Grand Master of Alberta

Gordon was born in Windsor, Ontario of parents raised on homesteads near Hazlet, Saskatchewan. His family returned to the farm months after he was born and subsequently relocated to Red Deer, Alberta. Upon his father’s reenlistment in the Royal Canadian Air Force he completed high school in Quebec and France. His post-secondary was completed at the Universities of Manitoba and Alberta. He has a B.Sc. and PhD. in Mechanical Engineering and is a life member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta, as well as a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Gordon was raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason in 1984 in Lodge Renfrew No. 134 and served as Worshipful Master in 1993. He was Junior Grand Deacon, 2009-10 and elected Junior Grand Warden in 2014.

He is a member of the Scottish Rite and York Rite bodies, serving in “East” in both Rites. Gordon is a 33 Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a recipient of the York Rite Purple Cross. Membership in honored Orders include the Red Cross of Constantine, the Royal Order of Scotland and Knights of York Cross of Honour.

Gordon is a member of Shriner’s International and served as Potentate of Al Azhar Shriners in 2008. He subsequently served on the Board of the Mexico City Shrine Hospital and is an emeritus member, Colorado Corporation (Shrine Children’s Hospitals).

He is a former Vice President of the Calgary Scottish Rite Learning Centre, served on the Board of the Fort Calgary Preservation Society and is a Past President of the Chinook Lions Club.

His work experience includes 24-year employment with Nova Corporation with positions including Vice President, Nova Gas International, and after retirement from Nova, a partner in Americompass providing consulting services in Mexico.

Other work experience includes secondment from Nova Corp. to the Prime Minister’s Executive Exchange Program (Business/Government Executive Exchange Program) as Director General, Major Projects, Federal Dept. of Western Economic Diversification, Defence Scientific Service Officer with the Defence Research Board, Dept. of National Defence and Research Associate and Part Time Sessional Lecturer at the University of Calgary.

Gordon became a widower in 2002 with the passing of his wife Peggy. He has two children from his marriage to Peggy and is married to Martha with two children from her previous marriage. Martha and Gordon live on an acreage in Springbank west of Calgary.

MW Bro. Gordon Berard

Embracing the future and meeting its challenges – we are a progressive science

GRAND MASTER’S ADDRESS AT THE ANNUAL COMMUNICATION – 2017

First, thank-you to the brethren who remained to witness the installation, including the members of my lodge, Lodge Renfrew; you honour the newly installed and invested officers. Secondly, thank-you MW Bo. Chris Batty and your installation team for a memorable installation ceremony. MW Bro. Brian Shimmons thank-you for placing me in the East; I guess we are now even.

A thank-you to all who have committed to serve our Fraternity in 2017-2018, we will work hard to earn the trust of the brethren. While we wish to acknowledge the officers, we also want to acknowledge those overlooked brethren who serve on our Board and Committees. Thank you for your dedication.

Finally, a special thanks to all who came from so far, including my good friend RW Bro. Warren Gray who has traveled from Portland, Oregon to be here.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my uncle MW Bro Albert Dutton, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Saskatchewan 1984-85, for it was he, on passing through Calgary after attending the Banff Spring Workshop bluntly told me to stop procrastinating and join Freemasonry. Thank-you Uncle Albert.
It is fitting to begin this journey as Grand Master in Red Deer, my home during my adolescent years, and it is also bizarre to be in a hotel next to Gasoline Alley which becomes Gaetz Avenue if you follow it straight into town. It was on Gaetz Avenue where I was run over by a taxi at the age of 4 years; no foreboding of things to come I trust. A repeat performance took place the following year at the bottom of a sleigh hill which is now the location of the north end of the Red Deer Hospital. This time my mother didn’t bother to take me to the hospital; thank goodness; I didn’t appreciate the nurses pulling down my pants.

This Masonic Year marks the 300th year of the founding of the United Grand Lodge of England and the 150th birthday of our nation. We are still here which is a testament of the Craft’s resilience, but It is time to “reboot” and move forward. We cannot ignore the world around us and we need to adapt. Change must be embraced rather than ignored; accept it or be run over and hope for the best; I have some experience in this area.

W Bro. James Free and VW Bro. Leam Weir are to be commended for leading the planning for our June 24th, 2017 Masonic Day in Edmonton and Calgary. The Province has declared June 24th, 2017, Alberta Masonic Day.

We need to be cognoscente of the changes in society which means adapting to attract members with different needs and priorities than found in the past. We need to use technological advances to streamline our operation, to improve communication and to improve our officer training. Our approval processes are outdated, misunderstood and frustrate our membership, creating the impression they are being ignored, and that Grand Lodge is insensitive to their needs. This negative impression must be dispelled through the implementation of improved business practices.

First consider societal changes; some predict machines will take half of all current jobs creating more leisure time. In addition, 2/3 of all occupations expected to grow, women will dominate; this includes nursing, accounting, child care and food preparation. Salaries will continue to flatten in real terms, job reductions, job retraining, and further global competition will be the norm. Artificial intelligence is a blessing and a curse. In the U.S. 20-25% of all malls are forecasted to disappear over the next 5 years, to some extent due to on-line shopping. Our oil industry is facing some of these changes as we speak.

This is a picture of a future where ironically males may have more leisure time in the future, unlike today, focused more on leaving a better world for their children, searching for self worth, not necessarily the prime bread winner, and to top it off, needing to adjust to less disposable income. The good news is Freemasonry offers an outlet if we can adjust and meet the need of this demographic, after all we offer fellowship, leadership training, public speaking skills, education, improved self confidence and support to our communities. And yes, we mustn’t forget our prime goal of self improvement.

To make a lasting impression on new members we need to take pride in performing our ritual, no matter what happens next this is the moment they never forget. The state of our buildings also leaves a lasting impression; our infrastructure is in such a state we are looking for new lodge accommodations in even our major urban centers. We have neglected, too long, the need to upgrade.

To address our processes and communication tools we have established a Vision Team to look at our Operation from top down. Our Board and Committees are large and unwieldy, giving the illusion results improve with numbers; the experts will tell you the reverse is true. Young people use “Apps” (The Grand Lodges of Manitoba and Montana are among others who already do so) and so we should do the same to improve communication; Millennials aren’t interested in web pages and Millennials don’t write checks and use online tools to pay bills; lodges can now even pay their per capita to Grand lodge through email transfer.

Our new Grand Lodge Data Base should reduce the work of our lodge secretaries, DDGMS, and the Grand Lodge office as well. We need to use on-line tools to train lodge officers rather than face to face meetings a few times a year; officers can be trained on computers in their own homes, the way it is being done in the school system. Our DDGMS making official visits have but a short time to assess the condition of their lodges. Time again we see where such a cursory assessment isn’t sufficient to get a true picture of lodge health. We need to use the Grand Lodge Data Base to gather numerical information and better use the DDGMS time to assess the lodge leadership and quality of work.

I will mention in passing our Constitution and Regulations which is in the process of being updated. Much work remains to correct and improve this “tomb”. Hardly a Board or Committee meeting goes by wherein we don’t have to refer to the C&R to keep from slipping. Imagine what it means to the regular member if even the “so called informed” cannot function without constantly referring to the C&R. The online version is still being updated, so you can imagine the state of the written version. Why we don’t just give everyone a thumb drive and just keep a few bound copies is a good question?

I see a busy year ahead, starting with the search to find a new modern home for the Grand Lodge of Alberta, and proposed changes to the operation of Grand Lodge, which will be presented to you for your approval.

You may have noted my message is more about what the leadership should do, rather than you, the members. This, you may find refreshing.

Thank-you and may the Supreme Architect guide us in our endeavors.

Gordon Berard
Grand Master of Alberta