Freemasons not so secretive after all

Tyler Clarke
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Local freemasons Dorothea Herron (past matron of the Prince Albert Chapter #16 Order of the Easter Star), Ed Glynn (secretary treasurer for the Royal Arch Masonry), Rodney McKinnon (worshipful master of Kinistino Lodge #1) and Ron Sterling (local Shriners president), from left, are seen at the Prince Albert Masonic Lodge on Thursday during an open house. 

By opening up the Prince Albert Masonic Lodge to the public, local freemasons intend on proving they’re not as secretive as some make them out to be.


“We want masonry to be more open so that people are aware of us, because we’re like everyone else,” member Rodney McKinney said.

“We’d like people to join because we’re a brotherhood of like-minded individuals.”

However, it’s easy to see where the perception of freemason secrecy comes from -- particularly since there are various secrets.

Between members ascending to higher levels of the organization, secret handshakes, rituals and a temple room decked out in wooden chairs dating back more than 100 years, the “secret society” perception doesn’t appear miscast.

McKinney describes the organization as not the “secret society,” public discourse makes them out to be, but a “society with secrets.”

His position with the organization is “worshipful master of Kinistino Lodge #1,” a blue lodge -- the first level in which members can ascend through three intra-levels, from which they move on to the Royal Arch Masonry.

The organization might appear complex at face value, but McKinney insists that it all boils down to a fun fraternal organization of men (and women, who make up the separate Prince Albert Chapter #16 Order of the Eastern Star).

“People have conceived that we’ve got secrets. Well, any secret that we have you can look on the Internet -- It’s freely open,” he said with a shrug, adding that the best way to learn their secrets is to join.

“We are open, we’re friendly, and that we are not exclusive -- We are inclusive.”

Royal Arch secretary treasurer Ed Glynn likens the freemasons to serial television programs, wherein the program “always leaves you with a question for next week.”

“Masonry does that, too,” he said. “It ultimately leaves you with some questions.”

“Many organizations have unknown ways of recognizing one another, and that’s all it is as far as we’re concerned,” Glynn summarized.

“We have handshakes that identify where you stand in the lodge – things like that.”

Noting that the freemasons have float in the city’s annual parade, Dorothea Herron said that there’s “nothing that secret about it.”

We want masonry to be more open so that people are aware of us, because we’re like everyone else. Rodney McKinney

Herron serves as past matron of the Prince Albert Chapter #16 Order of the Easter Star -- the freemasons’ women’s branch.

“I think we’ve all heard the story about this secret organization and cult stuff,” she summarized.

“Some people still think that way because there’s some secrecy, and that secrecy really … is because of the closed meetings, and we have ways of recognizing each other as members.”

In addition to having fun with like-minded individuals, sects of the freemasons work to better their surroundings.

The Royal Arch Masons raise money for central auditory processing disorder – a disorder that prevents people from distinguishing sounds clearly.

“If somebody’s yelling behind you, you can still understand me, but to them it’s a jumble,” Glynn explained, adding that they also raise public awareness regarding prostate cancer.

The organization’s most visible sect – the Shriners are currently raising money for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Montreal.

Ultimately, between public service and their own inter-club fun, McKinney said that everything the freemasons do is about improving things.

“The big goal is to … make yourself a better man,” he said. “As you become a better man, your community becomes better. So, it’s little steps toward a big step.”

For those who missed Thursday’s open house and would still like to learn more about the Prince Albert Masonic Lodge, the organization is holding their annual Liver, Onions and Bacon Supper on Sunday, May 25.

The event will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Prince Albert Masonic Lodge, at 292 15th Ave. E.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $8 for children under 12, with children five years of age and younger getting in for free.

Tickets are available at Harold’s Family Foods or from any mason or Order of the Eastern Star member.

Organizations: Eastern Star, Shriners, Shriners Hospital for Children

Geographic location: Montreal

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