The first meeting was held in a room above the old general store and which continued as a Lodge room until the construction of the present building at 5842 Beach Avenue, Peachland British Columbia.
Permission for this inaugural meeting came from Most Worshipful Brother William Henderson, Grand Master of British Columbia. The District Deputy Grand Master of that day was Hamilton Lang, of Vernon. His brother, W. A. Lang, sat as Worshipful Master, and another brother, Grant Lang, (who in later years also became the District Deputy Grand Master), sat as Senior Warden; A. Chilton sat as Junior Warden, and Thos. Powell recorded the event as Secretary.
The new Lodge, having received authority to function, immediately became quite active and almost immediately began to bestow degrees upon local men of the area. The first candidates for Trepanier Lodge were voted upon at the September meeting. They were B. M. Whyte, Ernest McKay, J. D. McGregor, J. Michael, Alex. McKay and William Coldham. Alex. McKay, Bryson Whyte and James Michael received the Entered Apprentice Degree at that same meeting.
Later that autumn, others received into the fraternity of our young Lodge were: J. S. Seaton, C. R. Somerville, B. F. Gummow, J. L. McLaughlan, and A. Town.
These names are detailed because of their special interest. A number of these newly made Freemasons of that day remained fully active in Trepanier, or other Lodges of the Okanagan. All of them were well known in the district, and many of them made an important impression on Okanagan life.
Application for a Warrant
Application for a warrant was made in May, 1914, and on August 25th of that year, a formal dispensation was received from Most Worshipful Brother Stark, Grand Master of British Columbia.
Trepanier laboured for a long time under dispensation. The whole history of the Lodge in those days can be summed up in a few sentences:
It struggled for constitution; it rebelled constantly against its original inadequate premises until it finally achieved its own home; and it carried on through one Great War into another, through years of adversity, with respect not only to finance, but also to the number of local members. Finally, it gained success in a safe financial position, but more important still, in the determination of its older members, aided by new and younger brethren, to work together for the preservation of a permanent spirit of Freemasonry in these little communities of Peachland and Westbank.
First Worshipful Master
Grant Lang is noted as being the first Worshipful Master, under dispensation from the Grand Master, and he had the promise of Right Worshipful Brother D. W. Sutherland, of Kelowna, then District Deputy Grand Master., that he would recommend a charter. It may be noted that two young men previously mentioned as joining in 1913, became Senior and Junior Wardens respectively in 1914. They were Alex McKay and William Coldham. Such were the opportunities for immediate progress in such a new endeavour.
WWI (The Great War)
Trepanier, the Name
History does not relate how this Lodge came by the name Trepanier, as there is no record on the minute book of early days to indicate why the choice was made; but it is a safe assumption that the Peachland/Westbank Lodge took its name from the creek which flows into Okanagan Lake, a mile or so
north of the Lodge building.
Then comes the natural query: "How did the creek get this name of French extraction?"
100 Years of Freemasonry in Peachland British Columbia
Worshipful Brother J.T. Long (Worshipful Master Trepanier Lodge 1929)
On August 10th, 1920, the Lodge was constituted, with Right Worshipful Brother Morley officiating. Fifteen members were present, and forty-seven visitors. Dispensation had lasted for seven years. Truly, Jacob had laboured for Rachel.
May, 1919, the Women's Institute was given permission to use the Lodge premises and to provide an organ, which was used for many years until it was replaced with a “modern” electric “Wurlitzer” sometime in the fifties or sixties.
The original organ that was donated to Trepanier Lodge by the Women’s Institute. It now resides in the Westbank, B.C. Museum.
In July of 1919, the Lodge was getting desperate about its uncertain status, and passed a resolution to the effect that it could not see its way clear to remain under dispensation.
On January 31st, 1917 there was word of his death, "somewhere in France."
Brother Ernest McKay in a casual pose in his WWI uniform. This picture hangs on the south wall in the Trepanier Lodge hall in honour of his sacrifice.
It is related by old-timers that the name "Trepanier Creek" was originally applied to the creek south of the town; and "Deep Creek" (now carried by the southern stream), once belonged to the watercourse to the north, which certainly reaches the lake on a much less precipitate grade and, therefore lies deeply in the hills. Some time or other a switch in names was made (most likely in error).
Early maps of this part of the country refer to a large section of the mountains, west of Peachland, as the Trepange Plateau. It is reasonably evident that Trepanier and Trepange, from their French derivation, and their somewhat common meaning, might have a common application in this district.
One story of the pioneers is that, while on a bear hunting expedition from Kamloops through the Nicola and up the divide between the Nicola and the Okanagan, a fur trader performed a trepanning operation upon one of his Indian hunting companions, whose skull had been injured, perhaps by a bear. The fur trader performed a crude operation with a hunting knife, lifted a portion of the man's broken skull and the injured chap lived. So great was the marvel of his recovery that the name, "trepan," a noun, meaning a small circular saw for skull operations, or the verb meaning to perform such an operation, was applied to the area, and to the stream which rose in that vicinity.
We can assume, then, that the Freemasons of Peachland, who gathered in scant but zealous numbers to form a Lodge those many years ago were inspired to name the local body after a landmark which had somewhat of an historical, or at least a romantic association, dating back to the eighteen eighties or even to the seventies (1880's or 1870's).
On February 13th, 1934, note was taken of the fact that Dr. Buchanan was absent because of an accident, and that it was his first absence from all Trepanier Lodge Meetings in a period of over twenty years.
Worshipful Brother Dr. William Buchanan (Worshipful Master Trepanier Lodge 1928)
“May we continue on the principle of friendship and brotherly love, which guard the precincts of our temple that nothing may enter to disturb the peaceful sanctity of that holy place.”
By-laws were passed on October 12th, and on December 27th, there was a joint installation at Penticton with Orion and Summerland. Worshipful Brother Grant Lang became Worshipful Master again in the East. Brother William Coldham was seated as Senior Warden, and Brother A. McKay as Junior Warden, reversing the positions of earlier years.
Establishing a Community Presence
The following year, 1921, came the preparation of a Great War Honour Roll. This same Honor Roll became the original “cenotaph” before the existing granite edifice was constructed.
The First Meeting of
The Lodge’s minute book records what was described as the inaugural meeting as being held on August 12th, 1913. Peachland was then an official community only four years old. It dated from the time miners thought they had found pay gold in Glen Robinson, and it continued when these same miners, swelled in number by newcomers from the numerous “Gold Rush Fevers” of the time, and instead of mining started to plant fruit trees to harvest a golden crop of peaches.
The two lots previously obtained from the Municipality were allowed to revert.
Construction of the new home was started, and the first regular meeting in it was held on September 13th, 1938. We were in our own Lodge premises but some things still remained to be done, such as: a coat of stucco on the exterior, the completion of the interior of the lower floor, more lodge furnishings, and washroom facilities on the Lodge floor; but, we now had our own home.
A few weeks after the first meeting in our new home, a special Emergent Meeting was held on September 29, 1938 so that the Grand Master of British Columbia, Charles Morgan Kingston, could make a special visit to inspect the new premises and offer its dedication.
Here are some figures on the project:
The Lodge found no difficulty in financing its new building and property values since the time of construction in 1938 have shown CONSIDERABLE growth!
Its investment decision has been a wise one, not only financially, but also in the added interest created among the members. Over the years it has had excellent ground floor tenants, including a bank, a butcher shop, restaurants, a Real Estate office and even a fledgling Cable TV company.
The Lodge room itself started with a handsome square-pattern linoleum for floor covering and now has a custom carpet with custom inlaid design befitting our craft as well as hand crafted Dias in the four cardinal directions of the Lodge room. It has been sufficiently provided with furniture for all our needs.As of this September (2013) Trepanier Lodge will have been meeting for 75 years in this building and plans are to continue to do so for many years to come.
Although Brother McKay’s untimely loss was tragic, Trepanier Lodge has been fortunate to not lose any other Brethren in the serious wars, conflicts and actions that have occurred since this war to the present.
First Visit of a Grand Master
The Grand Master of that year, Most Worshipful Brother William Astley, visited the Lodge on April 26th, 1917, and was the first Grand Master to do so.
Forming Our Permanent Presence in Peachland
Off and on, in the minutes of those early years, there crops up the question of rent. The rent for the room above the store had started at $150.00 per year, but the Lodge wore it down to $60.00, plus light. Then it got down to $3.00 per month, then back to $5.00. There were regular complaints from the members about the unsuitability of the premises.
From June, 1918, to November of that same year, there were no meetings, due to the pressure of the fruit business, and then to an outbreak of influenza (the great Spanish Flu outbreak of that time).
To be continued....
Permanent Residence for the Lodge
On October 9th, a committee recommended the purchase of a building, next to the Government wharf, for Lodge premises, but nothing came of the plan. Estimates were later obtained for a new building, 22'x60'. That same month an estimate of $4,000.00 was given for a two-storey structure 30'x50', and a committee was appointed for the purpose of buying a lot. The Members present promised donations totaling $385.00. Later, a more modest estimate of $1,500.00 was given for a smaller Lodge building. It can thus be seen that the Lodge was getting down to business in the matter of a new home. Report was made on February 12th, 1933, of the purchase of two lots from the municipality. Then for unknown reasons a number of years passed without further discussion on a building but discussion was revived in June, 1937. In April, 1938, a committee was empowered to borrow up to $1,200.00 for a period of ten years for building purposes. Tenders for a new building were considered on June 14th. At that time, it was decided to buy the McCall lot, (the present day site) for $130.00, and J. T. Long donated the funds for the purchase.
Worshipful Brother Alex. Miller
(W.M. 1916 and 1920)
As the Honor Roll spent much of its time outdoors, it was rebuilt for preservation in later years and now resides in the Peachland Legion Hall
There was also the burial, on May 6th, of Worshipful Brother W. A. Lang, who had occupied the East (Worshipful Master’s Chair) at the inaugural meeting back in 1913. New members presented themselves. They included John Percy Long, W. H. H. Moffat, Harold Miller, W. D. Miller, and W. B. Gore. The influence of new blood from Westbank began to manifest itself, and the Lodge grew out of a purely Peachland organization. Note can be made that in the 1921 year, every regular meeting had at least one or two degrees, sometimes three or four. There was also twelve regular meetings that year!
Rent was raised by the landlord, in February 1921, to $6.70 per month, and members were told they would have to use the back stairs.
In 1922 It was decided to discontinue meetings in July and August, due to Okanagan heat in the low-ceilinged rented Lodge room.
Brothers Dr. Buchanan and J. Powell were commissioned to write a detailed history of the Lodge the autumn of 1922. It may be still be in existence but unfortunately, the Lodge itself no longer has a copy.
The social life of the Lodge was encouraged, in arrangements made from time to time, either for a social or a picnic, according to the season, sometimes at Peachland, or at Westbank, or with St. George's, at Kelowna.
Building our Home
In May, 1926, the Lodge placed $300.00 in the Savings Bank. Ventilation of the Hall was a topic for serious discussion.
It was decided that autumn to install a home. Negotiations were opened up with the Royal Bank to purchase ground for a building, so it can be seen that the $300.00 in the Bank had some significance.
The funeral of the beloved member, Worshipful Brother Alex. Miller, was held on June 6th, 1928. He was the maker and donor of the altar still used in the Lodge to this day.
The original Charter as it still hangs on the East wall in the Lodge Hall. Dated August 10, 1920
It is to be noted that about this time there continued discussion about rent, the poor condition of the roof of the building, and the unsuitability of the back entrance.
In 1931, a school room was examined as a possible Lodge premises. There had also been a previous examination of the upper section of a packing house
There was some discussion again about the outside staircase, towards the end of 1932, but after discussing it at several meetings, no satisfaction was obtained.
On April 11th, of the following year, 1933, the Lodge discussed the advisability of having a new building, with the members taking up debentures.
The altar in the centre as designed and built by Worshipful Brother Alex Miller and is still in use in the Lodge to this day
The district has a proud, but mournful record for the First Great War. Its enlistment percentage was exceedingly high, and its death toll inevitably followed suit (Peachland being saddened to have the highest per capita death toll percentage in all of Canada).
The young Lodge had a hard time in the war years in keeping up its attendance, such was the drain upon it, occasioned by the call to duty. The first joint meeting was that at Summerland, in March, 1915. In December of that year, the District Deputy Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother James Kirkpatrick, of Orion Lodge, Penticton, agreed to recommend a charter. He was paying an official visit to Trepanier, and, according to the porch book, was accompanied by a host of Orion brethren. It may be remarked that a trip from Penticton to Peachland, 24 miles, was much more of an undertaking then than now, but the spirit was willing.
Lodge records of that day reveal the arrival of many letters from the boys at the front and the dispatch of many parcels overseas. There was a change in the East, as a Past Master, Worshipful Brother Alex. Miller, took charge of the Lodge, succeeding Worshipful Brother Grant Lang who had joined the military forces. Here and there, throughout the pages of the 1915 porch book, it can be observed that there was lack of a quorum.
In May, 1916, the Lodge applied for a renewal of dispensation, the charter not being forthcoming. At this meeting, there were sixteen visitors from St. George's Lodge, Kelowna; other lodges were apparently helping out in the matter of attendance.
Coming to the end of the year, we find that on December 8th, 1916, the Lodge received a cheery letter from Trepanier’s Brother Ernest McKay, from overseas.