The Reach Gallery Museum joins forces with the Abbotsford Lodge of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons to host The Empty Chair – A Ceremony to Remember.
The free service of remembrance takes place Friday, Nov. 11 at 3:30 p.m. at The Reach, 32388 Veterans Way.
The Empty Chair ceremony dates back to 1875, a decade after the end of the American Civil War, when it was used in Masonic lodges to pay tribute to those who did not return from the war.
The first mason honoured by this U.S. program was John Holt Beever, a British freemason who was killed in action in the U.S. Army on the northern plains in what was then Dakota Territory.
Since then it has been used by many lodges on Remembrance Day to pay homage to those brother ,asons who fell during the First and Second World Wars, and other wars.
The basis for this ceremony is taken from the rituals of 1875 Frontier Army Lodge of Masonic Research #1875 in the USA, the Grand Lodge of New Brunswick from 1948, and the ceremony by Moira Lodge #11 of the Grand Lodge of Canada in Ontario in November 2001.
At the local ceremony, they will honour a member of the lodge who was raised to the Grand Lodge above and can no longer attend in person. In addition, they will honour all those comrades in arms who sacrificed everything in war.
Local historian Bill Overy said this this version of the ceremony was first produced in November 2015 and has been altered slightly to present to the people of Abbotsford.
“It reenacts a part of the masonic funeral service to a brother raised to a higher lodge by forming a line before the vacant chair of the brother and his comrades and includes placing of an apron of a freemason and an evergreen sprig, a symbol of everlasting life,” Overy said.
Visit thereach.ca or call 604-864-8087 (ext. 112) for more information.