Masonic Lodge, Armstrong, about 1890
Frank Hassard Sr., Sr. Deacon; T.W. Fletcher; R.S. Pelly; George Rashdall; Fred Barnes, John Hamill, WM; Thos. Clinton, Tyler; D.J. McDonald; Norman McLeod.*
Spallumcheen Lodge No. 13
Spallumcheen Lodge No. 13 is one of our older Lodges, having been established in 1888, the fourth lodge to be established after the formation of Grand Lodge, and the first one to be located in a rural area. Some might be superstitious enough to think such a number was the harbinger of bad luck; but the Lodge has continued and prospered for over half a century, and has had no more bad luck than any ordinary Lodge, under the same conditions. True it has been burned out once, but compare its calamities with those of Union Lodge No. 9 at New Westminster.
Although an old Lodge, it is one of which the average British Columbia Freemason knows little, and that is a special reason why its story should be placed on our records. Its determination to carry on under many difficulties, and its success in giving to its members the privileges of Masonic fellowship for so many years, is an incentive to the members of other Lodges to do likewise.
The beginning of settlement and civilization in the North Okanagan Valley was in 1866, when Alexander Leslie Fortune squatted on and later developed a beautiful farm on the banks of what was then known as the "Spallumcheen" River at what is now known as Enderby.
"Spallumcheen" is an Indian name meaning "Beautiful Valley." The name of the river has been changed to "Shuswap," but the old name has been perpetuated by the name of two Indian reserves, the rural municipality, and by the Masonic Lodge. Mr. Fortune was later followed by Martin Firstenau, B. F. Young, Augustus Schubert, Sr., Herman Wischer, and others. More settlers came from time to time, so that by 1887 there was a considerable population, some of whom were Freemasons. A Lodge had been established at Kamloops, its nearest urban centre, some seventy miles to the north and west, and was flourishing, due to the growth of the city by reason of the construction of the C.P.R. The Episcopal clergyman in charge was Rev. Darrell Hollett Webb Horlock, the first Worshipful Master of Kamloops Lodge No. 10, who had at one time been Provincial Grand Senior Warden of Cornwall. With Rev. Mr. Horlock was associated as his assistant Rev. Canon William Henry Cooper, also an ardent member of the Craft, who at one time acted as Chaplain of the Lodge. Later he was at Donald at the time that Mountain Lodge No. 11 was established, and then he came back to Kamloops.
He does not seem to have held any fixed charge in the Spallumcheen District, but to have travelled there from time to time, holding services for the benefit of those belonging to the Episcopal Church. In the course of those visits he no doubt became acquainted with the Freemasons in and around what was then called "Landsdowne."
At a convenient point for travellers in the District a hotel had been built in 1885 by E . M. Furstineau, who named it "The Landsdowne" in honor of Lord Landsdowne, then Governor-General of Canada, and a small village of about 100 inhabitants had grown up around it. In his visits to the Spallumcheen country, Canon Cooper stopped there, and no doubt discussed with the Freemasons of the settlement the question of the formation of a Masonic Lodge. The Canon was a Freemason who always joined a Masonic Lodge if he were in a place where one existed, and helped to form Lodges where there were none. One difficulty which faced the Brethren was to get a capable man to take office as first Worshipful Master. They were anxious to have a Lodge, but none of the local men were willing to undertake the duties and responsibilities of that office at the first.
However they finally induced the Canon to accept the office, although it made it necessary for him to make special trips on horseback from Kamloops to Landsdowne every month; trips which required two days travel each way. Notwithstanding this he accepted the task and carried on for a year, when he withdrew from the Lodge and left the other members to carry on by themselves.
W. Bro. William Henry Cooper was a great traveller and a great Freemason, so much so indeed that a learned member of the Craft, Harold V. B. Voorhis, of Red Bank, New Jersey, U.S.A., has made a study of his life as a Freemason, a copy of which he has kindly sent to me and to which I am indebted for information that has been of assistance. Little has been known of him in British Columbia heretofore and I will I think, be pardoned if I take up some space in recounting some particulars of his Masonic life and doings.
The place and date of his birth have not been definitely ascertained, but it is probable that he was born in Cheshire, sometime before 1835, for he was initiated into Freemasonry in 1856. In 1855 he was an Ensign in the 2nd Royal Cheshire Regiment of Militia, stationed in Belfast, Ireland, moving to Dublin in 1856. While in Belfast he was made Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft in the Lodge of Concord No. 40, I.R. In 1858 he received his M.M. degree in Panmure Lodge No. 1025 (now No. 723) at Aldershot, England, evidently for his Mother Lodge, as his Master Mason's Certificate was issued to him by the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1864. He was made an honorary member of Temple Lodge No.6, I.R., in 1856. It is also said that in that year he affiliated with Sincerity Lodge No. 189 at Plymouth, England, but that has not been confirmed.
During his military service he was ordained Deacon in 1860, and Priest in 1861. He was curate of two parishes in Ireland. Later he went to Australia and was incumbent at Woods Point, about 80 miles from Melbourne, where he affiliated in 1864 with Alpine Lodge No. 178 S.C. (now extinct), and held the office of Chaplain. He was there but a short time when he was appointed Missionary by the S.P.G. for the diocese of Melbourne, and in that city he affiliated with Meridian St. John Lodge No. 729, E.R., a Lodge which became dormant in 1890; later it became No. 15, G.L. of Victoria. In his capacity as missionary he was sent to Christ Church, New Zealand, in 1869, and here he affiliated with St. Augustine Lodge, then No. 885, E.R., now No. 4, N.Z.R., and was District Grand Chaplain from 1872 to 1877. In 1873 he was stationed at Akaroa, Westland, N.Z., and here he affiliated with Akaroa Lodge No. 168, E.R., and was W. M. of that Lodge for two years. This Lodge became dormant in later years and was succeeded by Phoenix Lodge No.38, N.Z.R. About 1878 he removed to Glen Innes, N.S.W., and here he remained for some years and joined Glen Innes Lodge No. 44, N.S.W.R.
In 1883 he was sent by the S.P.G. to the Canadian North-West as Special Missionary to Manitoba and the North-West Territories. During his stay here he was appointed Honorary Canon. In 1885 he visited England for a short time, during which he assisted in founding Harlesden Lodge No. 2098 in London and was its first W. Master. In 1886 he was the founder and Honorary Secretary of the Church Immigration Society. In 1887 he was sent to British Columbia, where Bishop Sillitoe, of New Westminster, himself an ardent Freemason, sent him to Kamloops to assist Rev. Mr. Horlock, and while there he took part in the formation of Kamloops Lodge No. 10. He must have been sent for a time to Donald, B.C., in the C.P.R. construction days, for he was for a time a member of Mountain Lodge No. 11 there. However he came back to Kamloops, and while there he took his part in the formation of Spallumcheen Lodge No. 13.
In 1889 he returned to England, and lived at East Grinstead, Sussex, until 1895, busy founding homes for sick members of the clergy. In 1891 he was made Senior Grand Warden, honoris causa of the Province of Auckland, by the Grand Lodge of New Zealand. In 1895 he was in Ontario, and was a member of a Lodge, the name of which has not been ascertained, under the so-called "Grand Lodge of Ontario," an organization which became part of the Grand Lodge of Canada (in Ontario) in 1896; and he was also a member of Harmony Lodge No. 438, G.R.C., at Toronto. In 1897 he was back in British Columbia for in that year we find him a member of Corinthian Lodge No. 27, at Rossland, B.C.
In 1900, he went to Australia, and for four years he was Incumbent at Temora, New South Wales, about 200 miles from Sydney, toward the VIctorIan border. He then returned to England, and resided at Bath, where he was Chaplain of Lansdowne Hospital. He died on April 17, 1909.
At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, held at New Westminster on June 23, 1888, in the absence of the Grand Chaplain, V. W. Bro. Bishop Sillitoe, W. Bro. Cooper took hIs position as Acting Grand Chaplain, and delivered an eloquent address to the Brethren.
So much for an account of the life of a most remarkable man and Freemason. Now for an account of the Lodge itself. Unfortunately the original minute book of the Lodge has been lost, or destroyed by the fire which consumed the Lodge Hall in its first years in Armstrong, and much that we would like to know has been lost. A petition for a dispensation was drawn up, signed by thirteen Freemasons including W. Bro. Sibree Clarke of Kamloops Lodge No. 10 (afterwards Grand Master). The others were W. Bro. Cooper, who was to be the first Worshipful Master; G. H. Rashdale was the first S.W.; John Hamill, the first J.W.; with Robert Wood, Treasurer; Richard Stuart Pelly, Secretary; Chas. A. R Lambley, S.D.; Norman McLeod, J.D.; Frank Hassard, I.G.; and Cyrus Tilton, Tyler, as the other officers of the Lodge.
Besides the first officers the other signers were : Thomas LeDuc James Steele, Sibree Clarke, P..M. of Kamloops Lodge No. 10, and Arthur P. Goldsmid, P.M. The dispensation was granted on June 20, 1888. The Grand Lodge met that year on the 23rd of that month and on the 25th the charter was authorized. Under these circumstances it is clear that the Lodge was never formally instituted, or did any work before the granting of the charter. No other Lodge in the jurisdiction ever obtained a charter in so short a space of time.
Let us take a glance at the fathers of this old Lodge. G. H. Rashdale (or Rashdall) was a young Englishman from Suffolk who with G. R Lawes built a large grist mill at Enderby in 1885. The venture was not a success and Rashdale lost a small fortune. Later he was Mining Recorder at Nelson, B.C., where he died on January 21, 1897, aged 3l. John Hamill was an Irishman from Ballymena in Antrim County, Ireland, a carpenter, where he had been a member of a Masonic Lodge. He had a sash and door factory at Landsdowne.
R S. Pelly was a Land Surveyor, who had a farm near what is now Armstrong. Chas. A. R Lambly was from Quebec. He was later Government Agent at Fairview. Norman McLeod was the engineer in the Lawes and Rashdale grist mill. He later moved to Vancouver. Frank Hassard was the son of Jason Hassard who came from Brampton Ontario to Yale in 1880, where he was joined by his family in 1881. They came to the Okanagan in 1883 and took up land. Frank was then a full-grown man, for he was a member of Beaver Lodge No. 234 G.RC. at Clarksburg, Ontario. Cyrus Tilton was from Pennsylvania, a veteran of five year' service in the Civil War. He was probably born in New Hampshire. He had farmed in several states, and came from Bloomington, Kansas, to Sumas, B.C. He was a Freemason, but it has been impossible to ascertain the name, location or number of his Lodge. He went from B.C. about 1906 to California, but returned in 1911, and had a farm at Rose Hill, near Kamloops, for some years. He returned to California, and died there about 1924 at the age of 91 years. His son Robert is a fruit grower at Trepamer, near Summerland. The story of Sibree Clarke has been told by his son-in-law, E. Stuart Wood, in the Grand Lodge Report for 1937, page 174.
Of the other members, Thomas LeDuc was a school teacher in the district in early days, who married Rosanna Schubert, the first white child born in the Interior. In those days the Grand Lodge published in its yearly report the names of the affiliates during the past year. In the report for 1889 appears the name of A. P. Goldsmid, giving his Lodge as No. 1549, E.C., which is Abecorn Lodge, at Great Stanmore, England. This is the only one of the affiliates to Spallumcheen Lodge to appear on the published lists. RW. Bro. Leonard Norris says he thinks Goldsmid was the H.B.C. storekeeper at Vernon, but he is not sure. D. J. McDonald was the teacher in the Spallumcheen School, 1887 and 1888. James Steele was born at Colborne, Ontario, on October 28, 1833. He was in business in Bowmanville for many years. He was a brother of R.C. Steele, the founder of the great firm of Steele, Briggs Seed Co. Limited, so well known in all Canada. He died in British Columbia.
The Lodge took the Indian name for the District. This name took some time to get in the present form, for RW. Bro. Leonard Norris of Miriam Lodge No. 20. the historian of the district, says that in the Government records in Victoria between 1879 and 1884, it is spelled in thirteen different ways by actual count1. It had no trouble in getting its charter, but there was plenty of it afterwards. There was no hall in Landsdowne available, so they did the best they could and fixed up the only room at their disposal, which was a loft over a carpenter shop owned by Hamill and Pringle, and there they held their first meetings. W. Bro. T. W . Fletcher, who lived in Landsdowne at the time, and joined the Lodge there, is my authority for saying that it was almost opposite the Landsdowne Hotel, and for this no rent was paid. Later in the year this firm were the contractors for the erection of a two-story building on a lot on the north side of the Landsdowne Hotel about 100 feet from the street. The lower story was used by the owner as a barber shop and residence, and the upper story was rented by the Lodge as its place of meeting. This was used by the Lodge until it moved to Armstrong, where Bro. Robert Wood donated a lot to the Lodge for a Masonic Hall. They needed regalia and jewels, of course, but they did not have them, and there was no possible place where they could buy or borrow them. Landsdowne was a long way from the sources of supply in those days. But the pioneers were ingenious in making those things that were necessary, but could not be obtained otherwise. The ladies of the settlement went to work and made the Aprons. Mrs. Hassard and Mrs. Hamill made some of them, and the Hassard family still keeps one as a memento of those far-off days. They commandeered the village tinsmith, W. J. Armstrong, and had him cut the necessary jewels out of tin at a cost of $7.25. He later became a member of the Lodge. With this array, and this meeting place, the Lodge was duly constituted on July 14, 1888. It could not be expected that the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. A. R Milne of Victoria, would come all the distance from the Coast, and ride in from Kamloops, to bring into existence a little Lodge so far in the wilds, so Canon Cooper was commissioned to act for him, and he did it and did it well, to the satisfaction of all concerned. When the Lodge finally got into operation, it had, besides its officers, two Past Masters and four Master Masons, thirteen in all, which matched its number on the Grand Lodge Roll.
As the founder and first Worshipful Master was an English Freemason, the original ritual used was the English (Oxford) form. An attempt was made in 1901 to change it to the Canadian work but it failed by one vote. RW. Bro. Thos. D. Whitehouse is authority for the statement that the change from English (Oxford) work was made during the term of office of Bro. J.W. Curry, who was W. Master, 1911-12, but no reference to such change has been found in the minutes or the Grand Lodge Reports. He says that he remembers it being discussed at length, and as what was actually being used was a mixture of three different works, they decided to use the Canadian work and have used it ever since.
The list of members of the Lodge in the G. L. Report for 1893, covering the preceding year, shows that W. Bro. Canon Cooper and Grand Master Sibree Clarke had been made Honorary Members of the Lodge.
The second W. Master of the Lodge, 1889-90, was John Hamill; the third, George H. Rashdale, 1890-91. Hamill was again elected for the two next succeeding years, 1891-2 and 1892-3.
In 1903-4, the year the Lodge was moved to Armstrong, and in 1894-5 and 1896-7 the W. Master was Clement F. Costerton. W. Bro. T.W. Fletcher says that Costerton and Hennington were partners, and bought the stock of a small general store at Landsdowne owned by a Mr. Dodd. The firm later sold the remaining stock to Wood and Rabbitt prior to 1897, and took up land two miles west of Landsdownc on the back road leading to the town of Priest Valley, now Vernon. In 1889 Hennington left the Valley and Costerton moved to Enderby, where he remained until 1892 when he removed to Vernon, and for many years carried on business there as an insurance and financial agent. He did a very large part of the conveyancing in the North Okanagan for years and years, always in long hand, and a very peculiar hand-writing it was. He died at Vernon on July 2, 1930, and was interred with Masonic honors jointly arranged with Spallumcheen and Miriam Lodges, he having been an Honorary Member of Miriam Lodge. RW. Bro. A. E. Sage conducted the service.
He was undoubtedly one of the most valuable members Spallumcheen Lodge has ever had. He was one of the early Initiates at Landsdowne, and held his Membership in the Lodge until his death. From 1892, when he moved to Vernon, to his death, he seldom missed his attendance at the Lodge in Armstrong, making the trip, a matter of 15 miles, in the early days by horse and buggy in the late afternoon, returning the next morning. He was D.D.G.M. in 1897. He was one of the Trustees of Spallumcheen Lodge from about 1892 until his death.
There was only one Secretary in those early days, Bro. Richard Stuart Pelly, who continued in office for twenty years. Bro. Robert Wood was the perennial Treasurer. He was a native of Walpole Township, Haldimand Co., Ontario, born in 1841. He came to Cariboo in 1862, but not being successful there came to the delta of the Fraser and farmed there for a time, He was a brother of Mrs. McCleery, the wife of one of the Delta pioneers. Later he went to the Okanagan and operated a general store, at first about one mile west. of Lansdowne. This having burned down, in partnership with Daniel Rabbitt, a school teacher, he carried on business in Landsdowne. This store was afterwards moved to Armstrong. and the firm became Wood, Cargill Co. It is evident that he was among the first to see the necessity of moving from the town, for he obtained the land on which Armstrong now stands and laid out the townsite. A street there still bears his name. Later Mr. Wood removed to Greenwood, where he was interested in its early growth, and after its incorporation was its Mayor for two terms.
Then came a change in the affairs of the district which had the effect of wiping out the settlement at Landsdown and the formation of a new centre of population at Armstrong, two and a half miles away. A railway was constructed from Sicamous on the C.P.R. to Okanagan Landing on Okanagan Lake. In 1887 a bonus of $200,000.00 had been granted by the Provincials purpose. In 1890 this was altered to a guarantee of interest at 4 per cent for 25 years on the estimated cost of the line. This railway was constructed in 1892.2 While this was the means of opening one of the finest agricultural districts in the Province, it bypassed Landsdowne, and the residents, and the buildings also, removed, en bloc, to the new City. The Lodge, of course, had to follow its members. Nothing is left of old Landsdowne but its memories and the old cemetery.
The Lodge moved to Armstrong in 1893 and a new Lodge building erected there, on the East side of Okanagan Street some 5 feet North of the corner of that street and Railway Avenue. This was used from September, 1893, to August, 1901. This was evidently made possible by means of a loan from W. Bro. Costerton, for during that period we find payments from time to time made to him as "interest on mortgage."
The Lodge started in Armstrong with 26 members, with W. Bro. Costerton as W. Master. For a time there was a slight decrease in membership, The W. Master in 1895-1896 was T.W. Fletcher, who carried on a produce shipping business. He was a native of Bruce Co., Ontario, who came to British Columbia in 1887. His first location was at Landsdowne, where he carried on business as a builder. During the construction of the Shuswap and Okanagan Railway he worked in Enderby. In 1891 he built the Armstrong Hotel for Hugh Keyes, the second building to be erected there. In 1889 he was living in Landsdowne and in that year joined the Lodge and is now its Senior Past Master living. Mrs. Fletcher was a daughter of Frank Hassard. In 1906 he took his dimit and came to reside in Vancouver, where he has been prominent in business and municipal affairs.
In 1897 the brethren were discouraged. Times were hard and the members were not prompt in paying dues. There was difficulty in getting sufficiant members present at the meetings to carry on. So far did this go that an amalgamation with Miriam Lodge No. 20 was seriously considered. At the meeting held on March 5, 1898, W. Bro. Costerton moved the following resolution:
That in view of the small membershipthe difficulty of securing the regular attendance of sufficient brethren to successfully conduct the business of the Lodge: 1st, whether and on what terms this Lodge could consolidate with the Vernon Lodge; 2nd, if the property of this Lodge could be sold and for what price; 3rd, as to the advisability of dissolving and returning the charter of the Lodge.
He suggested that a Committee be appointed, including the W.M. himself, to go into the matter and report at the next regular meeting. This was done, with the W.M. and Bros. Costerton and McLeod. At the next meeting Bro. Costerton reported that he had spoken to some of the brethren of Miriam Lodge on this subject, and he expected that they would appoint a Committee to confer with them and send in their views on the matter. Evidently the members of Miriam Lodge were not interested in such a move, for we hear no more of the matter. R.W. Bro. J. A. Henderson, in his history of Miriam Lodge (G. L. Rept. 1933, p. 197) says:
During the year, the question of consolidating Miriam and Spallumcheen Lodges was given serious consideration, but, both Lodges acquiring confidence as the year progressed, the project was abandoned. R.W. Bro. Costerton appears to have been responsible for the suggestion. Throughout his year of office as D.D.G.M., he was a constant visitor at the meetings of Miriam Lodge. It was probably more to his excellent example than to any other cause that a great improvement in the attendance of the members is due.
In 1896-7 and again in 1906-7 Costerton was at the helm. In 1897-8 Norman McLeod, whom we have met as a contractor and builder, took his place. Membership was still at a low figure. In 1898-1899, 1899-1900 and 1900-1901 Bro. C.J. Becker, head miller at the Okanagan Flour Mill, was in the Worshipful Master's chair. There was little growth in membership although there was some improvement in the last year. By this time the membership was thirty. In 1901-2, Lawrence C. Walton, an Australian, was W. Master.
It was in the summer of this year that the Lodge Hall was burnt down, with the loss of all its contents, including the Porch Book and the Charter. Probably it also included the first Minute Book. On August 24, of this year, a meeting was held in the office of the Okanagan Flour Mill Co. to consider ways and means for building a new Hall. In order to finance the work, W. Bro. Fletcher offered a loan of $1,000.00 at 8 per cent on condition that the building be one which would cost $1,500.00. A loan of $250.00 was obtained from the Grand Lodge. The balance was made up by donations from the members. A lot 33 feet in width was purchased for $275.00. The construction of the building was pressed on with the least possible delay, and on October 5 a meeting of the Lodge was held in it. The lower story was leased to Ronald R. Burns, druggist, for five years at $15.00 per month. Burns joined the Lodge in December. W. Bro. Walton left Armstrong for Australia in December, 1901, and probably went to South Africa to take part in the Boer War. W. Bro. Fletcher took the W. Master's work in his stead. The W. Master for 1902-3 was Robert McQuarrie, the engineer at the Columbia Flour Mills at Enderby. In 1901 the membership of the Lodge was 32, in 1903, 49. Since that date the Lodge has carried on in the usual way. After 1901 it grew to 52 in 1904, and remained nearly stationary until 1911 when it was 62. It kept a regular increase until in 1923 it reached high-water mark of 84. Since then it has gradually decreased until in 1941 it was 59, the lowest since 1908. The probabilities are that there will be an increase during the present year.
In 1901 the Trigg brothers joined the Lodge, John Bangham Bird and Joseph Trigg Bird, the first by affiliation from Cascade Lodge No. 12 at Vancouver. The other had been initiated into Freemasonry in 1873 in Hertford Lodge No. 403, E.C., at Hertfrod, England, but had never advanced beyond the E.A. degree. After some correspondence with his Mother Lodge, he received from Spallumcheen Lodge the F.C. degree as a member of it, was then allowed to affiliate with the Spallumcheen Lodge and obtain the Master degree. The two lived some 12 miles or more from Armstrong, but though advanced in years, nothing was able to prevent them from being present at all stated Lodge meetings. The first named became the W. Master of the Lodge in 1906.
The Lodge has been fortunate in always having a competent secretary, and the brethren have been wise in making no change except when such change was forced upon them. The first to hold that office was Bro. R. S. Pelly, who held office until 1908; the second was Bro. Alfred E. Morgan, from that date until 1918; and the third, R.W. Bro. Albert E. Sage, from 1918 to the present time, who also held office as D.D.G.M. of District No. 9 in 1929.
1.See 6th Rept. Okanagan Hist. Soc., p. 137.
2.Howay & Scholefield, Hist. of B.C., Vol. 2, p. 446.
Reprinted from "Report of the Grand Historian", Robie L. Reid, 1943 Annual Proceedings Vancouver : Grand Lodge of British Columbia, 1943. pp. 138-45. "...coupled with the assistance and co-operation of R.W. Bro. A. E. Sage, the veteran Secretary of Spallumcheen Lodge."
* The original published caption read: "Left to right: Billy Hall, T.W. Fletcher, R.S. Pelly, George Rashdall, Fred Barnes, John Hamill, F. Van Buskirk, D.J. McDonald, Norman McLeod."
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