Visit to the Cornerstone Ceremony for the New Masonic Lodge at Upper Canada Village
by Lucy Martin
After nearly a week of rain, blue skies and mild conditions made the 21st of June a perfect summer solstice day. RTHS members and friends arrived in individual car pools for this long-awaited event: the dedication of the old Kars Loyal Orange Lodge as a "new" 1860's-era version of an Ancient Brethren Lodge.
Masons across Eastern Ontario raised much of the funding required to make that project a reality. Along with their families and the general public, they came from far and wide to see what's become a rare sight, the laying of a Lodge cornerstone.
The celebration began with the South Glengarry Pipe and Drum Band leading hundreds of Masons in formal suits with colourful aprons and regalia--as well as masons in kilts and personable bikers in Masonic-embroidered motorcycle leather. After a parade that circled the village, the masons formed an impressive twin line along scenic Church Street, fronting the restored lodge.
For the big day, the cornerstone hung by rope in mid-air under a cedar-decorated tripod. With solemn words and proper ceremony, it was lowered, fixed in mortar, measured and found true, and symbolically anointed with corn, wine and oil.
With rituals observed, the entry ribbon was cut allowing the public their chance to step inside. The bucolic afternoon continued with lemonade served under a large canvas tent in the adjacent pasture and a thanksgiving service at the church just two doors up the street.
Although the old structure has the same footprint, it has been made over with so much fresh timber planking and interior restoration that it practically looks and feels new. This charming addition to Upper Canada Village will educate visitors about the role lodges and fraternal societies played in community life of the time. After the ceremonies, the cornerstone was permanently placed in the northeast corner of the building along with a copper time capsule made by the Village tinsmith.
Space does not permit individual recognition but kudos to all who made this long-term project such a success.