Saturday, September 18, 2010

Learning about Freemasonry - September 2010 meeting

The Grey County Historical Society held a joint meeting on September 15th with the Bruce County Historical Society and Freemason’s and their family members. It began with a tour of the former St. Lawrence Freemason’s Lodge, No. 131, located on Albert Street North, Southampton.

The Freemason Lodge in Southampton is the oldest in Bruce District having held their first meeting on March 13, 1860. Presently, they have between 80-100 Lodge members.

In 1860 a frame building was erected in Southampton at 38 Albert Street North. This building served as the first Town Hall and also as a school. The Masons of St. Lawrence Lodge purchased the property for $150.00 and in 1899 bricked the exterior of the building. This was the home for the Southampton Masons until it was sold about six years ago. The building has since been converted to a stunning, ultra modern home and artist’s studio.
Former St. Lawrence Masonic Lodge, 131

Following the tour, the Historical Societies met at the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre’s theatre. Worshipful Brothers, Doug Goar, Doug Pedwell and Robert Shular shared information on Freemasonry, which has deep historical roots going back to ancient times. Lodges in Upper and Lower Canada primarily descend from and were adherents of one of the three British Grand Lodges. Each operated independently of one another. On July 14, 1855, Canadian Freemasons declared their independence.

Masonic Lodges in Grey and Bruce counties consist of the following: the St. George Lodge, No. 88 in Owen Sound began in 1857; the Northern Light Lodge, No. 93 in Kincardine began in 1858;  St. Lawrence Lodge, Southampton, No.131 began in 1860 and the North Star Masonic Lodge, No. 322, Owen Sound, formed in 1872. The numbers behind their names indicate in what order they received their Warrant from the Grand Lodge. 

One of the gentlemen said, “It is not a secret society, but is a society with secrets”! Its purpose is to encourage virtue and morality in their brotherhood. Encouraged to think by means of symbolism the Freemason begins to look at his inner self and in so doing, gradually uncovers deeper truths about himself. His purpose is to strive for perfection through reflection. As one of the gentlemen said, “We take a good man and make him a better man.” 

Freemasonry is a Fraternity, not a Religion. Freemasonry accepts men from all faiths but they must believe in a Supreme Being. Masonry encourages men to think.

To become a candidate, a man must be 21 years of age, come of his own free will, be of good morals and of a good reputation. Masons wear an apron similar to those used by ancient stonemasons. Masons conduct their meetings following ritual which has been virtually unchanged for many, many years. Two of the principal symbolic tools always found in a Lodge are the square and the compasses.  Each man determines for himself the meanings of these symbols.

The Freemasons give quietly and generously to many charities. Their interests mainly revolve around the needs of children. Every Shriner must first be a Mason. Shriners are those men who ride around on little cars and motorbikes in parades and who run Circus Fund-Raisers. The Shriners and Masons raise an enormous amount of money for charities every year.

On April 30, 2011 the St. Lawrence Lodge in Southampton, in conjunction with the Bruce County Museum and Cultural Centre will be opening a world class display on Freemasonry entitled, “Freemasonry; A History Hidden in Plain Sight”.

Compiled from the press release by Paula Niall. Links provided for further reading on Freemasonry in Ontario, Canada.

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