Updated: Feb 5
I chose this topic to research and write about as I have a personal connection with the Rebekah's here in Transcona. Read on to find out more about the history of the Rebekah's and Oddfellow's here in Transcona.
A brief history of the founding in Canada
The Independent Order of Oddfellows and Rebecca's have always been a central point to Canada's history, in particular, Transcona. The Oddfellow's were established on August 10, 1843, twenty-four years following the founding of the American Order. Many of the members at the time were prominent elected members of parliament in their home province/state/country. The lodges became private clubs where members could socialize. The members were able to escape from their "daily hectic parliamentary lifestyle to enjoy some private male activities".
Transcona Silver Jubilee, 1936
There was once an Oddfellow's club here in Transcona. In the Transcona Silver Jubilee book, it states, "Transcona Lodge No. 81, I.O.O.F. has grown up with the Town of Transcona, having being instituted May 31st, 1911".
As of 1936, the following held positions within the club:
W.J. Crittenden as Noble Grand
Thos. Acres as Vice Grand
John McGeachan as Junior Past Grand
W.T. Fuller as Past Grand Master
WM. Emslie as Financial Secretary
Robt. Angus as Recording Secretary
John Fraser as Treasurer
The Transcona Museum has no further information on the Oddfellow's and their existence in Transcona.
The Rebekah's history
"In 1850, Schuyler Colfax was tasked to write a Degree for women. The Rebekah Lodges were founded on September 20, 1851, when, after considerable debate, the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows voted to adopt the Rebekah Degree, largely due to the efforts of an Odd Fellow named Schuyler Colfax, U.S. Vice President from 1869 to 1873. The first Rebekah Degrees were honorary awards only, conferred on wives and daughters of Odd Fellows at special Lodge meetings, and recipients were known as 'Daughters of Rebekah'.The name is taken from the Biblical character of Rebekah".
"These early Daughters of Rebekah had no lodge system of their own, and operated in an informal and local manner. On September 25, 1868, the IOOF voted to establish Degree Lodges of the Daughters of Rebekah, mirroring the existing arrangements for their male counterparts. The Daughters were given the right to elect their own officers, charge for initiation fees, collect dues and undertake charitable and benevolent activities. The name was changed to 'Degree of Rebekah' in 1874".
Transcona's Silver Jubilee, 1936
Confidence No. 40 Rebekah club was instituted on March 24, 1913 in Transcona with the following founding members:
Bros. S. Dunett
A. R. Lyon
During World War 1 (1914-1918), the club was dormant for 2 years to allow members to serve, or their husbands to serve. When the club was revived again in 1918, an M. Sommerville was elected Noble Grand.
According to the Transcona Silver Jubilee book, in 1925, Confidence no. 40 competed in Portland, Oregon with 1,100 other degree staff. Confidence brought home the silver shield. The club competed with Bro. W. Fuller, P.G.M., as their degree captain.
The Transcona Silver Jubilee book states the club travelled to Flin Flon to confer the degree on forty candidates at the instituting of the North Star Rebecca Lodge in 1930.
In 1935, Confidence No. 40 had the honour of having one of their members, Sister M. Sommerville, elected President of the Rebekah Assembly of Manitoba, according to The Transcona Silver Jubilee book.
On May 16th1935 the club and its members travelled to Cypress River, Manitoba to confer the degree on to thirty candidates at the instituting of the Royal Jubilee Lodge there. As of 1935, Mrs. Geo. Vincent, Sr. was a veteran member.
In 1936, Confidence No. 40 had 160 members and according to The Transcona Silver Jubilee book: ‘much could be told of their good work amongst the sick or distressed. Our motto is: “Do good unto all as we have opportunity”.’
The following is a list of members as of 1936 in Confidence No. 40:
Mabel Sommerville: Provincial President
Louise Day: Nobel Grand
Mildred Cowan: Financial Secretary
Alice Everton: Secretary
Isabella Esselmont: Chaplain
Janet Fraser: Treasurer
Ella Chadwick: JR Past Noble Grand
Margaret McGeachan: Vice-Grand
Theta Rho history
Theta Rho was "authorised in 1931, with repeal and re-adoption in 1933, the Theta Rho Girls' Club comprises of girls from 10-18 years of age (8 years of age if jurisdictional laws allows) who are entitled to remain until 21. The present Ritual dates from the Revision of 1989. The current Code of Laws for Theta Rho Clubs was tentatively authorised and adopted in 1956."
Theta Rho Girls Club is the youth club under the IOOF banner.
Theta" and "Rho" are two Greek Letters, "O" and "P" initials of two Greek words that have been interpreted to mean "Daughter of Rebekah" but it is not for certain that this is a fact. This organization gives young girls the opportunity for leadership and community service. The girls select their own leaders and annual elections are held to select state-level leadership as well. The Theta Rho Girls Club seeks to teach unselfishness, morality, and patriotism; to encourage mental and physical development; to develop character; to promote sentiment that happiness is obtained only through service to God and man. And that obedience to law is necessary for the preservation of government and protection of home and country.
"In Theta Rho, there are jewels that can be attained through attaining positions within the club. Jewels are awarded to the Advisor of the club- the Rebekah nominated to run the club who has completed all of the Theta Rho positions and knows the club. There is also an Assembly Officers Jewel—need more info on this. When a member joins the club, they are given a membership pin to display on their shirt at meetings. During each meeting, a Chain Regalia is passed out to each member to wear that displays their position, and is how members identify other members from visitors. During the annual Assembly’s held throughout the United States and Canada, Assembly Officers were also required to wear Regalia to identify themselves as Assembly Officers to others. If a Theta Rho member has finished her term as President, they receive a pin after the new President has been elected and had the ceremony to be sworn in. A Past President may also receive a jewel for her time as Past President."
Letitia Theta Rho No. 1 was founded in 1950. Confidence no. 40 still remains intact here in Transcona. New members join every year.
My history with IOOF and the Rebekah’s
I joined Letitia Theta Rho girls club no. 1 when I was 8 years old. I grew up and lived in Transcona, attending meetings at the local Legion Hall on Regent Ave. We would have meetings every Monday. There were rituals performed to open and close the club. I cannot discuss what those are as it is information not given to the public and considered secret.
There were positions given for each member as well such as president, vice president and chaplain. When I joined there were probably close to 40 members. We frequently had Rebekah’s from Confidence lodge #40 join our weekly meetings as well. The Rebekah Lodge held their meetings on Thursdays. Theta Rho is designed for girls aged 8-21, and to be a Rebekah you must be 21 or older. There is no age limit to be a Rebekah.
Almost every summer, the Theta Rho girls would go on a trip to the Sovereign Grand Lodge Youth Days to showcase their hard-earned work on their marching drills they performed. Every Sunday we would meet at the United Church on Yale Ave. West and would spent 3 or 4 hours practices our drills. It was hard for the younger girls, but as I got older, it got easier and I was more experienced. My first trip with Theta Rho was to Halifax. I believe I was 9 or 10. That was a long bus ride I tell ya! To save money, the girls never flew anywhere. We rented a bus and slept in the bus overnight and stayed on the bus too.
The Rebecca ladies would make 100 or more sandwiches for us to have for lunch while on the bus. Breakfast and dinner were always up to us to figure out. It was either McDonald’s or Tim Hortons for breakfast. Dinner was usually somewhere nicer such as the Swiss Chalet. A few years later we went to Denver, Co. We competed there as well. Prizes were given at the annual competitions for group drills, group dance and individual. The club competed in both every 2- 3 years once we had enough money saved up through fundraising. The last competition we competed in was here in Winnipeg in 2009.
When the club still had over 20 members, every May long weekend we would attend a rally with other Theta Rho clubs in Manitoba. There were four at the time. Winnipeg had three clubs, and Dauphin had a club as well. We would sleep in a church hall in Portage or another town in Manitoba that had both a Rebekah club and an Oddfellow’s club. Our meals would be provided to us by the Oddfellow’s and Rebekah’s in that town. We would play camping games, sing songs, and chat with the other girls. We camped out on air mattresses and in sleeping bags on the floor of the hall. I believe the last rally we had was around 2005 or 2006. By then, the club’s numbers had dwindled down to around 10.
Letitia Theta Rho also participated in highway cleanup in the month of June. The Oddfellow’s and Rebekah’s had a highway they had claimed and the girls would help the members of those clubs in the cleanup.
In 2009, I had the opportunity to attend the United Nations conferences held in New York City. 500 students including myself also attended other national monuments in Canada and the U.S. We visited Philadelphia, PA, Arlington, VA, Washington, D.C., Ottawa, and Niagara Falls in Canada. This trip was sponsored by the Confidence no. 40 here in Transcona. It was an all-expense-paid trip, with the exception of spending money on souvenirs. You must be turning 16 within the year the trip is held to be eligible. The purpose of the trip is to see how the United Nations is run, and participate in a speech contest based on one topic you visited a lecture on.
For more information, please visit http://www.unpilgrimage.org/unp_program/unp_pgmoverview.htm
The club has folded now after membership in the club dwindled down to 5 girls. There were not enough members to hold all positions needed to run the club.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the Rebekah's history here in Transcona. If you have any information on the Rebekah's in Transcona (photographs, souvenirs, trophies) and no longer wish to keep them, the Transcona Museum would gladly accept those donations.
Phone Number: 204-222-0423
For more information on the Oddfellow's, Theta Rho or Rebekah's, please visit http://www.ioofmb.ca/about.htm
Nowlan Cook Fonds Photograph Series, TM Archives
St. Vital Historical Society Fonds Photograph Negative Series, TM Archives
Transcona Board of Trade Historical Booklet Committee, Transcona Silver Jubilee 1911-1936: June 22-27, 1936 (Winnipeg, 1936), 75. TM Collections
The Transcona and Eastern Manitoba News. April 13, 1950.
Vernon (Vern) Lloyd Peterson Fonds Photograph Series, TM Archives
Oddfellows Grand Lodge of Ontario, "Independent Order of Odd Fellows Grand Lodge of Ontario". Accessed on 06/25/2017
Wikipedia, "International Association of Rebekah Assemblies" Accessed on 06/25/2017
Roots Web, "Theta Rho Clubs" Accessed on 06/30/2017
Harlandale Lodge, "Independent Order of Odd Fellows" Accessed on 06/30/2017
United Nations Pilgrimage for Youth, "Independent Order of Odd Fellows Educational Pilgrimage for Youth" Accessed on 06/25/2017
The Sovereign Grand Lodge: Independent Order of Oddfellows, "IOOF JEWELS - THETA RHO GIRLS' CLUB JEWELS" Accessed on 06/25/2017