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Rebekah Lodge

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Like the United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA), many women's organizations were offshoots of men's organizations. An example is the Rebekah Lodge, the female counterpart to the fraternal organization, The Oddfellows. The Oddfellows originated centuries ago in England as an offshoot of Free Masonry. It was first made up of mostly craftsmen and newcomers, although it promised not to discriminate against membership according to class and religion. Like many friendly societies of the period, it was based on secret oaths and ritualism that was Christian, although not limited to any one sect.

With British colonialism, the Oddfellows Order was transported to North America and it was in the United States in the 1880s that women fought and won the right to have their own legitimate body - the Rebekah Lodge. Both orders followed the motto "Friendship, Love and Truth" (the "three links") and made use of secrecy and rituals based on Biblical teachings. The first Oddfellows lodge in Alberta was founded in Calgary in 1884 and the Rebekah followed here in 1907. Soon both orders spread throughout Alberta including many parts of central Alberta, such as Alix and Donalda

Both orders were very popular in Alberta because members pledged to help each other out financially and emotionally during times of hardships. Certainly early Alberta was a place of hardship and the group support that the Orders offered appealed to many. They also offered the opportunity for much social bonding. The Lodges, which usually met twice a month, offered their members much-valued "nights out," giving them a chance to catch up with friends and discuss matters of common importance. They also end their meetings with activities, such as suppers, games of bridge, songs, readings and sometimes even dances.

Rebekah Lodges balance their socializing with community work. Most often, they visit the sick and elderly and help them with tasks that have become too burdensome. They are often responsible for organizing social events for the lodges, preparing the food and organizing seating and entertainment. They have also supported aspects of the women's rights movement, such as the suffrage movement.

Source:

  • Jasen, Patricia. "The Oddfellows in Early Calgary." Alberta History 35(3) 1987: 8-12.

 

  
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