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Early history of Salmon Arm Lodge No. 52
Salmon Arm Lodge Hall, 1942. [Larger image]
In the interior of British Columbia lies Shuswap Lake, a comparatively narrow body of water winding its way for many miles among the mountains. Ever since the coming of the white man the long southern branch of this lake has been known as Salmon Arm. The Salmon River, an important river, flowing from the south, flows into the southern end of this area of the lake.
Before the coming of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886, the stretch of fertile land along the Salmon River was unknown, except to a few hunters and trappers, but as soon as the means of transportation was provided, settlement followed the rails. Land surveys, dividing the district into sections and quarter sections, were commenced in 1887, and soon homesteaders were busy taking up homes for themselves and their families. The land in the valley, fertile as it was, was heavily timbered and it took time and hard work to bring it into cultivation. Eventually, not only the land in the river valley, outside of the Indian Reserve at the mouth of the Salmon River, passed into private ownership, but also all the arable bench lands to the east and west of the river.
It was soon discovered that these bench lands were particularly suitable for fruit growing as well as for mixed farming. It, therefore, followed that as soon as Crown Grants were issued for the homesteads, they were subdivided into smaller blocks, and disposed of, and more intensified farming and fruit growing resulted. The first school building was erected in 1890; the first church, in 1895, although religious services had been held before that time. The growth of the settlement is shown by the fact that the district was sufficiently settled to warrant its incorporation as a municipality, under the name of the Municipality of Salmon Arm, in May, 1905. In this district there grew up a town and business centre, which was incorporated as the city of Salmon Arm, in March, 1912.
As might have been expected there were Freemasons among the early settlers in the valley. During the earlier years of the district there was no Masonic Lodge which they could attend. The only lodge in the Interior of the province at that time was Cariboo Lodge, No. 4, at far away Barkerville. In 1886 Kamloops Lodge, No. 11, was constituted, but that was 66 miles away, and, with unsatisfactory railway service, few of the Salmon Arm brethren were able to visit it. In 1888 Spallumcheen Lodge, No. 13, was established at Lansdowne, a prosperous village now almost forgotten. When the railway was built from Sicamous to Vernon it bypassed Lansdowne, and the settlement moved to Armstrong and the lodge with it. Today the only relic of the old settlement is the old cemetery. This lodge was twenty-four miles from Salmon Arm, but in spite of the distance, brethren from the valley visited it occasionally. On January 16th, 1905, a dispensation was issued by M.W. Brother W. J. Bowser, Grand Master, for a lodge at Enderby, now No. 40, but even this was sixteen miles away from Salmon Arm, and a thirty-two mile drive at night in the old horse and buggy days, was not conducive to regular attendance; notwithstanding the distance to be travelled some of the Salmon Arm residents were members of this lodge.
Meanwhile the Salmon Arm District was being settled rapidly and the town was growing fast. Naturally the Freemasons residing there began to consider the possibility of having a lodge of their own. In mapping out a prospective new Masonic District, it was found that the area which such a lodge would serve, would extend to Sicamous, nineteen miles to the east; to Chase, thirty-two, miles to the west; Salmon River Valley to the south; and all of the Shuswap Lake area to the north. As a large sawmill was in prospect at Chase, and large lumbering operations were going on around Shuswap Lake, and as large areas of cut over timbered lands were being surveyed around the lake and elsewhere in the proposed district, for the purpose of making the surveyed lands available for homesteading, it was thought that the proposed district would be able to support a lodge, and would not interfere, to any great degree, with the adjoining Masonic district. The matter was taken up and discussed in 1907 with the brethren of Enderby who were quite willing that a lodge should be established at Salmon Arm, which, up to that time, had been within their Masonic jurisdiction. With this question settled, the Freemasons in and around Salmon Arm met and arranged for an application to the Grand Lodge of British Columbia for a charter. The usual proceedings were taken in accordance with Masonic procedure and in June, 1908, a petition in due form was sent to the Grand Lodge, asking that a dispensation be granted for a lodge at Salmon Arm to be called Salmon Arm Lodge, and naming W. Brother William Valentine Leonard as Worshipful Master, W. Brother Abner R. Ruth as Senior Warden, and Brother S. M. McGuire as Junior Warden, they having previously visited Enderby Lodge, No. 40, B.C.R., and demonstrated their ability to carry on the Work. The dispensation was duly granted by M.W. Bro. W. K. Houston, the Grand Master, on July 27th, 1908, and the charter was duly authorized by the Grand Lodge at its meeting in June, 1909, and it became Salmon Arm Lodge, No. 52, B.C.R.
W. Brother Wm. Valentine Leonard was born in London, England, on February 14th, 1853. He came to Salmon Arm in the early nineties, and began farming there. After his family grew up, they took over the work of the farm, and he moved into the city and went into the real estate business. For many years he held a commission as Justice of the Peace. His mother lodge was Royal Hanover Lodge, No. 1777, E.R., at Twickenham, England, and he was a Past Master of that lodge. A zealous member of the Craft, he never failed to visit a Masonic Lodge when the opportunity offered. As soon as he saw the time was ripe for a lodge at Salmon Arm he became the prime mover in the movement to establish it. He became the first Worshipful Master and held that office for three successive terms. He was D.D.G.M. for his district in 1916. He died in Victoria, B.C., April 6th, 1934.
In order that the lodge which he had sponsored should have a respectable place to meet, he, with some assistance from W. Brother McGuire, erected a building in Salmon Arm, and leased the upper storey to the lodge at a very reasonable figure. In his later years he was elected an honourary member, with full voting privileges. An English Freemason, and his Senior Warden being from Ontario, it is only natural that the lodge should elect to use the Canadian Work, which is, as we know, a form of the English Work.
The first Senior Warden of the lodge, Abner R. Ruth, was a native of St. Catherines, Ontario, where he was born October llth, 1941. It is stated by members of his family that he became a member of the Craft before he left his native province, but they do not know the name or location of his mother lodge. He seems to have been somewhat of a wanderer, but wherever he went we find him an active Freemason. He went to Manitoba in 1877, homesteading at Carman, and it is claimed that he assisted in the institution of a Masonic Lodge there, probably Oakland Lodge, No. 9, M.R. In 1901 he moved to Didsbury, Alberta, where he assisted in the formation of King Hiram Lodge, No. 21, in that place. He moved to Salmon Arm in 1908, and went into the flour and feed business. While there he assisted in forming the lodge there and was its Senior Warden for the first two years of its existence. He declined further advancement in the lodge, owing to his advanced years. During his residence in Salmon Arm he was a member of the City Council for some years, and, as one of his brethren says: "His sound judgment assisted materially in keeping the town clean."
In 1919, he left Salmon Arm and went to Craigmyle, Alberta, where he is said to have been a charter member of Craigmyle Lodge, No. 132 A.R. If our information is correct, he was a charter member of no less than four lodges. He died at Portage la Prairie on October 21st, 1923.
W. Brother Samuel Matthew McGuire was born in Montreal, Quebec, on September 24th, 1876. He came with his parents to Salmon Arm about 1889. He was the proprietor of a general store, and was postmaster for a number of years. We first find him as a Freemason in Spallumcheen Lodge, No. 13, at Armstrong, as shown in the Grand Lodge report for 1906. Evidently his desire to become a member of the Craft was so strong that he was willing to travel the distances necessary to go to that village, for it was little more at that time, to take his degrees. He was delighted to take part in forming the lodge in his home town. He was Worshipful Master from June, 1911, to June 1912. Later he removed to Vancouver where he was employed by the Vancouver Harbour Board. He died in Vancouver, April 21st, 1938.
The dispensation having been issued, it was forwarded to the District Deputy Grand Master at Kamloops, R.W. Brother A. H. Skey, with instructions to institute the lodge. The building in which the lodge was to meet had been completed and everything was ready. On July 8th, 1908, the lodge was duly instituted. The dispensat~ion authorizing the formation of the lodge was duly read and the officers installed, and the lodge went on its way as one of the sisterhood of lodges which make up the Grand Lodge of British Columbia. It has been said that a nation is happy that has no history, and this is as true of lodges as of nations. Salmon Arm Lodge comes under that rule. It has had a peaceful existence and has been a blessing to the community which it has served. Notwithstanding this, it is only right and proper that some record be preserved of the men who founded it and set it on its way. We have written above some details of the lives of the three senior officers; it may be of interest to set down something about the other officers and the charter members before all remembrance of them has passed from the memory of those now living.
The first treasurer, Ivor Thomas, came to Salmon Arm in 1907, from Shanghai, China. We know that he had been a member of the Craft there, but it has not been possible to ascertain the name or number of the lodge to which he belonged. He did not remain long in Salmon Arm, but returned to China in 1909. In 1911 he wrote from Ningpo, China, to the lodge asking for his dimit, which was duly sent to him. Both before and after his visit to British Columbia, for it was little more, he was associated with the Standard Oil Company.
The first secretary, Brother Henry Ernest Smith, commonly called "Harry," was a native of Ontario, who had lived for a time in Alberta and came to British Columbia in 1900. At first he lived in Golden where he was connected with the Columbia River Lumber Company Here he joined Mountain Lodge, No. 11, in 1904, and continued to keep his membership in it until 1910. He was active in the movement which resulted in the formation of Salmon Arm Lodge, of which he was secretary for two years. He was Worshipful Master in it in 1915. Shortly after his term of office expired, he left B.C. for the United States and is believed to be living now in the State of Washington.
The other officers of the lodge at the time of its institution were Brother Andrew Fraser, Director of Ceremonies; Brother Peter C. Campbell, Senior Deacon; Brother Murdoch MacKay, Junior Deacon; Brother William Eite, Senior Steward; Brother Daniel Judkin Smith, Junior Steward; Brother William Fraser, Inside Guard; and Brother William Drone, Tyler.
Brother Andrew Fraser was from Glen Luce at the northern end of Luce Bay, in Wigtonshire, southern Scotland. His mother lodge was Luce Abbey Lodge, No. 639, S.R. He was a carpenter and joiner by trade, who had come direct from his home land to Salmon Arm, where he was very popular with the residents. In 1915, he left B.C. for the prairies, and returned to Scotland in 1919.
R.W. Brother Peter C. Campbell, who is responsible for much of the material used in this sketch, was born at Dalesville, in the Province of Quebec, on January 10th, 1872. He came to B.C. in 1897, and was with the Columbia River Lumber Company at Beavermouth and Golden until 1907, when he settled at Salmon Arm. While at Beavermouth he joined Mountain Lodge, No. 11, in 1902. He was in the lumber business at Salmon Arm until 1911, when he was appointed Timber, Grazing and Homestead Inspector for the Dominion Government within the Railway Belt. When this district was transferred to the Provincial Government in 1931, he was transferred to the Provincial Forestry Branch until he was retired in 1938; as he says "As being too old to work and too young to die" (The Grand Historian says, "me too"). He occupied the Master's chair in the lodge in 1912-1913, and again in 1921-1922. He was D.D.G.M. for his district during 19261927. He still resides in Salmon Arm, loved and respected by all who know him.
R.W. Brother Murdoch MacKay came from Roster, in Caithness. Scotland, where he was born on February 15th, 1868. He came to Canada in 1889, and to the lost town of Donald, B.C., in 1890. Later he was in Revelstoke and Nelson. In 1904, he came to Salmon Arm, where he has since been engaged in mercantile business, except for a few years during which he was manager of the Armstrong Flour Mills, at Armstrong, B.C., although his family continued, to reside at Salmon Arm. At present he is manager of the Salmon Arm Mills. About 1906 he became a member of Enderby Lodge, No. 40, leaving it to become a charter member of the lodge at Salmon Arm. He was secretary of the lodge for four years and Worshipful Master for 1913-1914. He was D.D.G.M. for his district in 1919.
Brother Wm. Eite was a native of Wales, came to Montreal as a young man. Here he became a member of Mount Moriah Lodge, No. 38, Q.R. He came to B.C. about 1904, and was employed by Braydon & Johnston Lumber Co. until 1913, when he became ill and was sent to New Westminster. nere he died in 1915. He was a veteran of the South African War and it is thought that the hardships of that campaign contributed to his illness and his early death.
Brother Daniel Judkins Smith was the son of W. T. Smith, an early settler in the Tappan District who moved to Notch Hill about 1904, and had a general store there and was Postmaster. Daniel was his father's assistant. He joined Kamloops Lodge, No. 10, B.C.R., in November, 1907. After joining Salmon Arm Lodge, he went to reside in Kamloops, and rejoined his mother lodge. He is said to be residing now in the Fraser Valley.
Brother William Fraser was the editor of the Salmon Arm Observer for some time. He first joined Enderby Lodge, No. 40, about 1906. In 1909, his health became so bad that he was compelled to go away, so he took his dimit, and we hear no more of him.
Brother William Drone came from Manitoba, where he had been a member of East Star Lodge, No. 55, M.R., at Gretna on the southern boundary of that province. He was a retired railway conductor. At Salmon Arm he farmed for a time, and later was caretaker of the city schools. He died in 1917, and was buried with full Masonic honours.
Other charter members of the lodge were Brother John C. Thompson, who came from Ardrossan, Ayreshire, Scotland, a member of 2 Lodge there, probably St. John, T.E., No. 320, S.R., an employee at the Dominion Fish Hatchery at Tappan, B.C., drowned in Shuswap Lake August 25th, 1909. Brother Wm. Reinhardt, a physician, had been an army surgeon in the German Army in his youth. He had joined Enderby Lodge in January, 1908. In 1915, he went to the Coast to help to fight the flu epidemic, then raging in the logging camps. None of his patients died, but one of his sons living in the district, but not one of his patients, died of the malady. He died about 1919. Brother Andrew B. Currie came from Ontario, and was C.P.R. Agent at Salmon Arm, a member of Spallumcheen Lodge at Armstrong, who was Dominion Land Agent at Kamloops from 1900 to 1908; he later went to the Coast, where he died. Brother Hamilton Donnelly, also from Ontario a member of Kootenay Lodge, No. 15, at Revelstoke, a logging contractor, now spending his last years on his farm at Salmon Arm. Brother Jos. W. Harbell, a resident of Salmon Arm since 1894, a successful farmer, Municipal Councillor and Reeve of the District Municipality is now living in Salmon Arm City. At the time of the organization of Salmon Arm Lodge, he was a member of Spallumcheen Lodge a Armstrong, an honourary member of his lodge; and James Peirson Shaw, who arrived at Salmon Arm in 1887, and later moved to Shuswap, and is still farming there. He was a member of the Legislature for some years. While he assisted in the establishment of Salmon Arm Lodge, he retained his membership in his mother lodge, Kamloops, No. 10, as it was more convenient to attend there.
Two of the brethren, Brother Isaac M. Lyman and Brother joseph A. Armstrong, were not able to get their credentials in time to be able to sign the petition. The matter was taken up with the Grand Lodge authorities, and permission was given on September 8th, 1908 to include their names on the charter roll.
Brother Lyman was born at Bussey, Mahaska County, Iowa, January 2nd, 1864. He was a member of Kossuth Lodge, No. 540, at Burt in Kossuth County in that State. He came to Canada about 1906, and was stationed at Salmon Arm by the C.P.R. He assisted the other brethren in establishing the lodge. Since 1909 he has resided at Canoe, B.C. where he has a fruit farm. He still attends the lodge when opportunity offers.
Brother Joseph A. Armstrong came from the United States, and settled at Canoe, B.C. In 1911 he returned to his native land. One of his sons was a missionary in India. He died in the United States some years ago, but there is no information at hand as to where and when.
Brother William Baker is another member of the Craft who would have liked to have been a charter member of Salmon Arm Lodge but could not. He was born at Shipley, Derbyshire, on April 28th, 1839. He went to Australia as a young man. All we know of his Australian experiences is that in 1868 he was in a mining town called Arahien, in New South Wales; and that while there he joined the Lodge of St. John, holding from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, No. 452. Both town and the lodge have long ceased to exist. He was able, however, to get a dimit from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, and joined the lodge at Salmon Arm. He died at Canoe, B.C., on April 8th, 1926.
Space will not permit further biographical references to other members of the lodge, with the exception of one who has attained particular prominence in the political and business life of the province, Hon. Rolf Wallgren Bruhn. He was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, on September 4th, 1878. He came to Canada in 1896. He turned his hand to anything that came his way, but finally drifted into the lumbering business, in which he has been very successful, as also in mining. He built the Shuswap Lake Lumber Mills and became a resident of Salmon Arm. He was alderman of the city for five years. He was elected representative of that constituency in the Provincial Legislature in 1924, 1928, and 1942; held the office of Minister of Public Works in 1930, and again in 1942. He joined Salmon Arm Lodge in 1912, and held various offices in it, and was Worshipful Master in 1918-1919, although by error in G.L. Report for 1919, he does not appear as such, but the fact is proven by the evidence of the members of the lodge, and by the entry in the report for 1920, which shows him as Past Master.
The Lodge received its charter from the Grand Lodge at its meeting in June, 1909, and on July 28th, 1909, it was duly constituted by R.W. Brother J. N. Taylor, D.D.G.M., for the District, assisted by R.W. Brother A. H. Skey, the Grand Junior Warden.
During the following years, while getting some new members, it lost a number by removal, and by N.P.D. At the end of 1919, the membership was 28. In later years it has grown considerably, and at the end of 1940, it reported 72 members.
While the lodge was glad to get the premises provided by Brothers Leonard and McGuire, it was soon found that the lodge room was not large enough to put the work on satisfactorily. Also, as years went on, it came to be used for the meetings of other societies, and for public meetings generally. It was also found that the stairway leading up to the lodge room was too narrow to meet the requirements of the fire regulations of the city. Consequently, the lodge took steps to provide another place of meeting. Finally, other premises were obtained, a building constructed which gives full accommodation for the activities of the lodge on the upper floor, and a banquetting room on the ground floor, leaving considerable space on the ground floor which is leased for commercial purposes. This has been made possible in part by loans from the members of the lodge, and by a mortgage. These liabilities are paid off and the lodge is free of debt.
Much more might be said as to the work of the lodge, but space will not permit. May it increase and prosper.
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Robie L. Reid, "Report of the Grand Historian", Annual Proceedings, Frank Sumner McKee (ed.). Vancouver : Grand Lodge of British Columbia, 1942. pp. 177-184.

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