysmith cemetery. Designed and being erected by Fred Rumble, the column of stone will rise from its base approximately nine feet, with beautiful inlaid marble and the crests of both orders. As far as can be learned, this is the first time in the history of the I.O.O. movement that such a project has been undertaken.
Consecration of the memorial will take place on Sunday, August 9, when it is expected that Oddfellows from all parts of British Columbia will take part in the ceremony. Grand Master of the Order for B.C., A.D. McRae of Mission, will also attend. A parade will be mustered from the Eagle’s Hall at 2:00 pm, and led by pipers from Nanaimo and Ladysmith, will proceed to the cemetery. Rev. Nuttal of Nanaimo, and the Rev. H.E.D. Cooper of St. John’s Anglican Church, Ladysmith, will assist with the consecration. Following the service, refreshments will be served to the visiting brethren in the United Church Hall, provided by the Rebekahs.
Ladysmith Chronicle Friday, Aug. 14, 1953
Solemn dedication of the beautiful cut-stone memorial erected in Ladysmith cemetery by Harmony Lodge No.6 and Laurel Lodge No.9 in memory of all Oddfellows and Rebekahs, was held Sunday afternoon. Flanked by over 100 persons, high officials of the orders officiated, among them Mr. A.D McRae, Provincial Grand Master, I.O.O. of Mission, BC. Mrs. Edith Granger, president of the Rebekah assembly of Kelowna; Rev. H.D. Nuttal of Nanaimo, who conducted the dedication, was assisted by Rev. H.D. Cooper and Rev. AJ.M. Alexander of Ladysmith. His Worship, Mayor Leonard Ryan, spoke in praise of the work which had been accomplished by the orders. A wreath of three links, symbols of the I.O.O. – denoting Friendship, Love and Truth, was laid on the memorial by Mrs. Robert Gauld, Noble Grand of Laurel No.9, and Mrs. Mary Anderson, Noble Grand of Miriam No.3, Nanaimo.
Ladysmith Historical Society