Many scholars believe Masonic lodges were formed during the middle ages by operative Stone Mason guilds responsible for the construction of the cathedrals and castles during that time. The earliest recorded Masonic text, Halliwell Manuscript, dates between 1390 and 1425 detailing a brief history of the “Craft of Masonry” stating that it began with Euclid of Alexandria (founder of Geometry – mid 4th century BC) and found its way to England during the reign of King Athelstan (894 – 939).
June 24th, 1717, four lodges in London England came together at the now infamous Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St. Paul’s Churchyard. Working together to increase their membership, the lodges formed the first Grand Lodge in the world, aptly named the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster. By 1723 they had published their first rule book titled “The Book of Constitutions of Masonry” extending its authority outside of London.
The Grand Lodge of London and Westminster would be challenged in 1751 when six unaffiliated lodges would come together to form a rival Grand Lodge named The Grand Lodge of the Antients. Existing side by side for 63 years neither would recognize the legitimacy of one another until 1813 when they united forming the United Grand Lodge of England after 4 long years of negotiation.
At that time Canada had two Provincial Grand Lodges; Upper and Lower with William Jarvis as the Provincial Grand Master for Upper Canada and Prince Edward as the Provincial Grand Master for Lower Canada. However, unlike Prince Edward, William Jarvis was not endowed by the United Grand Lodge of England with the power to grant warrants for new lodges.
By 1875, six other Grand Lodges in Canada existed; Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, British Colombia, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and Manitoba. This led to protests suggesting that Ontario’s Grand Lodge was calling itself the Grand Lodge of Canada and in 1855 a committee recommend the name be changed to The Grand Lodge, A.F. & A.M, of Canada in the Province of Ontario which was adopted in 1887. Being the only Grand Lodge in Canada at the time of its formation it was permitted to keep “Of Canada” in their title.
Notable Canadian Masons
Sir John A. Macdonald
First Prime Minister (1867-1873, 1878-1891)
Sir John Abbott
Prime Minister (1891-1892)
Sir MacKenzie Bowell
Prime Minister (1894-1896)
Sir Robert Laird Borden
Prime Minister (1911-1920)
Richard Bedford Bennett
Prime Minister (1930-1935)
John George Diefenbaker
Prime Minister (1957-1963)
Francis Michael “King” Clancy
Canadian Hockey Player, Stanley Cup Winner (Toronto Maple Leafs), Hockey Hall of Fame 1958
Charles William "The Big Bomber" Conacher, Sr.
Canadian Hockey Player, Stanley Cup Winner (Toronto Maple Leafs), Hockey Hall of Fame 1961, Named as one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players” in history.
Canadian Hockey Player, 4 x Stanley Cup Winner (Toronto Maple Leafs), Hockey Hall of Fame 1977, Named as one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players” in history; Co-Founder of Tim Hortons fast food chain.
Mayor of Halifax (1853-1853), President of Legislative Council of Nova Scotia (1867-1873), Founder of Alexander Keith’s Brewery
Roy Thomson, 1st Baron Thomson of Fleet
Newspaper Proprietor, namesake for Roy Thomson Hall, Appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire