Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario


Ontario Freemasonry and Its Global Dimension

The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario was instituted on October 10, 1855 in Hamilton, Canada West.

Our title reflects our centuries-old heritage. The expression Ancient Free originated in England during the Middle Ages, when craftsmen were very skilled and indispensable to Church and State. They were not restricted in their movements and were “free” to do their work, travel and live their lives in a manner befitting their importance. In this period this freedom was very rare. Our legendary history carries this freedom from the “Operative Mason” back to 946, in York, in England. Accepted Mason also originated in England in the Middle Ages, when some men wanted to become Freemasons to obtain the advantages the craft had to offer. Not all wanted to build buildings but were recognized for other skills and accepted. As such they became known as “Accepted Masons” rather than “operative” or “ancient free” Masons. Over time there became more “Accepted” members as the building trades became more widely known. The words “of Canada” are correct as this was the first Grand Lodge in the United Province of Canada which had been formed in 1841 and consisted of Canada West and Canada East. In 1867 it was separated into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec which, along with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, confederated into the Dominion of Canada.

   Today, Ontario’s Freemasons number about 42,000, organized into 541 Lodges grouped into 43 Districts, the whole forming Grand Lodge. Our Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother John C. Green is a member of Conestogo Lodge No. 295, of Drayton. Active in municipal politics he served as Mayor, Warden of Wellington County and as a member of the Police Commission, Board of Health and the Advisory Committee on Rural Planning for the Province and the Board of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. He was active in Kinsmen and served as National President of the Kinsmen. He has served on the Hospital Board for over 40 years, and is active in a number of other local and regional activities. He was made a Paul Harris Member from Rotary.

   Ontario’s Grand Lodge building is located at 363 King Street West, Hamilton. Somewhere in your village, town or city may be a masonic temple, publicly named as such and which can be found in a telephone directory, or through virtually every electronic search engine. There is a belief that the institution is secret which is not true today and there are occasions when our lodges hold open houses and engage in dialogue with the pubic. There are also the many public charities openly supported by freemasons. What is true is that our meetings are usually private.

   Dating from a historical period when few people could read and write, when men dominated societies and when membership in Freemasonry in some areas of the world could mean death, the institution has evolved with social changes. Today the “family of freemasonry” includes women’s components (Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile), components for young girls (Rainbow Girls and Job’s Daughters) and boys (DeMolay). Over three centuries the men’s component has expanded to include many concordant and appendant bodies, for example, Royal Arch and Knights Templary, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite and the Shrine (Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine) some with particular ladies groups linked with them.

   Our Grand Lodge is in amity (friendly relations) with many other Grand Lodges. Some of them cover a single country, such as the Grand Lodge of Norway, or they may have districts and lodges in countries around the world (England, Ireland, Scotland). Others operate like Canada with independent Grand Lodges in their provinces or states (such as the USA, Brazil and Australia). Some organizations call themselves Masonic and are not recognized by our Grand Lodge and inter-visitation is not permitted. Before our members attend a lodge outside our Grand Jurisdiction they normally consult a listing of recognized Grand Lodges and may also carry a letter of introduction from the Secretary of their Lodge.

As prepared by           Michael Jenkyns, Grand Historian, Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario

April 27, 2016 (Rev 2 December 11, 2016)

708 words

Our Purpose

Making Good Men Better.

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Its members share a common goal of helping each other become better men. Its body of knowledge and system of ethics is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity.

Its roots go back centuries and its members are diverse: high profile leaders, physicians, construction workers, farmers…and maybe you.

Ancient…and modern.

We’re united by three ancient and fundamental principles—brotherly love, charity and truth—that are made relevant to the 21st century through the personal development, good works and social connections available to our members in the 550+ lodges across Ontario.

Great benefits…for you and the world.

Freemasonry offers much to its members—the opportunity to grow, the chance to make a difference and the means to build a better world for our children. It offers the chance to socialize and work with men who have the same values and ideals.

We strengthen and improve our character by learning and practicing basic virtues of fraternal love, charity, and truth. Our principles extend far beyond our interactions with each other, and we strive to apply them to our daily lives.

And there’s so much more.

It's easy to learn about Masons—starting with the pages of this website. Need more details? Looking for a Mason in your community to share his personal perspective? Send an email, call or drop by your local Masonic lodge.

Who are Masons?

Masons are spiritual and moral men who choose to associate with groups of like-minded individuals for mutual benefit. What they find in Freemasonry is a disciplined and systematic course of self-improvement based on the Golden Rule: always do to others what you would like them to do to you.

There are 3.2 million masons across the world and more than 40,000 in Ontario.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of race, colour or creed.

Masons are spiritual and moral people, but there’s no room for discussion of sectarian religion or partisan politics in freemasonry. Members are free to follow their own path, as long as it fits with the ethical principles of integrity and virtue symbolized by the square and compasses—the icon most commonly associated with Masonry.

Masonry stresses the principles of kindness and consideration at home, honesty in business, courtesy towards others, dependability in one’s work, compassion for the less fortunate and being a good citizen of the world. Masonry recognizes that each man has obligations to his family, his work, his religious beliefs, his community and himself - these must take priority and Masonry does not interfere with his ability to meet these obligations.

Masons participate in three progressive degrees, each one teaching an important lesson through the use of symbols. The degrees help a Mason think about the big questions: Where did I come from? What am I doing here? And what comes next?

A lodge is not a building…it’s the men that form it.

The foundation of the Masonic family is the Masonic lodge. It is here that Masonry teaches its lessons: kindness in the home, honesty in business, courtesy in society, fairness in work, concern for the unfortunate and respect for one another. Most lodges are clearly signed and located on main streets in communities small and large across the globe.

With over 550 Lodges in Ontario, there should be a lodge that meets in a location near you.

Masonry is not a secret society…we’re happy to share what we know.

Any information about Masons can be found at a well-stocked bookstore or local library. Masonic buildings are clearly marked and listed in the phonebook and members often identify themselves by wearing Masonic jewelry.

The so-called Masonic “Secrets” are confined to modes of recognition by which a visitor can prove himself to be a Mason and thereby become eligible to enter a lodge in which he was otherwise not known.

The Extended Masonic Family.

A Mason can choose to broaden and deepen his experience of Masonry by participating in other branches of the Masonic family:

the Scottish Rite, York Rite, Shriners and Knights Templar.

Masonry is for men…but it’s a family affair.

Women, girls and boys who share Masonic values are welcome to participate in the many social and charitable events hosted by lodges. But there are affiliate organizations for those looking for ways to become formally involved. Young men can join DeMolay, young women can join the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls and Job's Daughters International.

What do Masons do?

Masonry is first and foremost a fraternity rather than a service organization, social club or benevolent society. However, charity in the form of helping other people, is considered to be a cornerstone of the fraternity.

Community Involvement:

Masons Community Involvement

Masons are encouraged to be actively involved in their communities. Some of the community outreach programs that Masons are actively involved with are listed below:

The Masonic Foundation of Ontario, a public charity registered with the Canada Revenue Agency, supports hearing research, a bursary program for university and college students, autism services, prostate cancer research and alcohol and drug awareness programs in elementary and high schools.

The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario sponsors the MasoniCh.I.P. child identification program. And we’re not above bleeding for a cause—every year, Ontario Masons support the Canadian Blood Services donor program with approximately 35,000 donations.

Shriners operate the largest network of hospitals in North America providing free care for burned and orthopaedically impaired children. The Scottish Rite Masons maintain a network of some 150 childhood language disorder clinics, centres and programs.

Individual districts support their own charitable projects.

Want to learn more about Masonry At Work?

Why become a Mason?

Masonry offers the opportunity to make each man better through its teachings, his Masonic associations and a philosophy that has served the social needs of men for centuries, by promoting:

  • Tradition: when you become a Mason, you become part of ancient tradition that spans centuries. From the original stonemasons that produced some of the most majestic architectural wonders of Europe to modern day Masons who participate in numerous charitable foundations, you’ll feel connected to a vital, growing and spiritually uplifting organization of moral men;
  • Self Improvement: learning portions of the Ritual and participating in the Degree stimulates the mind and, coupled with committee work and lodge management, presents the opportunity to develop leadership and organizational skills, build self-discipline through commitment, poise and self-confidence, and strengthen presentation and public speaking proficiencies;
  • Sense of Accomplishment: participating in lodge projects, be they charitable or social in nature, provides the opportunity to contribute, work with others and enjoy the success of effort well expended;
  • Fellowship - Belonging to a Like-minded Group: the modern work environment has reduced or eliminated social association with co-workers; joining with lodge members in a fraternal atmosphere can substitute for that former workplace fellowship lost;
  • A Break from the Workaday Routine: Masonry brings together in lodge men of diverse backgrounds, where the daily pressures of a career can be left outside the door and where fellowship is the common theme.

These attributes are summarized in the tenets, or fundamental principles of Ancient Freemasonry: Brotherly Love; Relief; and Truth. If these values address your needs, Masonry welcomes you.

How can I join?

To find out more or to be contacted by a local lodge member, please complete the information below. Our response may take some time depending on your interest. We may use any of the options you provide (email, phone or surface mail) to contact you

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