Furnishing a Lodge Room on the Canadian Frontier
The Material Culture of 'Rideau Lodge' No. 25, 1815–46
Keywords:Freemasonry, Canada, Ontario, regalia, material culture, consumption
A small artefact collection and a substantial archival fonds from Rideau Lodge No. 25 offer an unusual glimpse into the material practices of freemasons in early 19th century rural Canada. Organized in 1815, Rideau Lodge operated for about 30 years in and around the hamlet of Burritts Rapids, in presentday eastern Ontario. Their surviving artefacts and accounts reveal how the brethren procured the material necessities of masonic ritual in the context of emerging frontier capitalism. The Rideau Lodge masons developed a hybrid material strategy, purchasing some items from distant suppliers, including those in the United States, while making or repurposing other items locally. A case study in the relationship between local production and the market economy on the Canadian frontier, this article adds to the general literature on early Canadian capitalism by illustrating how cultural considerations - in this case the practices and values of freemasonry - influenced rural Canadians' consumption strategies.
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