Story and photo by Gareth Vieira
Inside the brick walls of the Masonic Lodge on Toronto Road gathers a group of people who have been working quietly to enrich the lives of their neighbours in the Port Hope community.
“We are not a secret organization or secret society,” said Worshipful Master, Al Salter, “We just don’t sing from the rooftop that I’m a Mason, you should be a Mason. A person has to have the interest first. We do have a secret handshake, but that’s part of a ritual passed down through the generations, no different than any other long-standing organization.”
To help demystify the legends and myths that follow the Port Hope Masonic Temple, they will be opening their doors on June 3 for an open house.
“We hope people come by,” said Salter. “The whole idea of the open house is to make ourselves more visible and interconnected with the community of which we are part. We would rather not be left in the corner and forgotten about, and we don’t want people to think that we are unapproachable, so this is a way for us to mingle without having any pressure or stigma.”
At the heart of Masonry is a pledge to care for others in need, whether it is members of their lodge, neighbours in their community, or the world at large. Masonry is found all over the world and includes various concordant bodies such as the Shriners and Eastern Star which is an appendant body open to both men and women.
In a given year, each individual lodge contributes to local charities and this past year Hope Lodge donated to the Northumberland Giving Tree and sponsored four children. They also contributed to the Fire Fighters Museum, the Salvation Army, and the local food bank, as well as providing relief for some of their own members in need.
“Masonry is about meeting people in a common basis you wouldn’t meet in your day to day life and from that common basis, you share principals, you learn more about yourself, the world, different points of view, and it really expands who you are,” said Salter.
Kathleen Martin, the Worthy Matron of Hope Lodge’s Eastern Star, says she too hopes people will come to the open house, take a look around, and ask whatever questions they may have about the Masons and their activities.
“Eastern Star also supports various organizations and charities, alongside the Masons and individually, which include: a bursary for the high school, hospital foundations in Cobourg and Bowmanville as well as dialysis clinics and respite, wreaths at Remembrance Day, Heart and Stroke, Colitis and Crohn’s, to name a few.”
It’s convictions based on generosity that they practice, and inherently advocate, that bind the Masons together. The simple everyday teachings one hears again and again, but finds hard to attain – teachings based on brotherly love, relief and truth.
“It’s a moral compass to live by,” said Salter. “In a time when our moral compass is spinning out of control.”
P.S. “Oh, by the way, did I tell you there’s also going to be a Pirate Ship at the open house? Just saying.”
The Open House will be held at 54 Toronto Rd in Port Hope on June 3rd from 9 am until 4 pm.