Little Current’s Doric Lodge honours Brother Andy Watson for his 70 years of Masonry

Brother Clive Stephenson pins Brother Don Watson with his 70-year pin during a ceremony held at the Doric Lodge in Little Current last week. Brother Andy Watson, 98, is the Little Current Lodge’s longest-ever serving member. In background, wife Dot lovingly looks on. photo by Petra Wall

by Petra Wall

LITTLE CURRENT—May 10 was a golden evening at the Masonic Lodge in Little Current. The Watson family had just arrived from Sandfield and were greeted formally at the door by Brother Ron Towns. They were ushered into a reception area prior to the awards ceremony. This vestibule is bestowed with a series of photos, historical Masters dating from 1902 to the present. These Brothers ‘of old’ lend an extra feeling of historical relevance to the organization. For today’s ceremony we were expecting Clive Stephenson, District Deputy Grand Master of the Sudbury-Manitoulin District, and Stan Waltenbury, Sitting Master of the Sudbury Lodge.

Within the formal chamber, the Masons were doing their official opening, which includes the singing of the Canadian anthem. Within a few minutes, a knock is heard and the guardian of the door knocks in return. As the door opens and the special guests are ushered into the inner sanctum of this special fraternity. The brothers all sit in a circle at the periphery of the room which boasts elegant and traditional furniture in strategic locations around the room. This furniture arrived to Turners store 114 years ago by boat. This writer is given a chair in the centre and feels rather conspicuous by both her location and her gender. Nevertheless, the brothers are all very kind and gracious and the awards ceremony begins.

Four members were to receive pins today: David Ham, Elgin Bock, Sandy Buchan and Andy Watson. David and Elgin were slated to receive 50-year pins. Sandy Buchan was in line for his 60-year pin and Andy, 98, a few weeks from his 99th birthday, was getting his 70-year pin. Unfortunately, David Ham, a Manitowaning businessman, was not able to attend. He had joined the Doric Lodge at age 21 and achieved the various milestones, after initiation, with his friend Rene Mastin.

Elgin Bock, whose father Mel was a former long-serving principal of Little Current Public School, was not able to attend for health issues. Elgin was secretary for the Doric Lodge for many years, and had joined in September of 1955. He did his passing in London, Ontario and was raised in Leamington in 1957. He ascended until he was initiated and is still a member of the Doric Lodge in Little Current.

Sandy Buchan, likewise, was absent due to health issues. Daughter Jo Woods shared by phone on May 12 that the Masonic Family has always been an important aspect of the Buchan family. “Although Sandy himself has never held office, many of our family members were part of the Eastern Star, The Shriners, the White Shrine and other related organizations. Sandy began his Masonic relationship in Sudbury’s Nickel Lodge and spent many years in Sault St. Marie where he also worked for Algoma Steel.”

The elder of the group, Andy Watson, was here with his family. His enthusiasm, detectable by his big smile, never left his face during the ceremony. Right Worshipful Brother Keith Legge had the honours and introduced ‘Worshipful Brother Samuel Andrew Watson’ to the members present. He introduced Andy’s wife, Dot, their son Bob, his wife Sharon, and son Larry. Daughter Janice was not able to attend. Keith gave a brief summary of Andy’s ‘Journey in the Masonry’.

“There are 3.2 million Masons across the world and 40,000 members in Ontario and Doric Lodge is very fortunate…. We are privileged to have our very own Worshipful Brother Andy Watson as a valued member of our Lodge for the past 70 years. What a milestone for Brother Watson and for the members of our Lodge to have you in our midst. Andy was born on May 21, 1917,” Brother Keith continues. The first World War was still being fought. “At the age of 29 years, he joined our fraternity on March 12, 1946. Andy passed to the second degree on April 23, 1946, then raised to the third degree on October 8, 1946. (All preparation for each degrees involves full recitation of the contents provided by the Lodge). He served as our Worshipful Master of Doric Lodge in 1958 and 1959. He became a Life Member in 1982.”

“In 1996 Brother Watson received his 50-year pin and ten years later, in 2006, he received his 60-year pin. This evening, at the young age of 98, we have the honour and privilege to present him with his 70-year pin for his services to our fraternity and to the membership of Doric Lodge. Brother Watson has expressed the principles of kindness, honesty in business, courtesy to others, dependability in his work and compassion for the less fortunate, and he has been a good citizen of his community. At this time, I would ask that the Worshipful Master Brother Mike Maciuk and Right Worshipful Brother Clive Stephenson, District Deputy Grand Master of the Sudbury-Manitoulin District and Right Worshipful Brother John Hodder to attend on the level, to make presentations to our worthy Brother Worshipful Brother Andy Watson.”

The world-wide motto of the club is “Masonry is not to make a bad man good but make a good man better.” It seems that has been the case for Andy and his peers.

The plaque awarded to Brother Andy Watson was skillfully crafted by Rob Paxton from a piece of oak that John Hodder had provided. John Mastelko added the scripted metal plate. After the ceremony, Brother Watson was asked about his contribution to the Masonry and today’s proceedings. He said he was very proud to be a member of the fraternity and he wants to “offer thanks to everyone who put this on for me. I am very pleased with this honour, I can’t thank them enough,” he shares. “I wasn’t supposed to know about this event but I figured it out. Questions came to me about the dates I joined. At first I couldn’t find the papers either, but then they turned up.”

Andy still loves to golf in the summer. He walks almost daily, either in the house for his ‘circle’ route in bad weather, or outside where his home sits on a small side street, off the highway in Sandfield. “I love to golf too and if I’m not swinging the clubs, I make sure I get out there to watch the proceedings and enjoy the good weather.”

At this point, the Watson family withdrew to their vehicles and returned home. The Masons continued with their meeting. All was good and the Manitoulin skies were still enchanted with an evening glow.