Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th centuries probably in the stonemason guilds of Scotland. Freemasonry exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around three million. At its heart, Freemasonry is a self-improvement organization. Through three initiation rituals, lectures and other ceremonies, combined with social and charitable activities, Freemasons seek to improve themselves as they improve the communities in which they live. To join, one must believe in a Supreme Being, be upright, moral and honest in character, and be recommended by a Mason.
Freemasonry is kindness in the home; honesty in business; courtesy toward others; dependability in ones work; compassion for the unfortunate; resistance to evil; help for the weak; concern for good government; support for education; and above all, a reverence for God and love of fellow man. Through the influence of good men Freemasonry and its ideals continue to thrive around the world.
Freemasonry employs the tools and instruments of stone masons to teach a system of morality, friendship and brotherly love, hence, the standard emblem of Freemasonry is the square and compasses. In Ontario Freemasonry is organized locally into lodges and supervised by the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. There are numerous appendant and affiliate Masonic organizations such as the Order of the Eastern Star, Scottish Rite, York Rite and the Shrine. Each of these organizations has its own leadership.