Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario

March 2017

 For the Cause of Good: Masonic Charities and Benevolence

   Freemasonry is not a service club. Since the earliest days of Masonic Lodges the institution has exhorted its members to practice relief and charity, both for the benefit of its own members as well as for the needy in their district. In 1724 the first Grand Lodge developed a centralized charity scheme which has evolved over the centuries. But this has always been additional to the charity support provided by individual Masons, their Lodges and, later, by Provinces and Districts. Charity formed part of the masonic legacy our early Freemasons brought to North America and particularly to Canada.

   The Upper Canada Gazette of June 28, 1797 carried a notice about the Lodge of Philanthropy at Newark (today’s Niagara-on-the-Lake), No. 4 (Upper Canada) that “. . . At a meeting of the Lodge in their room, Newark, it was resolved that a fund should be established for the benefit of Free Masons’ widows, the education of orphans, and indigent brethren’s children.” And as early as 1799 the surviving written By-Laws of the Lodge at Grimsby, No. 15 (Upper Canada), required that Masons attending Lodge meetings would make a donation “. . . to be put to the fund for indigent brethren.” These Lodges were not alone in providing charity and relief to the distressed in Upper Canada. Today Ontario’s Masonic support to charitable and relief efforts are not limited to Ontario, but can be provided across Canada and abroad.

The first Constitution of our Grand Lodge, approved in 1856, provided for the formation of a Standing Committee on Charity. Originally Grand Lodge’s own general funds were used to create a Charity Fund, the interest earned to be used for charitable purposes. By 1872, $3,575 had been contributed through 98 grants. Beginning in 1871 monies were regularly spent on disaster relief (such as Hurricane Hazel in 1955) and in supporting a Special War Service Committee when homes were opened to bombed-out and evacuated British children. Over the years funds have been contributed to the Scouts Canada and the Girl Guides of Canada, the Canadian Arthritis and Rheumatism Society, CNIB Canada, Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, Salvation Army Canada, the Society for Crippled Children and the Society for Retarded Children.

   In 1964 Grand Lodge created a charitable foundation under a private act of the Provincial Legislature. According to the Act, “The objects of the Foundation are to receive, maintain, manage, control and use donations exclusively for charitable purposes within Ontario.” Thus was the Masonic Foundation of Ontario established (www.masonicfoundation.on.ca). Today the interest earned from the Foundation’s capital fund ($14.6 million on March 31, 2016) is used exclusively in Ontario for the relief of poverty, advancement of education and the advancement of other purposes beneficial to the community. The Foundation is committed to funding bursaries, hearing research, drug and substance abuse education in the school systems and other specific and community projects which fall within its guidelines.

   At the Annual Communication of Grand Lodge in July 2016, examples of charitable activities were reported. Some of these include (a) Red Cross Blood Service which has been supported by Ontario Masons since the first records were started in Hamilton in 1941. Blood donations totalling 13,710 units in 2015 were reported by our Masonic Districts; (b) projects targetted at various cancers including “Project Prostate Hope,” specifically designated by the Grand Master in recognition of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Masonic Foundation of Ontario, to fund projects to strengthen identification and treatment of prostate cancer; (c) Camp Trillium, a Childhood Cancer Support Centre; and (d) Child Identification Program which has seen 42,000 child ID kits provided free of charge to Ontario families as dramatic, time-sensitive recovery tool for authorities.

   Grand Lodge is not alone in these efforts in support of individuals and communities across Ontario, Canada and in other parts of the world. Most Masonic bodies operate parallel charity programs often with the assistance and support of their female units. To name a few, Ontario’s Royal Arch Grand Chapter provides support for post-secondary education and medical research; Ontario’s Cryptic Rite assists research into Alzheimer disease. National bodies such as the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite are active in support to research to learn and reduce childhood mental diseases such as Autism and Canada’s Shriners support hospital programs focussing on Children’s needs.

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

April 27, 2016 (rev 3 December 11, 2016)

748 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?

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