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GRAND FIRST PRINCIPALS ADDRESS 2017


Ex. Comp. and M. W. Bro. John C. Green, the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario; Past Grand First Principals of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario; members of the Grand Council; Distinguished Guests and my Companions.


It is an honour and a privilege to welcome you to our 159th annual Grand Convocation of the Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario held in St Catharines at the Holiday Inn and Suites Conference Centre.


M. W. Bro. John Green we thank you for taking the time to visit with us on this occasion and on behalf of the Royal Arch Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario I pledge allegiance to you and the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. Your dedication to masonry is well known and appreciated and will continue to be an inspiration to all. Your term of office is drawing to a close and we thank you for your years of service. Due to another commitment, you will not be present tomorrow at the Convocation and the Deputy Grand Master will represent Grand Lodge. I also thank the Deputy Grand Master Comp. Paul Todd for taking the time to drive down from Ottawa to represent Grand Lodge tomorrow.


I extend my thanks to R. Ex. Comp. George Fairbairn for being the Grand Convocation D. of C. and attending to all the arrangements and for sorting out any problems as they rose. The Convocation is running smoothly thanks to you. I also thank the Companions of Niagara Chapter #55 for supplying the furniture and regalia for the Grand Convocation and the Companions of District #7 for their assistance in setting up the room.


Many thanks are due to the Holiday Inn Convention Centre for their support and assistance in making this event top class. It is not an easy task to make this event run as smoothly as it does and if necessary the staff are always there to assist and make it so.


NECROLOGY
From the impressive ceremony of remembrance conducted by the Grand Chaplain, R. Ex. Comp. Neil Follett, we can reflect on our own special memories of Companions who have passed to the Grand Chapter above. These companions served Capitular Masonry well and will not be forgotten.


FRATERNAL RELATIONS
The highlight of the masonic year was the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto with Heather and I as guests of the Grand Master. M. Wor. Sir I thank you for all the courtesies shown to Heather and I at this grand occasion.


Invitations were received from Grand Convocations, Assemblies and Communications and I was able to fit some into my schedule. I managed to attend the following Convocations; The Grand Chapter of Nova Scotia and the Grand Chapter of Newfoundland and Labrador both in May.


I also attended the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland in June, the Grand Chapter of Michigan in August, the Grand Chapter of Ohio in October and the Grand Chapter of New York in March.


I also attended the Order of the High Priesthood Convention in May; The Royal and Select Masters of Ontario Assembly in May; The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario Communication in July; The Sovereign Great Priory Assembly in August.
I was invited to attend two Craft Lodge Installations, at which I was recognized as the Grand First Principal of the Royal Arch Masons of Canada in the Province of Ontario.


CONDITION OF THE ORDER
There were two chapter anniversaries at which the Grand Council was in attendance, they were; Kitchener Chapter #210 in Richmond for their 100th anniversary and Algonquin Chapter, Sault Ste. Marie for their 125th anniversary. Algonquin Chapter also extended the celebrations to include a reception for the Grand First Principal.


RECEPTIONS
District #14 as mentioned above had a well-attended, successful reception in Sault Ste. Marie in August.
District #6 had a reception for the Grand First Principal in Hamilton in October. It was also well attended and successful.
I thank these Districts for taking the time and effort to make these events happen and be successful. I am sure it took a lot of planning but it was all worthwhile as everyone there had a great time.
The following chapter Installations was attended throughout the year; The St. Patricks, Newmarket; Mt. Sinai, Richmond Hill; King Cyrus, Stouffville; Palestine, St Thomas; White Oak, Oakville, Lebanon, Toronto and Orion, Brampton .


STATISTICS
Dispensations 52
Past Principal Certificates 23
25 year Past Principal Bar 22
50 year Past Principal Bar 0
60 year Past Principal Bar 0
50 year Royal Arch Mason Jewel 11
60 year Royal Arch Mason Jewel 2
I made the decision to get certificates designed and made for presentation to the following years of service, 25 year, 50 year, 60 year service and 25 years Past Principal. I felt there was a gap with some Capitular Masons being recognized with a certificate and others who did not get one. These certificates for years of service have been well received by the membership.


MEMBERSHIP
Membership has shown a net loss of 262 members. 159 Brethren were advanced to the Mark Master Mason Degree, Deaths 124, suspensions 76, and membership cleanup, 146. You have to remember that the actual number of members lost is actually lower because of some members having multiple memberships.


LONG SERVICE PIN PRESENTATIONS
I attended three Long Service Pin presentations. One presentation was at King Cyrus Chapter, Stouffville Algonquin Chapter, and Sault Ste. Marie and at Georgian Chapter in Owen Sound.


DISTINGUSHED SERVICE AWARD
Three Distinguished Service Medals were presented, one in Sudbury for a companion of Tuscan Chapter, also one in Manitou Chapter, Collingwood, and Orient Chapter, Toronto.


REGALIA PRESENTATIONS
The Grand Council attended a regalia presentation for V. Ex. Comp. Norm Mathie in Sault Ste. Marie. There were other presentations at which The Grand Second Principal attended as well as Grand Superintendents.


AMALGAMATIONS
Despite the challenges of an aging membership and a decline of Master masons from which to attract to Capitular Masonry, many chapters show signs of improvement. Usually they are the chapters that utilized our Public Relations Committee, its programs and go seek candidates at the local lodge. Unfortunately some chapters requested assistance from Grand Chapter. These chapters tend to have low membership and poor finances. Unfortunately this usually results in an amalgamation or handing in the charter.
There were 2 amalgamations;


Quinte Friendship Moira Chapter #7 and Presqu’ile –St Marks Chapter # 26 amalgamated November 12th in Belleville. On the 21st June, Keystone Chapter # 224 amalgamated with Ancaster#155 Chapter in Ancaster. I wish these chapters good luck in their new endeavors, as they grow strong with improved finances and a solid base of dedicated companions on which to build.


TRUSTEESHIP
Unfortunately some chapters required a trustee to assist them in the running of the chapter, usually assisting them with ritual, making quorum and offering advice, I thank the following companions for their assistance and support as a trustee.
R. Ex. Comp. Gray Waters was appointed trustee for Couchiching Chapter #198. R. Ex. Comp. Gray Waters moved out of town and R. Ex. Comp. David Hardie replaced R. Ex. Comp. Gray Waters as Trustee for Couchiching Chapter #198 in June. I thank R. Ex. Comp. Gray Waters for his dedication to Capitular Masonry and for his support as trustee and R. Ex. Comp. David Hardie for his continual support of this Grand Chapter.


R. Ex. Comp. Stewart Brass was appointed trustee to assist Halton Chapter #234 in planning their future and is still assisting them in their regular duties.


R. Ex. Comp. Brain Aikins was appointed trustee for Kichikewana Chapter #167 to assist them in their regular duties planning their future and is still assisting them.


R. Ex. Comp. Keith Styles was reappointed as trustee of Durham Chapter#221 to assist them in their regular duties and is still assisting them.


R. Ex. Comp. Lachlan Hamilton was appointed trustee of King Darius Chapter # 124 to assist them in their regular duties and planning their future.


Hopefully the presence of these Trustees will create a positive atmosphere and the chapters will rebound.


R. Ex Comp Sean Fuller was appointed trustee for the amalgamation of Keystone Chapter # 224 and Ancaster Chapter #155 and I thank him for a successful amalgamation.


R. Ex. Comp. Kevin Fudge was trustee for the amalgamation of Quinte Friendship Moira Chapter #7 and Presqu’ie-St. Marks Chapter # 6 and I thank him for a successful amalgamation.


The Chairman of Fraternal Relations resigned his position after many years’ service. R. Ex. Comp. Henry Handsley, I thank you for your service and for organizing the survey on the Grand Representatives and for passing on your knowledge to the next Chairman of Fraternal Relations.


The Chairman of the Public Relations Committee R. Ex. Comp. Craig Terreberry resigned and I thank him for his hard work in promoting Capitular Masonry.


GRAND REPRESENTATIVES
The following requests from our sister jurisdictions are approved and charters were issued to their Grand Representatives. Grand Chapter of the State of Louisiana, United Supreme Grand Chapter of Mark and Royal Arch Masons of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Western Australia and the Grand York Rite of North Dakota.
Vacancies opened up and I recommend the following as Grand Representatives near our Grand Chapter.


R. Ex. Comp. Ken Singh, Argentina
R. Ex. Comp. Tom Mortlock, Delaware
V. Ex. Comp. Jim Koral, Ireland
R. Ex. Comp Richard Stevenson, Missouri
R. Ex. Comp. David Hardie, New Brunswick
V. Ex. Comp. Paul Skazin, New Hampshire
R. Ex. Comp. Howard Adams, Nova Scotia
R. Ex. Comp. Dushan Surovy, South Dakota
R. Ex. Comp Andrew Ciastic, Quebec
V. Ex. Comp Mark Kapitan, West Virginia


Grand Representatives
Early in the year a survey was sent out to the Grand Representatives from our Grand Chapter to find what the status was regarding the viability of having Grand Representatives. Unfortunately only 66% of the 80 Grand Representatives responded and 34% of the companions had no response at all. To me when you have about a third not having the interest to respond it is not a good sign and with at least half of the Grand Representatives not getting a response from their counterparts, it is time the system was overhauled. To enable this process I have created an ad hoc Committee to oversee the process of adjusting the total of Grand Representatives as required. The Chairman of this committee will be R. Ex. Comp. Richard Shave


NOMINATIONS
The nomination form for Grand Chapter Office was redesigned to try and eliminate the problem of nominees being unnecessarily rejected, but unfortunately, despite being more user friendly and reminders sent out; there was a rejection this year because the companion did not follow the instructions properly.


DISIPLINE
Unfortunately there was an incident where the Grand Council had to get involved to rectify the situation. I am pleased to report that the issue is resolved. These situations are unfortunate, but getting involved and finding a solution is part of the job. Not nice, but has to be done.


OFFICE SYSTEMS
We all know that times are rapidly changing and we must continue to upgrade and adapt to modern times. The Grand Chapter email address for email chapter summonses is working well with most chapters utilizing the site. It is cost effective and efficient as is the office email address used for regular business. The Grand Third Principal is working with companion Ex. Comp. Chris Beacham redesigning the office network. When you have budget restrictions, things take a bit longer to happen. But we are making progress in the upgrade.


SPECIAL PROGRAM
The special program of honouring companions of the Holy Royal Arch who are Masters in a craft lodge is a runaway success. We have over 60 Companions listed of which some attended the presentation at the Meet and Greet and some who will be presented with the letter of recognition at their lodge. I have to thank the Public Relations Committee and the Grand Third Principal for making it happen. It is good advertising for Capitular Masonry and hopefully continued.


PAST RANK
It gives me great pleasure to give Past First Principal rank to Comp. Paul Todd from Ottawa Chapter #222. We wish him well in his future masonic travels.


ANNUAL RETURNS
Despite numerous reminders from the Grand Third Principal to the Grand Superintendents about the deadline for the annual returns, four chapters failed to comply with this request. Letters were sent out to the four chapters informing them that they had until the 22nd of February to explain why they should not be suspended. Three chapters did reply and offer an explanation why they should not be suspended. These explanations were accepted. This is an improvement from previous years; maybe next year it will be one hundred percent on time. The only chapter to be suspended unfortunately will close in the near future, unless there is a quick turnaround in their situation.


ROYAL ARCH CHARITIES
Promotion of our charities at the chapter level continues to be a problem, what with most chapters not doing much to raise funds. It appears that chapters depend on district events to raise money and generally the funds raised are not that great. The problem is, as our membership decreases, our ability to fund the charities becomes more difficult. If the trend continues, maybe our charity obligations will have to be reviewed in the near future.


PUBLIC RELATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS
The Public Relations Chairman, R. Ex. Comp. Craig Terreberry sent out a questionnaire to the Grand Superintendents to find out if his incentives were reaching the chapters. Eight Grand Superintendents replied, about half. Based on the information received it looks like the best efforts of the Public Relations Committee did not reach all of the chapters. I was at a Chapter that did not know we had a Public Relations Committee, never mind what materials the committee has to offer. It is important that the Grand Superintendents understand that they are the conduit for information that has to reach the chapters; information that can only help the chapter to survive and grow.


AD HOC COMMITTEES
Assistance to Chapters
R. Ex. Comp. Medland and his committee is busy trying to start up Guelph Chapter. Presentations were made to lodges in the Guelph Masonic hall and were well received by the brethren present. Progress is slow but hopefully the result will be worth the effort.


District Realignment
The ad hoc Committee at the fall Grand Executive suggested that the 15 Districts remain with a balanced number of chapters in each district with a two year term for the Grand Superintendents. At the present time I see no urgent need to move Chapters but will suggest a notice of motion to change the term to a two year term for the Grand Superintendents. This move will create many benefits, such as a longer time to get a district plan started, and continuity as many Grand Superintendents feel they need more time to adjust to the job and get their programs up and running. The committee is working on a questionnaire to develop a re-alignment strategy that is expected to be finalized by the year end.


Web site upgrade
The web site is slowly being upgraded. Again we suffer from a tight budget and web sites are expensive to maintain, but we are getting there.


My appreciation and thanks goes to those ad hoc committees for their hard work and dedication. I ask them to continue and keep up the good work and hopefully Capitular Masonry is the better for it.


NEW AD HOC COMMITTEES
Daylight Chapter Review
There will be a new ad hoc committee to explore the opportunity of establishing a day chapter. There appears to be some interest in this as it would be a fully working chapter with appeal to companions who cannot drive at night or are shift workers. The chairman will be R. Ex. Comp. Howard Adams


Grand Representatives Review
There will be a new ad hoc committee to overhaul the Grand Representatives and eliminate the ones that do not work. The Chairman will be R. Ex. Comp Richard Shave.


FUTURE GRAND CONVOCATIONS
The Grand Convocations for 2018 and 2019 will be held at the Holiday Inn and Suites Conference centre 327 Ontario Street, St. Catharines. The Grand Second and Third Principals presented a choice of locations to the Grand Executive yesterday and the decision was to ____________ for the next 4 years.


SOCIAL EVENTS
I attended the following five social events with Heather accompanying me on four of them;
Hiram Chapter #2 BBQ, Ottawa #222 with the Grand High Priest of New York and other Grand Chapters of New York Companions in attendance, the District Ladies Night in Belleville, the Dunnville fish fry, the Kitchener Chapter #117 Ladies Night and Ionic Chapter, Campbellford, a social event celebrating St. Patrick of Ireland.


29th June the Chairman of Investments, R. Ex. Comp George Puccia and I travelled to Sarnia to attend a meeting with our Financial Advisors. it was a good well-presented meeting. We left knowing our investments are in good hands.
Grand Chapter was approached by Grand Lodge to contribute to the cost of the Masonic Tent at the Plowing Match. After reviewing previous reports about the logistics and cost of supporting this event I decided it was not the best use of our financial resources at this time and declined the offer to participate.


21st of March the Grand Scribe Ezra and I attended a Masonic Leaders meeting at the Scottish Rite building in Hamilton with the Grand Master in attendance. It was a fruitful meeting with an exchange of ideas about the state of things and how to improve attendance and reduce demits.


APPRECIATION
To the Grand Second Principal R. Ex. Comp. George Napper and the Grand Third Principal Paraag Suchak, I thank you both for your support and commitment. We travel a lot together attending many masonic events. The support is greatly appreciated by me and by the companions present at these meetings.


To the Grand Scribe Ezra I thank you also for your support, knowledge and willingness to help me out after hours. Your unsung dedication to the Order is of the highest caliber.


To the newly elected Grand Executive Officers and other elected and appointed officers, I congratulate you on being a member of a good strong dedicated team and I look forward to working with you.


To the Companions that travelled with me I thank you for your support and dedication to the Grand Council and Grand Chapter.
To all the committees, I thank you for your efforts and for your interest in the betterment of the Order. You all did what had to be done in a professional manner.


To the Grand Superintendents I thank you for your efforts. You are the connection between Grand Chapter and the chapters, our eyes and ears. It is a time consuming job and the Grand Superintendents that went the extra mile, I thank you.


CONCLUSION
To the Grand Superintendents elect congratulations. Your function is one of great importance, and the future of the Order can be improved with your guidance and support. Make your plans work, remember your responsibilities and utilize the ideas that the Public Relations Committee has. One idea that you should immediately consider is; as this is the 300th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Master M. W. Bro. John Green has requested that all lodges, appendant and concordant branches of masonry have an open house to celebrate this occasion. The date is June 3rd 2017. It would be a great opportunity to present ourselves to the public and also to lodge members in a positive light.


Generally I had a fantastic year with great support from everyone. During my travels I met many masons who are involved in most of the York Rite and the Scottish Rite bodies. Everywhere I go it seems to be mostly the same people running these organizations. To me this is a precarious position to be in. I have seen situations where one person passes on and two or three organizations suffer, sometimes more. This affects us all. We are really one big family and should support each other as much as possible. Last year I mentioned that chapter summonses could contain information about other York Rite bodies and lodge summonses could contain some information about appendant and concordant bodies, but few summonses contain any of this information. I am looking forward to the next term and will do my best to run this Grand Chapter and continue the leadership of past years.
Finally, to my wife Heather I thank you for your support over the last 38 years; I could not have achieved what I have achieved in masonry without your support over the years.


Companions all, I thank you for support and giving me the privilege of being your Grand First Principal and I will do my best to keep up the traditions and the standards of the past.


Fraternally submitted
M. Ex. Comp. Alan Donovan
Grand First Principal

Latest News:

  • The 160th Grand Chapter Convocation will be held at the Holiday Inn and Suites, St Catharines, 327 Ontario Street, Ontario L2R 5L3 from April 26 - 28, 2018
  • The “Fervency and Zeal” video can be viewed on YouTube at “Royal Arch Masons of Canada in The Province of Ontario”. It can be used to promote Capitular Masonry.

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