Freemasonry is the oldest and largest world wide fraternity dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of a Supreme Being. Although of a religious nature, Freemasonry is not a religion. It urges its members, however, to be faithful and devoted to their own religious beliefs.
The organization of Freemasonry is based on a system of Grand Lodges, each sovereign within its own territory. There is no central authority governing all Grand Lodges. However, to be acknowledged by others, acceptable traditions, standards and practices must be maintained.
In our Province the governing body is called the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Nova Scotia. It is under the leadership of the Grand Master. He presides over 97 lodges in our jurisdiction. Each of these lodges is under the direction of a Worshipful Master.
WHAT IT DOES
As a fraternity, Freemasonry provides an opportunity for men to meet and enjoy friendly companionship. In the spirit of helpfulness and brotherly love and guided by strict moral principles it encourages goodwill toward all mankind. Freemasonry is of a personal nature in its private ceremonies. Its ritual dramatizes a philosophy of life based on morality. It promotes self improvement. The tools of operative masons are used to symbolize and teach the basic principles of brotherly love, charity, and truth which Masons are encouraged to practice in their daily lives. Charity is a tangible way in which Masons help those whose circumstances in life fairly warrant it.
Our traditions can be traced directly to the associations of operative masons. They were men of outstanding character and high ideals, who built the cathedrals, abbeys, and castles of the Middle Ages.
With the decline of cathedral building in the 17th Century, many guilds of stonemasons, called "Operative" masons, started to accept into their membership those who were not members of the masons' craft and called them "Speculative" or "Accepted" masons.
It was in these groups, called lodges, comprised mainly of "Accepted" masons that Freemasonry, as we know it today, had its beginning.
In 1717, four such lodges, which had been meeting regularly in London, united to form the first Grand Lodge of England under the direction of a Grand Master. From that first Grand Lodge, Freemasonry has spread throughout the world. Today, some 150 Grand Lodges have a total membership of approximately four million Masons.
One of Freemasonry's customs is not to solicit members. However, anyone should feel free to approach any Mason to seek further information about the Craft.
Membership is for men, 21 years of age or older, who meet the qualifications and standards of character and reputation, who are of good moral character, and who believe in the existence of a supreme being.
A man who wants to join a lodge must be recommended for by two members of that lodge. He must understand that his character will be investigated. After approval by the members of that lodge, he will be accepted as an applicant for membership in Freemasonry.
The doors of Freemasonry are open to men who seek harmony with their fellow man, feel the need for self-improvement and wish to participate in making this world a better place to live.
Any man who becomes a Mason is taught a pattern for living - reverence, morality, kindness, honesty, dependability and compassion. He must be prepared to honour his country, uphold its laws and respect those in authority. He must be prepared to maintain honourable relations with others and be willing to share in Masonic activities. Freemasonry is a way of life.
Information from the GLON and the GLNS websites.
Development of Freemasonry in Cumberland County
The following information comes from “The Development of Freemasonry in Cumberland County , Nova Scotia, 1822-1967” compiled by F.Carman Wightman, PDDGM, privately published in 1967.
Formal records tell us that in May 1822 there was a formal attempt to organize Freemasonry in Cumberland County. Between May 1822 and May 1867 three different Lodges at various times operated in Amherst:
Cumberland Harmony – Provincial Grand Lodge of England. 1825-1842
McGowan Lodge – Provincial Grand Lodge of Ireland. 1845-1867
Athole Lodge – Provincial Grand Lodge of Scotland. 1865-1867
In 1867 the Grand Master stated to the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia that “Application for a Warrant was received from a number of brethren of Amherst , Cumberland County, who formerly comprised McGowan Lodge working under Irish Registry who had surrendered their warrant to the Grand Lodge of Ireland and were now desirous of obtaining a warrant from this Grand Lodge to enable them to meet as a regular Lodge at Amherst under the name and title of Acacia Lodge”. The Lodge was granted a warrant and given the name Acacia No. 14 RNS. It was later renumbered No.8.
In 1850 Acadia Lodge was opened at Pugwash working under a warrant from the Grand Lodge of England and designated by the number 888, and later changed to No. 612.
The origins of this Lodge can be traced through its charter members to McGowan and Cumberland Harmony Lodges. In 1869 it entered the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia and was allotted the number 13.
The first distinct lodge to be formed in Cumberland County under the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia was “Widow’s Son” of River Philip. When the Lodge was formed in 1868 River Philip was an important staging point on the line from Amherst to Halifax. Granted a Charter in September 1868 it was allotted the number 22 and was renumbered as No.48 on October 4th, 1869.
Minas Lodge No.67 is located in the seaport of Parrsboro. By 1872 Parrsboro was one of the most important ports on the Bay of Fundy both from the point of shipping as well as a shipbuilding centre. The Lodge was formed under dispensation in August of 1872 and was the first Lodge in Cumberland County instituted under the Grand Master Maj. General Wimburn Laurie. The others in Cumberland formed during his term of office being Laurie Lodge No. 70 in 1875 at Springhill, Wimburn Lodge No.75 in 1877 at Oxford and in his last months Wallace Lodge No.76 in 1879 at Wallace.
In the early years of this century the mining and lumber industry was fast developing in the River Hebert area. Through the auspices of Acacia Lodge No.8 a recommendation was made to Grand Lodge for the formation of a Lodge in River Hebert. The Charter was issued in June 1908 and in the minutes of Acacia No.8 on May 7th a resolution was adopted “That the spare set of regalia of Acacia Lodge be presented to the newly formed lodge at River Hebert”. And in this manner King Edward No.86 became an entity.
As each new Lodge in the County was formed the older lodges lost membership in the formation of the new bodies. This was particularly true in the case of Acacia. With the formation of Alexandra No.87 the situation was different as Alexandra was a true child or offshoot of Acacia. In May 1909 a notice of motion was given in Acacia Lodge “That it was in the best interests of Masonry that an additional Masonic Lodge be established in Amherst.” Alexandra Lodge was granted a dispensation to work in October 1909 and the Charter was granted on June 8th, 1910.