Part of the move back to Canada was the repatriation of many of our items from storage – one being our dining room set. We bought the set while living in our very first home, a 140 year old beautiful Victorian home called ‘Gordon Hall’ that we refinished from top to bottom.
It was a grand home, 11 foot ceilings, all plaster walls, original windows which were not well insulated but had a patina to them when the light hit them in the evening thanks to their hand crafted and imperfect nature. While in the house we started to look for a dining room set that would fit. The dining room was huge, and a ‘new’ set would not look right so we started to look around antique shops and spread the word.
During that time we also became proud parents of Bram – our lab. I had always wanted a dog. Bram was amazing and like all dogs he had a few ‘foibles’. One being that he liked to lay on his back as a puppy and put his head under the couch while I sat watching TV. What I didn’t realize was that while he was doing that he was also chewing the front of the couch. So, after we finally realized this and corrected his behaviour, we set about getting it fixed – by a local upholster – Paul.
For the record … how Bram liked to sleep.
Paul was a great guy and while we were talking to him we noticed that he refinished a lot of furniture so we mentioned our need of a dining room set. He knew our house, the old Victorian style and said he would keep an eye out. Late one Sunday night Paul showed up at our door with his cube van. He said he had ‘our set’. He had been at auction and came across a 10 piece set that was truly unique. It was 110 years old, solid mahogany with a china cabinet with snaked ‘S’ glass and a side cupboard that is 8 feet long and about 400 lbs. The widow demanded that it be sold as a set and he bought it for himself. When he got home, it would not fit.
We bought it on the spot.
Unfortunately, as it came out of storage (we stored it while in Europe), it took a beating. Turns out that when they store your stuff it is as individual pieces that are moved around frequently and despite it being packaged (but not crated), there were chips, cracks and damage. Annoying but also the impetus to get it refinished for the first time in a century.
While we were giving it a quick check over with the refinisher, we came across this business card in one of the drawers. Amazing, from a time past. Note the phone number and the text on the back. Knowing that the Masonic temple is a super secret society, this is obviously an oversight on behalf of Mr. Fitzgerald.
I can just imagine him trying to type this on an old type writer, the card not fitting and slipping as he tried to knock out the last line. Who are the Princes of Libanus? Turns out it is a Chivalric degree (22) in the Free Mason hierarchy. Not knowing much about Free Masons, I began to read. Interesting society, with an interesting list of requirements for joining:
Generally, to be a regular Freemason, a candidate must:
- Be a man who comes of his own free will.
- Believe in a Supreme Being (the form of which is left to open interpretation by the candidate).
- Be at least the minimum age (from 18–25 years old depending on the jurisdiction).
- Be of good morals, and of good reputation.
- Be of sound mind and body (Lodges had in the past denied membership to a man because of a physical disability; however, now, if a potential candidate says a disability will not cause problems, it will not be held against him).
- Be free-born (or “born free”, i.e. not born a slave or bondsman). As with the previous, this is entirely an historical holdover, and can be interpreted in the same manner as it is in the context of being entitled to write a will. Some jurisdictions have removed this requirement.
- Be capable of furnishing character references, as well as one or two references from current Masons, depending on jurisdiction.
Deviation from one or more of these requirements is generally the barometer of Masonic regularity or irregularity. However, an accepted deviation in some regular jurisdictions is to allow a Lewis (the son of a Mason) to be initiated earlier than the normal minimum age for that jurisdiction, although no earlier than the age of 18.
Some Grand Lodges in the United States have an additional residence requirement, candidates being expected to have lived within the jurisdiction for a certain period of time, typically six months.
Fascinating stuff … as is the list of people who were Free Masons.