The Cranbrook Lodge #34 and Selkirk Lodge #55 have consolidated into one lodge for the region, something local freemasons noted happens very rarely.
On April 27, the Grand Lodge of B.C. and the Yukon came to the East Kootenay and held the constitution ceremony at Selkirk Lodge.
The new lodge, called Fisher Peak Lodge #34, maintains the Cranbrook number 34.
“The reason we chose the name Fisher Peak is because it is the most prominent visual from both towns,” explained Will Nixon, District Deputy Grand Master for the area. The meeting with the Townsman also included Todd Pellerin, who holds the position of the Worshipful Master of Lodge, Barry Beaulac, Historian, Jerry Murray, Senior Deacon, and Fred Anderson, who is the longest serving member — 49 years.
Nixon said the lodges have a lot of history in the area.
The Cranbrook Lodge was first constituted in 1900, and is number 34.
The Selkirk Lodge in Kimberley was constituted in 1909 and originally started in Moyie. It moved to Kimberley when the mine moved in 1912. It is number 55.
The old Fort Steele Lodge was the oldest pioneer lodge in the area at number 30. The Golden lodge is number 11.
“The Selkirk and Cranbrook Lodges have always worked closely together — they’re not very far apart and we’ve always been very close, but about two years ago we started having sanctioned meetings where we discussed consolidating the two lodges,” explained Nixon. “The way we looked at it, 115 years ago these two towns were a day’s travel apart — right now they are about 20-25 minutes apart.”
He said many of the members do the drive two or three times a day for work purposes.
“So strategically it didn’t make sense to maintain two different lodges doing the exact same work,” he said. “We’re talking to the same guys in what could be considered very similar communities, and close communities.”
So from there they started a two year process where they members from both lodges agreed that strategically it would be beneficial to have one lodge to represent both.
Both of the lodges came out of the historic North Star Lodge in Fort Steele. That lodge is still there, operating as a museum exhibit.
Pellerin said it will be the Cranbrook location that will now host the new lodge’s meetings.
“Selkirk was successful in selling their building almost immediately when they put it on the market,” he said. “So they’ve moved all of their stuff into this building and we’re going to repurpose it in here and make one set of lodge jewels and furniture and have it all here.”
He said the excess items will either be sent to Fort Steele or back to the Grand Lodge.
“Everything gets repurposed, nothing is thrown away,” he added.
Despite the popular culture myths that have steeped the freemasons in mystery, Pellerin said they are not a secret religion, but a fraternity.
“We’re a fraternity with a few secrets, but we’re not a secret society. Any man can come and ask to join,” he said. “He just has to go through the three degrees to get here.”
Pellerin said there are a lot of members around and that’s why they hope to get the information out there about the uniting of the two lodges. He said the news may jump start some retired members interest again.
Now that it is consolidated, Fisher Peak Lodge #34 has around 80 members.
Pellerin said that if someone is interested in joining, talk to any member and let them know that they are interested. They don’t solicit members.
“Then we have a series of protocols that we go through,” he said. A person inquiring for entrance to Masonry is referred to as a Seeker.
The Freemasons from both the Cranbrook and Kimberley lodges have been involved in volunteer work throughout the communities.
“People are going to wonder who the Fisher Peak Lodge is,” Pellerin said. “We do various services in our community such as the security at the Cranbrook Pro Rodeo for instance, well the Cranbrook lodge won’t be doing it this year it will be the new lodge doing it.”
It’s the same in Kimberley where the Selkirk Lodge ran the July-fest beer garden — that will now be run by the Fisher Peak Lodge as well.