Ancient Brethren Masonic Lodge
The building that now houses the Masonic Lodge was originally built in 1863 and moved in 2008 from the Village of Kars in south-west Ottawa. Many original 19th century Masonic items gathered from eastern Ontario are on exhibit in the lodge. The building offers visitors the chance to learn about the history and role of the Masons and other fraternal societies in Upper Canada during the 19th century.
The Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, founded in Britain in 1717, was the most important of several fraternal organizations in pre-Confederation Canada. Such organizations met several significant social needs of the time. Freemasonry was a brotherhood, whose teachings and behaviour mirrored the values of other institutions of society: the church, the school, the home, and the law courts. Even though Freemasons were not actually "operative" masons-that is, earning their living in the trade of stonemasonry-their "work" was to build a moral human being, much as stonemasons build the actual structure.
Freemasonry has been described as "a system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols." Their rituals and teachings use the metaphor of a stonemason's tools and implements, which are given symbolic meanings, drawing on Greek and Roman architectural history, Old Testament Hebrew history, and medieval trade guild traditions.
All Freemasons had a moral obligation to assist, in times of need, their brothers, the families of their brothers, and society in general. In the 19th century, Freemasons responded with generosity to provide money, food, and assistance for the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the unfortunate in the community, ensuring the stability of our early social fabric when there was no social safety net.
Freemasonry also provided a venue for men to meet socially; men who shared a common moral and religious vision of the world; men who believed that the Creator wanted them to lead good, moral lives and to serve their fellow human beings. As Very Worshipful Brother Otto Klotz put it in 1864, "A Freemason's lodge is a temple of peace, harmony and brotherly love. The object of a Mason's meeting in a lodge is of a two-fold nature: Moral instruction and social intercourse."
In the 19th century, many church leaders, lawyers, judges, doctors, other professionals and social leaders were Masons. Canadian Prime Ministers John A. Macdonald, John Abbott, Mackenzie Bowell, Robert Borden, R.B. Bennett, and John Diefenbaker were all Masons, as was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Queen Victoria's son Albert (later Edward VII) and the Kings following-Edward VIII and George VI-were also Masons.