Midland Freepress - Canada
Masonic lodges amalgamate to create a new Midland lodge
By DOUGLAS GLYNN
Masonry is alive and kicking in Midland, Douglas Steward declared Tuesday just hours before becoming Master of the new Huronia Lodge 348.
Georgian Lodge 348, Penetanguishene, and Earl Kitchener Lodge, 538, Port McNicoll, were officially amalgamated Tuesday in a ceremony conducted by Grand Master Allan J. Petrisor, who also dedicated the lodge room at Huronia Museum. Georgian Lodge was chartered in 1867 and Earl Kitchener around 1913.
It was the second amalgamation of area Masonic lodges in the past year. In 2007, Midland's Caledonia Lodge 249 amalgamated with Victoria Lodge 470, Victoria Harbour, and became Bayport Lodge 249, in Victoria Harbour.
"What we've done by amalgamating these two old lodges is save Masonry in Midland and Penetanguishene," Steward said. He said the amalgamation came about because the Masons, like many organizations, have experienced a reduction in their numbers in recent years as members grow older.
He said the membership of Huronia Lodge will be 92.
"We are processing four new applications and we are being approached by others interested in becoming Masons," he said. "We consider ourselves fortunate to be invited to have our lodge in the museum and are looking forward to a long association. We hope to carry on our charitable work and we'll also be doing some fundraising for the museum."
Grand Master Petrisor said Georgian and Earl Kitchener lodges had used facilities at a building owned by Caledonia Lodge. But after that lodge sold its building in Midland and amalgamated with Victoria Lodge, Georgian and Earl Kitchener didn't hold meetings for a short period.
"Members of Grand Lodge, including myself, were urging them to keep the presence of Masonry in Midland," he said. "It has been here for 130 years and we hated to see it lost."
Unlike some organizations, he explained, the Masons do not actively solicit members. Instead, people usually apply to join because they have a family member or friend involved in Masonry.
Petrisor said membership in Ontario increased during the 1940s and '50s as war veterans joined, but has dwindled from 135,000 in 1962 to 53,000.
However, he is optimistic the numbers will increase because an interest is developing among you people.
Described as the world's oldest fraternal organization, Freemasonry's traditions are traced back to the stonemasons who built the cathedrals and castles of the Middle Ages. Modern Freemasonry was founded in England in 1717, when four lodges banded together to form the first grand lodge. The first lodges were founded in Canada four years later.
"One of the first lectures you will hear on initiation," said Petrisor, "is about charity, which is a big part of what the Masons do. Three million dollars a day goes into charitable works on behalf of the Masons."
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Among the things Masons support are programs at The Hospital for Sick Children, blood donor clinics, and it recently raised $40,000 for prostate cancer research.
Petrisor was just 26 when he became a Mason. "It becomes a way of life. It's a philosophy based on the tenets of brotherly love and helping people through charitable work."
Described as the world's oldest fraternal organization, Freemasonry's traditions are traced back to the stonemasons who built the cathedrals and castles of the Middle Ages. Modern Freemasonry was founded in England in 1717, when four lodges banded together to form the first grand lodge.