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The William Mercer Wilson Presentation - April 30, 2011







A first for Algoma District.


It is given to one who represents the Craft well and looks for no reward or publicity for the work that he performs within the lodge or outside of the lodge - a modest man who for reasons of his own has not gone on to become a Worshipful Master of the Lodge, but has given that opportunity unselfishly to many others in his Masonic career.  Generally, he is a mild mannered, soft spoken individual who labours quietly and patiently in the pursuit of brotherly love, and making life better for all with whom he comes into contact. Their presence makes a difference in their lodge.  This is a William Mercer Wilson Medal recipient.


One of the most prominent Canadian figures of his time, William Mercer Wilson attained great eminence in political, military, municipal, legal and Masonic circles. Born in Scotland in 1813, he came to Canada in 1832.  He was appointed a commissioner to hold courts of justice in the Talbot District in 1834. He took a leading part in quelling the Rebellion of 1837-1838, being cavalry commander at Simcoe with the rank of captain.  In 1840, he was appointed public notary and registrar of the Surrogate Court.  The same year he was admitted as a Mason at St. John's and in 1842 became Master of the Lodge, a post he held at intervals for ten years.  ln 1873, he was elected first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Canada.  He was active in municipal affairs, being councilor and reeve in Simcoe town council, and warden of Norfolk. He retired from the militia in 1869 with rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.  William Mercer Wilson died during his eleventh year as Grand Master, 16th January, 1875, in his 62nd year.


ln July 1944, Most Worshipful Brother Timothy Clark Wardley, in his annual communication to Grand Lodge, presented the idea of a special medal for outstanding Masonic service. This medal, now known as the 'William Mercer Wilson Medal", may be awarded only to one who, for one reason or another, did not aspire or attain the position of the Worshipful Master of a Craft Lodge.


The awarding of this honour also extends certain privileges and courtesies to the recipients. The owner of The William Mercer Wilson Medal is entitled, like anyone who has achieved the position of Worshipful Master of a Craft Lodge, the honour of sitting in the East.  He is entitled to grand honours.  He or they should also be referred to in the preamble to any toasts or tributes at which they are present and to this end all Tyler's and Directors of Ceremonies should be vigilant in their identification of visitors.  lt would also be of great assistance if any brother who is accompanying a recipient of the medal while visiting would inform the Master, Tyler and Director of Ceremonies of their presence.  These worthy brethren deserve to be recognized.


He is a mild mannered, soft spoken individual who labours quietly and patiently in the pursuit of brotherly love, and making life better for all with whom he comes into contact.  His presence makes a difference in our lodge.  This is a William Mercer Wilson Medal recipient.


My friend and brother Gerry Siddall.  Almost 50 years in the kitchen catering to the needs of the brethren of Shuniah Lodge.  A visitor and worker to the kitchen of other lodges and fraternal organizations.  Training all of the Junior Wardens for the past half century in what is known as the 6:30 degree.


Eighty years young and most of us wish we had his energy.


Initiated on 30th of January 1952, passed on March 31st, 1952 and raised on the 31st of March 1953.  This was with Lord Selkirk Lodge in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  Affiliated with Shuniah Lodge on the 3rd  of January, 1956.


A lifetime career at the Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital.


An instructor with St. John’s Ambulance.


One of the founding members of the “Happy Handicaps Society” in 1949.   Gerry served as Auxiliary President four times.


Again a founding member of the 'Lakehead Search and Rescue” in 1966.  Active member for 40 years with a rank of Deputy Area Commander.  Taught survival skills at Confederation College for 25 years.  After he retired he still taught survival courses to aviation students.


In 1986 and for 20 years he was a member of the "Northwestern Ontario Search and Rescue Association”.  He was trained by the Department of National Defence as a spotter on various aircraft.


On the 5th of May, 1998 Gerry was the honouree of Old Tymers Night.  Of course he did not know this and so worked the entire day in the kitchen and at the last moment he was told to lose the kitchen apron and take his seat at the head table.  He reminds me about this on a regular basis.  That is why we had today’s  banquet off site.


He cares for his elders like his late friend Leon 93 years old.  He also has been a volunteer barber for the past 40 years.  Recently the brethren of Shuniah Lodge received a broadcast email about looking for someone to cut the hair of one of our members who was in long term care at St Joseph’s Hospital.  Within minutes Gerry was identified and contacted and he has made regular barber visits since.


We learned to shuck oysters for the first time together under the Lundberg brothers.  We have seen our share of injuries in this sport.  Gerry always has a pocket full of band aids and the Junior Wardens Committee have made good use of Gerry's first aid skills over the years.  Although Gerry is partially to blame for having to use those first aid skills.  Let an unwary person come into the kitchen and use one of the knives sharpened by Gerry.  His pocket knife is capable of cutting plate steel.  You can see the occasional brother passing a blade onto Gerry for his care.  And all it costs is a short talk on the quality of the steel.


The annual Masonic fish derby. Rarely was there a dinner that Gerry didn't assist with.  Gerry has fished with our group the past few years and a more conscientious angler you could not ask for.


Besides being an angler Gerry is also a hunter. He doesn't always get a freezer full of venison so I help him out with middle of the night calls of a deer I had to kill and would Gerry like it.  And Gerry would show up and get the carcass. He shares some of the meat with the brethren.  How many Junior Wardens committee's do you find that kill, clean, cook and serve for the lunch on meeting nights.


He is adaptable to almost every situation.  When you never know how many will show up for a banquet Gerry can instantly assess the crowd and carve the roast beef accordingly to ensure that every brother has had his just due.  If we are missing a dish or a serving spoon, we won't be at the next banquet.  If the coffee maker has been abused by others it is gleaming before Gerry retires for the evening.


I say almost every situation because there are some lines Gerry will not cross.  We are not sure of the origins of this but it has something to do with putting orange segments in the tossed salad.


Gerry Siddall a mason's mason and no finer a man to have received the William Mercer Wilson medal.


Most Worshipful, Right Worshipful, Worshipful Sir's and Brother Siddall if you would please join me on the level.


Presented by P.G.S. V.W. Bro. L. Wayrynen

On behalf of W.M. W. Boote


December 04, 2010 - William Mercer Wilson Award Presentation made to Bro. Gerry Siddall in Shuniah Lodge, delivered by Bro. Chris Higgins