The Duncan Community Lodge has won its court case against Moose International in the Supreme Court of B.C.
Travis Peterson, president of the 62-member lodge, said he and the other members feel “vindicated” after the supreme court dismissed the six-year old court case last week.
“This is great news for the lodge and the Cowichan Valley,” Peterson said.
“Now that we’re free of this litigation, we can finally move forward with our plans to grow our membership, increase our involvement in the community and provide an affordable alternative venue at our lodge, located at 2244 Moose Rd., for people in the Valley to use for meetings, weddings and any other gathering they want.”
The DCL, which is incorporated as a non-profit society under the B.C. Societies Act, began in the 1940s after a group from the Valley formed a membership and bought almost 20 acres of land beside Quamichan Lake to build a lodge.
Peterson said the DCL eventually became affiliated with Moose International, which operates hundreds of Moose Lodges around the world.
But he said that, while the DCL adopted the Moose name and “followed the spirit” of some of Moose International bylaws, the DCL never became an official Moose Lodge and has always kept its own constitution and bylaws.
Peterson said Moose International decided to take legal action after the membership of the DCL voted in 2010 to sever ties with Moose International.
“We wanted to allow women in the lodge and on our board of directors (Moose Lodges have separate organizations for women), and we wanted to appeal to a younger generation,” he said.
“The Moose International then sent representatives to change the locks on the lodge and try to gain control of the DCL and the land.”
Malcolm Brierley, a past president of the DCL, said the lodge and the land it is built on, now valuable lakefront, was bought and paid for by local members of the DCL, and Moose International had nothing to do with it.
“Fortunately, the court ruled that Moose International provided no evidence to support any of their claims [to the lodge and the land] and dismissed the case, with all costs going to the defendant,” he said.
“This has been going on now for six years and it has been very challenging for us. We’ve been paying lawyers to defend what is ours and we’ve been unable to provide any financing to upgrade our facility and infrastructure. Now we can and that’s great for us and for the Valley.”
Peterson said the DCL members are proud to keep the lodge locally run and governed by a not-for-profit society.
“We’re also proud that we managed to fight off a large American fraternal organization to do so,” he said.