St. John’s Lodge No. 209a is the oldest Lodge in the London West Masonic District. Together with its Irish twin, St. John’s Lodge No. 20 (London East), it can trace its origin to a warrant issued by the G.L. of Ireland on October 4, 1841. Renowned for their “Irish” ritual, it is not surprising, therefore, that the early history of both Lodges is inextricably tied to St. John’s Lodge No. 209 IR. In the late 1830’s, the village of London became a military garrison, and in 1840 the 83rd Regiment of Foot took occupancy of barracks on the present site of Victoria Park. The regiment held a “Traveling Warrant” from the G.L. of Ireland (coincidentally No. 83 IR), and so brought Irish Masonry to London. Locals, made members of No. 83 IR, petitioned the G.L. of Ireland, with the support of the Commanding Officer, to grant the warrant for St. John’s No. 209. The Lodge first met in Balkwill’s Inn located on the corner of King and Talbot Streets. In the period to 1855, St. John’s 209 IR greatly aided the growth of Masonry in the region by sponsoring the formation of St. George’s Lodge No. 895 GLE (now No. 42 GRC in London West) and King Hiram Lodge No.226 IR (Ingersol), as well as installing the first Officers of Lodges in Woodstock, Goderich and Port Stanley. The Lodge also laid the cornerstone of the new brick St. Paul’s Church on St. John’s Day, June 24th, 1844. The engraved trowel used on that occasion can still be seen today in a glass case embedded in the wall of the central entrance to St. Paul’s Cathedral on Richmond Street. When the G.L. of Canada was formed in 1855, the Brethren, having special concession to continue the “Irish” work, elected to join with it and the Lodge was renumbered St. John’s No. 14 GRC (again in 1859 to No. 20). Some of the Brethren, however, later had fears that their ritual privilege might be ended in a jurisdictional dispute that arose between the GL’s of Canada and Ireland and three of them sought, in 1857, to resuscitate Lodge No. 209 IR under the original warrant, which had not been returned to Dublin. Following a period of existing as “a-Lodge-within-a-Lodge” supported by the GL of Ireland, St. John’s 209 IR re-emerged in 1860 as a Lodge separate from St. John’s No. 20 GRC. Finally, in 1872, after a period when they were even declared “irregular”, the Brethren of 209 IR opted to join the GLC. They applied to keep the number 209, but as that had already been allocated, they agreed on No. 209a. Permission was, however, obtained to continue with the “Irish” work. The dedication to preserve and portray that ritual over the years, has enabled the Brethren of St. John’s Lodge No. 209a GRC to build a rich history of fraternal visits with numerous Lodges. Of special note are the 110 years of annual visitation with The Lodge of Strict Observation No. 27 GRC (Hamilton District “B”) commenced in 1887. As part of the 150th Anniversary celebrations in 1991, three trees were planted in the North-East angle of the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and following a Church service attended by Brethren of all three Lodges, were dedicated as a memorial to the three St. John’s Lodges: 209 IR, 20 and 209a GRC.