Freemasonry is one of the largest and oldest fraternal organizations in the world. Its members share a common goal of helping each other become better men. Its system of values is based on the understanding that each man is accountable for improving himself while being dedicated to his family, work, and fraternity.
The organization of Freemasonry is based on a system of Grand Lodges, each sovereign within its own territory. There is no central authority governing all Grand Lodges. However, to be acknowledged by others, acceptable traditions, standards, and practices must be maintained.
In our Province, the governing body is called the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. It is under the leadership of a Grand Master. He presides over the 40,000 masons who belong to one or more of the 550 Lodges in our jurisdiction. Each of these Lodges is under the direction of a Master.
What it does
As a fraternity, Freemasonry provides an opportunity for men to meet and enjoy friendly companionship. In the spirit of helpfulness and brotherly love and guided by strict moral principals it encourages goodwill towards all mankind.
Freemasonry is of a personal nature in its private ceremonies. Its ritual dramatizes a philosophy of life-based on morality. It promotes self-improvement. The tools of operative Masons are used to symbolize and teach the basic principles of brotherly love, charity, and truth which Masons are encouraged to practice in their daily lives.
Charity is a tangible way in which Masons help those whose circumstances in life fairly warrant it. The fraternity does not conceal its existence, purpose, aims, or principles.
Masonic halls bearing the Lodge name and emblem are familiar sights in towns and cities throughout Ontario. Many members proudly wear masonic insignia or rings and pins.
Our traditions can be traced directly to the associations of operative masons. They were men of outstanding character and high ideals, who built the cathedrals, abbeys, and castles of the Middle Ages. With the decline of cathedral buildings in the 17th Century, many guilds of stonemasons, called “Operative” masons, started to accept into their membership those who were not members of the masons’ craft and called them “Speculative” or “Accepted” masons.
It was in these groups called lodges, comprised mainly of “Accepted” masons that Freemasonry, as we know it today, has its beginning. In 1717, four such lodges, which had been meeting regularly in London, united to form the first Grand Lodge of England under the direction of a Grand Master.
From that first Grand Lodge, Freemasonry has spread throughout the world, with millions of members.
One of Freemasonry’s customs is not to solicit members. However, anyone should feel free to approach any Mason to seek further information about the craft. Membership is for men, 21 years of age or older, who meet the qualifications and standards of character and reputation. After approval by the members of that lodge, he will be accepted as an applicant for membership in Freemasonry.
The doors of Freemasonry are open to men who seek harmony with their fellow man, feel the need for self-improvement, and wish to participate in making this world a better place in which to live. Any man who becomes a mason is taught a pattern for living – reverence, mortality, kindness, honesty, dependability and compassion.