Skip to main content

Golden Rule Lodge Reaches Important Milestone

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

large_golden.rule_.lodge_.2010.jpg--May 13, 2010

With roots dating back to 1803, Golden Rule Lodge is one of the oldest institutions in the Eastern Townships. In 2003, this venerable fraternal and charitable organization celebrated its 200th anniversary. This year, 2010, marks another important milestone for the organization: the 150th anniversary of the lodge's current home, located at 560 Dufferin Road in Stanstead.

This beautiful old building was designed by an architect by the name of Field (his first name has been lost to us), and built by a local Mason by the name of Squire Taylor. Construction was financed by members of the fraternity from Stanstead and Derby Line, Vermont, in 1860. A building committee, headed by Stanstead surveyor Henry Joseph Martin, oversaw the construction. The cost of the building was about $1,000.

Designed in the classical revival style, Golden Rule was meant to resemble a Greek temple. Pilasters at the extremities of both the facade and the doorway, and the heavy cornices and lintel, are suggestive of the temples of antiquity. The building is considered one of the historic and architectural gems of Stanstead. In a century and a half of continuous use, it has undergone little alteration, and the exterior is as elegant today as it was when it was completed back in 1860.

The lodge's interior is a testament to living history. The walls on the informal first floor of the building are decorated almost from floor to ceiling with photographs dating back to the very beginnings of Freemasonry (and settlement) in this part of the Townships. Immortalized here are members of some of the community's earliest pioneer families and leading citizens. And because Golden Rule bills itself as "an international lodge," many Americans are pictured here, as well.

Also figuring prominently on this floor are mementos of the annual gatherings that Golden Rule Lodge has held every summer solstice on the summit of Owl's Head Mountain, overlooking Lake Memphremagog, since 1857.

The formal meeting room on the second floor of the building is considered one of the most beautiful lodge rooms in the province of Quebec. The walls on this floor are decorated with allegorical paintings pertaining to the history and teachings of Freemasonry.

In 2009, the Town of Stanstead officially designated Golden Rule Lodge a municipal heritage site. The municipality granted the sum of $1,000 to help in the restoration of the building, as did the Townshippers' Foundation.

Grant Myers was master of the lodge when these developments occurred. Like other local Masons, he was proud of the recognition. “The lodge has embodied the history and heritage of Stanstead and the Eastern Townships region for one and a half centuries,” he told the Record. “Generations of good men have found fraternity and truth within our walls. As a member of Golden Rule, I feel a profound sense of responsibility to help preserve and protect this wonderful old building in its original vocation for future generations.”

Unfortunately, as is the case with many institutions in the area, costs have risen dramatically in recent years, while membership has declined. This has created a challenge for the lodge's membership, which has had to invest significantly in the building, including the installation of an elevator for the handicapped, the modernization of the heating system, the renovation of the antiquated washrooms, the restoration of the building’s exterior, and the installation of an alarm system.

Golden Rule, which is currently raising funds for the maintenance and restoration of this gem of a building, will have an information booth at this year's Border Fest on July 10, as well as at the Ayer's Cliff Fair in August.

Members of the public who would like to learn more about Freemasonry in general, or about the many charitable causes that local Masons have supported over the years, are encouraged to stop by. Contributions to the building fund are also always welcome. For more information on how to contribute, contact treasurer Lloyd Bishop (819-876-5172).