Presented April 23, 1977, at the 25th Anniversary by R.W. Bro. E. J. Ariss.
The first record that I can find regarding the formation of a Masonic Lodge in Campbell River are the minutes of a meeting were Walter Jennings, Einar Andersen, J. Hancock, Carl A. Thulin, Andrew Brown, and Carl O. Thulin. The outcome of the meeting was that Einar Andersen, Walter Jennings and Carl Thulin were to see Mr. E. W. Bickle to see if a Lodge room could be arranged in the upstairs of the newly completed VanIsle Theatre.
On June 3rd, 1947, another discussion meeting was held and it was reported that an appointment had been set up with Mr. Bickle for June 7th to look over the proposed Lodge room over the theatre. Those present at the meeting were Walter Jennings, J. Hancock, Dr. Rose, Wm. Carlyle, Dr. Hall, Carl Thulin, Hank Newman and Einar Andersen. Then thing that interested me very much about this meeting was that Einar Andersen proposed that when the Lodge was formed it should be called Discovery. All present at the meeting approved the name.
The meeting was held with Mr. Bickle. Walter Jennings got prices on regalia and furnishings. Others who had become involved by this time were H. Walkers, Fred Tuddenham, and P.E. Lewis. Unfortunately, these brethren found that it was economically impossible to form a Craft Lodge in Campbell River at that time.
Interest continued though and Campbell River was growing rapidly in the late 40’s and early 50’s with power dams, Argonaut Mine, and Elk Falls Mill coming into the picture.
The next record that I have is of a conversation between Henri Dubeau and Jack Caldwell in June of 1951. Henri gave Jack a list of names of known Masons in the area to phone to try and get things rolling again.
The upshot of this meeting was that four brethren went to see the bank manager to see about getting loans to get the Lodge started.
On July 30th, 1951, Jake Burgess, Henri Dubeau, Carl Thulin, Jack Caldwell, and W. E. Marshall went to Courtenay to see M. W. Bro. Murray Mitchell, who was the Grand Master, about getting an application for dispensation. Robert Strachan, the D.D.G.M., agreed to get the necessary form and particulars.
At another meeting earlier in July attended by Einar Andersen, Henri Dubeau, Carl Thulin, P.E. Lewis, Jake Burgess, W. E. Marshall, Jack Caldwell, and J. E. Carstens the problem of a meeting place was discussed and it was decided to appoint Bro.s Carstens and Caldwell to investigate the possibility of buying or building. After serious consideration, it was felt that the only feasible thing was to buy the old Vanstone building which was formerly been the post office and re-model it. I say old although it was only fourteen years old at that time.
Meetings came thick and fast. On August 6th, a meeting was held in the Scout Hall with 36 in attendance of whom 33 registered and 30 voted. Bro. J. H. Burgess was chairman and W. E. Marshall acted as secretary. Once again the question of a name for the Lodge came up. There were several suggestions. Sunset, Discovery, Tranquel, Campbell River, Eureka, Seymour, and Quinsam were among the suggestions. Discovery was selected thus approving Bro. Einar Andersen’s suggestion of four year’s previous. With two meetings four years apart choosing the same name – that had to be it.
Since most of the people at the meeting were to familiar with American work, it was decided by a vote of 26-4 to adopt that ritual.
The meeting also struck a committee to buy and renovate the Vanstone building and to incorporate a Society and to issue debentures to buy the building.
Bro. Jack Baikie was elected chairman of the building committee and under this able guidance work progressed fairly rapidly. Many structural changes had to be made to the old building to make it safe for an assembly room. A contract was let to a Bro. Wright, from the interior, who was spending the winter in Campbell River. Many meetings were in offices, on the site and on the street. W. Bro.’s Thulin and Marshall travelled a good deal running down regalia and furniture etc. They even crawled around the attic of the old Grand Lodge building in Vancouver and got our existing Deacon’s and Steward’s wands and our first officers collars and working tools from there.
Finally, on February 18, 1952, application was made for formal dispensation, which was granted and Discovery Lodge No. 149 was instituted on May 15th with over 150 Masons shoehorned into that little Lodge room. The Lodge room was small. It was plain and unadorned. Our regalia, except for cuffs and charts, was second-hand. Our furniture didn’t match. The seats and chairs were uncomfortable but no one cared that night. “Discovery” Lodge was launched.
At the banquet, which followed the meeting, W. Bro. Carstens gave an address using as his theme the “Discovery” and its analogy to a Lodge setting forth. It was nothing short of brilliant and was a fitting send-off for the Lodge. (I heard Bro. Carstens repeat that address, by request, a couple of years later). CLICK HERE TO READ ADDRESS
Discovery Lodge was formally constituted on July 27th, 1953, with M. W. Bro. Wm. Curren officiating and other Grand Officers in attendance. W. Bro. Carstens was installed as the W. Master. I might add that of the fourteen officers installed that evening, only Bro’s Andersen, Jacques, and Waterfield are still with us.
Mention must be made of a few things that did not appear in the minutes but meant a great deal to the success and well being of Discovery Lodge.
The hours and hours spent by W. Bro. Carl Thulin on the building, on furnishings, looking after the rentals, lighting the heater for practise and Lodge meetings and so many other things.
W. Bro. Sid Waterfield, who almost single-handed made the financing possible by the work he did on the bond drive.
Bro. Tom Gillard, so long our beloved Tyler. Tom Cleaned the Lodge room and refreshment room and we used to have to practically force him to take a ride to or from his home in Campbellton. If we didn’t catch him, he had already walked. Tom also presented the Lodge with our beautiful altar cloth. And his wife, Ethel, made our visitor’s aprons and washed and starched them for years.
Dr. Bathurst Hall, who quietly bought far and away the largest share of the bonds because he knew that some of the brethren had time but little money and some could hardly spare either.
Ernie Marshall and Charlie Medforth, both D.D.G.M.s from other jurisdictions. Henri Dubeau for the time he spent on the building, especially after the contract was terminated.
W. Bro. Jack Baikie for his quiet way of getting things done and Harold Hayes who built our altar and pedestals and in addition donated the altar.
Bro. Norman Smith, although nearly blind in later years, still had a fund of stories about the early days of Masonic work in British Columbia. Our M. W. Bro. Harper Baikie had the honour of presenting Bro. Smith with his sixty-year jewel during his term as our Grand Master.
Then there were Bro. Tom Hargreaves and the other brethren from Elk Falls Mill who just happened to notice a new piece of mill felt and had it sent away to be dyed blue and which ended up as a carpet on our old Lodge room floor. And then we couldn’t even thank Crown Zellerbach or Elk Falls Co. because they didn’t know that they had donated it.
There were many, many others who I have missed. Time doesn’t permit to mention all those who helped in so many ways.
Well Discovery Lodge continued to grow. Our membership increased greatly as time went on. The old building was pretty crowded at times and in need of major repairs. Many suggestions were made as to what should be done. We could not re-build on the existing property on account of the parking by-laws. Then M. W. Bro. Harper Baikie offered to donate one-half acre of property on the North Island Highway as a site for a new building. Finally, after much discussion, it was decided to have plans drawn up for a new building. In 1970 the plans were approved by the members but then we ran into another snag. We had to have a source of revenue in addition to our Lodge dues etc. We had a couple of prime tenants lined up and then at the last minute, they backed out. Once again things came to a standstill. But eventually it was decided to build a two-story building with a Lodge room, ante and preparation room on the second floor and a banquet hall underneath that could be a source of revenue. More plans were drawn and approved and then we sold the old building and a start had to be made. A new building committee was elected under the chairmanship of W. Bro. Alex Linton.
It had been thought that we should contract the main building and do the inside finishing and painting etc. by volunteer labour. The contract was let and work proceeded but as time went on it became apparent that the most sensible thing to do was to have the contractor do the finishing and have a painter do the decorating.
Many tales could be told of the frustrations and setbacks that were encountered during the construction but finally the present building was ready for occupancy and was formally opened and consecrated on December 8th, 1973, by M. W. Bro. Wilfred Rogers.
Time has not permitted anything but a very brief resume of the records. They say that behind every good man stands a good woman. Chas-Maria Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, was formed in 1954 and the members of this Chapter have helped us in so many ways. A Bethel of the Job’s Daughters was formed and had been quite active. For many years we had a Demolay Chapter. Although these organizations form no part of our Lodge, they do belong to our Masonic family and without their help and support our Lodge would be a poorer thing.
Although statistics can be boring, there are a few worth noting. Of the 58 Charter Memebers, only 12 are alive and still living in Campbell River. Of the six received their Entered Apprentice Degrees prior to the date of constitution, only one, Bro. Clarence Fulton, is still with us. We have had 198 initiates and 81 affiliates. Our membership was 199 as of December 31, 1976.
Not enough could ever be said of the assistance that W. Bro. Jack Carstens gave in the formation of our Lodge. Not the least of his works was the beautiful engraving of our by-laws.
There have been so many brethren, both past and present, who have quietly given their assistance. At the time of the dispensation, we needed members to make the formation of a Lodge possible. Brethren from neighbouring Lodges joined to help us get started. Most of them have since demitted, or have gone to the Grand Lodge Above. Their help and support was most appreciated and some of them still keep up their membership with us. Some of those who didn’t even belong to Discovery Lodge helped out by purchasing debentures and donations etc. Even our lovely organ was the result of a generous donation by an outside brother. To them all, we of Discovery Lodge, owe a great deal.
I would like to close with a footnote to R. W. Caldwell’s notes. Then he was reminiscing about all those members who had worked so hard to make our Lodge possible, he said, “Every time I hear the Charge to the Brethren, I think of these brethren. They build well.” And so say we all.