Nov. 2, 2013 - The population of Oil Springs, Ont. expanded by about a third recently as nearly 300 Masons from across the province converged on the historic Lambton County community to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Alexandra-Inwood
The event included a gala evening and Grand Master’s reception held at the Oil Springs Community Centre.
Founded in 1863, like the village itself, the evolution of Alexandra Masonic Lodge was coincidental with the area’s
19th century oil boom.
Many of the organization’s founding members were oil drillers and pioneers of today’s modern petrochemical industry.
While the oil that once gushed from the ground in the Oil Springs area has now
slowed to a trickle, the Masonic Fraternity in the village has remained steadfast.
Through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and a plethora of other challenges, Alexandra-Inwood Lodge continues to be a cornerstone of the local community.
Deputy Grand Master (DDGM) Brian Simpson welcomed the capacity crowd and extended fraternal greetings on behalf of all Masonic lodges in the Sarnia District.
He said as a past master of Alexandra-Inwood lodge he was especially honoured this year to
serve as the Grand Master’s representative in the Sarnia District and have the opportunity to mark his home lodge’s historic milestone.
“This is a lodge that has endured many ups and downs but has continued to stand proud in the community
for 150 years,” he told the assembled guests.
“You have helped make this birthday party and the Grand Master’s reception one we will never forget.”
Kevin Sitzes, the current Master of Alexandra-Inwood Lodge said it was
a distinct pleasure to welcome so many Masons and guests to the community.
“As you can tell from our program (which included a short history of the lodge) Masonry and its members have held a prominent place in this community for more than 150
years,” he said.
Oil Springs mayor Ian Veen brought greetings on behalf of the municipality and the County of Lambton and noted that while reflecting on the event he imagined how it must have been 150 years ago before automobiles, paved roads,
and modern communications.
“Today we have super highways, the internet, and almost instantaneous communications but some things do not change with time,” he said, adding that the lodge has retained its values, traditions and sense of community.
“This is where the recognition of this lodge becomes invaluable; it has stood the test of time and has bonded the community through friendship.”
The mayor proposed a toast in celebration of the lodge’s past accomplishments and future
Sarnia-Lambton MPP Bob Bailey brought greetings from the Ontario Legislature and presented Worshipful Master Kevin Sitzes with a certificate on its behalf.
Bailey, a member and past master of the Alexandra-Inwood Lodge, noted that it was
an emotional evening for him as his late father and many of his relatives were also members of the lodge.
Masonry attracting men of all ages, says Grand Master
address, Grand Master, the Most Worshipful Brother Donald A. Campbell noted that Masonic anniversaries are important events because they provide Masons with an opportunity to review the past, assess the present, and visualize and prepare for the future.
“We can look back with pride on the achievements of those charter members who laid the foundation for a strong and successful lodge,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity to recognize those who, through the years, enabled this lodge
to survive periods of prosperity, economic depressions, world wars and the numerous conflicts that face every evolving society.”
The Grand Master pointed out that Oil Spring’s Alexandra Masonic Lodge No. 158 was founded in 1863 while Inwood
Lodge No. 503 was formed in 1912 and later amalgamated.
“Both lodges passed the test of time, proudly displaying their charters until their amalgamation in 2005,” he said.
“But the true core of Masonic values has remained the
same, and today the officers and members of those two lodges have moved forward and we see great things are yet to come . . . as Masons we can be proud of our tradition, being ever mindful that the ancient landmarks have and must continue to be preserved.
M.W. Bro. Campbell said while the past is important Masons must look to the future, noting that new members, both young and old, are joining the order in search of something today’s society is not providing them.
“They are searching for
knowledge and a system that provides it for them,” he said, adding that men today want to be members of a quality organization and that is what Freemasonry must continue to be.
He said Masons are the ambassadors of their craft and the fraternity’s
tradition of one-on-one contact can be its greatest advertisement.
He added that it’s every Mason’s duty to create a friendly and supportive environment that results in a positive atmosphere of learning.
“If we are of
the right character and practice Masonic principals we will continue to draw men into the craft,” he said.
He noted that while attracting new members to the order is important, it is also imperative that Masons continue to engage its present members.
The Grand Master said during his two year term he intends to set three priorities: communication, with a focus on a strong branding of Freemasonry; motivation of existing members; and a constant reminder that the membership needs to achieve a balance in
life so they will be able to be good men, always striving to be better.
“It should be family first, work comes next, and then think of Masonry,” he said.
“We should always be striving to increase the membership, increase the
activity of the membership, and have them live life well,” he said.
However, he said Masons need to worry less about attracting new members and more about keeping existing members active so the organization is seen as an important factor in their
“An active lodge is a healthy lodge whether you are building it with new members or engaging current members,” he said.
He noted that there are currently 533 Masonic Lodges across Ontario initiating more than 1,300 new
members each year.
“The best communications tool in Freemasonry is its membership,” he said.
“It’s our actions, attitudes and first impressions that will continue to influence the decisions of good men who are considering