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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian Local Histories and Special Collections by Michelle LaBrosse-Purcell, B.Sc., MLIS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Fraternal organizations are yet another way of finding out a bit more about an ancestor. Some fraternal organizations have qualifications that a person must meet before joining, such as belonging to a certain religion. All organizations, however, exist as a way for people to come together to socialize and help the community. Many fraternal organizations grew out of the desire for an organization similar to the Masons. When looking through graveyards in search of ancestors, there are many times that you will come across the symbol of one of these organizations on a headstone.
Masonry is not only the oldest, but also the largest fraternity in the world. Although its origins are debated, the practices and procedures of the Masonic Lodge observed worldwide were formalized with the establishment of the Grand Lodge in England in 1717, and have not been extensively altered since that time. Masonry, however, actually dates further back than that, extending back to the stonemasons who built the great cathedrals of Europe. Because masons were primarily migrants, they were required by the nature of their craft to live at a building site until the job was finished, then to move someplace when more work was available. For this reason, Masonic organization centered around the “lodge.”
Today, the more than four million Freemasons around the world come from virtually every occupation and profession. Within the Fraternity, however, all meet as equals.
The above symbol is one of many used to show membership in the Masons. Because of the history of stonemasons and other craftsmen being the first Masons, the tools of their trade are still used symbolically to show membership.
Because Masonry is so prevalent, you may have noticed Masonic abbreviations, or other fraternal abbreviations on headstones, and not even realized what these abbreviations relate to.
I have been unable to find a United Grand Lodge for Canada which would be the umbrella organization under which all the provinces have their lodges. Instead, each province has their own Grand Lodge. If you are interested in contacting the Masons to try to find more information about relatives, you can check with the Grand Lodge of the province your ancestor was from, and from there you can determine to which local lodge your ancestor would have belonged.
The Grand Secretary
Grand Lodge of Alberta
330 12th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta T2R 0H2
Telephone: (403) 262 -1149
The Grand Lodge of Manitoba]has their own Archives. Listing of the holdings of the Archives—dating back to 1818 with predominant dates 1870– present) can be viewed at the above link.
Grand Lodge of Manitoba
420 Corydon Ave.
Winnipeg Manitoba R3L 0N8
Telephone: (204) 453-7410
Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia
167 Coronation Ave Halifax,
Nova Scotia B3N 2N2
Telephone: (902) 423-6149
Prince Edward Island
Grand Lodge of Prince Edward Island
PO Box 337
Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K7
Telephone: (902) 894-3443
Emails can be sent through the website.
Grand Lodge of Quebec
2295, rue Saint-Marc
Québec) H3H 2G9
Telephone: (514) 933-6739
Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan
1930 Lorne Street
Regina, Sask, S4P 2M1
Telephone: (306) 522-5686
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Canadian Local Histories and Special Collections offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.
- This page was last modified on 31 March 2015, at 18:54.
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