Tag Archives: Masons

I Swear it’s True Part 5– The Lodge on the Summit of Owl’s Head– Sherbrooke Record Weekend Newspaper

I Swear it’s True Part 5– The Lodge on the Summit of Owl’s Head– Sherbrooke Record Weekend Newspaper

Owl’s Head, Quebec--The Golden Rule Lodge of Stanstead holds a ceremony every year at the top of Owl’s Head. Near the top of Owl’s Head is a natural chamber, accessible on foot, through an opening between rocks. Members and guests of Golden Rule Lodge No 5 of Stanstead of the Masonic Order meet here annually on the summer solstice. This chamber was inaugurated by Henry J. Martin, GM, on September l0, 1857. Acclaimed to be the only natural open air lodge that is known to exist, Masons from the world over have visited here. The Masonic emblem of a square and compass with the letter ‘G’ in
the centre is inscribed on one wall. A double headed eagle, of symbolic meaning to Masons, is depicted on the chamber’s eastern face

Golden Rule Lodge #5 / Annual Owl’s Head Communication · Owl’s Head, c.1900

Through my childhood years there were always mentions of secret handshakes and the glimpses of velvet curtains and big chairs at the local Lodge. Then there were the blue aprons that my Father and Grandfather carried around in something that looked like a violin case. These are the memories of the Cowansville Masonic Lodge I still hold at the age of 71. 

I have always wanted to know what really goes on with the Freemasons. My Dad and Grandfather were Grand Masters and I would always ask what the Cowansville organization was up to. They told me it was a secret, and no matter who I still ask, it still seems to be a secret.

Paul Todd, a member of St. John’s No. 63 in Carleton Place, ON, agreed to show me around last year. These fraternal groups, no matter what you read or think, are based on community and most join at the recommendation of somebody close to them. I am sure my Grandfather Knight joined because he liked the charitable side of the membership, and then some joined as they needed the sense of fellowship like my Father did. In fact it wasn’t only my father’s side, my mother’s side all claimed to be Masons too.

I have written before about Masonic markings found in Lanark County, but according to my Grandfather there were many in the Eastern Townships as well. There is a well known one in Potton Springs, in Vale Perkins and on farms similar to ones I found in Lanark County. But, the mother of all that was a story that I thought was just a local fable. It was about Owl’s Head overlooking Lake Memphremagog, which is located on the border between Vermont and Quebec.

At one time the annual trek June 24th to the only outdoor Masonic Lodge Room, called the Owl’s Head Golden Rule Lodge, was available only by climbing Owl’s Head Mountain. My Grandfather said that it was a hard climb to the area. He only climbed once, and just to the Lodge Room but decided he could never do it again. Even though it seemed like it was a steady climb and flattened out at times, you would always encounter some steep rocks. From ledge to ledge you carefully walked until you reached the plateau. Each year, a candidate for the Master Mason degree carries a wicker basket that contains ropes, the flags of Quebec, the United States, and Canada, and Masonic tools, including a Bible, and a square and compasses.

Instead of just one peak Owl’s Head has three separated by deep chasms. My Grandfather used to tell me he had friends that told him if you went to the very top of Owl’s Head and had binoculars you could see the outlines of Montreal. Between two of the peaks they finally came to the sacred area called The Lodge Room, so named from the fact that different Masons from Vermont and Canada ascended the mountain. It was a wild cavern, accessible only by one path and so constructed by nature as to be singularly adapted to the purposes of a lodge room. In that very spot, the Golden Rule Lodge first had a meeting in 1856. 

The room itself was of sheer rock towering over 500 feet and the officers’ seats were made of natural stone. The site was established by what many Masons claim to be a very ancient lodge located across the lake from Vermont,  and they still perform the 3rd Degree of Masonry ritual at sunrise. It is said that the ceremony conformed to ancient Masonry and that “the old customs are carried out to the letter” at a time when “the sun is at its meridian and several members were initiated on the summit”. 

Having arrived at the foot of “Owl’s Head” Mountain, the ascent was made in about two hours, my Grandfather said. After the lodge had performed the 3rd Degree Of Masonry Ritual, the members descended the mountain, where they enjoyed delicious food made by the ladies of Stanstead, Newport and Derby, Vermont.

At one point in history there was a bad feeling brought about by the war of 1812, and the Canadians were obliged to separate from their American brethren, and founded the Golden Rule Lodge at Stanstead in 1814. This lodge had a long struggle in the cause of temperance. We are told that in those good old days the people indulged freely in spirituous liquors. Intemperance prevailed everywhere; each neighbourhood had its distillery. Potato whiskey was the staple commodity and, during the winter, numerous teams were constantly employed conveying it to the Montreal market.

In 1828-9 the Stanstead lodge died out from a variety of causes. But in November, 1846, a number of gentlemen who had been detained by an unusually severe snowstorm, while attending the winter show of the Agricultural society of Stanstead county, met by accident at West’s tavern, at Derby Line. Here, before a bright fire, and over a social pipe and glass, the Golden Rule was revived under the old warrant granted in 1824 by H.R.H. the Duke of Sussex, which was supposed to have been destroyed at the burning of the Grand Lodge room in Montreal, a few years before.

The Golden Rule Lodge is the only lodge allowed to hold an outdoor meeting or communication in Quebec. Thanks to an 1857 dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Canada they are allowed to have their annual gathering everyJune 24.  At one time Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 of Stanstead, Canada, occupied a lodge room that was bisected by the boundary between Canada and the United States, with entrances on both the Vermont and Canadian sides. Consequently, lodge membership consisted of men from both sides of the border. A charter was applied for and granted to the Golden Rule Lodge in 1853 by the Grand Lodge of England. 

Reading this through I am often amazed that if history isn’t explained or kept from me I seek it out like my pants are on fire. I get excited to be able to tell the stories I was told and hoping that others will pass it on. So please remember that each day of your life is a page of your own history. Pass it on, and see you next time!

Masonic Gathering 1919

Level of description



Eastern Townships Resource Centre

Reference code

CA ETRC P020-003-06-P078

Title proper

Meeting of Freemasons on Owl’s Head 1920

Level of description



Eastern Townships Resource Centre

Reference code

CA ETRC P998-099-007-P001

James Williams

Owl’s Head Basket, Golden Rule Lodge No. 5 – 1900 – 1920

Tales From the Lodge – Bryan Reingold

Tales From the Lodge – Bryan Reingold


Bryan Reingold  He was known as A.F. Rodger (Albert Foster Rodger)


Memories of the Masonic Lodge- Bryan Reingold

My late uncle, Albert Foster Rodger, from my mother’s side was a *33 degree Mason in Toronto. Not only a lawyer by trade, he was appointed as the Senior Master of the Supreme Court of Ontario until his retirement. He was not only involved with the Masons but was equally involved with the Boy Scouts. 

When I would visit him and my aunt in Toronto, the two of us would sit for hours in his study, sipping on fine single malt scotch and talk until the wee hours of the night. He and my mother shared amazing similarities in their personalities. When he would be in Ottawa at his office (he had an office in many Ontario jurisdictions), I always cried when he’d head back to Toronto because it was like saying goodbye to my mother again who had already passed away. His passing was the hardest one I ever had to attend. 

I remember my Uncle wanting me to become a Mason, but because of their oath of secrecy he couldn’t divulge the details of what was in the oath of becoming a Mason, and subsequently I chose not to pursue it. 

I also happen to have my late Uncle’s graduation picture from Osgoode Hall in 1943.  Though he was in private practice for a while, he eventually became the city solicitor for Hamilton, Ontario and from there was appointed as Senior Master. One of the most understanding, loving, and compassionate man I ever had the pleasure to know. I loved him dearly as my Uncle and miss him. 

Bryan Reingold


Albert Foster Rodger
19 Oct 1917
06 May 2002



*In the United States, members of the Scottish Rite can be elected to receive the 33° by the Supreme Council. It is conferred on members who have made major contributions to society or to Masonry in general



Author’s Notes –Linda Knight Seccaspina, is the granddaughter of Frederick J Knight (middle gentleman) and daughter of Arthur J Knight of the Cowansville, Quebec Masonic Lodge. She has been fascinated with the Masonic Lodge for as long as she can remember. Her Grandfather and Father always said “it was a secret”— and she had to take it at that. Not that she likes it.


Secret Handshakes, Glimpses of Velvet and Big Chairs –Part 1

How Religion Came to Richmond and the First Masonic Funeral

The Mystery of the Masonic Rock – Pakenham


Carleton Place Masonic Lodge Mystery

An Unpleasant Ride? Masonic Lodge– St. John’s No. 63

The Miracles of Potton Springs

The Preaching Rock of Lanark County








My Uncle and Aunt’s gravestone at the York Cemetery in Toronto. You can see the Mason insignia by his name.




Masonic Lodge Dinner thanks to Joyce Tennant April 1978 Canadian

The Ancient Order of United Workmen-Death Benefits etc.




The Ancient Order of United Workmen in Carleton Place 1895 Workman’s Hall on Bridge Street—Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

The Ancient Order of United Workmen (A.O.U.W.) was a fraternal organization created by J.J. (John Jordan) Upchurch, a Freemason and railroad worker, in 1868. It was formed during the Golden Age of Fraternity in the United States during the period after the Civil War. Originally, the A.O.U.W. was designed using ritual similar to that used by Masonic lodges but went a step further by offering death benefits for a brother’s family.



This building used to be in the empty parking lot next to Scott Reid’s office on Bridge Street. St. John’s Masonic Lodge formed in 1843- This building was built in 1911 at 55 Bridge Street. The Ancient Order of United Workmen might have been in the former beer store building on Bridge St.



By introducing death benefits, the members of A.O.U.W. received an added bonus over and above the ritual and camaraderie that other fraternities offered at the time. The way a brother joined and received benefits was as follows: a brother of the A.O.U.W. would pay $1 to join the insurance policy. If the brother should happen to die while on the job, the heirs would receive $500 from the fund and the members of the local lodge would be assessed a $1 to replenish the fund. The insurance benefit offered by the A.O.U.W. was the first of its kind in the United States by a fraternal organization as there was no discretion by the members on who would receive the largesse of the lodge.


Perth Courier, July 15, 1898– The Lanark Era says that James H. Taylor of Lanark died from his attack of sunstroke on Wednesday night of last week.  His age was 44 and he had been a resident of Lanark for 17 years.  He was born in the County of Russell.  He leaves a widow and three sons and four daughters.  His heirs are entitled to $1,000 from the Oddfellows of which he was an insured member

Friendly societies were the major source of sickness insurance in the United States and Canada before the great depression of the 1930s. Historically the chief cost of sickness had been loss of the family head’s earnings, and the friendly society’s sick benefit provided a partial replacement for this lost income.

The IOOF made the stipulated sick benefit the cornerstone of its lodge-based program of benefits during the American civil war. Traditionally its lodges had aided sick members on a discretionary basis, according to need. In 1863, however, the SGL required that lodges provide in their bylaws for a fixed, stipulated amount. “The weekly benefit,” the SGL declared, was “secured to members as a right and not as a charity.” The “payment of a weekly benefit to sick members,” moreover, was “a distinguishing characteristic of the Order and one of its fundamental principles.”

Donovan Hastie added: Hi Linda, I noticed your reference to 55 bridge St and the Masonic lodge. Did you know that Roy Brown was a member of that lodge?

Mysteries at the Carleton Place Masonic Lodge



St. John’s No. 63 Masonic Lodge

Address: 55 Bridge Street Carleton Place, Ontario

Built in 1913 – Architect: unknown

On November 25th, 1842, a group met at Manny Nolan’s tavern to petition for dispensation. The first installation of officers occurred January 20th, 1843 after formal granting in December of 1842. The present lodge building was constructed in 1913 after the first hall was destroyed by fire in the great fire of 1910 in Carleton Place.

St. John’s Lodge met at the Carleton House, 4 Bridge Street) from 1843 to 1858. The building no longer exists. From 1858 to 1865, the Masons called Hurd’s Hall home (on Bell Street), and from 1865 to 1870 it was 250 Bridge St. – which later became the town’s fire hall.

For the next 17 years (1870 to 1887), meetings were held at “Dr. Cornell’s Hall” – at the corner of Bridge and William Streets. The inaugural meeting in the new building took place on Dec. 13, 1911, and a ceremony of dedication – by M.W. Grand Master Aubrey White – was held on Feb. 9, 1912.


When I was a young girl I was mesmerized with my father’s blue Masonic Lodge apron. I don’t know how many times I asked him what the “all seeing eye” meant in his Masonic Bible. More mystery shrouded my mind when my Grandmother left for her Rebecca Lodge meetings in her white dress. When my Grandfather became a Grand Master of the Cowansville, Quebec branch people shook his hands congratulating him and I just sat there and shook my head.

I asked once, okay, maybe I asked 50 times, but I was always told the same thing. Anything to do with the Masonic Lodge was a secret that they could not share with me. When my Grandfather and Father died, the local Masons came in their dress ‘uniforms’ and closed the door and had some sort of ceremony over their caskets. I still had no idea after all those years. I stopped one of my former classmates who was now part of the local Masonic Lodge and asked him point blank if the Masonic Lodge was about taking over the world. He laughed and said,

“Linda, if you stop and ask yourself logical questions the answer is very clear There are no major secrets in masonry. How can we be trying to take over the world when we have such a hard time organizing a fundraiser?”

Sigh— I still don’t know and never will, and each time I walk by the Masonic Hall in Carleton Place I wonder how these people can keep a secret for so long. Keeping secrets isn’t my specialty, and I think they can smell that from a mile away:)

This is a undated vintage picture of the back of Central Garage with the late Frank Robertson and late Ken Robertson of Carleton Place as children. The photo would have been taken in the late 1920’s. A view of the Masonic Lodge on can been seen in the background.