De-Mystifying Freemasonry

By Melissa Cole, Curator

Next month a new exhibition will be opening at the Oshawa Museum, Freemasonry: A History Hidden in Plain Sight.   Freemasonry is shrouded in superstition and generally misunderstood; the oft-called “secret Society” has been actively involved in bettering communities behind the scenes since the 1700s.  This exhibit which opens at the Oshawa Museum on May 9 will cover the history of Masonry and some of the stereotypes portrayed in the media along with a special focus on the lodges of Oshawa.  Pop culture has been responsible for fuelling the speculations and conspiracy theories associated with Freemasonry – particularly books such as Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.  In this book it was suggested that the government of Washington was secretly fun by a coven of masons practicing sinister rites.

A series of large shadow boxes form the framework of the exhibition.  The exhibit walks a viewer through the various periods in History from;

  • The very early times – operative masons, establishment of Grand Lodges in England, Scotland, Ireland and so on.
  • The Migration of Freemasonry to the New World
  • The Renaissance
  • Freemasonry today
  • Military lodges
  • Concordant bodies
  • Philanthropy and Benevolence
  • Symbolism of Freemasonry
  • Portraits of famous Freemasons through history

A special focus of the exhibition while it is here will highlight the lodges in Oshawa and portray individuals from Oshawa who were Masons.  While compiling the research I discovered that my great grandfather was a Master Mason.  His name was listed in the 1958 program of the Order of the Eastern Star as Worshipful Patron.  The Order of the Eastern Star is a masonic organization that is the sister organization of the Freemasons.  It is the largest fraternal organization to which men and women both belong, although the majority of its members are female.  The stated purposes of the organization are:  Charitable, Educational, Fraternal and Scientific.  They used to meet in Oshawa at the temple on Centre Street.  Today they meet in Whitby.

William Henderson OES

The exhibit runs from May 9th to August 31 at the Oshawa Museum!  On Sunday May 29 I will be talking about Masonry in Oshawa at our monthly Tea and Talk.  Watch our social media channels and e-news bulletins for future events while the exhibition is here in Oshawa.

Freemasonry Exhibit Logo

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