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Local Masonic Lodge celebrating 150 years of community service

Three members of the Masonic Truro Lodge 43, from left, John Inch, ruling master; George O’Leary, grand master for Nova Scotia; and Charlie MacKinley, grand director of ceremonies, dressed for a meeting.
Three members of the Masonic Truro Lodge 43, from left, John Inch, ruling master; George O’Leary, grand master for Nova Scotia; and Charlie MacKinley, grand director of ceremonies, dressed for a meeting.

BIBLE HILL, N.S. – Although they still struggle with the stereotype of being part of a secretive society the members of a local Masonic Lodge want to become more visible as they celebrate 150 years in the area.

On March 5, 1867, Truro Lodge #43 was formed. At the end of the year it had 17 members and, although the numbers were much higher at one time, it now comprises 106 men committed to helping their community.

“We seem to have a high degree of interest with millennials who are looking for focus in life,” said Jonathan Welton, immediate past master of the lodge. “Usually people say they wish they’d joined sooner. It’s an excellent way to meet people with common interests and I’ve made a lot of connections. We don’t discriminate by race, politics or who you go home to at night. A lot of what we’re about here is self-improvement.”

To join the Masons a man must be at least 21 years of age, of good moral character, loyal to his country, dedicated to providing for his family and believe in a supreme being.

The local lodges give to charity, provide bursaries to students and take part in roadside cleanup. They do all fundraising internally.

“Being part of this gives you some great opportunities to help,” said John Inch, ruling master of Lodge #43. “I moved here in 2001 for work and thought it would be a good way to meet people. My father and uncle are Masons and a friend here was a member. Since joining I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and made friends I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Lloyd Spicer joined as a way to get involved in the community when he moved back from Ontario in 1959. He has been a member ever since and is currently Lodge #43’s historian.

On March 5, 1867, Truro Lodge #43 was formed. At the end of the year it had 17 members and, although the numbers were much higher at one time, it now comprises 106 men committed to helping their community.

“We seem to have a high degree of interest with millennials who are looking for focus in life,” said Jonathan Welton, immediate past master of the lodge. “Usually people say they wish they’d joined sooner. It’s an excellent way to meet people with common interests and I’ve made a lot of connections. We don’t discriminate by race, politics or who you go home to at night. A lot of what we’re about here is self-improvement.”

To join the Masons a man must be at least 21 years of age, of good moral character, loyal to his country, dedicated to providing for his family and believe in a supreme being.

The local lodges give to charity, provide bursaries to students and take part in roadside cleanup. They do all fundraising internally.

“Being part of this gives you some great opportunities to help,” said John Inch, ruling master of Lodge #43. “I moved here in 2001 for work and thought it would be a good way to meet people. My father and uncle are Masons and a friend here was a member. Since joining I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and made friends I wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Lloyd Spicer joined as a way to get involved in the community when he moved back from Ontario in 1959. He has been a member ever since and is currently Lodge #43’s historian.

The meeting room at the Masonic Centre on Pictou Road. The most ornate and largest chairs are for the worshipful master, senior warden and junior warden. Still very ornate, just not as high, are chairs for deacons and stewards.

Following the Second World War membership in Masonic lodges grew, with #43 numbering 250. In 1950 there were about 12,000 Masons in Nova Scotia.

The first Grand Lodge formed in London, England, in 1717 and Masonry reached Nova Scotia (Annapolis Royal) in 1738. There are currently about 100 lodges in the province.

One of the things members enjoy is the spirit of brotherhood shared with Masons around the world.

“I was in Cuba and a woman saw my (Masonic) ring and said ‘My father has one of those.’ I ended up at his place that evening,” said Charlie MacKinley, the lodge’s grand director of ceremonies. “Wherever we go we’re welcomed by other Masons.”

The teachings of Masonry are illustrated by stories that include lessons related to their values. The stories (Degrees) follow the Biblical history of the construction of Solomon’s Temple and are acted out as members progress through levels called Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. They use stonemasonry-related symbols of the square, compass and apron.

When attending meetings all men wear suits to represent equality among members. Although lodges in some countries now include females those in Canada are only for men, and women have their own organization called Order of the Eastern Star.

No one is coerced into joining but members are happy to talk to those interested in learning more.

As they join the country in 150th birthday celebrations members of Lodge #43 feel it’s a good time to share more information on their history and activities.

“We have a goal to become more visible – less of an enigma and secret to the public,” said Peter Holman, a past master.

One of the things they’re planning is to take part in the Canada Day Parade, dressed in period costume from 1867.

Facts on Truro Lodge #43

When first established it was known as Truro #15, but was renumbered when all lodges in the province united under the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia.

For several years members met in the three-storey building on the corner of Revere and Queen Streets. In 1891 they purchased the building for $1,200.

They moved to the Pictou Road centre in 2002. About 90 per cent of the work on this building was done by Masons.

The Pictou Road Masonic Centre is owned and managed by both Truro Lodge #43 and Fellowship Lodge #112 (which formed in 1949).

Their oldest member was Dr. Errol Hanock, who died at the age of 106, after 85 years as a Mason.

The three largest wooden chairs are made of English oak and are more than 100 years old. They came from the UK. The blond coloured chairs next to them were made by a lodge member to match the old chairs.

 

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