It may be considered a secret society, but Montreal's Masonic Order opened its Grand Lodge on Sherbrooke Street to the public on Saturday.

It's not something that happens often, and people were lined up around the block for their chance to see inside.  

montreal gazette 1929

The Montreal Gazette reported on the official inauguration of the Masonic Temple in 1929. (Montreal Gazette archives)

A type of fraternity, the Masons can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages when stone masons — now commonly known as brick layers — formed unions to protect their craft. 

Montreal's Grand Lodge was officially opened in June 1929.

A peek at the architecture, both inside and out, gives an idea why the building was added to the register of National Historic Sites of Canada.

Freemasons like to describe the fraternity as a "beautiful system of morality, veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols."

Grand Master James Ross says the fraternity has contributed a lot to society.

"They raise a good deal of money for various charities," he said.

"It's a very philanthropic organization."

Still, Ross says, there are rituals and modes of identification that remain secret.