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Monday, March 21, 2022

Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon Installing Cutting Edge Historical Markers

by Christopher Hodapp

In the 1960s and 70s, our Grand Lodge in Indiana installed about thirty aluminum historical markers at various important Masonic sites around the state. Almost sixty years later, they're all still in place, and nearly all of them are in remarkably good condition with no maintenance. They have quite literally withstood the test of time. It's tough to find any product with that kind of track record, and seen in that light, they are a remarkably inexpensive way to promote interest in the fraternity, once you consider the amortized cost over 5 or 6 decades. 

We used Sewah Studios out of Marietta, Ohio to manufacture ours, and since 1927, they have been the favorite supplier for nearly every state in the union for these types of roadside historical markers.

Now, brethren in Canada have hit upon a new wrinkle in historical markers. The Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon is in the midst of celebrating its 150th anniversary. But instead of creating plaques with tons of small, hard to read type, their new commemorative markers include a scannable QR code that links to a website with more information than could ever possibly fit on the marker itself.

The first of a projected 45 markers to be installed was at Prince David Masonic Hall in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. It was dedicated on Saturday by the grand officers of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon.

From a story on Saturday by Colleen Flanagan on the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows website:

The cast bronze plaque is mounted on the front steps of Prince David Masonic Hall and features a QR code that can be scanned using a phone that will connect immediately to websites, photos, videos, and information about the hall’s history and its role in shaping the past 150 years of the Freemasons in the province.
By scanning the QR code, visitors will also be able to take a virtual tour of lodge halls throughout B.C. and the Yukon and learn about how they shaped the west coast of Canada before the formation of a provincial Grand Lodge in 1871.
This is the first of 45 dedications of plaques across the province and territory.

Most Worshipful Grand Master Don MacKenzie, head of Freemasonry in B.C. and Yukon, attends the hall in Maple Ridge. He was joined for the unveiling by Freemasons from across the jurisdiction and the officers of his Grand Line.

“Freemasonry has been an active but relatively quiet part of B.C. communities for 150 years,” MacKenzie explained.

“People see our buildings but don’t know what goes on inside. So, this an invitation to get to know us,” he said.

Maple Ridge was chosen for the first plaque unveiling because of MacKenzie’s connection to the city.

“Freemasonry stands on the threshold looking back on 150 years of success, and forward to the next 150 years of fraternity, charity and community,” he said.
Of course, no cutting edge technology can avoid the occasional slip up here and there. The downside of this technology is that such a plaque becomes almost useless if the QR code doesn't connect with the actual website. 

Kindly do not write me saying that the website address on the marker in the photo above goes to a blank page for a parked domain of www.masonicmarkers.comI can only assume that somebody didn't pay their domain subscription, it's still in the process of being migrated to a .com address, or it was an embarrassing error on the part of whomever proofread their plaque order before it was cast in bronze. 

The actual website address spelled out on the marker is supposed to read masonicmarkers.bcy.ca

In any case, scanning the QR code itself does take you to the correct website for the lodge's history.

As new markers are erected, they will be added to a searchable map on the masonicmarkers.bcy.ca website. Hitting the QR code on the marker takes you to a history of the site, event or lodge building. The website also lets you check in and log your travels every time you scan another marker along the grand lodge's Masonic trail. 

I suppose it’s a cool idea, as long as the QR technology is properly supported and maintained. So whoever has the keys to the hosting accounts in endeavors like this, make sure multiple people and Grand Secretary offices all have the ability to access the sites and pay the Internet bills on time. I also wonder about the durability of the QR image as well, after it's subjected to years of outdoor weather conditions. Like all technology, I fear its rapid obsolescence. QR codes will go the way of the 8-track tape player, and probably faster than you can say, "What's an 8-track tape player?" — unlike our markers erected more than a half century ago that continue to tell their story to this day.

NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, for over a decade now, I have served as the Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia & Yukon Near Indiana.

1 comment:

  1. It's a really interesting idea but there the potential drawbacks you note are definitely in need of consideration.


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