Further Light in Masonry
While the highest degree in Freemasonry is the 3rd or Master Mason
degree, the Master Mason in British Columbia may wish to supplement
his knowledge of Freemasonry through membership in one or more other
bodies with which our Grand Lodge has declared 'amity'. The following
information is provided for the Master Mason who may be seeking
further involvement in Freemasonry beyond that provided by his Craft
Lodge. Until recently, the minimum time that must pass before a Mason
may join a concordant body has usually been six months. Some masons
wait for many years or until they have passed the chairs in their
Lodge. It is up to the individual to decide.
York Rite Masonry
The York Rite consists of the Craft Lodge, the Chapter, the Council,
the Preceptory and numerous other groups. The York Rite takes its name
from the old English city of York. It is said that Athelstan, a
British king, was converted to Christianity in York and that he
granted the original charter to the Masonic guilds in that city nearly
a thousand years ago. None of the York Rite bodies is a religion.
Like the Craft Lodge, The Chapter and the Council are based upon the
building of King Solomon's Temple. The Royal Arch allegory deals with
the building of the second Temple under Zerubbabel after the return of
the Israelites from their captivity in Babylon. One Royal Arch Chapter
in British Columbia still confers the Virtual Past Master degree
(which confers no status in a craft lodge). The Preceptory has a theme
of Christian Chivalry.
While the degrees in all concordant bodies have much inherent value
and beauty, those of the York Rite are especially impressive.
The Supreme Degree of the Holy Royal Arch
Our three craft degrees in British Columbia and Yukon are York Rite
degrees. The logical completion of the sequence of York Rite degrees
can only be acquired through membership in a Chapter of Royal Arch
Masons and a Council of Royal and Select Masters.
There are 38 chapters in the jurisdiction of British Columbia and
Yukon. There are two such Chapters in each of Vancouver, Victoria and
New Westminster, one each in North Vancouver, West Vancouver,
Richmond, Port Coquitlam, Langley and Chilliwack.
The degrees of 'Mark Master Mason', 'Most Excellent Master' are
conferred in Lodges whose officers are those of the Chapter. The
Supreme Degree of the Holy Royal Arch is conferred in a Chapter of
Royal Arch Masons. The familiar blue of the Craft Lodge regalia is
replaced by scarlet, purple and gold on the aprons and sashes and
jewels in the Chapter. Hence the nicknames ‘‘Blue Lodge’’ and ‘‘Red
Lodge’’ still sometimes heard.
The work of the Chapter is very closely related to that of the Craft
Lodge, and the Freemason finds a warm and comfortable home in and a
safe and sacred retreat in the Chapter. The degrees afford historical
and philosophical background on the work and meaning of Freemasonry.
Some charities supported by Royal Arch Masons in British Columbia
include the Keystone of Life Foundation which provides small items of
needed medical equipment to hospitals, the operation of an
intermediate care facility for seniors, and a bursary program.
The Council of Cryptic Rite Masons, Royal and Select Masters
A Royal Arch Mason may petition to become a member of a Council of
Royal and Select Masters, whose teachings expand further on those of
the Craft Lodge and the Royal Arch.
Councils of Royal and Select Masters meet in Victoria, Courtenay,
Ladysmith, Kamloops, Creston, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Langley and
The degrees are based on the building of King Solomon's temple and
include 'Royal Master', 'Select Master', and 'Super Excellent Master'.
An interesting side degree governed by the council is the 'Royal Ark
Mariner' degree. It is conferred only upon Super Excellent Masters and
in a Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners whose officers are those of the
Preceptory of Knights Templar
Royal Arch Masons who profess the Christian faith may petition a
Preceptory of Knights Templar. The Order of the Red Cross is based
upon Old Testament events and is thus pre-Christian in its focus. This
order has much in common with the 15th and 16th degrees of the Ancient
and Accepted Scottish Rite.
The Order of Malta and the Order of the Temple have a New Testament
orientation and their lessons are based upon the crusades of the
original Knights Templar. Whether there is an actual historical link
between the modern Masonic Knights Templar and the historical group of
the same name is debatable. Some think there is such a link, others do
One of the charities of the Knights Templar is a bursary program for
The Allied Masonic Degrees
This group invites Royal Arch masons to study and preserve some of the
lesser known 'arcane' degrees of Freemasonry.
York Rite Sovereign College of North America
The college invites members who are both Super Excellent Masters and
Knights Templar. They provide a resource of ritualists for the other
York Rite Bodies for special occasions. There is a college on the
lower mainland and one on Vancouver Island. Their main degree is that
of Knight of York.
Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar Priests
This group admits members by invitation who are Installed Masters of
their Craft Lodge and Knights Templar. They have control over thirty
degrees but usually confer only the 'Holy Royal Arch Knight Templar
Priest' degree. There are two Grand Colleges, one in the UK and the
other in the USA. The local Tabernacles, one in Victoria and one in
Abbotsford, are both of the UK affiliation.
Order of the Red Cross of Constantine
Membership is by invitation of Royal Arch Masons only. The order was
established in England in 1865. There are Conclaves in Kelowna,
Langley, Parksville, Vancouver, and Victoria. Both the Scottish and
Canadian Constitutions are represented.