Tour the Junction: Masonic Mondays

[Photo Source: James Ellis: Architect of the Junction]

Nearly two years ago, when we relocated to Toronto’s historic Junction neighborhood, we were drawn to the area’s rich culture and history.

Most famously, the Junction is known to have jump started Prohibition laws, declaring a community-wide ban on alcohol in 1904 that lasted voluntarily up into the year 2000!

Not that the people of the Junction don’t enjoy a good time. In fact, the neighborhood is more alive than ever housing dozens of thriving businesses that include Galleries, Antiques, Organic & Raw Foods, Books, Gyms, and Clothing.

In an article by the New York Times, the Junction was even compared to Aboott Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California, for it’s cool digs and industrial vibe, naming it “Skid Row Hip”. Not bad, Junction! Way to go!

One of the coolest places you can make your way to would definitely have to be the Toronto West Masonic Temple on the corner of Annette & Pacific, just beside the beautiful Annette Street Toronto Public Library. The two buildings were built by architect James August Ellis (1856-1935).

The construction of the building began in 1909, and remains one of the finest and most impressive Masonic Temples in the country, and many of the Temple’s earliest members became movers and shakers in the community.

The Temple’s design is based on actual descriptions of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, and the shape, and configuration of rooms have been arranged to correspond with the actual layout and decoration of the ancient temple.

The Temple was built without any windows, as so Non-Masons cannot illicitly learn any of the Masonic activities that take place within it’s walls. The Temple is active and currently still in use by members of the Prince of Wales Lodge 630 and Victoria Lodge 474.

The Temple is striking in it’s simplicity, especially beside the Beaux-Arts grandeur of the Annette Street Library next door. I can’t help but wonder how the two buildings function so close together. The library, a source of knowledge, the Temple, also a source of knowledge…sacred secret knowledge.

The two buildings were designed by the same architect, and perhaps hold more secrets than knowledge. But as with most things Masonic, everything is in plain view. The Temple’s doors depict the Square and Compass, the Sun, and the Royal Arch (another Masonic organization).

Above is a stained glass pentagram, an ancient symbol that defines man.

It may seem sinister, but in fact, a five pointed star alludes simply to humanity. Five fingers, five toes, five senses, five stages of life (birth, adolescence, coitus, parenthood and death). Five wounds of Christ on the cross. Five Pillars of the Muslim faith, alongside five daily prayers. Even the Wiccan kiss is fivefold- feet, knees, womb, breasts, and lips.

“Audi, Vidi, Tace” / “I see, I hear, and I am Silent”

[Slogan for the United Grand Lodge of Canada]

[Photo Source: PICCSY]

Drawing a pentagram you may also notice it only takes a single line. Where you start the pentagram, you also finish it.

This symbolizes the journey of man from birth to God. This is the plight of every Mason, to attain a destiny higher than that of this Earth. The rites and rituals held within these brick walls would help the initiates achieve this destiny.

Five is also symbolic of Mars, God of War to the Greeks, and Horus to the Egyptians. It signifies severity, conflict and harmony through conflict….(interesting)

The primary belief of the Masonic brotherhood is that of the Supreme Being. This extends beyond the context of any organized religion, and focuses on the primary life force at work with us on the day to day, as well as the  origins of Man, and our inherent destiny.

Since the Middle Ages, Masons have been the source of speculation and controversy, and were persecuted by the Church in the same manner as those accused of sorcery. Since the Masonic tradition is centered around the Supreme Being, religious fundamentalists often point to this as a conflict of interest to the one and only true God. What the F is with that?

Hundreds of books have been written on the subject, which seems to be growing more and more in the popular media, so it’s definitely good to dig and do some real reading on the subject as not to get carried away by myths, folklore, and the lengths Hollywood will go to exploit and entertain.

As for the West Toronto Masonic Temple, it remains as enigmatic as it appears in my pictures. Strong and noble, it’s simplicity speaks. There are no secrets to it, really. The words MASONIC TEMPLE are boldly engraved on the front of the building, and ask any Mason about their secret society – the first thing you might learn is that it’s not secret, whatsoever.

In fact, all you have to do is ask, and you can join (as long as you are 21, believe in a Supreme Being, are Male, and have reference from two members). Invitations are strictly forbidden, so expressing your interest is the key. Also, don’t expect immediate riches or status, as every man ultimately creates his own destiny.  The primary goals of each Lodge are charity and the community.

Click here to learn more.

<<TORONTO WEST MASONS OFFICIAL SITE>>

Directly across the way from the West Toronto Masonic Temple is an interesting addition to the community.

The Victoria Lofts are one of the stand-out new developments in the neighborhood, and it’s presence cannot be missed. Standing straight across from the Library & Masonic Temple, the new condos have made their home in what used to be the Victorian Presbyterian Church.

It’s an impressive complex, and it’s near impossible not to say ” I wish I lived there”, especially checking out the church’s impressive steeple.

There are definitely many churches on this strip at Annette, and it’s very interesting to see one of the largest and oldest being converted into luxury lofts for young professionals in the area.

[Source: Google Maps]

Seeing as the Church operated for over 120 years, it’s hard to imagine living amongst the walls built on what was once sacred hallowed ground. I guess it still is, really. And the close proximity of the Masonic Temple to the Presbyterian Church, is also something interesting to query.

This, among other things, make walking down Annette a true joy, and completely helped us fulfill our Masonic Monday! So, definitely if you’re in the area, you’re best to check out the corner of Pacific and Annette for a little history, as well as conjure a bit of mystery….

Make sure to check out our E.O.F.  MASTER {MASON} Style!

[All photos, unless noted, were taken by and are property of The Eye of Faith.com]

Sincerely,

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10 thoughts on “Tour the Junction: Masonic Mondays

  1. Interesting post. My father belonged to the Masonic Order for a number of years before ill health kept him at home. I attend a dance social/studio which is held in a Masonic Temple (by our dance teachers who hire out the hall). I was interested to read that there are no windows in the Temple you have written about. There are windows in the hall in which we dance however, they are very high (close to the ceiling), and have to be reached with an extendable rod. I hadn’t thought about the ‘closed’ aspect of the Masonic Order. Now however, I appreciate the height of the windows…!

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    • Sounds spectacular! You are very lucky to dance in such a space. I have been in other converted Masonic temples that display the same grandeur when it comes to the height of the windows! Very beautiful…

      The temple close to me here looks like it initially had windows on the side, but they are now boarded and barred, though the Temple is functioning. No dance classes, I gather…

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  2. I am interested; do you know the history or reason why they named the Masonic group the ‘Prince of Wales’? The choice of name just seems as though it would relate to something significant for the area. I’m just curious as I am Welsh!

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  3. Masonic Temple, Library, several churches. All forms of knowledge and repositories of that knowledge. I learned something about the Pentagram from your description. Having travelled to Europe and viewed many frescos in churchs, I have seen many ways of relating stories and knowledge through images and symbols, rather than words. Interesting neighborhood you are in.
    Oscar

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