A Brief History of Karnak Shriners

Karnak at the Dawn of Time
Four hundred miles south of the city of Cairo, Egypt, on the river Nile, stand masses of stone masonry and lines of tall stone columns which are ruins of the once great city of Thebes. Said to be the first monumental city built by man and forming an important part of which, on the east side of the river was the immense and magnificent Temple of Karnak. This temple, dating back to 2000 B.C., was the greatest and largest in the Egyptian empire.

Karnak Shriners Formed
This was one of the reasons why, when on September 28, 1899, a petition was signed and forwarded to the Imperial Recorder, B.W. Rowell at Imperial Headquarters in Boston, humbly requesting dispensation to open a Temple of the Order at Montreal from the Imperial Potentate using the name "Karnak". Signing the petition in the name of Karnak were: Nobles I.H. Stearns, Frank Edger, Angus H. Hooper, W. Barclay Stephens, W.L. Hogg, T.A. Emmans, E.J. Renshaw, A. Hirst, George A. Perry, J.A. Beliveau and T.A. Morrison. The petition was sponsored by Kora Temple No. 59.

The first chosen Potentate of the newly created Karnak Temple was Illustrious Sir Theodore Anson Emmans. The institution of Karnak Temple (under dispensation) took place at her Majesty's Theatre on Guy Street on the evening of November 8, 1899 with the Imperial Recorder, Ill. Noble Benjamin W. Powell officiating as the representative of the Imperial Potentate. There were present, representatives from the following Temples: Mecca, Mount Sinai, Aleppo, Rameses, and Kora, with 153 Nobles.

In May 1900, Karnak Temple's charter was received from the Imperial Council, dated March 23, 1900 and bearing the names of the following Nobles as Charter Members: T.A. Emmans, T.A. Morrison, W.B. Stephens, W.L. Hogg, E.J. Renshaw, I.H. Stearns, F. Edgar, and A.W. Hooper. The Charter was signed by Lou B. Winsor, Imperial Potentate and B.W. Powell, Imperial Recorder. The membership at the close of 1901 was 83 and grew steadily and by the end of 1909, our tenth anniversary, 564 Nobles had been created.

Early Locations

The first Ceremonial Session of Karnak Temple following its organization was held on Thursday evening, March 15, 1900 in the Royal Victoria Hall at the Masonic Temple on Dorchester Street West, Montreal. In March 1901 Karnak departed from the custom of holding its Ceremonials at the Royal Victoria Hall and held its meetings in the Royal Victoria Armory on Cathcart Street.

During the year 1918, the question of procuring permanent headquarters for the Temple was discussed at length, but no suitable quarters could be found. In 1919 following the execution of a satisfactory lease with the Temple Corporation, the work of transforming the building space acquired in the Masonic Temple on Dorchester Street, was proceeded with, thus providing an office and ante-room and a large room for gatherings of the Nobility. These new quarters were officially opened on September 20, 1919.

Such was Karnak Temple Headquarters until May 1930 when the Masonic Memorial Temple was opened on Sherbrooke Street West at the corner of St. Mark Street and a move was made to that location.

A New Home

Karnak Headquarters remained in the Masonic Memorial Temple from that time until 1983 when the Executive Committee received the approval of the Past Potentates and the Nobility at large to purchase a property on the West Island in the city of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, including a building. Much work had to be done to alter the interior of the building to meet our needs. The move was made and this has been our "home" since that time.

The Official dedication of the new temple was made by the Imperial Potentate, Imperial Sir Richard B. Olfene on October 15, 1983 and the evening was climaxed by a superb banquet hosted by the Illustrious Potentate, Ill. Sir Jack G. McCabe.

Since the inception of the Karnak Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S., the Officers and Nobility have been loyal to the Imperial Council and have worked hard to realize the needs of the Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children.