Posted May 12, 2011
BY TARA GESNER
EMC News – The Carleton Place Masonic Temple turned 100 years old on April 28, and to commemorate the landmark event, on April 20 St. John’s Lodge No. 63 A.F. & A.M. hosted its first Friend to Friend Night.
About 35 people, including municipal representatives – Mayor Wendy LeBlanc and councillors Doug Black, Jerry Flynn and Rob Probert – attended the evening.
Over and above the celebration, participants were treated to a brief history of Masonry, as well as an explanation of the lodge, Masonic aprons, and titles and duties of lodge officers.
“The purpose of the Friend to Friend Night is to promote the lodge,” said Shawn Todd, Worshipful Master Brother. “It is a program established by the Grand Lodge of Ontario and encouraged to the membership.”
He notes the program encourages Masons “to bring someone who has the redeeming qualities of a Mason (often a close friend or a family member), to learn more about what we do.”
To join freemasonry a man must be 21 years old – and asked to join. Masons do not solicit members.
“What happened here was really important to the lodge, and it’s beneficial to open the doors and bring people in,” said Paul Todd, Right Worshipful Brother.
Paul is Shawn’s father.
The senior Todd indicated there is an effort by Masonic lodges to dispel the myths and misconceptions that have surrounded freemasonry for ages.
“There were no secrets when guests left here,” he said.
“It is important that people understand that there are no secrets to Masonry,” said Shawn. “Hopefully through programs like this (Friend to Friend Night), and the hard work of people like Paul Todd, Steve Kipp and other members, more people will begin to understand the roots of this organization.”
The Worshipful Master said the membership has continued to grow, and has a beautiful history that is preserved in minutes that are recorded at every meeting.
“We meet on the second Wednesday of every month, and our meetings are held to further Masonic education, introduce new Masons, dispense assistance to charity, promote kindness and assistance within our community, and run a host of programs, such as blood donor and CHIP,” he said.
St. John’s Lodge has been in Carleton Place since Jan. 20, 1843 – 168 years.
“Residents at that time included about 20 tradesmen in the metal, wood, textile and leather trades, two surgeons, two teachers, one clergyman and a host of farmers, merchants and labourers,” said Shawn. “The town had about 300 homes.”
“It all started in Manny Nowlan’s tavern – now the Hing Wah Restaurant,” said Steve Kipp, Senior Warden. “This is where the first charter was drafted in November 1842.”
He noted that St. John’s Lodge met at the Carleton House (Part Lot 4 Bridge Street) from 1843 to 1858. The building no longer exists. From 1858 to 1865, the Masons called Hurd’s Hall home (on Bell Street), and from 1865 to 1870 it was 250 Bridge St. – which later became the town’s fire hall.
“This building is across from the old Maple Leaf Dairy,” explained Kipp.
For the next 17 years (1870 to 1887), meetings were held at “Dr. Cornell’s Hall” – at the corner of Bridge and William Streets.
“On September 14, 1887 St. John’s called a meeting,” stated Kipp. “The reason for the meeting – to rent or build. The cost of renting a hall had crept up to $60 per annum, then $100.”
And it wasn’t long after that conference that they purchased a lot on Albert Street for $275, constructing a building for approximately $1,600. It was home to St. John’s Lodge from 1888 to 1910.
In 1910, the greatest Carleton Place fire of living memory would destroy 25 buildings between Bridge Street and Judson Street, including the Masonic Hall.
After the fire, “we were able to use the Odd Fellows Hall at the corner of Albert and Beckwith Streets from June 8, 1910 to November 8, 1911,” said Kipp.
With a large crowd in attendance, M.W. Grand Master D. F. MacWatt laid the cornerstones of the new lodge on April 28, 1911 – at 55 Bridge St.
“They (cornerstones) are still here today at the northeast corner of the building,” stated Kipp.
Marble keystones, pilasters, entablature and pediment adorned the brick building, and the cost of construction was $6,890.
The inaugural meeting in the new building took place on Dec. 13, 1911, and a ceremony of dedication – by M.W. Grand Master Aubrey White – was held on Feb. 9, 1912.
“I have been in almost every part of this building, and it is well built,” said Kipp. “On a clear day, from the roof, you can see the Gatineau Hills.”
“The Masonic Hall is 100 years old,” said Kipp. “It has served the brethren and the community well.”
“Freemasonry is the oldest and largest world wide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of a Supreme Being,” said Shawn. “Although of a religious nature, Freemasonry is not a religion.”
He said it urges its members, however, to be faithful and devoted to their own religious beliefs.
The governing body is called the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario. It is under the leadership of the Grand Master. He presides over the 53,000 Masons who belong to one or more of the 571 lodges in our jurisdiction. Each of these lodges is under the direction of a Worshipful Master.
For more information, visit www.stjohns63.com.