Duncan Lodge Society Wants Rowing Canada

We reported in early August on the possibility that rowing Canada has been considering Quamichan Lake as a new home base for the national rowing team.

At that time the main option seemed to be for the Municipality of North Cowichan to hand over Art Mann Park to allow the national team to build a training center and residence  on the lakeshore. At the time we also reported information that Rowing Canada had conversations with a local non-profit group in May about siting opportunities locally. 

We identified at that time the most likely option was The Duncan Community Lodge, located on Moose Road, who own a dozen or so acres on the Western shore of the lake.

A recent press release by the Duncan Community Lodge (DCL) has confirmed their interest in attracting the rowing team to using the Duncan Community Lodge grounds for the facility. 

The release states that “The DCL Board met with Rowing Canada to discuss its vision and how the Duncan Lodge may fit into it. After careful consideration and in front of members attending a general meeting last June,…” The June Board meeting date supports that DCL and Rowing Canada met as early as May 2015.  Rowing Canada and North Cowichan both  released statements in early August.

The release also mentions  that the DCL has had some legal and financial troubles. There is a suit still before the BC Supreme Court brought by the Island Savings Credit Union. The case was filed Sept 2014 with the last action on the file in February 2015. DCL states that “For years now, impacted by litigation that restricts financing options, the Duncan Lodge has struggled in keeping up with running of the 11 acre property and its buildings.”

As well, the DCL has been fighting an action against the Loyal Order of the Moose, an international charity that claims the DCL is still an affiliated Lodge of the Moose and that the building and grounds are still legitimate property of the international organization. At issue is the DCL claim that they severed ties with the parent lodge on the basis of  the local club becoming a co-ed club against Moose International standards, although Moose International  abandoned most restrictions in 1992.

The DCL website states , “ In keeping with today [sic] society, a mojority [sic] of Moose Lodge 937 members voted to sever ties with Moose International and focus its efforts and finances on the Cowichan Valley to benefit the local community. This separation allowed the lodge to offer a co-ed environment…”

For background, the International group headquartered in Mooseheart, Illinois  still lists the local Duncan area club as Lodge #937 – Duncan. The Loyal Order of Moose was formed in 1888 by a group of friends as a social club. Like many social clubs of the time they eventually began offering funeral and survivor benefits and membership blossomed. By 1912 there were over 1000 lodges and half a million members.

Establishment of a ladies auxiliary, Women of the Moose in 1913 as well as a home for orphans and in 1922 a home for the elderly made the Loyal Order of the Moose a popular place to be with four American Presidents as members through the years. The movement spread to Britain and Canada and membership peaked at well over one million in the early 1980’s.

In 1992  most of the traditional practices of secret societies were abandoned by the Moose and the order became a social club, while in many chapters maintaining  charitable operations as well as social activities.

It is unclear when the actual decision to separate from Moose International was made by the DCL,  however the salient issue is who actually has title to the property. 

Sources close to the situation indicate that while they are confident in their right to title,  it is also unlikely that Rowing Canada will want to commit to an arrangement with DCL if the title to the property is at issue. As well, the filed court action by the Island Savings Credit Union suggests that there is a financial situation that will need attention and may prevent the DCL from striking a quick deal with Rowing Canada.

The DCL press release, issued Thursday Sept. 10, 2015, says that “litigation with Moose International remains the biggest hurdle”.   This past weekend saw the DCL host a weekend music festival to raise funds for a legal defence fund. In a perfect world they would pay off their debts, win the legal fight with Moose International, and convince Rowing Canada to partner with them in the property. 

It seems, at this point, like a long road.