Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario

JULY 2017

Canada’s Sesquicentennial

Freemasonry and Confederation

   On July 1, 2017, Canada will celebrate the sesquicentennial of Confederation when the Dominion of Canada was formed by the confederation of the Province of Canada (Canada East and Canada West), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

   This was one of the key periods in our history which would help to define what it is to be a Canadian. The process would continue with the addition of Manitoba and the North West Territory (July 15, 1870), British Columbia (July 20, 1871), Prince Edward Island (July 1, 1873), Alberta and Saskatchewan (September 1, 1905) and Newfoundland (March 31, 1949). These ten provinces are considered co-sovereign divisions deriving their power and authority directly from the Constitution Act of 1867 where the “Crown” is represented by a Governor General and Provincial Lieutenant-Governors. The three Territories—Northwest Territories (formed July 15, 1870), Yukon (formed 1898) and Nunavut (separated from the Northwest Territories on April 1, 1999)—derive their mandates and powers from the federal government and are headed by a Commissioner.

     Throughout the process leading to Confederation, and afterwards, the thirty-seven men who were directly involved were ones who saw beyond the limits of religion, race, nationality and language. They sought a common ground with benefits to an evolving “country.” Compromise achieved results which accepted diversity in society. Eleven of these men were Freemasons. The majority were not. But when we look at their activities we see men for whom brotherly love, relief and truth were truly present and practiced in their daily lives.

   Who were they? What were they? Why did they take these steps?

   The “event” of July 1, 1867, is “book-ended” between political actions in the late 1830's in the two Canadas (Rebellions in 1837 and 1838 and the investigative visit of John George Lambton, 1st Earl Durham and his famous Durham Report which saw Lower and Upper Canada united into the Province of Canada in 1841) and in 1949 (when Joey Smallwood won the referendum to bring Newfoundland into Confederation with an affirmative vote of 52.3%). Lord Durham was a sixth generation Mason, a member of Marquis of Granby Lodge in Durham and a one-time Provincial Grand Master of Durham. Right Worshipful Brother Joseph Roberts Smallwood was a Past Master of Lodge Northcliffe, No. 1086 (Scottish), Grand Falls, Newfoundland.

   Of the thirty-seven Fathers of Confederation, nine were born in the UK, one in Bermuda, one in Jamaica and one in the USA. The rest were born in the “Canadian colonies.” By occupation, 20 were lawyers, 5 journalists, 8 merchant businessmen, 2 doctors, 1 land promoter and 1 soldier. Although they would vary the terms used to describe their political affiliations from time to time, fifteen could be labelled Conservatives, twelve Liberals, five Reform, two Liberal-Conservatives, two Reform-Liberals and one “radical independent/conservative.” Six had entered politics as appointed members of government and 31 were elected when entering the political arena. Twenty-seven were supporters of Confederation almost from the beginning of their political careers.

As a result of the creation of the Dominion of Canada, fifteen of the “fathers” would be elected to the new Canadian Federal Parliament in the elections of 1867. One of the fifteen would be our first Prime Minister (Sir John A. Macdonald) and one would be our first MP who was assassinated (Thomas D’Arcy McGee). Six were appointed to the new Canadian Senate. Three were appointed to other senior offices (federal Commissioner, federal Deputy Minister of Justice and one as Lieutenant-Governor of Rupert’s Land and the North West Territory, although he was never installed). One chose a career in provincial politics. Three delegates lost in the 1867 elections. Eight were not eligible for any federal office by election or appointment as they were from PEI and Newfoundland which did not enter Confederation in 1867. After Confederation activities and “active” political careers, three would later become Senators, nine would become Lieutenants-Governor of Provinces (including one for Manitoba and the North-west Territories and was later appointed for Nova Scotia), three would become Provincial Premiers, one would become a Federal Supreme Court Justice and six Provincial Supreme Court Justices, two were appointed as Canadian High Commissioners to London, one became Governor of the Bahamas, one returned to his military career, one returned to business as a railway promoter and one was appointed to collect and classify Canadian statutes of the time.

   Who were the eleven Freemasons?

- Hewitt Bernard, friend, colleague and brother-in-law of John Alexander Macdonald, of Ionic Lodge, No. 25 (Ontario) of Toronto. He resigned during 1859 when he left Toronto for Quebec to work in government;

- Sir Alexander Campbell (later 6th Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario) of St. John’s Lodge, No. 3 (Ontario) of Kingston (now The Ancient St. John’s No. 3). He resigned in 1858 when he removed to Quebec with the government;

- Sir Frederick Bowker Terrington Carter (later Prime Minister of Newfoundland) of St. John’s Lodge, No. 579 (England), now No. 1 (Newfoundland), of Saint John’s;

- Edward Barron Chandler (later Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick,1878-1880) of Sussex Lodge, No. 480 (England), now No. 4 (New Brunswick) of Dorchester, NB;

- Alexander Tilloch Galt was reported in the media to have been a member of Victoria Lodge, No. 16 (Quebec) of Sherbrooke, PQ;

- John Hamilton Gray of New Brunswick’s Albion Lodge, No. 500 (England), now No. 1 (New Brunswick) of Saint John, NB. He later affiliated with Civil Service Lodge, No. 148 (Ontario) of Ottawa;

- Thomas Haviland of Victoria Lodge No. 383 (Scotland), now No. 1 (PEI) of Charlottetown;

- William Alexander Henry of Nova Scotia listed himself as a member of St. John’s Lodge, No. 161 (England) now No. 2 (Nova Scotia) of Halifax at the time he affiliated with Civil Service Lodge No. 148 (Ontario) of Ottawa on March 13, 1883;

- Sir John Alexander Macdonald (Canada’s first Prime Minister) of St. John’s Lodge, No. 758 (England) of Kingston (now The Ancient St. John’s Lodge, No. 3 (Ontario) of Kingston). He was also a member of Zetland Lodge, No. 326 (Ontario) of Toronto for a time. He subsequently joined Dalhousie Lodge, No. 731 (England), now No. 52 (Ontario), of Ottawa after his removal there in 1867 as Canada’s first Prime Minister. In 1867 he was presented with the honourary rank of Past Grand Senior Warden of our Grand Lodge. He was named by the United Grand Lodge of England as their Grand Representative near to the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada (now the Grand Lodge A.F. & A.M. of Canada in the Province of Ontario). He later joined Civil Service Lodge, No. 148 (Ontario) of Ottawa.

- William Henry Pope of Victoria Lodge No. 383 (Scotland), now No. 1 (PEI) of Charlottetown; and

- Sir Leonard Tilley (later Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick), is apocryphally reported to have been the father of the title of Canada as a “Dominion.” Macdonald wished to call the country the “Kingdom of Canada” and Tilley was later reported to have been reading his Bible, and lucked upon Psalm 72 which, in verse 8, describes a “. . . dominion from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” As Canada was perceived as stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the word “Dominion” was proposed by him and adopted by all attendees. According to R.W.Bro. Hon. Donald M. Fleming in his article Masonry in the Centennial Setting, Tilley was a Freemason but details of his membership have proven elusive.

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

April 20, 2016 (Rev 3 December 20, 2016)

1256 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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