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Algoma District Travelling Square


THE PERPEND ASHLAR - September 22, 1962





In Freemasonry we hear much about the Rough and Perfect Ashlars.  Many thousands of words have been written about these two emblems.  We hear of the two ashlars described every time a certain historical explanatory lecture is given.  We may assume that every Freemason is more or less familiar with these rough and perfect stones, but how many have ever given consideration to the Perpend Ashlar?  Doubtless many have never heard of this emblem.  It had an important place in operative Masonry, but is given little attention in the rituals of the Speculative Craft.  Coming down from the operatives, possibly is symbolizes that, even as a Speculative Craft, we should be working Freemasons.


The Perpend Ashlar was essential in the construction of any stone structure for which stones of various sizes and shapes were used.  In a sense the Perpend Ashlar was a Perfect Ashlar; it was prepared by the hands of the workmen for the builders’ use – for in certain definite purposes and to certain specifications.  It had to be a perfect stone, altogether without flaw.  In length it was the exact width of the wall into which it was to be placed, and was faced in exactly the same manner at both ends.  One end was placed to the inside of the structure and the other faced the outside world.  If there is any meaning in this symbolism for the Speculative Craftsman, it is probably that he should present to the world the same face that he shows inside the Lodge.


Perpend Ashlars were placed at suitable intervals as binders to hold together the other stones in the wall.  Without these Perpend Ashlars walls that rose to the heavens would have been in danger of crumbling.  The weight alone might have dislodged the stones in the lower part of the wall, leading to its eventual disintegration.  By the use of the Perpend Ashlars walls could be raised to unusual heights with the assurances that they would stand the test of time.


Every Lodge has Perpend Ashlars in its membership;  Brethren who act symbolically in the Lodge in much the same manner that the Perpend Ashlars acted in the walls of cathedrals and other structures raised by our Ancient Brethren.  They are the binding force.  They bind the Brethren together and act as a cementing for the fraternity as a whole.


There are also Lodges which play to a large degree the same part in Freemasonry that the Perpend Ashlar played in great structures of stone; from these stronger Lodges comes much of the example for others to follow and to them must go much of the credit for keeping Freemasonry strong.


We need more Brethren who are Perpend Ashlars, who can be a binding force among the Brethren and we need more Lodges to perform similar service on a broader basis.