Life

Simcoe Lodge celebrates 160 years of Freemasonry

By Miriam King, Bradford Times

The entrance to Simcoe Lodge #79 AF & AM is on Barrie St., in Bradford. An Open House is planned for September 16, celebrating 160 years of Freemasonry in the community. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

The entrance to Simcoe Lodge #79 AF & AM is on Barrie St., in Bradford. An Open House is planned for September 16, celebrating 160 years of Freemasonry in the community. Miriam King/Bradford Times/Postmedia Network

2017 is a year of celebration.

The big one, of course, is the Sesquicentennial –  marking150 years since Confederation.

But 10 years before the Fathers of Confederation sat down in Charlottetown, the Town of Bradford was incorporated – and Simcoe Lodge #79 AF and AM was founded.

The Masonic Lodge celebrates its 160th Anniversary this year with an Open House on September 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It will be an opportunity to get behind the scenes, see the artifacts preserved from the early days of the Lodge, and learn more about its history, and how it has contributed to the community – and learn more about Masonry itself.

Freemasonry has a 300 year history in Ontario, and is described as “the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world.” Based on principles of “brotherly love, relief and truth,” and belief in a Supreme Being, its goal is to help members to become better men, devoted to family, faith, country and fraternity.

The list of past Freemasons reads like a Who's Who of the men who helped build the country – including Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada's first Prime Minister. 

Locally, Masons have included the late Fred C. Cook – former Deputy Reeve and County Councillor, and Sunday School Superintendent;  John Fennell, Sam Lee, and Councillor Peter Dykie Jr.

One reason for holding the Open House is to open up Masonry to the public. There is an impression of secrecy, because so many of the ceremonies are carried out behind closed doors, and so much of the symbolism is derived from the distant past.

“It uses symbolism based on the history and Solomon's Temple... to improve our awareness of our morality, of what we are doing to our surroundings and ourselves,” says  Worshipful Master Marcos Poles. “Everything in proportion. Our symbols, although they are very old, are still applicable to our lives today.”

And Freemasonry makes no secret of its involvement in charities and assistance to the community. Simcoe Lodge has supported the Rebecca Run for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, the Alzheimer Society of York Region, Prostate Hope, and the MasoniCh.I.P. Child ID program, among other charities.

Poles himself was first introduced to Masonry in Brazil, 20 years ago. In his travels, he has visited Lodges around the world. “You feel like you are home, the way people receive you and speak to you,” he says. “That's the beauty of Masonry – the relationships,” and the brotherhood.

Learn more at the September 16 Open House, at the corner of Holland St. East and Barrie St.