The fraternal Masonic order (Freemasons) exists as an organization aimed at encouraging men of all backgrounds to learn and grow co-operatively. Within the London area, there are 25 Masonic Lodges and many additional related organizations catering to both men and women.
The London East and London West Masonic Districts are pleased to provide this informational page to answer some commonly-asked questions about this ancient fraternity.
- Who Are the Freemasons?
- Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Its members share a common goal of helping each other become better men. Its body of knowledge and system of ethics is based on the belief that each man has a responsibility to improve himself while being devoted to his family, faith, country, and fraternity.
We're united by three ancient and fundamental principles—brotherly love, charity and truth—that are made relevant to the 21st century through the personal development, good works and social connections available to our members in the 550+ lodges across Ontario.
- How Old is Freemasonry?
- In practical terms, the fraternity is about 300 years old. However, Masonry uses the the history, symbols and stories of the operative stone workers who constructed grand ancient buildings and monuments found all over the world.
- How Does One Become a Mason?
- It starts by asking that very question. The London area is home to over 2 dozen Masonic Lodges. The thousands of members in the region are available to speak to you about what Masonry means to them, and to answer the specific questions you may have. If those questions lead to interesting answers, an application is then made to a local Lodge for membership. Each Lodge then contacts you to talk about their Lodge, how they do things, meeting times, dues and expectations. This is also another time for all family members to ask more questions. A successful meeting of this sort may lead to being offered membership in that Lodge.
- What's in it for the Members?
- Friendship, moral support, a chance to challenge themselves, and most likely, co-operative work within the community. There are relatively few opportunities for men to be in a non-competitive group. Lodges are a place where they can expect support as they challenge themselves to be better sons, brothers and fathers.
- How Does the Self-Improvement Take Place?
- This varies for each member. For some, it's the allegorical stories that we share about historical figures. These are guides to proper and responsible conduct in society. For others, it's the chance to learn leadership skills as they take on traditional roles in the operations of their Lodge. Still for others, this comes as a part of contributing to committees and community programs. There is no single or defined way that one person may grow. Likewise, Masonry offers many paths to explore and learn from.
- Freemasonry is a Secret Society, Right?
- Nope. You can find Lodges listed in most city phone directories, online or simply by asking around. There's usually a Masonic hall in the area that you can go visit. Chances are that you've had Masons in your family, or certainly have friends with Masonic connections in theirs. Some Lodges even have Open Houses. The Masonic Hall in Byron (home to three Lodges) has participated in Doors Open London for several years. It's not at all secret.
- But Masons Keep Secrets, Right?
- Okay, you got us. We do keep secrets. It's more of an issue of privacy rather than secrecy though. There are a handful of things that we share with members as they learn their way around a Lodge. These private bits of information help us prove our credentials when visiting another Lodge. It's like knowing a locker combination or the garage access code at your home or workplace.
- Is Freemasonry a Religion?
- No. Although in Ontario (and all of Canada) a requirement of becoming a Mason is a belief in a greater power, there's no specific religion or set of religious rules in Masonry. The personal faith that a member has, and their relationship with their place of worship (if any) is not a Masonic matter. Masonry welcomes members of many faiths, backgrounds and ethnicities. These diverse beliefs have little or no bearing on the meetings since religion is not a matter of Masonic discussion or education.
- But I've Heard of Masonic Bibles...
- There are such things. However, these are the same King James Version that you're familiar with. They just have special covers and a few extra pages. The extra information on these pages has to do with the presentational nature of these books where members can enter the special dates in their Masonic lives. It notes their progression as Masons. But remember that the Bible is not the only book used in Lodges. Since Masonry is open to members of various faiths, copies of the Qur'an, the Torah and other books of scripture are also commonly found in Lodges - usually side by side. The purpose of any such book is to allow a Member to swear their vows of self-improvement on a volume that has personal meaning to them.
- I Read Dan Brown's books and Now I Want to be a Mason.
- Bearing in mind that Mr. Brown's books are works of fiction, they do paint Masonry in an exciting light. The reality of Masonic meetings and the fraternity has little in common with these stories.
- I Read on the Internet that Masons...
- Don't believe everything you read. Much of what is published online is fictional or creative to say the least. Also, the information which is real may often come from other parts of the world. Although Masonry has largely similar practices world-wide, the specifics in each Jurisdiction vary greatly. Masonic Lodges in this part of the world follow the rules laid out by the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. This Grand Lodge is the highest body of the Masonic order for this part of the world. There is no world-wide Masonic leadership body. Only the shared ideals of fraternal friendship and self-improvement that are common to all Masons.
- Is a Lodge a Service Club or Charity?
- No. Although charity is a basic tenet of Masonry, and a Lodge or a member may practice charity in their community, these are not charitable organizations in the sense of getting a tax receipt for a donation. However, the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario does sponsor a number of formal charitable foundations.
- But the Shriners Raise Funds all the Time...
- True, and yes, all Shriners are Masons. However, we're talking here about Freemasonry as the group that is the foundation of the Shrine and many other related organizations. Masons may choose to also become Shriners and take part in their excellent fundraising activities.
- Can I Visit a Lodge?
- Our meetings are for members only. However, you can certainly make arrangements to visit a Lodge near you by contacting the Secretary of that Lodge. Furthermore, Dufferin Hall (surprisingly located at 453 Dufferin Ave.) houses many Lodges and you may be able to arrange a tour through them.
How Does One Join?
If you already know a Mason, ask them. They can talk to you about their experiences in Masonry and provide you with an application for their Lodge, or introduce you to members of other local Lodges.
If you don't already known a Mason, you can use the Lodge Locator on our Grand Lodge web site. Use that to find a nearby Lodge that meets on a convenient schedule for you. Contact their Secretary using the information provided.
Lodges in Canada do not recruit new members. You have to approach them. 2 B 1, Ask 1.
We offer the following official resources for Masonic information: