Honoring R.W. Brother Lawrence Wilfred Latimer

The following text was prepared by W.Bro. Hotchkiss and read at the Russell Lodge regular meeting held on September 16, 2013.

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This evening we are celebrating the Life of R.W. Brother Lawrence Wilfred Latimer, the first Brother of Russell Lodge to become D.D.G.M. of what was then called The Ottawa District. Most of the information I am about to share with you was found during the recent upgrades and renovations we have been doing on our Lodge building. It was found in our, ahem, Archives.

This address will serve as an Introduction to our R.W. Brother. More information can be found in the framed photographs and certificates on the north wall of our anteroom.

His was a Life worthy of remembering:

Born when our country was just over 30 years old, he was raised in the tradition and according to the values that helped to build Canada; values and beliefs that served as a guide to many fine men throughout their lives.

Like many in that era, his Masonic career began as a young man: he was, according to his Master Mason’s Certificate, which is in the Anteroom, Received into Masonry on Oct 29, 1923; advanced to the Second Degree one month later and Admitted to the Third Degree on Feb 25, 1924. He was 25 at the time. Seven years later he became the W.M. of our Lodge, serving in 1931 – 32. Like every new Master, he would have been nervous and worked hard to live up to the standards set by those before him.

No doubt, the early 1930s was a challenging time to be a Mason. Our country was mired in the depths of The Great Depression. At that time, approximately 30% of the labour force was unemployed; and, 20% of the population was dependent on government relief. Like now, it must have been hard to attract new members and ensure that all members were current with their dues! It certainly would have been difficult to cling to the values of our quiet Craft in the face of economic collapse, social adversity, and a dangerous world where the Nazis were gaining power in Germany and the Japanese had invaded Manchuria.

It is interesting that we can see in the Minutes of the meetings at that time, a strict adherence to the time honoured traditions of our Craft and the Work we still try to follow so diligently. The Lodge is Opened and Closed. Applications are accepted and Degrees presented. The Business of the Lodge is attended to in much the same way we do it now. This retreat of friendship and brotherly love was, no doubt, much appreciated by the Brethren struggling through those challenging times.

How closely those times mirror our own! We often reflect nostalgically on the past; to a time when things were simpler, easier and, perhaps, better. I wonder if it actually was. Those men, and about this I have no doubt, got through those times in no small part due to Masonry: To our belief in Faith, Hope and Charity; to our steadfast reliance on hard work and perseverance; to our willingness to dare to believe in a better future. The Good and Welfare portion of the minutes of those meetings are full of masonic and community activities. Many of the Brethren were well-known and widely respected members of the Community. It is clear that those men applied Masonic teachings in their daily lives.

Brother Latimer certainly applied Masonic lessons in his own life. He led the Lodge in 1931 and went on to become Russell Lodge’s first DDGM in 1935. He continued to serve his Brethren for the decades to come, remaining very active, eventually becoming a Knights Templar and a member of The Shrine in 1964.

On the occasion of his 50th Anniversary, he was celebrated by the Brethren of Russell Lodge and presented with a wonderfully written and penned document which is framed in our anteroom. In summing up Wilfred Latimer’s Masonic Career and Life, this document states, “To have combined so much service to your Brethren with your church, service clubs, your business associates and above all your devotion to family life is a wonderful example to those who ‘don’t have the time.’ Your long and honourable career has been an object lesson in what constitutes good citizenship.”

Like all Past Masters, R.W. Brother Latimer had a Past Master’s Jewel. During our recent work on the Lodge Building, his jewel was discovered. Inscribed on the back of the Jewel, just as we do now, are his name, rank and his year of service as W.M. Like many busy Past Masters, he did not get his jewel until some years after he sat in The East, because the Jewel is inscribed Rt. Wor. Bro. L.W. Latimer. This Jewel is now the property of Russell Lodge and deserves to have a place in the work that we carry on here in our Lodge.
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The PM Jewel will be prominently displayed in the Lodge as a constant reminder of our history, our struggles, and our desire to create something better out of Life.

The following was published in the Evening Citizen Ottawa Newspaper on July 18, 1935.

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