The year is 1886, London, Ontario and alone Shriner is living in the city. He together with members of Knights Templar, who had been initiated in Detroit Michigan petitioned to form a Shrine Shrine Center in London. A dispensation was issued for “Sultanat Shrine Center” and for a short time, London had the honour of having Canada’s first Shrine Shrine Center. However, the time was not yet right for “Sultanat Shrine Center” and it soon became dormant and the dispensation was recalled.
Shrinedom in London dates from January 1, 1908, with the foundation of Mocha Shrine Center, and the seventh Shrine Shrine Center in Canada. Noble Harry Collins, Potentate of Rameses Shrine Center in Toronto, was instrumental in obtaining the charter. Noble Collins later became Imperial Potentate. The name “Mocha” was chosen by the first Recorder, Noble Ed Struthers.
The Shrine was seen as an organization where members could relax and enjoy themselves. Shrine bands, parades, and elaborate costumes were part of the make up. It was said that “the order was not much more than frolic for Masons of high degree”, and perhaps this stimulated interest among Masons enough to steadily increase the membership figures.
What was not so visible was that even in those years considerable sums were raised for benevolence and charitable projects.
At one ceremonial a Union Jack was carried around the hall and after an initial donation of $500.00, a further amount of $466.60 was raised for poor children of the city of London. This is much more than it seems now when we think of what a dollar would buy in those days. On another occasion, the Salvation Army, the schools and other organizations supplied the names of 600 children who were in poor circumstance and they were all supplied with Christmas repast. 1917 saw a contribution to the fund for victims of the Halifax explosion. In 1930 the bands and patrol entertained the children from orphanages at the Western Fair. A patriotic endeavor was the subscription of $500.00 for the Peace Memorial at the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto. During the war of 1939 – 1945 a number of Shriners served in the armed forces and war charities were supported. In the year of 1940 Mocha presented a $1,600.00 Ford ambulance to the Minister of Militia. The children were not forgotten and Shriners have provided transportation, entertainment, films and other amusements for their enjoyment. Since 1920, Mocha’s main charity has been the Shriners’ Hospitals for Children and many hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for this worthy undertaking.
Shrine activities continued to flourish over the years. In order to provide a place for meetings and other functions, one of the stately old homes on Waterloo Street in London was purchased. In 1955 this building was sold and the Smallman residence at 468 Colborne Street was purchased with some of the contents. Additions have been made, but the architectural beauty of the original building has been maintained. The Trustees work hard to maintain the grounds, rooms, and furnishings. In 1977 the banquet halls were added on for meetings and social functions. In the recent past, the interior and exterior of the building have been refurbished and redecorated completely along with new furniture in the main lounge area
Clubs and Units:
- Aylmer Shrine Club
- Blenheim Shrine Club
- Bluewater Shrine Club
- Bruce Shrine Club
- Cambridge Shrine Club
- Hi-Ro Shrine Club
- London Shrine Club
- Lambton Shrine Club
- Moramos Shrine
- Pal Mocha Shrine Club
- Sault Shrine Club
- Stratford-on-Avon Shrine Club
- Tillsonburg Shrine Club