Far North Lodge UD
Institution - Wednesday January 8th, 2003 (6003)

R.W. Bro. Rod Ponech, Senior Grand Warden,  Grand Lodge of Alberta (and the Northwest Territories)

Brother Toastmaster, Worshipful Master, Distinguished Visitors, Ladies and Gentlemen, ... Brethren;
     It is my distinct pleasure to be here this evening and I must thank you for affording me this opportunity of briefly addressing you.

     First I must of course bring you the most sincere greetings of our Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother Terry Drollet. He was very much aware that I would be with you this evening and specifically asked me to pass on his personal, most warm wishes for a successful and fruitful commencement of your Lodge in Inuvik.
     My compliments go to the organizers of not only this function, and the earlier ceremony, but also those who first conceived the original Masonic Club which led us all to this evening of celebration.
     I would also like to emphasize my, and Grand Lodge's personal thanks to each Mason in this area for the hard work and dedication which has today culminated in the institution of a new Lodge.
     Please let me pause, for a moment, to pass some observations on directly to Right Worshipful Brother Howard Townsend, on his appointment to the position of Worshipful Master of Far North Lodge.
     As the Masons of this area have already done, I too wish to personally congratulate you on your preferment among the brethren today.
     This is both an honour and a responsibility. While I have no doubt that the term of office during which you serve the brethren will be your most memorable time as a Freemason., I must also emphasize to you that during that term of office, you will be expected to attain the same high standards and goals as your predecessors in all Lodges since antiquity.
     Your brethren and the Senior Grand Lodge Officers will look to you, and depend on you, to shepherd Freemasonry in this region.
     I trust you noticed that I did not refer to the term of office as "Your Year". That term is often used for Worshipful Masters, District Deputies, and even Grand Masters. It is however, one that may leave the wrong impression.
These are not years which belong to us individually, but rather years which rightfully belong to our Brethren, and during which we serve them.
     My Brother, enjoy "your year" as Master, however, please bear in mind that it is "your year" to serve others.

Let me now give you, and the rest of those here assembled, a bit of advice on how to handle some of the most difficult questions that can be posed to Worshipful Masters, and Mason, or their family members.
     First: What is Freemasonry?
          Second: What do Freemasons do?
               And Finally: Who are Freemasons anyway?

What is Freemasonry?
     If we attempted to answer with the standard phrase of "a beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory, and illustrated by symbols" we would have lost your audience within the first 20 seconds.
     Why not simply tell the truth!
     Our Masonry is a men's fraternity: one with a high moral basis, and a degree of educational content, which assists each of us to grow and improve as men.
     We place an extremely high value on our families, and on patriotism, and we pride ourselves on being truthful and honest, in our dealings with each other, and with all mankind.
     We are not another service organization, we are not affiliated with any religion, nor do we sell or promote any product.

 While we are extremely generous in our charitable works, Freemasonry is not a charitable organization, and what charitable works we do are not publicized, nor flaunted.
     In the simplest terms, Freemasonry is a men's fraternity to which hundreds of thousands of the world's best citizens belong, because, being a Freemason is consistent with our own good character, and allows us to associate and recognize others with those same traits.

The second question is: What do Freemasons do?
     This is the easiest to answer.
     Brethren, Freemasons do what you do. Freemasons are typical of most Canadians who work for a living, attend church, marry and have families, are active in their communities, take pride in their children, are honest and trusted employees, and employers, and can always be found when there is a task to do which may help another human being.
     To answer the question, you simply look at any Mason; and there you will find the litany of what Freemasons do. Each Mason's life is representative of the life of every Mason, and by what each is observed doing, it may be fairly assumed that other Freemasons will do.
     It is both a privilege and a responsibility to wear the mantle of Freemasonry.

     The final question is somewhat more difficult to address.
Who are Freemasons?
     They are leaders in industry, religion, sports, communities, families, governments, charitable organizations, in fact, every walk of life.
     They are often the hardest working, yet the least recognized in any group.
     They are often the most generous yet the least acknowledged among their peers.

Who are Freemasons?         We are Freemasons.
What do Freemasons do?    They do what we are
                                            seen to do.
What is Freemasonry?          It is that which brings us
                                            here today, and binds us
                                            as brothers.

     I promised Right Worshipful Brother Townsend that I would not be long-winded. (Not fully trusting my word, he had me frisked for any hidden "white binders").
     Let me thank each one of you, for your kind and generous attention this evening.
     To the Masons, I also thank you for being here, for being Freemasons, and for attending to your duties today.
     I must also express the thanks of Grand Lodge for your having exhibited that "Commitment" as Freemasons which our Grand Master has chosen as our theme for this Masonic year.
     To each of you I express not only my thanks, and the thanks of the Grand Lodge of Alberta, but also our congratulations to the members of this newest of Lodges.
     Well done!
     I look forward to my return in a year or so for the formal Consecration of Far North Lodge.
     That will be the culmination of many months of effort for the Masons in this area, and yet another beginning of the next phase in the traditions of Masonry through the centuries.
     Again, I thank each one of you, and I am indeed finished.