Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario

APRIL 2017

 Vimy Ridge - the making of Canada

 Ontario Freemasons in War

   Canada is known for its peace keeping efforts over the years, as well as its involvement in war when called upon. Freemasons are not known for their war exploits, but as citizens of a British colony and later, of Canada, their support of national priorities are very strong and freemasons have joined the colours. As peaceful as we are as Canadians and freemasons we sometimes have to make war for peace. To preserve our way of life.

   April 9, 2017 is the centennial of the capture of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917 by the Canadian Expeditionary Force: the first major British victory in the First World War. Although the four-division Canadian Corps was then under the command of British cavalry officer, Lieutenant General Sir Julian Byng, the planning and training concepts were developed and implemented by Major General Arthur Currie (later Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Currie, commanding officer of CEF) and his staff. Canadian Freemasons were there: R.W.Bro. Arthur Currie (a member of Vancouver and Quadra Lodge No. 2 of Victoria, BC), Major Generals Richard Turner VC of the 2nd Division and David Watson of the 4th (both members of St. Andrews No. 6 of Quebec City) and Malcolm Smith Mercer (of River Park No. 356 and Victoria 474 of Toronto) to the youngest, Private Thomas Ricketts of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who enlisted at the age of 15½ and was awarded the VC at the age of 17 (although he didn’t join Freemasonry until afer the war). Maj-Gen Turner had been awarded the VC for his actions at Leliefontein, South Africa, on November 7, 1900.

   Our history has seen many periods of fighting on the local level (the French and Indian Wars, migration of Loyalists during and after American Independence, War of 1812, Rebellions of 1837 and 1838) as well as internationally (Crimea, South Africa, World War I and II, Korea) and the many Peacekeeping efforts. Masons and non-masons were there.

   Some examples of our Freemasons in war include:

- Masons of Brigadier-General James Wolfe’s army at Quebec formed a Provincial Grand Lodge under England in November 1759. It would oversee an area from Quebec city to Detroit which had added 75,000 citizens to Britain’s new colony some of which were freemasons. Sixty-three masonic lodges would be formed during its existence: twelve in the area of the future Ontario. Early Freemasons would be there to begin to open up the area for settlement.

- more lodges were formed in new towns established by immigrants and settlers who came directly from Europe or as United Empire Loyalists travelling away from the new United States by the 1780s. At Newark, Upper Canada (today’s Niagara-on-the-Lake), Freemason and Loyalist Colonel John Butler and those of his men who were Freemasons attended meetings of two Lodges in the 8th (Kings) Regiment at Niagara. Or New Oswegatchie Lodge which was originally at Ogdensburg, NY, removed to Elizabethtown and is an ancestor of today’s Sussex No. 5 at Brockville. Colonel John Graves Simcoe, our first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, was a Freemason and one of the first stone buildings in Newark housed Simcoe’s administrative offices on the ground floor and the Masonic Hall upstairs.

- the War of 1812 would have its share of Freemasons: Laura Secord, daughter of Thomas Ingersoll, married Sergeant James Secord. Both men were Freemasons and members of St. John’s Lodge of Friendship at Niagara (now St. John’s No. 2) and fought in defence of Upper Canada. Indian allies such as Joseph Brant, James Brant and John Norton were also Freemasons and attended Lodge with our Loyalist and immigrant brethren. In this War, as in others, documents attest to Freemasons on each side helping each other in the midst of battle.

- during the rebellions of Upper (1837) and Lower (1838) Canada: where two future senior Freemasons were Sir Allan Napier Macnab (later Grand Master of the Antient Grand Lodge of Canada, 1857-58) who had first fought in the War of 1812 as a teenager and later fought in several engagements with Upper Canada militia against rebels, and William Mercer Wilson (the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada, today’s Grand Lodge) who commanded a troop of militia cavalry in the Simcoe area where they fought rebels. And Canadian Freemasons fought in the Northwest Territories during the Riel Rebellions. During the second Rebellion a supply depot had been established on the South Saskatchewan river by Major General Wimburn Lawrie. At the time he was still Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia and convened “occasional lodges” for the benefit of the masonic military personnel passing through the area.

- during the Crimean War period (1853-56): where Lieutenant Alexander Roberts Dunn of York would become Canada’s first recipient of the new Victoria Cross (VC) which he received from Queen Victoria for his actions in the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava (October 25, 1854). While not a Freemason at the time, he was initiated two years later in his father’s lodge (Ionic 25 of Toronto).

   And Canadian Freemasons would serve in South Africa (Boer War 1899-1902), through two World Wars, Korea, and many peacekeeping actions.

   Masonic lodges had existed in military units from 1752 until the end of the 19th century. Their need was gradually eliminated when our military brethren found it easier to attend local, stationary, lodges in cities, towns and villages. Our Grand Lodge only ever authorized two military lodges under its authority. The first, for the masons of the Royal Artillery Garrison at Quebec, was formed in 1864 and closed in 1880. The second, Canada Lodge, was formed in 2010 for the Freemasons in Canada’s military then serving in Afghanistan. It closed in 2014 when the last Canadians returned home.

   Freemasons who served the colours are remembered in various ways. The Masonic Monument at Malden Park in Windsor pays tribute to the members of our fraternity who made the supreme sacrifice during times of war. It was visioned and built at the beginning of the 21st Century by the members and lodges of Erie and Windsor Districts and while its focus is local it recognizes the worldwide effort of all freemasons to preserve our way of life.

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

April 27, 2016 (Rev 5 December 20, 2016)

1,071 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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