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The Society of United Fishermen (S.U.F) was established in 1873 by the Rev. George Gardener, then Rector of Heart’s Content. In 1862, this gentlemen founded a Fisherman’s Society to provide for sickness and for a payment to widows of members a sum of money on the death of their husbands. This Society built the first Fishermen’s Hall in Heart’s Content. The men met only once a year for reports, accounts, and procession to church. The business throughout the year was managed by the officers. In 1873, in response to an expressed desire to enlarge its operations, the society voluntarily dissolved and reorganized “upon an entirely new and more effective basis” under its present name.
A committee of twelve Brethren of the above Lodge was appointed to draft a Constitution and prepare rituals for the New Order. Scilly Cove, Hant’s Harbour, Bay Roberts and St. John’s were soon called into existence and in less than three years from the dissolution of the old society, the new one had lodges in thirty-five places in the island.
The Grand Lodge was moved to St. John’s in 1881. The certificates which have been very much admired for the emblems, appropriate to a fisherman’s calling, were designed by Mr. Woodcock, a member of the Grand Lodge and were executed by Oppenheim, of London.
“The Order has for its objects the welfare of fishermen, the inculcation of temperance and morality, the preservation of peace and harmony, obedience to the laws and the lawfully constituted authorities and the development of the fisheries. It is also a mutual benefit Society, in which all paying members receive aid in time of sickness and other calamity.”
The Society of United Fishermen came into being at Trinity in 1875. Its first President and Secretary were, respectively, the Rev. H. Dunfield and J. B. O’Donell, schoolmaster. The S.U.F. had its first meeting at Brooking’s Old Bell House which stood on the site of the present Parish Hall. The lodge name was St. Paul’s No. 49 and it was closed in 1976.
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