Mt St Paul Lodge 109 History
History 1924 – 1999
With the arrival of the CPR in 1885, Kamloops embarked on a period of rapid growth and development. The opportunity to work on the railroad drew men from all over and brought a new optimism to the community. While there was much manoeuvring for advantage by land speculators and businessmen, rapid expansion took place and a new prosperous middle class developed. With these men came wives and families and no fewer than ten social organizations were formed from 1881-1883.
On Jan. 5, 1886, Kamloops Lodge held their first meeting and continued to meet under dispensation until a charter was issued, in the name of Kamloops Lodge #10, on June 21, 1886. This new Lodge was formally consecrated and dedicated on Sept. 6, 1886. It quickly became a focal point and meeting place for the social elite of the growing village. The hardware merchant, druggist, chief of police, doctors and lawyers found common ground here. They were the “movers and shakers” of this frontier community. Their first meeting hall was in one of the out buildings of the old Fort Kamloops, HBC post, in present day Mission Flats.
By 1887, the prosperous, growing village was burgeoning with pride and the idea of incorporation was brought forward with great enthusiasm. The major property owners opposed it and the idea was shelved until 1891. This time the drive to incorporate was lead by the respected druggist, Dr. Sibree Clarke, the first master of Kamloops #10, and soon to be Grand Master of B.C. 107 of the 142 landowners signed the petition. Letters Patent were received in April 1893 and Dr. Sibree Clarke was elected the first Mayor of Kamloops by acclamation.
Over the years, the members of both Kamloops lodges have continued their interest in public service. We number local, provincial and federal politicians among our ranks. In 1999, Mt. St. Paul Lodge #109 had a member sitting on the School Board, while Kamloops #10 had a member who was a mayoralty candidate. In the 1935 federal election, three of the four candidates were masons. Bro. T.J. ‘Tip’ O’Neill, of Mt. St. Paul Lodge #109, went on to win and represent this riding for the next ten years.
Membership in the Lodge grew and it was decided that a new Temple should be built. Property was acquired at 261 Victoria St. and a two story building erected. The lower floor was for stores, which were slow to materialize, and the upper floor was for Lodge functions. A difficulty arose when the actual placing and grading of Victoria St. was completed after the building was finished. The building had to be moved ten feet forward and lowered by six feet in order to be properly placed on the street. This was a massive undertaking and cost more that $1400.
From 1888 to 1924, Kamloops Lodge #10 was very active and played a key role in the formation of a number of daughter lodges. These were Mountain Lodge #11, at Donald, in 1887 (now Golden); Spallumcheen Lodge #13, at Armstrong, in 1888; Nicola Lodge #53, in Merritt, in 1909; Zarthan Lodge #105, in Ashcroft, in 1923; and our own Mt. St. Paul Lodge #109 in 1923-24.
In 1923, a series of meetings were held with a view to forming a new lodge in the Kamloops area. These culminated in the application for a Certificate of Dispensation which was issued by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, C.E. Tisdale on November 20, 1923. Notices were sent to all thirty-seven signatories to the application, to members of Kamloops Lodge #10 and to all Freemasons in the district inviting them to attend the ceremony of institution under dispensation to be held on December 5, 1923. Mt. St. Paul Lodge was conceived and our history begins at 8:00 P.M. on that evening as Rt. W. Bro. S.J. Salamon, DDGM of District #3 called the brethren to order in the Temple Lodge Room at St. Paul St. and Third Ave. He explained the purpose of the meeting and instructed the secretary elect to read the Notice of Dispensation. He then proceeded to invest the Lodge officers, principally, W. Bro. R.G. Pinchbeck (Worshipful Master), Bro. R. Wallender (Sr. Warden) and Bro. J. Grisdale (Jr. Warden). On hand were 23 members and 65 visitors.
On Monday, September 1, 1924, our Lodge was officially constituted by the Grand Master, M. W. Bro. Stephen Jones as Mt. St. Paul Lodge as #109 on the Grand Registry of B.C. In addition to four Grand Lodge officers, 21 charter members and 65 visitors were on hand for the meeting. The original list of charter members numbered 37. The last surviving charter member was Rt. W. Bro. G. Hilliard. He was called to the Grand Lodge above on March 7, 1971.
Mt. St. Paul Lodge #109 is very fortunate in having all of its minutes intact. From them we learn that the first initiate was Bro. William Truesdale, in January of 1924. Our first death was that of Bro. Dan Mosher, who was buried on February 22, 1925, our first emergent communication for burial. The next emergent was called just one week later for the first service of Divine Worship in the newly moved and renovated St. Pauls Cathedral, at Nicola and Fourth. One of the officiating clerics at the consecration service was Rev. John Leigh, our first affiliated member and the Chaplain of the Lodge.
In March, 1927, lady guests were invited to the Festive Board, with music and an hour, or so, of dancing enjoyed by all. While this appears to have been a success there is no record of a repetition of the idea.
In 1932, after lengthy discussion, it was decided to continue with our existing ritual (adopted from Union Lodge #9, New Westminster).
On January 7, 1936, Mt. St. Paul Lodge helped Kamloops Lodge #10 celebrate their fiftieth anniversary with a joint communication and banquet. Bro. Stuart Wood presented a history of his lodge at this meeting.
In the early years, the problem of rent payable to #10 cropped up, periodically, but this matter was finally resolved in the early thirties by the formation of a temple association.
In October, 1944, the by-laws committee made their presentation to the Lodge, with all the proposed changes being adopted. The Wor. Master, at that time, and one of the prime instigators of the by-law revision was Rt. W. Bro. A.L.B. Clark.
On February 27, 1945, another historic occasion was recorded by Mt. St. Paul when Bro. Cyril Pinchbeck was raised by his father, V. W. Bro. C. Pinchbeck. Notwithstanding other such father-son raisings, this was the first in our Lodge. As an additional item of interest, assisting at the raising was the candidate’s uncle, Rt. W. Bro. R.G. Pinchbeck, the charter Wor. Master of the Lodge.
In 1956, some eighteen years prior to groundbreaking on the new lodge complex and apartment tower, a move was made to start a Masonic Low Rental Housing Plan. This was delayed for a variety of reasons and the plan finally shelved.
In 1959, after studying a proposed new “American” ritual, it was finally proposed to the Lodge that our ritual should conform to Lester’s “Look to the East”. This was accepted by the brethren and Grand Lodge so informed. In April, 1961, the Lodge instituted a new Benevolent Committee, replacing the old Lodge Relief Fund which had been in existence for years.
A regular report featured at all our meetings was that of the Tranquille visiting committee, a group selected monthly to visit our Lodge brethren and any other Freemasons confined to the TB sanitarium.
Our present senior member, initiated, passed and raised in Mt. St. Paul #109 is Rt. W. Bro. Barry Peters. He was initiated, January 22, 1946, served as Master in 1957 and was appointed D.D.G.M. of District #3, 1968-69. With the passing of W. Bro. Russ MacEwan in 1998, profiled elsewhere in this history, Rt. W. Bro. Peters has assumed the mantle of Senior Past Master, as well. Our Lodge has provided Grand Lodge with a number of D.D.G.M’s: the Rt. W. Bros. R.G. Pinchbeck, J. Andrews, G. Hilliard, C.J. Pinchbeck, G. Sealy, R. Gould, A.L.B. Clark, B. Peters, R. Small, F.W. Cosar, J.H. Hook, J.B. Spark, J.F. Barker, G. Quick, G.M. Martin, and S.W. Bott all served as District Deputy Grand Masters. V. W. Bro. Stu. Langdon served as Jr. Grand Deacon in 1997-98.
Our present building at Fourth and Nicola was completed in the spring of 1975. It contains the Lodge Room and banquet facilities, as well as a fourteen story apartment complex. The Acacia Towers contains 106 suites and is the tallest building in Kamloops. The Lodge portion was financed through the sale of the old building at Third and St. Paul and debentures purchased by members. The rest of the necessary funds were financed through CMHC and the building was designated for low income housing.
1975-80 was a difficult time for both Lodges because they could not find enough low income people, meeting the stringent criteria set down by CMHC, to fill the building. Decreasing grants from the Provincial Government and the relaxing of the low income criteria allowed the building to fill. It attained 100% occupancy by 2005 and is still doing very well. The result is a healthy Temple Association and a well maintained and run building that is the envy of many.
At the January regular communication of 1984, Bro. Garnet Brown, at the organ, and Bro. Stan. McLeod, on bagpipes, entertained the Lodge with a medley of Scottish tunes in memory of the Immortal Bard, Robbie Burns. Haggis was served at the festive board that evening and the annual celebration of Robbie Burns Night was begun. It has since grown to be one of the largest Masonic functions of the year. W. Bro. Stan McLeod has been instrumental in nurturing its growth and progress.
The 1980’s were characterized by a growing closeness and sense of friendship and cooperation between Mt. St. Paul #109 and Kamloops #10. This move was pioneered by V. W. Bro. Dale Dickson , #10, and Rt. W. Bro. G. Quick, #109, in their years as masters and has been nurtured and built upon by following masters. The result has been a number of joint projects, joint planning and mutual respect and support that has virtually eliminated unhealthy competition between the Lodges.
The 1990’s has been characterized by a reaching out to the other Lodges in District #3 by both Kamloops Lodges. Again, this has resulted in joint planning, projects, officer training, and mutual support. With the opening of the Okanagan Cancer Clinic and the advent of the Masonic Cancer Car based in Kamloops, in the fall of 1998, we have been fortunate to have such close associations between the lodges of the district.
Mt. St. Paul Lodge #109 has been blessed with strong, visionary leadership throughout its 75 year history. It has grown and prospered and faces a new millennium confident of its ability to meet the needs of its members and remains relevant in its community. Our focus continues to be on Fraternity and Brotherly Love. Our historic numbers have now reached 523 and we can look back on seventy five years of accomplishment with pride.
R.W. Bro. E.M. Sharpe
Chairman, 75th Anniv. Com.