“The Masonic Foundation of Ontario and the Past”
As the Freemasons of Ontario celebrate the formation of the first organized Masonic body, three hundred years ago, it is so important to realize the role which Charity and Benevolence played throughout its history. All over the world, Freemasons have been providing assistance to those less fortunate than themselves for over the three hundred years. There are records which verify these facts. In 1670, the lodge at Aberdeen pledged itself to make contributions to the Mason Box, for support of distressed brethren and the education of their children. This type of charity and benevolence continued throughout the many centuries, decades, of providing to assist poor brethren. For brethren who had “fallen upon evil times”. To help Freemasons widows, and to educate orphans and the children of poor brethren. The picture is universal and consistent.
Times were so different. The structure of social assistance was varied and in most cases non existent. Imagine, no pensions, no social assistance, none or limited health care. Job losses were catastrophic, and in many cases these job losses occurred as a result of an on the job accident, sickness or disaster. Laws were not present to protect the workers. If a worker was not able to work, he received no pay. This was the case for many individuals who were working for themselves, such as farmers, shop owners, others.
The Grand Lodge of Canada was founded in 1855. From almost the beginning there is evidence of traditional Masonic charity. It was intended to provide assistance primarily to Masons who were in need, and to their families.
Although, the needs of Masons and their families were still present, thinking of directing charity was evolving due to major events, such as the American Civil War, Franco Prussian War, The First World War, and the Second World War. Needs of others in the world, in many cases, outweighed the overall needs of Ontario Masons.
Over the coming years of the 20th Century, gradually the social assistance, government assistance, pensions, health care, laws and other benefits were increased, so that the same need to help Masons and their families was not the same as so many centuries ago.
This change of thinking had progressed until it culminated, through select committees authorized by the Grand Master of the day, and Final Reading and Royal Assent on March 25, 1964, “The Masonic Foundation of Ontario Act, 1964” was established, and this legislative enactment has remained unchanged to this day.
The objects of The Foundation are to receive, maintain, manage, control and use donations exclusively for charitable purposes within Ontario”; and pursuing this philosophy the operational agenda of the Masonic Foundation was founded. To use its donations for the relief of poverty, to fund bursaries, hearing research, drug and substance abuse education in the school systems and other specific community projects that fall within its guidelines.
As prepared by Allan C. Dvorak, President, Masonic Foundation of Ontario