The Pictou County Roots Society has been given a relic of Sunny Brae’s past – the founding charter of a temperance lodge.
The Sunbeam Lodge No. 312 of the International Order of Good Templars (IOGT) was founded in Sunny Brae on Oct. 26, 1932, and met regularly in the hall above Reid’s store in the village.
The charter was kept in the store for many years and then after the building was sold was kept by the new owner who, on her passing, asked that it be given to her friend Geraldine Bennett.
Bennett said she kept it upstairs in her attic for the last 10 years, but wanted to find a good home for it, so she called local historian Clyde Macdonald who suggested it be donated to the Roots Society for safe keeping.
Bennett doesn’t remember the meetings herself, but grew up next door to Reid’s store and remembers her friend Jessie MacPhee telling her about it. MacPhee is actually listed as one of the founding members. MacPhee told Bennett there was a little slot that opened and a password had to be given to enter.
Bennett laughs at the thought of a small community like Sunny Brae where everyone knew each other needing a password to enter.
“They were all just people from the village,” she said. “They went faithfully I know.”
Macdonald said the Roots Society is happy to have the old document and hope to put it on display in the future.
A native of Sunny Brae, Macdonald said the signing of the charter would have been part of the temperance movement that was strong in Canada at the time.
“They promised that alcohol wouldn’t touch their lips. Interestingly enough, a number of these individuals who lived into their 90s, I know liquor didn’t touch their lips.”
In the early 1800s there was a tavern in Sunny Brae, but for the majority of its history it was a dry town.
While the Sunbeam Lodge has long ceased to exist, the organization itself is still around.
According to the group’s website, IOGT started in America in the middle of the 19th century and spread across North America. In 1868 a man named Joseph Malins returned to his native England and held a meeting in a small chapel in Cregoe Street, Birmingham. From this small gathering IOGT was to spread to the continent of Europe and to the rest of the world.
Members ranged from youth to adults.
“A lot of them were teenagers that formed this club,” said Macdonald.