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Freemasonry: you’ll never walk alone.
Grand Masters Annual Address:-
June 19, 2020
Since our Grand Lodge communication and my installation in June 2019, we have experienced a contrast in our lives, almost unimaginable. The hopes and intentions for our beloved Craft that I shared with you a year ago have been largely overshadowed by the events of late winter 2020. During the first nine months of my tenure, I am very grateful for the honour and pleasure I have enjoyed in our official visits to seventeen of our districts, as well as other fraternal events. These are described at the end of my address.
As a Grand Lodge, we began the 2019-2020 year with the promise of attaining progress in the second year of a three-year plan both to improve our masonic experience, as well to make Freemasonry better known and understood in our communities. At our Grand Lodge annual communication last June, I highlighted two specific objectives related to our plan: to strive for excellence in our ritual work, and to showcase Freemasonry throughout our jurisdiction.
Ritual is the very heart of our beloved Craft. It provides the formal framework of our meetings. It gives us the time-honoured ceremonies for making Freemasons. It enables us annually to install our lodge officers and renew our sense of purpose. The conferring of the three established degrees in a regular lodge makes us unique as an organization in the entire world. Still, we must not be satisfied to be mere guardians or caretakers of these precious traditions. We must strive to make every lodge occasion an exemplary and most satisfying experience. Throughout this year, I have challenged you, my brethren, to revive and create degree teams to confer and exemplify ceremonies of the highest quality. A degree team can transform an otherwise routine event into a festival of masonic visitation and a highly memorable experience for the candidate. Degree teams have a vital rôle in setting high standards for ritual work. I am pleased to report that two new degree teams have been created in our jurisdiction during the past year, with the promise that two dormant teams will be revived.
Making Freemasonry better known and understood in our communities has been a continuing objective over many years. My emphasis on this objective during the past year, however, has attempted to go beyond correcting public misconceptions about our Craft and presenting ourselves as decent men and responsible citizens. I have endeavoured to share ideas with our brethren that will help energize our lodges, especially as we plan the 150th anniversary of our Grand Lodge in 2021. Already, a number of lodges have active programmes to showcase Freemasonry, through open houses, bursary presentations, social events and especially family activities. By opening our doors and welcoming our friends and neighbours to share hospitality and good times, we are letting our light shine. Each day, in British Columbia and Yukon, Freemasons volunteer to drive patients to cancer clinics, spearhead blood donor drives, assist veterans and raise funds for charity. Some of our good works are recognized; many are not. This year, I have asked several of our Grand Lodge committees to work together and amplify the message that Freemasons care.
In the latter part of this year, we have been visited by a horrendous pandemic. Its effect on Freemasonry has been profound. Our inability to meet in lodge has struck a blow at our fraternity. While extraördinary conditions have changed our masonic experience we, as Freemasons, have adapted quickly and drawn new designs on our tracing board. Prohibited from getting together, Freemasons have been reaching out, connecting by telephone, computer messaging and occasionally meeting at a safe distance in person. Some brethren have delivered groceries and medications, run errands and checked on shut-ins. Other brethren have volunteered at food banks and come out of retirement in the health care field. As your Grand Master, I have been very proud of these, and all Freemasons who have chosen in these difficult times to practise outside the lodge those virtues that are inculcated in it. Thus have we improved, physically and spiritually, the lives of those around us.
And, we might ask ourselves, can any good come from this terrible pandemic? As a positive outcome of this tragedy, we have witnessed principles being adopted by society that Freemasons have long cherished and advocated: respect, giving of oneself and, albeit enforced at times, civility. When this disease has passed, and the suffering has abated, will the respectful behaviour encouraged in time of crisis continue to be practised by society at large?
As we look to the future with optimismthat optimism which, I am convinced, is part of the soul of every Freemasonlet me recount the many pleasurable times experienced during the course of my term as Grand Master. I am deeply grateful to the principal officers for their fellowship, support and advice on our journeys. Our Grand Secretary, RW Bro. George Moore, has consistently and tirelessly given outstanding service. Our Deputy Grand Master, together with our Grand Wardens, have set new standards for accompanying the Grand Master at official functions and, equally important, for visiting lodges throughout our jurisdiction. It will be a special honour for me to hand the gavel of authority to our incoming Grand Master. Working with our twenty-three District Deputy Grand Masters has been a great pleasure. These hard-working brethren have given cheerful service and used skill in addressing sensitive matters on behalf of our Grand Lodge. The abundant kindness and courtesy shown by the District Deputy Grand Masters and their partners to my wife Lisa and me during my official visits will never be forgotten. There is one Grand Lodge officer, however, to whom I must give special and heartfelt thanks for ensuring that my programme was a success: our Grand Director of Ceremonies, RW Bro. Ronald Cawthra.
To our committee chairmen and members, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your diligence and hard work during the past year. The progress we, as Freemasons, have made both for our Craft and for the benefit of society is due to your dedication.
To our Grand Lodge staff, may I also offer my gratitude and kind wishes for all that you do in support of our Craft in British Columbia and Yukon.
In conclusion, I must recall the special thought I shared with you at my Installation a year ago. Freemasonry: You'll never walk alone. Neither I, nor any of you, my brethren, could have imagined the way in which the world has changed during the past year. However, little did we realize how important our Freemasonry would become during this time of difficulty and danger. As a precaution, we have been forced at times to isolate but, throughout this ordeal, we as Freemasons have never walked alone. As your Grand Master, my gratitude to you, the brethren of British Columbia and Yukon, will never end for bestowing on me the most honoured office a brother can ever have. You have given me the gift of reaching the hilltop. Thank you for travelling there with me.
During my term as Grand Master, I made one ruling. I suspended recognition of the National United Grand Lodges of Bulgaria and its constituent Grand Lodges.
One. Although progress has been made, the important matter of the committee structure of our Grand Lodge still needs attention. I therefore recommend that Grand Lodge works towards simplifying our committee structure, possibly reducing the number of committees, while strengthening accountability.
Two. The recent pandemic has underlined the need for Freemasons of British Columbia and Yukon to connect with each other. In June 2019, I charged our Grand Lodge with addressing the question of creating a special lodge for Freemasons who live a considerable distance from an existing lodge. I therefore recommend that this matter continue to be given our attention.
Three. The pandemic has also limited our ability as a Grand Lodge to communicate and to transact business. I therefore recommend that future Grand Lodge Communications include at least one session at which resolutions and substantive business can be conducted by electronic communication with the participation of brethren at specified tyled centres throughout our jurisdiction.
Grand Master’s itinerary 2019-2020
The first official visit was held on 3 August in District 11, Yukon, with Yukon Lodge No. 45 being the host lodge. In addition to the brethren of District 11, there were visiting brethren from several other districts as well as from Alaska and the Northwest Territories. I was honoured in that brethren flew and drove considerable distances to attend. A superb banquet, which included spouses and families, featured game stew. I am deeply grateful to RW Bro. Jens Nielsen, District Deputy Grand Master, as well as to the brethren, for their hospitality and courtesies.
The official visit to District 3 was held in Kamloops on 7 September. The host lodge was Nicola Lodge No. 53. There was an excellent attendance and several visiting brethren from other districts. An educational programme described the excellent work the brethren of the district have accomplished in creating a masonic library and archives centre in Kamloops. The festive banquet included a good-natured skit performed by the brethren and assisted by the Grand Master.
On 5 October, Kitselas Lodge No. 123 in Terrace hosted the visit to District 12. The afternoon district visit within lodge was well-attended, and the evening banquet featured an extraordinary array of food prepared by the brethren.
The official visit to District 8 was held on 12 October and was hosted by Creston Lodge No. 54. Although the visit coincided with the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, there was a good attendance by brethren andlLadies. The banquet was superb.
A combined official visit to District 6 and District 7 was jointly hosted by Nelson Lodge No. 23 and Kaslo Lodge No. 25 on 26 October. The Nelson masonic hall was filled to capacity for the visit. The evening banquet included a classical music duet that provided outstanding entertainment. The following day, the brethren of Kaslo Lodge held a visit to their historic hall, the earliest wood masonic structure still in use within our jurisdiction.
On 5 November, Blue Mountain Lodge No. 182 hosted my official visit to District 28 in Port Coquitlam. I was deeply honoured by the capacity attendance, with 23 Grand Lodge officers in the suite.
On 16 November, Peachland Lodge No. 56 in Peachland hosted the visit to District 10. Despite inclement weather, the afternoon lodge visit was very well attended, with brethren from the Okanagan as well as the Kamloops area and beyond participating. I had the honour to present a Fifty-Year Jewel to VW Bro. Fred Blunden. The evening banquet was held at the Peachland 50+ Activity Centre, and featured live entertainment enjoyed by the guests, ladies and brethren.
The Official Visit to District 17 was held on 26 November and hosted by Lynn Valley Lodge No. 122 at the Lonsdale Temple in North Vancouver. The lodge room was filled to capacity for the evening visit. Our Grand Steward, VW Bro. Lorne McAllister, was presented with his Fifty-Year Jewel.
On 15 February, St. John's Lodge No. 21 in Ladysmith hosted the official visit to District 27. I had the honour to present a Sixty-Year Jewel to VW Bro. Alan May. Prior to the event, I visited two brethren in their homes, and presented a Sixty-Year Jewel to W Bro. Roy Robinson and Fifty-Year Jewel to Bro. Robert Batty.
The official visit to District 23 was held on 18 February and was hosted by Cloverdale Lodge in Langley. There was an excellent attendance.
On 25 February, Doric Lodge No. 18 hosted the official visit to District 5 in Nanaimo. I presented a Sixty-Year Jewel to VW Bro. Ted Ridgway.
The combined official visit to Districts 13, 14 and 25 was held in Vancouver on 29 February and was hosted by Cascade Lodge No. 12. Ninety-six brethren attended. The superb banquet featured entertainment and dancing.
On 7 March, Abbottsford Lodge No. 70 hosted the official visit to District 18 in Abbotsford. I had the rare privilege to present a Seventy-Year Jewel to RW Bro. James Stevenson of Ionic-Kent Lodge No. 19.
On March 26, the Grand Lodge Office circulated to all lodges and brethren a seven-minute video which I had recorded on the Coronavirus pandemic. My main objectives were to honour all brethren for practising Freemasonry, especially for their many acts of kindness, and also to report on action taken by the principal officers in ensuring the continuing stewardship of our Grand Lodge.
My first function and first lodge visit took place on 26 June, when the brethren of my own Haida Lodge No. 166 honoured me.
On 29 June, I attended Hiram Lodge No. 14 in Courtenay. The 0fficers conferred the Entered Apprentice degree with great proficiency at their annual outdoor event.
On 13 July, I attended an emergent communication of Goldstream Lodge No. 161, Langford. Also an outdoor event, the brethren conferred the Master Mason degree in an impressive ceremony.
On 27 July, my wife Lisa and I attended a picnic hosted by Slocan Lodge No. 29 at the historic town of Sandon. Approximately sixty Freemasons and family members attended.
On 9 through 11 August, Cariboo Lodge No. 4 held its annual reunion in Barkerville. I was delighted that there were twenty-eight Grand Lodge officers in my suite. The brethren and their families produced a wonderful weekend of fraternal and social activities, concluded by an inspiring divine service at St. Saviour's Anglican Church.
Lynden Lodge No. 56, Ferndale, Washington, hosted its Hands Across the Border on 14 September. The MW Grand Master of Free & Acepted Masons of Washington, MW Bro. Charles Wood, and I were honoured. An excellent banquet was followed with entertainment.
On 3 October, I was invited to attend Railway Night, a tradition of Acacia Lodge No. 22 in Vancouver. I was delighted to be inducted into the Fraternal Order of Railroaders.
On 12 December, I was honoured to be invited to the table lodge held by Britannia Lodge No. 73 in Victoria. The event was superb in every respect.
My wife and I attended the open installation of the officers of San Juan Lodge No. 175 F&AM in Friday Harbor, Washington on 14 December. I was delighted that there was a sizable number of Canadian brethren and their ladies in attendance.
On 4 January, I was invited to serve as Installing Master for Victoria-Columbia Lodge No. 1 in Victoriaa long-standing tradition in our jurisdiction. We were graced with the presence of the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington and several of its officers, as well as representatives from the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington and Jurisdiction.
Other lodge visits and events in January included Vancouver & Quadra Lodge No. 2 in Victoria, followed by an excellent Robbie Burns Night, on 15 January; and Discovery Lodge No. 149 in Campbell River on 20 January. In Discovery Lodge, the Northern Lights Degree Team conferred the Entered Apprentice degree with eloquence and precision. I presented Forty-Year and Sixty-Five-Year certificates. A wonderful Robbie Burns Night followed. I was also delighted to attend Robbie Burn's Night celebrations held by Mount Garibaldi Lodge No. 127 in Squamish and United Peninsula Lodge No. 24 in Central Saanich.
I also had the pleasure of visiting Triune Lodge No. 81 in Powell River on 11 February. An elegant banquet with the ladies was held beforehand. Many brethren travelled from Vancouver to attend this event.
Sister Grand Lodge Communications
I was pleased to attend the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, also in July. It was a rare occasion, in that all ten Grand Masters of Grand Lodge Jurisdictions in Canada were present. I was honoured to be invited to bring greetings on behalf of the visiting Grand Masters.
I attended the annual communication of the Grand Lodge of California in San Francisco, 18 to 20 October. Some 1,200 brethren attended, including 21 Grand Masters and Grand Lodge representatives. The recent renewal of the Craft in California was particularly informative, as its Grand Lodge has warranted 23 lodges during the past three years.
The Western Canada Conference was held in Banff, Alberta, on 9 to11 October. Papers were presented by the four Senior Grand Wardens and, by productive coincidence, the topics complemented each other. The emphasis in the discussions was on practising quality in our Craft.
On 28 March, our Deputy Grand Master, Grand Secretary and I participated in the All-Canada Conference of Grand Masters held as a virtual meeting. Restricted travel and physical distancing protocol required changing the format of this event. The Grand Masters' reports were delivered in real time, and there was ample opportunity for discussion. The normal timespan for this event is two days, and the virtual conference was completed in just over three hours.
Visits to Events held by Concordant and Appendant Bodies
My wife and I were honoured to be the guests of Gizeh Shriners of British Columbia & Yukon at the Imperial Sessions of Shriners International in Nashville, Tennessee, in July. The Imperial hosts facilitated a meeting of some twenty Grand Masters from the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Philippines. The principal topic of discussion was membership in the Craft, including creating and retaining Freemasons.
I was invited to attend the official opening of the Annual Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, British Columbia and Yukon, on 20 September in Kelowna. The companions extended a fraternal warm welcome.
My wife and I attended two official visits of the Supreme Queen, Daughters of the Nile, to Miriam Temple in Victoria and Zarah Temple in Burnaby.
My wife and I were invited to attend the New Year's Day Fundraising Brunch sponsored by Crescent Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, in Nanaimo on 1 January.
The chapter presented a generous donation to the Freemasons Cancer Car Program.
I attended the installation of officers for Phoenix Chapter, Order of DeMolay in Langford on Saturday, 18 January, and the installation of officers for Bethel No. 36, Job's Daughters International, 27 January, also in Langford. On both occasions I was very pleased with the number of Grand Lodge officers and brethren present. At these visits, I delivered greetings from our Grand Lodge and expressed our support for the masonic youth organizations. In turn, their members gave us a warm welcome and generous praise for our attendance and support.
On 23 February, Miriam Temple No. 2, Daughters of the Nile, held a luncheon prior to its ceremonial in Nanaimo.
On 5 March, my wife and I attended the opening of Grand Court, Order of the Amaranth in Abbotsford.
I attended the virtual open installation of Miriam Temple No. 2 conducted in real-time on 2 April. I was pleased to bring greetings from the brethren of our Grand Lodge.
On 11 November, I participated in the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Provincial Legislative Building in Victoria. On behalf of our Grand Lodge and the Freemasons of British Columbia and Yukon, I laid a wreath at the cenotaph. I was honoured to be accompanied by a number of Grand Lodge officers and brethren from Vancouver Island and the mainland.
MW Bro. Douglas Franklin,
Grand Master 2019-2020