World War One and A Few Important People

One hundred years ago, our soldiers arriving on the Western Front in 1915 were serving under Field Marshall Douglas Haig, a freemason. Although biographers typically vilify his name, mainly because of the two million casualties suffered under his leadership, ultimately it was Haig’s ability to enable his front-line generals to adopt new tactics and technologies that led to victory in 1918. Canada, as a Dominion within the British Empire was expected to join the fight and did when war was declared in August 1914, and which ended 4 years later on November 11, critical to our annual Empty Chair ceremony. So, this month I shall note several other remarkable men who led our forces overseas and were members of the Craft: Sir Arthur Currie, Sir Sam Steele and Sir David Watson. It was Bro Currie who commanded the 1st Canadian Division and at a top level insisted throughout the war Canadian troops fight together, not merely as colonial reinforcements. He opposed the obviously futile frontal assaults and advocated what became known as “Bite and Hold” tactics. While under his command, the Canadians never lost a battle, including Hill 70, Passchendaele, Arras, Amiens and Cambrai. After Canadians had captured Vimy Ridge in 1917, Currie was knighted and appointed to head the now-elite Canadian Corps for the remainder of the war. Bro Steele, who while with the North West Mounted Police had famously maintained order during the Klondike Gold Rush, led a Canadian cavalry unit in the Boer War and for his actions was personally decorated by the King. In 1914, due to his age his request for active duty was...
The Beaches Lodge in 1905

The Beaches Lodge in 1905

The Beaches Lodge, as we all know, was formed in 1905 but did not move into its original temple located at Queen and Balsam until 1907. After likely much discussion and several meetings, and with 28 Masons applying for affiliation, it is recorded that in May 1905 The Beaches Lodge inaugural meeting was actually held at the corner of Gerrard and Bolton – after agreeing to pay $15 a month rental fee to Orient Lodge. Their first ladies night was held the next May at the Balmy Beach Canoe Clubhouse which cost $2.00 per couple and they charged “extra ladies” 75 cents. Upon forming, in 1905 the brethren agreed to set their initiation fee at $30.00 and yearly dues were $5.00.  In July a committee was formed for the laying of the cornerstone of their own temple, and by 1914 membership had reached 225. With respect to selecting our name, The Beaches Lodge (keeping in mind local residents voted to call the area The Beach a few years ago), in 1905 “the beaches” comprised: Woodbine Beach, Kew Beach, Scarboro Beach and Balmy Beach, and so the name it seems made sense. But, at that time our lodge could have easily been called either Migpah or Omega Lodge, if several proposed amendments – following the approval of The Beaches Lodge – had passed. Other names debated included: Strathcona, Victoria, Unity, Equity, Maple Leaf, Mystic, Temple, Keystone, Suburban and Minerva Lodge. But it was Migpah that struck me as a peculiar choice. Unsure about its origins or meaning, you’ll find it in a book called Life, Three Sermons, and Some of the...

Our Flag, The Leafs and the 48th

by WBro Graeme Boyce In the spirit and tradition of remembrance, lest we forget, I was reminded this month of a story about our flag, and the courage of a few virtuous men. Faithfully, Canadians are reminded in November to recall the past, of previous battles, vain and critical, struggles both lost and won, of wars fought around the world on foreign shores, long ago and nowadays at home, to appreciate bravery and reflect notably on sacrifice. In their honour, we salute our young nation’s cherished red and white flag. Last month I received my copy of Valley Talk, and in it was a piece concerning our very illustrious brother John Ross Matheson, who passed to the GLA several years ago.  He went to war for his country and was gravely wounded fighting in Italy in 1944. Among other tributes, the Judge Matheson Gates at CFB Kingston are named in his honour. Elected to the House of Commons, as Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Lester Pearson, who credited Matheson as “the man who had the most to do with the creation of the Canadian Flag than any other,” he again accepted his duty and led the charge to provide us our unifying emblem for all Canadians. Noted historian and esteemed Freemason, Wallace E. McLeod, Professor Emeritus of Classics at Victoria College, University of Toronto, (Harvard Ph.D grad, and also a Past President and Fellow of The Philalethes Society), as taken from a book he co-authored called Freemasonry & Democracy: Its Evolution in North America, states: “On February 15, 1965, after prolonged debate, a distinctively Canadian flag, with the Maple...