Grand Master of Alberta

MWBro. Ken Cheel Grand Master GRA Biography 2019-2020

Kenneth Christopher Cheel was born into a very strong Masonic family, where his Grandfather, two Uncles and a numerous cousins were all members of the Craft. Of course, it was a well-kept secret until he reached his 21st birthday!

Ken was initiated into Royal Arthur Lodge #523 on 6 March 1978, Passed to the Second Degree on February 22 1979, and Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason in Hastings Lodge #633 on March 28 1979, in the Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario. In February of 1991, he requested and received a demit from that Grand Jurisdiction.

He became a member of Saskatchewan Lodge #92 in February 1987; was the Master in 1994, again in 2004 and the last time in 2017. He was elected Secretary in 2012 and remained in that position for five years. He joined the Lodge of Perfection Scottish Rite in February of 1991, Mizpah Chapter of Rose Croix in March of the same year, and the Alberta Consistory in October of 1992.

Ken was elected and served as DDGM for Northern Lights District in 2008 – 2009. In January of 2010, His successor as DDGM, R.W. Bro. Jack McBride became ill. On Jack’s request and the Grand Master’s approval, he completed the official parts of Jack’s duties over the next few months.

He was elected to the Board of General Purposes in 2009 for a three-year term and served as the President in 2010 – 2011.

Under MW Bro. Shimmon’s, Ken served as the Chairman of the Leadership Committee. Starting with MW Bro. Peter Dunlop, and continuing under all of the Grand Masters until June 2016, he served as the Chairman of the Lodge Officers Training Committee. For the 2014 – 2015 term, he was also appointed by the Grand Master, MW Bro. John Slade to serve on the Board of Benevolence.

Ken was elected JGW in June 2016 and subsequently SGW and DGM.

While this accounting provides the reader with most of his Masonic history, it doesn’t speak to who he is on a personal level. For starters – he was born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario; attending Central School and Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School, before entering Trent University to study chemistry. He met his future wife Daphne while attending a social event at Trent University in the fall of 1978. They were married in September 1980 and moved to Alberta in the fall of 1981. They have two children, Kaitlin and Kelsey, ages 31 and 26, respectively and one granddaughter Parker aged 3 months. He was employed in the Computer Industry for over 30 years, starting as a Programmer and then moving into Computer Operations. He retired from the work force about four years ago after being the Manager of IT and he’s busier than ever with Freemasonry.

As with many parents, during the years the children were young, there were a number of activities that kept the entire family busy (over, and above, participating in Lodge events!). Both the children were involved in sports, dance and music. From working bingos to serving on parent advisory groups, volunteerism was part the family life. Ken was on the Executive of the Music Parents Advisory Committee for six years, planning fund-raising events and providing advice on music trips, with local, national and international destinations. In addition, as part of their commitment to their Church faith community, there were many opportunities to serve, such as pancake breakfasts, cleaning bees, pastoral maintenance, etc.

Freemasonry has been a central feature of Ken’s adult life. He considers himself fortunate in the mentors he has had – from his Grandfather, W. Bro Harry Austin; his Uncle, W. Bro Ken Austin; to members of Saskatchewan Lodge, most specifically W. Bro. Jack Gardener along with the many others; and to other members of this Grand Jurisdiction.

During Ken’s Masonic career, he has also been fortunate to be able to pass along his learning’s by mentoring new members to our Craft. Answering their questions definitely keeps you on your toes! It is said that Education is a life-long process. Being a Freemason brings that phrase to life, as Freemasonry is a process of life-long learning and practice!

Through his Masonic journey, he has enjoyed the positions he has filled, the people he’s met, and the friendships formed. He continues to enjoy visiting Lodges in this Grand Jurisdiction.

GRAND MASTER’S ADDRESS AT THE ANNUAL COMMUNICATION – 2019

Brethen . . . First, I would like to thank everyone who stayed to witness the installation and in vesture of the members of Grand Lodge for this year, the members of Grand Lodge, elected and appointed, who volunteered their time and effort to make this year’s Grand Lodge a success. Second, I would like to thank MW Bro. Berard and his team of PGMs who performed a memorable installation ceremony. Next, my heartfelt thanks to the members of my own Lodge – Saskatchewan Lodge #92, who travelled to Calgary to assist in the installation ceremony; and last but certainly not least, to MW Bro. Stan Mottershead; who placed me in the chair of King Solomon, who has been a member of Saskatchewan Lodge for 60+ years, a friend and mentor for almost 40 years. Thirty (30) years ago, MW Sir, you were placed in the chair of King Solomon and I’m honoured to be one of your successors.

There are also a number of people who are unable to be here today that I owe special thanks to: My grandfather, W. Bro. Harry Austin and my uncle W. Bro. Ken Austin, for sponsoring me into the Craft; and WB Jack Gardener, who was a friend, a mentor and who always practiced the ideals of a freemason. I miss you all.

George Burns once said “the secret to a good sermon (speech) is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.” I’m going to try to have a really good speech.

When I first came through the doors of the lodge on my initiation, I had no idea what I was getting myself into and when they asked me “in whom do you place your trust?”, I was pretty sure the answer I was thinking of, which was “my Grandfather”; since he was the reason I was standing there, that was not the answer the lodge was looking for.

Since I’m standing here today, I obviously came up with the correct answer.

Further along in the ceremony, I placed my hand on the Volume of the Sacred Law and took a solemn obligation not to revel the secrets of Freemasonry by any means – just as everyone in this room has done.

Over the years, as my journey in Freemasonry continued, my vows expanded and included such things as:

  • To make a daily advancement in masonic knowledge;
  • The Five points of Fellowship; and
  • The fifteen points each Master must obligate himself to perform during the installation ceremony, before he becomes a Master of Lodge, (and that’s after he has been lucky enough to be elected to that high office); to name a few.

And today, I have just taken another solemn obligation to:

  • Accept the office of Grand Master, and solemnly promise to discharge the duties of that high office zealously and faithfully, to the utmost of my power and ability, so long as I shall continue in that office.
  • I, furthermore, promise that I will enforce all the Laws, Regulations and Ordinances of the Grand Lodge with firmness, equity and impartiality; that I will uphold and preserve inviolate the Ancient Landmarks and Usages of the Order, and in every other respect conscientiously discharge my duty as Grand Master and Ruler of the Craft.

I feel it is important to repeat these words before you, because I would like you, the Craft, to notice that this obligation doesn’t say, only the ones I agree with, it say’s all, and I must enforce them with firmness, equity and impartiality. To quote a past Grand Secretary – R.W. Bro. E.H. Rivers: “The obligations taken by the ruling members of the Craft call for unfettered support of the Constitution, and nothing else can be acceptable”. I must use my personal integrity and the virtues I have learned over the years to conscientiously discharge these duties.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said; “The Supreme quality of leadership is unquestionable integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

Once we placed our hands on the Volume of the Sacred Law and took our first obligation, We, as Freemasons, have placed our integrity on the line. We have collectively said, I’m a good man, but I want to be a better man.

How do we become “better men?” The path forward has been shown to us for over 300 years

Our collective challenge is to internalize the teachings, be willing to change and strengthen our integrity. As MW Bro Aspelet pointed out at the June 1977 Annual Communications: “Masonry, I am sure, is something of the heart”.

The beginning of the path – the journey toward becoming a better person starts with the initiation ceremony of Freemasonry. According to the Masonic Renewal Committee, of the Conference of Grand Master Masons of North America, there are 30 virtues mentioned in this ceremony. Each virtue takes a lifetime of study, with a purpose of make our rough ashlars perfect. But our Ritual work is not just for candidates. The ritual is for the members on the sidelines, so they can listen, contemplate and when placed in a similar situation, act with the utmost virtue, morality and integrity.

All of us being human, we don’t always make the best choices or agree with the choices other people have made. We will have differences of opinion. How we debate or communicate those differences of opinion is extremely important.

In olden days, the main method communication was the letter. The process of writing a letter allowed for a well thought out, reasoned, and logical discourse. Today, however, we are in the age of instantaneous communications. If I don’t like what you say or do, I’m going to email, instant message, twitter, or whatever the next fad of communication platform happens to be and a heated argument is on. There is no longer that time lag that allows emotions to cool, to enable reflection, and to discover and realize that the “choices made” by another person might not be so different from our own after all.

As Masons, when we are faced with this scenario, we have a rich ritual we can draw on. But to do so, we need to understand our ritual at a deep personal level. MW Bro. Crockett, at the June 1978 Annual Communications said “ you cannot communicate properly unless you live Freemasonry, Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Freemasonry is a way of life”.

Brethren, all businesses have complex issues which need to be resolved and we may not all agree on the best way to resolve them. And while a business has certain tools to resolve issues and differences of opinion, we as Freemasons, have our own unique methods – our working tools. These methods are found in our ritual and the commitment to ourselves to become a better person. The ritual tells us we should try to work out our problems between ourselves before getting other people involved in an attempt to resolve our differences, because we are all here to help each other to become better people.

Almost four years ago, I wrote an essay as part of my nomination for JGW. The essay asked the reader to imagine different scenarios about lodge:

  • Imagine the brethren of a lodge being willing to discuss and challenge new ideas that come before the lodge in a thoughtful and respectful manner, not as adversaries. At the end of the evening still being in good cheer and fellowship.
  • Imagine the brethren, when performing the ritual work, having internalized the moral messages within the ritual; convey that meaning to the new candidates and the other members of the Lodge. That brethren are committed to the wellbeing of the committee, board, office or position they hold and their overriding philosophy is; is the decision or recommendation “the best for the Craft?”

Because Brethren, that’s why we’re here today, to do what’s best for the Craft. You have made decisions regarding who will sit on various committees and who will ultimately sit in this chair.  It is now up to those you have elected to do what is best for the administration of the Craft.

And it is up to you to do the really important job. Becoming the best person you can be – labour to make your rough ashlars perfect. Masonry is a 24/7 job. It’s not something you put on once a month. You need it at Lodge, you need it at work, and you need it at home. Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth coupled with Virtue, Morality and the unshakeable integrity to do what is right, no matter the consequences to oneself, is part of doing “the good act, not for himself, but for the cause of good.”

The fundamental principles of Freemasonry are what we have come to learn. When we knocked on the door of the lodge for the first time we didn’t know about “a beautiful system of Morality, veil in allegory…” we knew we wanted to learn to be a better person.

As a reminder of that better person we hope to become, I leave you with this:

  • The man who, without courting applause, is loved by all nobel-minded men, respected by his superiors, and revered by his subordinates: the man who never proclaims what he has done, will do, can do, but where need is, will lay hold with dispassionate courage, circumspect resolution, indefatigable exertion, and a rare power of mind, and who then, without pretention, will retire into the multitude, because he did the good act, not for himself, but for the cause of good.

Brethren, I wish you all the best in your masonic journey to becoming a better man. My own journey began over 40 years ago and I’m still a rough ashlar, a very rough ashlar. This next year, with your support, I hope to smooth some of the edges and get closer to that better man.

Thank you.

Ken Cheel
Grand Master of Alberta