A History of Kamloops Lodge No. 10 By J.H. Broadberry
It is the summer of 1885, and the little village of Kamloops is looking forward to the most momentous event in its history: the passage of the first train from Eastern Canada. Booms in fur, gold, and railway construction have come and gone, but transcontinental rail service brings the promise of steady growth and settlement. Now Freemasons here can see their dreams for a viable Lodge become a reality.
Indeed, during the past months, as railway construction progressed toward the last spike at Craigalachie, preparations for a Lodge here had been completed, and a petition submitted to Grand Master Thomas Trounce. Our application was approved by the nearest existing Lodge – Union Lodge No. 9, in New Westminster – on December 28, 1885, and the dispensation to form a Lodge was issued in Victoria over the signature of Grand Secretary E. C. Neufelder, on December 31.
Without delay the nine charter members met, on January 5, as a Lodge under dispensation, which, Worshipful Master D.H.W. Horlock presumed, enabled it to conduct Masonic business. This it did, and by April 30, using the Worshipful Master’s “Oxford” ritual, had initiated five members, affiliated four, and had two more petitions on hand.
For the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, the granting of our Charter on June 21, 1886, ended a long wait: Kamloops Lodge No.10 was the first lodge to be constituted since the formation of the Grand Jurisdiction fifteen years earlier. It was to be the first of many to thrive in the Southern Interior of the province.
At a banquet meeting on September 6, in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, the Lodge was constituted by W.Bro. Angus McKeown of Victoria-Columbia Lodge No. 1, under commission of Grand Master W. Dalby. Our first meeting-place was a disused Hudson’s Bay Company store, one and a half storeys high, built of cedar logs hewn to about six inches in thickness and later clap-boarded on the outside to make the lodge more sight- and sound-proof. It was situated west of the present south end of the Overlander Bridge, on a site later occupied by the West End Auto Court. At that time it was within a half mile of the centre of town, reached by a main street down the middle of which ran the C.P.R. mainline tracks!
Almost immediately, plans were set in motion to provide the lodge with a proper Temple. In 1888 it was completed, and the Lodge room dedicated, at what is now 263 Victoria St. The building was a two-storey frame structure. The upper storey accommodated the Lodge, banqueting, and waiting rooms, and the ground floor was divided into two stores, the rental from which it was expected would help meet our financial obligations. In this we were disappointed, for we had moved faster than the town, and for some years we were too far removed from the business section to receive satisfactory rental. So, for a time, the stores were something of a white elephant. Nevertheless, No.10 would call it home for 34 years.
The rapid spread of settlement and Freemasonry produced the first of our five daughter lodges within the first year of our existence. In 1887 we approved the petition for dispensation of Mountain Lodge No. 11, then at Donald, now at Golden. Spallumcheen Lodge No. 13, our second daughter Lodge and now in Armstrong, came to us in 1888. In both of these lodges, as well as in Miriam Lodge No. 20 in Vernon, our early members played important roles.
Many brethren of Kamloops No. 10 met the challenges of the era with notable success, and rose to prominence within and without the Craft. Our first Worshipful Master, V.W.Bro. The Rev. D.W.H. Horlock was the first Anglican rector in Kamloops, and a future Grand Chaplain of the United Grand Lodge of England. M.W.Bro. Dr. Sibree Clarke, a pharmacist, was the first mayor of Kamloops, and Grand Master of British Columbia, in the same year, 1894! He was thrice Master of Kamloops No. 10, and, when he was Grand Master, he was prevented from attending his own Grand Lodge by the disastrous 1894 flood. Charter Junior Warden and our third Worshipful Master, J. Ogden Grahame, was the first manager (as opposed to Factor) of the Hudson’s Bay Company store in Kamloops. Overlander, merchant, and Member of Parliament, John Andrew Mara was our first Treasurer. Known nation-wide as a railroad builder, H.J. Cambie served as our charter Junior Deacon. Bro. Peter Barnhart, for whom Barnhartvale is named, was conductor of the first passenger train to Vancouver. R.W.Bro. E. Stuart Wood was a teacher, school principal, and our Lodge secretary for fifty years. Brother A.R. Fingland, a well-known mining engineer, walked from Hedley to Hope to Kamloops to join the Craft here in 1889!
The early 1890’s saw the onset of a severe and widespread economic depression. During this period membership grew very slowly – from 30 in 1889 to only 39 in 1895. Revenue from the ground floor stores did not materialize, although annual dues amounted to $12.00, a tidy sum. New blood was sometimes hard to find for the offices of the Lodge – on four occasions in this decade, Masters of the Lodge had to repeat their terms in the East. Attendance was down, too – at times insufficient to form a quorum. Visitors frequently acted as officers, and at one meeting a Past Master from Mountain Lodge had to preside in the East. On the first official visit by a Grand Master, that of M.W.Bro. Marcus Wolfe in 1892, thirteen were in attendance.
Later in the decade, however, more optimistic economic signs began to prevail. Kamloops had hosted only 43 members of Grand Lodge at the Annual Communication here in 1891. In 1899 there were 60; in 1925 there would be 303. Our membership began to rise, from 42 in 1896, to 95 in 1906, and to 198 in 1914. In July of 1909, Nicola Lodge No.53 in Merritt, our third daughter lodge, was constituted. In Kamloops it was clear that more modern and spacious quarters were needed. Planning took place, but our energies were soon directed toward the battlefields of Europe. During that war, 48 members joined up, and three paid the ultimate price. (In the Boer War, one Brother went over as an E.A., and returned to be passed and raised.)
The years after the War were filled with high hopes and enthusiasm. Early in 1922, we secured a site at the corner of Third Avenue and St. Paul Street. Our third home, a handsome three-storey brick building, was opened by Grand Master M.W.Bro. A.M. Creery at a meeting attended by 324 masons, on November 29, 1922. Another cause for celebration arose when our fourth daughter lodge, Zarthan No.105, was constituted in Ashcroft on September 17, 1923.
Our own membership had soared, reaching a high of 272 in 1923. R.W.Bro. G.E. Sanborn, D.D.G.M., reported that as a result, the Lodge, “is somewhat unwieldy, and chances for promotion for young members are remote, while the work that is being offered requires a meeting of the Lodge each week.”(!) In response to this evident need, our fifth daughter Lodge, Mt. St. Paul Lodge No. 109 was constituted on September 1st, 1924.
In the latter half of the Twenties, the membership roll remained at about 240. The Depression and the Second World War, however, brought about a decline which reached its nadir in 1943, at 159. The heavy debt incurred for the building, the levelling-off of the membership, and the vacancy until 1942 of the rental space on the third floor, all conspired to render our financial obligations increasingly burdensome. Relief was finally afforded with the formation of the Kamloops Masonic Temple Association in 1938.
All this financial gloom, however, did not deter us from pursuing our goals of brotherly love, relief, and truth. In 1933, W.Bro. W.O. Ellis, an active member from 1922 until his death in 1999, instituted our annual June Strawberry Night, which continues to this day. In 1934, R.W.Bro. G.H. Ellis, D.D.G.M. and brother of the above, drew the attention of Grand Lodge to the faithful way in which brethren of both Kamloops lodges were visiting Tranquille Sanitarium. In the mid-Thirties the Lodge library, which continues to flourish, and a Masonic Education Group, were formed. As a final example of the fraternal activities of these years, we were delighted, in May 1938, to accept an offer from the Royal Kensington Lodge No. 1627, E.R., London, to make us all honorary members of that Lodge.
If the Second World War, in which eleven brethren served and from which one did not return, brought about a diminishment in activity, then Peace resulted in a great resurgence. While our Fiftieth year had passed largely unrecognized, we did mark our Sixtieth in 1946, and our Seventy-fifth in 1961, with appropriate celebrations, and numerous other high points have also been recorded.
Early in the post-war period we were honoured when M.W.Bro. G.H. Ellis became the second Grand Master from Kamloops No. 10, in 1948-1949. In 1979-1980, a third member of the Lodge, M.W.Bro. W.J. McCoid, served the Craft in that capacity, and presided over the 1980 Annual Communication of Grand Lodge here in Kamloops.
The post-war Lodge flourished. Its membership rose steadily and reached an all-time high of 277 in 1966 and 1967. On March 29, 1955, our five-hundredth candidate, Bro. A.G. Fraser, was initiated into Freemasonry. Later that same year the Worshipful Master, W.Bro. Roy Cummings, initiated, passed and raised his son, Bro. Roy Cummings. Our youngest ‘grand-daughter’ Lodge, Cayoosh Lodge No. 173, was constituted on September 24, 1960 at Lillooet. Bro. R.W. Falconer, who served as Tyler until January 1962, had guarded our portals continuously since 1913. Visits were enjoyed frequently, and included an interesting series with Bow River Lodge No.1, G.R.A., in Calgary. In 1971 our first Widows’ Night was organized by then-Senior Warden, W.Bro. Ted Morgan. In these and many other ways Freemasonry in Kamloops demonstrated its vitality; and it was this very health, which led to a period of both challenges and progress.
By the late Sixties, the dignified old Temple building was beginning to show its age, in contrast with its modern urban surroundings. Repair bills were mounting, costly renovations were needed, taxes were rising, and the upper floor, whose rental income had long contributed to the financial stability of the Temple Association, was becoming less and less suitable for tenants. In addition to the atmosphere of change that was increasingly pervading society outside, there was a sense within the Lodge that a respected old generation was passing away. That generation had been so strong in its support of tradition, that, when it finally was no more, the stability it had provided suddenly gave way to a period of rapid change – and growth.
Chief among these changes was the building of the present Temple complex at Fourth and Nicola. This entailed another change: the involvement of more members than ever before in important roles in the affairs of the Lodge. Although it began as a modest concept, it grew into the largest project ever undertaken by Freemasonry in Kamloops, and one of the largest in this Grand Jurisdiction. Along the way, many of the brethren were involved in areas outside their professional expertise. They worked for what they felt to be best: errors were made, difficulties met and dealt with – and the complex now stands as an impressive testimony to the efforts of those who saw it conceived, built and set of its feet.
In 1972 the old building was sold to the B. C. Telephone Company. We did not have to vacate it until the summer of 1974. However, when we moved to temporary accommodation in the Elks Hall, we remained there from September through April 1975. During this period, the site of the new building was acquired – one of the properties being that of R.W.Bro. F.T. Wright, who had been Secretary of the Lodge for 25 years.
It was felt that part of this project so that it would be financially self-supporting, but past experience produced an aversion to association with commercial ventures. Rental housing was chosen, in the hope that the needs of distressed brethren and their widows, among others, could be met. From its originally modest three-storey concept, economies of scale necessitated increases to the present 14-storey, 106-suite tower, costing $2.5 million. Financing of the part of the building occupied by the Temple was effected separately from the tower, largely from the proceeds of the sale of the old building. The debt for the tower is being steadily retired.
Construction, contracted to Mr. Frank Stanzel, with the architectural services of Aubrey, McKinnon, began on August 7, 1974, when the sod was turned by R.W.Bro. Wright. The building was one of the first in Western Canada to use an innovative and rapid method of assembling prefabricated components. The Lodge room itself was designed to look to both the past and the future. The cedar vaulting and pillars, modern in tone, can also invoke, in those who knew it, some of the ambiance imparted by the Tudor style of the East in the old Lodge room. Other links have also been forged by the preservation of many of the furnishings from previous temples. The ceiling itself, however, is quite unique. Inspired by a ceiling seen in San Francisco by M.W.Bro. McCoid, it is an accurate representation of the Kamloops night sky of May 1975, when the complex was opened. For it we are indebted to the efforts of W.Bro. Ted Morgan and volunteers, under the direction of Dr. Roland Cobb of the University College of the Cariboo.
On May 10, 1975, the first meeting in the new Temple was held jointly with Mount St. Paul Lodge No.109, and was the occasion of the official visit to Kamloops No. 10 of the District Deputy Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Bill Fowler. Attendance was 199, presided over by W.Bro. B.R. Peatt, of No.10, and W.Bro. J.B. Spark of No.109.
In the first years of its operation, circumstances seemed to conspire against the successful operation of the apartment block, Acacia Towers. Expenses accumulated, and it proved more difficult to fill than expected. As had been the case in the planning and building phases, in this shakedown phase of the operation numerous brethren worked long and hard to deal with difficulties and controversy, in order to at last set the project on a firm footing.
The result is that the affairs of the Lodge and the Temple Association are now such that we can look forward to our Second Century, taking satisfaction in past achievements, and with confidence and hope for even greater successes in the future.
J. H. Broadberry