Ottawa-based Tunis Shriners – Brothers in Philanthropy

Photo: Illustrious Sir Peter Rippstein presenting one of our Shrine patients with his medal at the finish line after he successfully completed the course in a Spartan Race.

Shriners International Awareness Day events on Sparks Street (from left: Illustrious Sir Peter Rippstein, Noble Dan Wetherup, Radio Personality Dylan Black, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May with Shrine patient, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Illustrious Sir Dale Olm, Illustrious Sir Jim Doel & Noble Bob Conrad).

In 1870, a group of Freemasons began a frequent tradition of meeting at the Knickerbocker Cottage on Sixth Avenue in New York City for lunch. The group talked about founding a fraternity, one that was centered on fun and fellowship rather than the ritual-centric goals of freemasonry.

That fraternity is now known as Shriners International which focuses primarily on incorporating fun and fellowship, with giving back to society. The organization is well-known for their actions and contributions within over 200 locations (or as they are referred to as Shrine Centers or Chapters) in not only North America; but also Central America, South America, Europe, and Southeast Asia with a current membership of 250,000 men.

In the words of Peter Rippstein, Chairman of Communications and Marketing for Tunis Shriners, “All Shriners are Freemasons and therefore incorporate the Masonic principles of Brotherly love, truth & charity into their everyday lives & actions. The Shriners fraternity was founded in 1872 on the principles of fun & fellowship and is comprised of like-minded men called Nobles who live their lives by Masonic principles and experience fun & fellowship while supporting their philanthropy Shriners Hospitals for Children.”

In June of 1920 the Imperial Council of Shriners International voted to establish Shriners Hospitals for Children. With polio reaching epidemic proportions. the Shriners opened their first hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1922. Canada's Shriners Hospital for Children was subsequently established in Montreal in 1925. Today, Shriners supports twenty-two children's hospitals throughout America, Canada and Mexico.

Shriners Hospital for Children-Canada situated in Montreal.

With the motto “No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a child,” it is no wonder that the Shriners are most well-known for their children’s hospitals. These hospitals are dedicated to providing advanced care for orthopaedic & neuromuscular conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip & palate.

As Shriners are heavily reliant on their community of like-minded men, individuals who wish to join the organization can expect a welcoming environment promoting fun and friendship, with the added bonus of knowing that they are doing good by being a part of a team that helps make a difference to children in need. In addition to focusing on Shriner awareness & fund raising initiatives such as community parades, golf tournaments, Motorcycle Poker Runs among other events, Shriners also stress the importance of various family-focused gatherings.

The local Ottawa-based Tunis Shriners organization was initially founded in 1975 and had the distinction & honour of having former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker as its first ever Potentate/CEO. Over the years the Nobles of Tunis Shriners have been privileged to support and help numerous children & their families within the Ottawa community by way of treatment referrals and transportation to our various Shriners Hospitals for Children regardless of the cost. “Although we are a smaller Shriner Centre with a membership of over 500 members we are one of the highest per capita financial contributors to our Montreal based Shriners Hospital for Children-Canada," says Chairman Rippstein.

To learn more about Tunis Shriners visit or call 613-729-2296.