Masons (also known as Freemasons) belong to the oldest and largest fraternal organization in the world. Today, there are more than two million Masons in North America. Masons represent virtually every occupation and profession, yet within the Fraternity all meet as equals. Masons come from diverse political ideologies, yet meet as friends. Masons come from varied religious beliefs and creeds, yet all believe in one God.
Many of North America's early patriots were Masons. Thirteen signers of the Constitution and fourteen Presidents of the United States, including George Washington, were Masons. In Canada, the Father of the Confederation, Sir John A. MacDonald, was a Mason, as were other early Canadian and American leaders.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Freemasonry is how so many men, from so many different walks of life, can meet together in peace, always conducting their affairs in harmony and friendship and calling each other "Brother".
Freemasonry is dedicated to the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God. It symbolically uses the tools and implements of ancient architectural craftsmen in a system of instruction designed to build character and moral values in its members. Its singular purpose is to make good men better. Its bonds of friendship, compassion, and brotherly love have survived even the most divisive political, military, and religious conflicts throughout the centuries. Masonry is a fraternity which encourages its members to practice the faith of their personal acceptance. Masonry teaches that each person, through self-improvement and helping others, has an obligation to make a difference for good in the world.
No one knows just how old Freemasonry is because the actual origins have been lost in time. Many scholars believe Masonry arose from the guilds of stonemasons who built the majestic castles and cathedrals in the Middle Ages. In 1717, Masonry created a formal organization when four Lodges in London joined to form England's first Grand Lodge. By 1731, when Benjamin Franklin joined the Fraternity, there were already several Lodges in the Colonies, and in Canada the first Lodge was established in 1738.
Today, Masonic Lodges are found in almost every community throughout North America, and in large cities there are usually several Lodges. A Mason can travel to almost any country in the world and find a Masonic Lodge where he will be welcomed as a "Brother".
What do Freemasons do? The Masonic experience encourages members to become better men, better husbands, better fathers, and better citizens. The fraternal bonds formed in the Lodge help build lifelong friendships among men with similar goals and values.