After my post last week about Arizona's Governor Ducey declaring 'Freemasonry Day,' I got a note from Brother Ilya Raykhlin of Bow River Lodge 1 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It seems that Calgary's Mayor has declared June 24th annually as 'Freemasons Day' starting back in 2013. Then Edmonton's Mayor followed suit last year. Now, the whole Province of Alberta has jumped in on the idea.
From Brother Raykhlin's e-mail:
This is wonderful news to all of the brethren in the Canadian province of Alberta, and we share in Arizona's delight as our provincial government has also just declared June 24th as Masonic Day in Alberta (see above).
Personally, this recognition of our fraternity’s contributions to society at large and to our communities specifically, is how I plan to help turn the tide on the falling membership and participation levels that have plagued our North American lodges for decades.
I am the founder of Freemasons Day in Calgary, and the Chairman of the Freemasons Day Planning Committee. Back in 2013, I successful lobbied our municipal government to formally recognize June 24th as Freemasons Day, and our Mayor has continued to proclaim this every year since. He also attends and speaks at our annual Open House at Freemasons Hall, and he has become an outspoken supporter of the Craft.
As a result, the Mayor of Edmonton — our provincial capital — became inspired to show his city’s gratitude to our organization, and in 2016 also declared June 24th as the first Masonic Day in Edmonton.
Masons have a long history in Alberta. The first Premier of the Province of Alberta was a Mason. As were the first Mayors of Calgary and Edmonton. And of course, so was the first Prime Minister of Canada.
Consequently, just on time for this year’s celebrations in Calgary and Edmonton — and in recognition of this being the 300th anniversary of the founding for the Grand Lodge of England — our provincial legislature has also formally recognized June 24th as Masonic Day in Alberta (below).
It is my goal to see to it that Freemasonry returns to its former prominence, especially in a day an age where people have become so disconnected and hopeless. This sort of formal recognition of our past is such great publicity, that it serves to promote what we still do and stand for to an audience of young men who otherwise would be too distracted to notice. Here in Calgary, our annual Open House which has served to both celebrate Freemasons Day with our brethren, as well as to build new bridges with the citizens of our city — has led to increases in membership across all participating lodges.
If June 24th became recognized and celebrated in every jurisdiction as Freemasons Day, what would our numbers look like in a decade? Something to think about.
In the meantime, if you would like a quick overview of the history of Freemasonry in Calgary, please visit our website at www.freemasonsday.com, where you will also find our Mayor’s 2017 declaration letter.(Click the images above to enlarge them.)