On September 18, the Waterloo Freemason Temple will offer the public free tours of its Waterloo Lodge Rooms at 440 Weber Street North as part of the 8th Annual Doors Open Waterloo Region, a free heritage and architecture tour.
Freemasonry has a long history of charity with its Lodges and Districts supporting many worthwhile projects and causes in the community. This year they are supporting Cambridge’s National Service Dogs organization that supplies specially trained dogs to children living with autism and special needs, says Walden.
Yet much of the allure of Freemasonry has to do with its rituals and secret handshakes, ancient rites of initiation as well as its eccentric language – there are Grand Lodges and Grand Masters, Masonic Temples and a College of Free Masons. Yet the organization is not inherently religious in nature, according to its official literature.
“Sure, we speak of a higher authority that imposes order in the universe, but Masonry is not a religion. We respect every Brother’s right to choose and practice his own religion,” says. Walden. “But Masonry is a philosophy for life in that we teach an ethical code of behaviour based on the Golden Rule of ‘always do to others what you would have others do to you.’ ”
Part of the allure of the Freemasonry organization is the private nature of the inner workings, admits Walden, but it’s the sense of camaraderie with like-minded individuals that keeps him and others coming back.
“When I walk into a Lodge anywhere – and they are every city and most towns - I have a great sense of belonging and that the men I am talking with are committed to being honest, trustworthy, courteous, considerate and respectful to others,” says Walden.
But is there a secret handshake? Yes and no, says Harry Bishop, Waterloo District Masons’ webmaster. Bishop, who joined five years ago, says there is privacy pertaining to traditional words and gestures exchanged that help identify others as members of the fraternity. The handshake, which changes over time, is a method implemented in ancient times before people could read, explains Bishop. “It has worked for hundreds of years, it’s a time-honoured tradition and men like it.”
Bishop marvels at the diversity of men who join Freemasonry. From 21-year-olds to men who are newly retired, they are all looking for an opportunity to contribute to the community and to be accepted regardless of age, occupation, race, creed or socio-economic status, says Bishop.
The Waterloo Lodge Rooms are open to the public on September 18, 2010 from 10 am to 4 pm.
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About KW Masonic Temple: The K-W Masonic Temple was built in 1972 for the use of Freemasons, Royal Arch Masons, Scottish-Rite Masons, Knights Templar and Eastern Star. Discover how Masonry has been involved in the life of this community for 150 years. See historical furnishings and symbols in the lodge rooms, browse heritage displays, and enjoy family activities, music and food.