Hastings-Prince Edward - Freemasons celebrate 150 years.
by Celia Ware
Freemasons all over Ontario will be celebrating their sesquicentennial in 2005. That’s 150 years of the grand jurisdiction in Ontario. As it happens, the Madoc-Marmora-Tweed Lodge has just celebrated 150 years and the Bancroft Lodge will be celebrating 100 years this summer. That’s a long time for a group that usually keeps a low profile within the community.
According to Eric Sandford, District Deputy Grand Master of Prince Edward District, things may be changing. The present Grandmaster of Ontario, Don Mumby, is encouraging Freemasons to become more open in their communities with the aim of attracting more members.
There are about 64,000 Masons in Ontario with 630 lodges in 46 districts. There are 14 lodges in the Prince Edward district which extends from Belleville to Brighton and from Bancroft to Picton.
If you want to know more about Freemasonry visit http://www.grandlodge.on.ca. The web site explains that Freemasonry is steeped in tradition and has a very long history. It is the oldest and largest fraternal organization with over four million members worldwide. Masons come from every walk of life, many religions and diverse ideologies. All believe in the existence of a Supreme Being. The Freemasonry purpose is to make good men better, and it teaches that each person has an obligation to make a difference for good.
Lodges hold very formal meetings with very particular rules and guidelines, something which certainly gives them an air of secrecy and mystery. They do, however, contribute considerable funds, very quietly, to charitable causes. In Ontario donations from the fraternity are in excess of $3-million, annually. Each district has a particular fund-raising project and this year the Prince Edward District is fund raising for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) by raffling off an all-terrain vehicle with trailer. Other prizes include a weekend in the Niagara region. They hope to raise $60,000. Last year they supported juvenile diabetes.
Sandford says the Masons, as they are commonly known, are a fraternity rather than a social club and this is simply a matter of tradition. Although Freemasons are male, ladies with a connection to the group may join The Order of the Eastern Star.
On Sunday, May 15, the Prince Edward District will host their District Divine Service by inviting over 150 members of the district lodges, and their wives, to a parade with pipes and drummers, a church service and luncheon. The service will be held at Trinity United Church with Mr. Sandford’s daughter, the Reverend Heather Sandford, presiding. All Freemasons will be in full regalia and the general public is invited to the service and parade. There will be a gala celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Grand Lodge in Toronto in July.
As they say, if you’re interested in learning about becoming a Freemason, “To be one-Ask one.”