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Sunday, October 25, 2020
 
 
Emblem of Masons   “By the exercise of brotherly love, we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family”

Prince Hall Masonry In Ontario 1852-1933, Arlie C Robbins, July 17 1980, p.8
 
Masonry, also known as Freemasonry, is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world. Members are inspired to live by the tenets of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, and, second, to join its members in an endeavour to build a world where justice, equality, and compassion shine forth in the happiness of all human kind. When a man asks to join a Masonic Lodge, he enters into an opportunity for personal development, character building, and the acquisition of leadership capacities. Through his Masonic journey and his association which his brethren, a Mason learns the skill and finds the understanding with which he can enhance his community and strengthen his family. Freemasons are active in promoting education, supporting stronger communities and practicing charity.
 
Prince Hall Masons on Mercer Street in the 1920's - Photo courtesy of Jim Allen
 

Prince Hall is recognized as the Father of Black Masonry in the United States.. Prince Hall was one of a few blacks who fought at the battle of Bunker Hill. Religiously inclined, he later became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and fought for the abolition of slavery. Prince Hall was a hero to slaves in 1800’s. He advocated for participation of black men in government and for equality. Blacks faced many barriers to being admitted as Masons. Blacks were not barred from ‘white’ lodges but were most often eliminated by a ‘black ball’ at the ballot box. However, in 1775 Prince Hall was invited to join

Prince Hall Masons on Mercer Street in the 1920's - Photo courtesy of Jim Allen  

an Irish Lodge #441 a part of British regiment. In March 6 1775 Prince Hall and 14 others become master masons of lodge #441. When the British Army left Boston, this Lodge, # 441, granted Prince Hall and his brethren authority to meet as a lodge.

 
Prince Hall organized the creation of the African Lodge founded July 3, 1776. When black lodges formed “under the charter of Prince Hall Masonry they were considered to be “clandestine” on the grounds that the first Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had been declared irregular by the white brothers of that state.”
 
Grandmaster McCurdy with fellow Prince Hall Masons - Photo courtesy of Lois Larkin
  The founding of the Lodge in Canada is linked to the migration of black settlers from America. Hundreds of blacks began migrating beginning in 1830 and by 1850 to 1860 thousands made their way to Canada. Internationally known masons such as Dr Martin Delany, Rev Thomas Stringer, Abraham D Shadd, Rev Thomas Kinnard, Rev Benjamin Stewart and Rev. Josiah Henson
Grandmaster McCurdy with fellow Prince Hall Masons - Photo courtesy of Lois Larkin  

assisted fugitives and brought their experience with the Lodge with them.

 
The National Compact Grand Lodge (New Jersey unit) was the first to establish Prince Hall Masonry in Canada. The first was established in Hamilton in December 27, 1852 and was known as the Mount Olive Lodge #1. Next the Olive Branch #3 was set up in Windsor in October 1853 under Grand Master Benjamin Jackson. However, by 1856 olive Branch #3 in Windsor had dissolved.

The next incarnation was The Widow’s Son Grand Lodge. It was constituted August 25, 1856 in Hamilton. The Windsor lodge was called the North American #9 of Windsor. The years following the end of the American Civil War were challenging for the Canadian lodges. Many Canadian masons returned to the states to help with the reconstruction. The final meeting of the Widow’s Son Grand Lodge St was in St. Catherines on June 12,1872.

The remaining masons decided to unite. Ezekiel C. Cooper drafted a call for amalgamation. On October 22, 1872 the resolution was adopted and the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ontario was formed. This included North American Lodge #11 of Windsor.

The Canadian lodge underwent several name changes. In 1896 Masons of Michigan and Ontario split. In 1922 the title was recorded as “Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Ontario”. In 1974 it was re-named The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Province of Ontario and Jurisdiction. In 1976 the North American Lodge #11 of Windsor joined with North Star Lodge #7 to form the American Star Lodge #4 of Windsor.

Prince Hall masons continue to be active and involved in Windsor and area. For more information please visit their website at http://freemasonry.org.

 

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

 

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