By Maureen McCollom
Throughout the history of early Paeroa, the name of William Forrest J.P., and Coroner, is recorded in many written articles. Mrs Adeline McWatters has given me the honour of recording her Grandfather’s history for the Journal.
William Forrest was born in Argyleshire, Scotland in 1855 and after completing an apprenticeship as a stonemason, under his father, he went to Glasgow to further his education in other branches of his trade. He attended the School of Arts in Sauchehall studying architecture, drawing and science. With his brother James he started building and contracting, their outstanding works being Lanark Waterworks and many schools.
His long and outstanding service as a Antient Free And Accepted Mason began in 1874 when he was initiated into Lodge No. 167. Nine years later, in January 1883, William and his wife, Jessie sailed to New Zealand on the first direct steamer, the ‘British King’, and set up business as a building contractor in Auckland.
Later he moved to Palmerston North where he carried out drainage works and developments of the Manganono section of the Main Trunk Railway Line. Moving again, he then found himself in Paeroa, where he began business as a timber merchant, and built a grand home in Puke Road, which later was destroyed by fire.
Bro. William Forrest, as a Freemason, was instrumental in starting Lodge Rangitira No. 71 and Lodge Ohinemuri No. 107 in Paeroa. While Freemasonry was his greatest love, he also took a keen interest in politics and municipal matters and was the Superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday School at Paeroa during the late 1890s.
Mr and Mrs Forrest were the parents of three daughters, Jessie, Susan and Grace, and two sons, Jack and Tom. Jessie married Robert Lowry, Susan married Mr Parker, and Grace married Mr Hutchinson. Jack was a coal merchant in Paeroa, and Tom was a farmer at Reporoa. Today there are many descendants of the William Forrest family throughout New Zealand.
Founding Master W. Bro William Forrest P.G.P. passed away on 28 January 1937.
W.Bro. William Forrest
Family Reunion, 2003 held at "Hasting Hall", built 1878 at Morningside, Auckland.
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