DeMolay History

DeMolay’s Founding

The Order of DeMolay has a proud heritage. It all began with Frank S. Land whose life was so closely woven together with our history that there isn’t enough room here to relate all the details. His biography, “Hi, Dad!” paints a stirring portrait of this great man of vision.

“Dad” Land, as he came to be called, founded the Order of DeMolay in March 1919 in Kansas City, Missouri, as a result of his association and friendship with young Louis Lower. Louis’ father had died, leaving the young man without a father figure in his life. Dad Land, a compassionate, serious, up-and-coming community leader, took the time to listen to Louis, to learn about his dreams and to help him.

In the meantime, he learned that others like Louis sought companionship, leadership, inspiration, and competition. He thought about forming an organization to help young men, and asked Louis to invite some friends to a meeting.

Louis and eight friends first met with Dad Land in the Kansas City Scottish Rite Temple. Dad Land was employed there as the Social Service Director. It was natural, then, for the group to identify itself in some way with the Fraternity of Freemasonry.

But the fledgling group needed its own identity … and its own name. After Dad Land related the story of Jacques DeMolay, the group decided to name itself for this historical figure connected with Masonry.

The original group of nine young men were Louis G. Lower, Ivan M. Bentley, Edmund Marshall, Gorman A. McBride, Jerome Jacobson, William W. Steinhilber, Elmer Dorsey, Clyde C. Stream, and Ralph Sewell. As they made plans to form their new organization, Dad Land asked them to invite more friends to the next meeting. Thirty-one young men came to the second meeting.

DeMolay in Canada

The Order of DeMolay was founded in Kansas City, Missouri by Dad Frank S. Land with nine young men between the ages of 16 and 21. Winnipeg Chapter made DeMolay international; the Winnipeg Free Press of December 13, 1922 announced that the Chapter was being organised under the sponsorship of the Winnipeg Lodge of Perfection of the Scottish Rite. It was formed on February 24, 1923 with 99 members, initiated by 22 members of Ivanhoe Chapter of Grand Forks who travelled by train from North Dakota for the ceremonies. The first Master Councillor was Russell Lester Wiginton, who later spent his adult years in North Vancouver. Russ was a young man of many accomplishments—the first Speaker of the Manitoba Boys Parliament (1922), an accomplished swimmer, basketball and rugby player, and a Boy Scout decorated by Baron Bing for saving the life of a soldier at Winnipeg Beach. Achieving even greater fame was the Chapter’s first Chaplain—the Father of Medicare in Canada, former N.D.P. leader Tommy Douglas.