I stand before you with a great deal of pride as a representative of the oldest fraternity in the world — the oldest and the largest. In 1966, the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia celebrated its one hundredth anniversary, but that was merely the founding of our Grand Lodge, and bore little relationship to the beginnings of Freemasonry.
Well over 200 years ago there was formed in this little community of Annapolis Royal the first Masonic Lodge in what is now the Dominion of Canada; but again the beginnings of Freemasonry were many years before. In 1967, the Grand Lodge of England celebrated the 250th anniversary of its formation; this still was only the formation of that Grand Lodge. Freemasonry began centuries earlier.
The story of the founding of Freemasonry goes back so many years that it is completely lost in the annals of history. We pride ourselves on our glorious past, and our ancient traditions. We pride ourselves on our principles and talk about our charity. Our principles are such that they form the very foundation of civilization. If they cease to be generally accepted then civilization must disappear. If you rad the pages of history you find other civilizations have ceased to be, and if you rad the daily papers you will find how thin still is the lacquer that distinguishes man from the beast. This country needs more organizations like ours. Freemasonry lives in our hearts and minds, and we are inspired by its teachings.
In 1804, a young man by the name of John Aul came to Halifax in an armed brig of war which that year brought out a detachment of artillery to which he belonged. He determined to be made a member of the Order of Free and Accepted Masons if it were possible. He was recommended in the usual way to Virgin Lodge of Halifax, by a member of that Lodge, accepted and received his first degree, when his detachment was placed under orders to proceed to Jamaica. A Lodge of emergency was called and he obtained the two following degrees, and his Master's Certificate. The brig sailed at the appointed time, and had a pleasant voyage until within a short distance of St,. Ann's, the port to which she was bound. Then there was reason to think there was danger, as the island was approached. The French had many fine frigates afloat in West Indian waters, and at early dawn all hands on board were aroused by the booming report of a gun. Coming on deck they beheld a fine large French frigate, so near that there was no possibility of escape. It was the discharge of one of her guns across the bow that had awakened them. It was decided to surrender. The French commander immediately sent a boat with an officer to board the brig of war, and in the inspection which followed the officer found John Aul's Masonic certificate. He asked to whom it belonged. On finding out he politely bowed to John Aul, and told him that the officers of the ship would be put on shore on the point of land nearest to St. Ann's and allowed to take all their personal property with them. He expressed his regret that it was out of his power to land them nearer, and thereby save them the trouble they might experience in reaching their destination, a thing he would willingly have done were it not for the danger he faced in being captured by some of the vessels in the neighbourhood.
The brig of war was of course, taken and the crew made prisoners, but the rest were safely landed at the cape. The foe was a Freemason! Mr. Aul was one of the oldest Masons in Nova Scotia at the time of his death.
What is Masonry? It is not something that can be handed over like a suit of clothes, or a house and lot. Real masonry comes from within. As well, try to make a trained athlete by a correspondence course as to make real masons by lodge attendance and memorizing the ritual. The ritual points the way, but real masonry comes from practising in our daily lives the virtues taught us. My Brethren, let us strive more earnestly to understand the meanings of our rites and ceremonies. Let us carefully search for the meaning of our symbols, and let us faithfully practise the principles of our Order. We will then go to Lodge to come away better men.
We may travel East or wander West, Or North or South may roam; But where the spirit of Brotherhood dwells, Any place is home, sweet home.
WHY I STAY AWAY FROM LODGE
- Because it's too hot. (It's hot on the golf course too.)
- Because it's too cold. (It's warm and friendly inside.)
- Because it rains. (One goes to work in the rain.)
- Because you didn't get a personal invitation. (People go to the movies without being asked.)
- Because you have company. (Ask them to wait until you can get back — they will admire your loyalty.)
- Because you are getting poor. (There is no admission charge.)
- Because you are rich. (Be grateful to the source for such a blessing.)
- Because you don't like a certain officer. (I'm human, too.)
- Because you have plenty of time to go later. (Don't be too sure.)
This paper was prepared by Bro. R. Whitman, Annapolis Royal Lodge #53, and was Donated to The Board of Masonic Education by VW Norman Amirault on Feb. 10, 1990.