On November 20th, 2023, the Canadian Federal Government’s Federal Minister of Tourism announced:
- “the launch of the Tourism Growth Program (TGP) as part of the previously announced Federal Tourism Growth Strategy. With $108 million in federal funding, the TGP will be delivered by Canada’s seven regional development agencies over three years, starting in 2023–24. The regional development agencies will deliver the program funding directly to businesses and other organizations.” Thank you TIAO for the information.
At Square & Compass Promotions, we offer tours (in-person and virtual) of the Windsor Masonic Temple (we also promote other masonic buildings), making us a part of the tourism industry and, as such, excited for and about the announcement.
[We discussed our tourism industry connections on medium, re: our signing of the Sustainable Tourism Pledge 2030!]
The announcement also made us think about the all the beautiful and historical masonic buildings located around the world…and whether these buildings could be considered tourist destinations.
For most, a masonic building represents a meeting place in which masons gather and perform their masonic duties.
However, a masonic building can represent something else also…a destination which attracts both tourists and locals engaging in a “staycation” to support and spend money within the community!
Masonic buildings, especially those built during the masonic “boom periods” of the 1920s and 1950s, often encapsulate the magnificence and grandeur that Freemasonry reached in these periods.
This magnificence and grandeur can attract tourists and locals to either tour masonic buildings or simply admire (or take photographs) of the buildings’ facades.
This author is aware of four masonic buildings that offer regular public tours:
- The Detroit Masonic Temple
- The Philadelphia Masonic Temple
- The Windsor Masonic Temple
- The Texas Masonic Retirement Community
[If you know of any other buildings, let us know].
This author is also aware of several masonic buildings that do not offer regular public tours, but have opened their doors for public houses and special events, such as the beautiful Woodstock Masonic Centre or UGLE’s Freemasons Hall.
Freemasonry also provides for tourism (albeit a unique form of tourism) through masonic visitation. How many masons, every year, travel to new places as part of masonic visitations?
- Visitations to attend a lodge meeting?
- Visitations to attend an annual communication?
- Visitations to attend a masonic conference? or
- Visitations to attend a special masonic event.
Square & Compass has travelled for all of the above and, as part of this travel, always explores and supports the community to which it travelled.
Question: Is Freemasonry doing enough to promote its buildings as tourist destinations?
As with any number of heritage or historical buildings, finding sources of revenue will always be a challenge. Most masonic buildings solve this problem through both lodge assessments and renting out space within the building for events.
Regular tours offer another source of revenue.
Open houses and “one-off events” are usually free to take part-in, but can provide a masonic lodge or building with the opportunity to make connections within the community, promote freemasonry, and potentially gain either new members or new renters.
Some masonic organisations are making efforts at promoting our buildings as tourist destinations.
“Amity…Travel Safely” and its Travel Safe Tuesday series, which every Tuesday highlights a Masonic destination of note. Recently, Amity highlighted Square & Compass’ home base…the Windsor Masonic Temple.
There is more to do.
How can masonic buildings attract tourists or visitors?
How can masonic buildings become tourist destinations?
What types of features should masonic buildings highlight or promote to help attract tourists or visitors?
Let us know your answer(s) to the above!
Another interesting type of tourism is virtual tourism, how many masonic buildings could offer virtual tours on its website or social media applications?
Another interesting type of tourism comes to the audience through our television or (more often nowadays) phone…having our masonic buildings appear in media (TV or movies). This gives viewers the chance to see our masonic buildings from the comfort of their home.
The Scottish Rite Club of Hamilton is one great example of a masonic building appearing in TV (The Good Witch, Murdoch Mysteries) and movies (IT: Chapter 2, and Crimson Peak).
Question: is Freemasonry missing the opportunity to promote masonic buildings as potential filming locations?
All opinions expressed are those of Square & Compass Promotions and the guest(s), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Windsor Masonic Temple and/or any masonic group.