The Battle River Shrine Club

Central Alberta Masons having fun doing good for kids!

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Join Us on the Float!

Battle River on Parade

BRSC History

The Shriners from . . .

Rochon Sands


Notables among our members

The start of the Battle River Shrine Club

A short history of Shriners

Notables amongst our Past and Current Membership . . .

David Roth - Grand Master of Alberta

John Hart - Past Grand Master of Alberta

Jim Crawford* - Past Grand Master of Alberta and Charter Member of the BRSC

Ed Whitenett* - Past President of the International Clowns Association

Richard Glasgow - Past Grand First Principal of Royal Arch Masons

Keith Fossen - Past Grand Patron of Eastern Star

Bruce Hogle - Order of Canada and Past Potentate of Al Shamal

Ken Drever - Past President of the Battle River Foundation

 * Member of the Grand Lodge Above

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A note by Charter Member (and Honorary Life Member) Noble Cliff McDermott dated 10 March 2013

On Sept. 17th, 1977, the Charter Night of the Battle River Shrine Club was held in Stettler under the direction of Bryce Van Dusen, Potentate of Al Azhar Temple.  We were sponsored by the Red Deer Shrine Club. 

 Our Charter President was Dennis Wilford of Stettler.  Other Charter Members were Ed O’Morrow, Stettler;  Frank Graham, Daysland; Ted Grauman, Red Deer; Herb Thieme, Stettler, Art Peacock, Alliance; Ray Zipse, Stettler, Earl Berry, Bashaw;  Don McPherson, Camrose;  Arthur Apperley, Stettler;  Leo Shuckburgh, Stettler;  Bruce Henry, Red Deer;  Mel Quance, Stettler;  Al Taylor, Red Deer;  Cliff McDermott, Alliance;  Ron McPherson, Spruce Grove;  Fred Storey, Red Deer;  Bob McKay, Heisler;  Bud Starling, Stettler;  Allen Roddick, Forestburg;  Alfred Klaus, Stettler;  Jack Kneale, Forestburg;  Russ McKinney, Stettler;  Jim Murdoch, Mirror;  Mason Pound, Camrose;  Stanley Lissack, Daysland;  Jim Crawford, Forestburg;  Len Hall, Killam;  John Shaw, Sedgewick;  Lyle McPherson, Alliance;  John Brennan, Stettler.

In the early years of our club, the members shared ownership in 6 miniature fire trucks with Noble Herb Thieme leading with his miniature Corvette.  These were taken to local parades.  The fire engines were later sold to a club in south western Alberta.

Noble Ed Whitenett was an active member of our club and a Shrine clown in both Al Azhar and Al Shamal, going on to become President of the International Shrine Clowns Association for 2 years.  Sadly, Ed passed away in late Dec. 2012.

Over the years, BRSC has become known as a travelling club, holding dinner meetings in Stettler, Camrose, Ponoka, and Forestburg.  A few years ago, under the leadership of Noble President Rick Forster of Camrose, the ladies have become regular guests at our meetings.  We have found this to be very beneficial to our club.   

We are actively involved in parades in East Central Alberta throughout the parade season.  Whenever the need arises, we do our best to help a crippled child

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The Shriner Story presented by BRSC Noble Don Anderson in Camrose 15 April 2012 . . .

The Shrine is perhaps one of the most publicly recognized concordant bodies of Masonry yet many people do not realize that all Shriners are Masons.

The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, now called Shrine International was created in 1870-71 by a group of Masons who met regularly for lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage, a restaurant located on 6th Ave. in New York City. At a special table on the second floor, this particularly jovial group of men were noted for their good humor and wit. They often discussed the idea of a new fraternity for Masons, in which fun and fellowship would be stressed more than ritual. Two of the table regulars, Walter M. Fleming, M.D., and William J. “Billy” Florence, an actor, took the idea seriously enough to do something about it. From these humble beginnings the Shrine was created and now there are more than 340,000 Shriners who gather in Temples, or chapters, throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Panama and Germany.

We are those guys that wear the funny red hats, we participate in parades, some of us wear wild costumes and drive funny little vehicles and yes we have big conventions called ceremonials where we initiate our new members. Our Arabic theme is in no way meant to disparage the people or cultures of the Middle East but was born when one of the founding members, who was an actor, travelled and performed in Europe and was invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. He, recalling conversations at the Knickerbocker Cottage, realized that this Arabian theme might well be the vehicle for the new fraternity.

Each Shrine Temple is organized with clubs and units. Clubs are smaller groups of Shriners who gather locally to socialize and fund raise for our philanthropy and for local causes. Units are the groups of Shriners who gather for socializing and also have a common interest, for example the Shrine Clowns, The Oriental Band, The TLC (ride lawn mowers that have been converted in to Fire engines), the Legion of Honor, Provost Corps (our policemen) and others. Locally we have the BRSC with members from communities across Central Alberta – Rimbey to Hardisty, Red Deer and Stettler to Camrose and Irma. We meet monthly rotating our meeting between Camrose, Stettler, Forestburg and Ponoka and we include our ladies in all our meetings. The BRSC has a float that we bring to parades throughout Central Alberta. Locally we also have the Ponoka Fire Truck unit that has restored and maintains an old Fire truck that is used to transport Nobles in local parades.

From the beginning while the organization was still primarily social, instances of philanthropic work became more frequent. During an 1888 yellow fever epidemic in Jacksonville, Fla., members of Morocco Shriners and Masonic Knights Templar worked long hours to relieve suffering. In 1889, Shriners came to the aid of the Johnstown Flood victims. In1898, there were 50,000 Shriners, and 71 of the 79 temples were engaged in some sort of philanthropic work. This philanthropic work continued well into the 20th Century, after the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, Shriners sent $25,000 to help the stricken city, and in 1915, Shriners contributed $10,000 for the relief of European war victims. But neither the individual projects nor the special one-time contributions satisfied the membership, who wanted to do more.

In 1919, Freeland Kendrick (Lu Lu Shriners, Philadelphia) was the Imperial Potentate-elect for the 363,744 Shriners. He had long been searching for a cause for the thriving group to support. In a visit to the Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta, he became aware of the overwhelming orthopaedic needs of children in North America. At the June 1920 Imperial Session in Portland, Ore., Kendrick proposed establishing Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children (now Shriners Hospitals for Children), to be supported by a yearly assessment from each Shriner.

Before the June 1922 Imperial Session, the cornerstone was in place for the first Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children in Shreveport, La. The rules were simple: To be admitted, a child must be from a family unable to pay for the orthopaedic treatment he or she would receive (this is no longer a requirement), be under 14 years of age (later increased to 18) and be, in the opinion of the chief of staff, someone whose condition could be helped.

The first patient to be admitted in 1922 at the Shreveport, Louisiana hospital was a little girl with a clubfoot, who had learned to walk on the top of her foot rather than the sole. The first child to be admitted at the Twin Cities hospital in 1923 was a boy with polio. Since that time, approximately 835,000 children have been treated at the 22 Shriners Hospitals. Surgical techniques developed in Shriners Hospitals have become standard in the orthopaedic world. Thousands of children have been fitted with arm and leg braces and artificial limbs, most of them made at the hospitals by expert technicians.

Today Shriners Hospitals for Children® is a health care system of 22 hospitals, located in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research, and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. Children up to age 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay. Recently the hospitals have started charging insurance companies for the patients with insurance but regardless there is no cost to the families themselves.

Some of you may remember the Daycare fire in Northern Mexico in June of 2009 where 25 children were injured. Many of those that were burned were transported to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Sacramento, California and Galveston, TX which specialize in burn treatment.

In northern Alberta we have 101 active patient files along with a number of other applications in various stages of completion. In March of this year there were 7 patient trips including 1 first time patient. We send the children to the hospital that can best meet their needs but generally we interact with Spokane, Portland and of course Montreal. Both Westjet and United airlines work with the Shrine by providing tickets for the transportation of the patients and a family member, the local Shriners provide the transportation from the airport to the hospital and back and are available to assist the family while at the hospital. If the hospital family rooms are not available transportation to and from a local hotel is also provided. The average stay in a Shriners Hospital is 3 – 4 days and children of school age also have access to educators who will be in touch with their schools in order to help keep the students on top of their studies.

While all Shriners are Masons not all Masons are Shriners and while we like to think of ourselves as the “Fun” side of Masonry we are also very proud of and work hard to maintain the World’s Greatest Philanthropy – The Shriners Hospitals For Children as well as working locally, always with an eye to assisting children. Recently the BRSC and the Royal Arch Masons youth endowment fund were able to assist a family in Central Alberta in purchasing a wheel chair accessible van.

So yes we wear the funny hats, drive the funny vehicles, dress in some wild costumes, participate in parades and host circuses but we do all this for the purpose of being able to help children who need our assistance.

While you may not be a Mason or Shriner you can still assist us. If you know of a child that we might be able to help please encourage their parents to give the Shriners a call or call us yourselves and we will get in touch with them.

Thank you

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We'd sure appreciate other stories about the history of our club and Shrinedom