On March 3, 1922, nine Freemasons, living and working in and around the Ashcroft area met to discuss forming a Lodge in Ashcroft. The closest Lodge at the time was in Kamloops, which meant travel, usually by train. A request was made to the Oddfellows for the use of their hall as a meeting place. A letter was then sent to Kamloops Lodge No. 10 requesting permission to hold a Lodge of Instruction.
On March 16, 1922, during a second meeting held at the Oddfellows hall, it was decided to hold two meetings per month and address the dues at $1 per month provided this amount was adequate to cover expenses. Brethren from Clinton and Spences Bridge were invited to attend this meeting.
At the end of July 1922, a petition to Grand Lodge requesting authority to form a Lodge at Ashcroft was forwarded to Grand Secretary Dr. DeWolfe-Smith.
At the September meeting of 1922, the Brethren were presented with the task of choosing a name for the Lodge. Four were proposed; Thompson Valley, Cariboo, Zarthan and Virtue. A motion to adopt the name Zarthan was put to the meeting and was accepted unanimously. The word Zarthan, or Zeredatha in Canadian Work, being one of the cities on the plains of the Jordan River.
On February 8, 1923, they received a notice of a Lodge Under Dispensation, Right Worshipful Brother G.E. Sanborn, of Golden, the District Deputy Grand Master at the time, presiding. There were twenty-six Master Masons listed on the Lodge Roll with Worshipful Brother David B. Johnstone appointed as Worshipful Master and through 1923 and 1924, missed few meetings although he was required to travel from Kamloops and back for each meeting, by train.
The twelve Petitioners for Initiation during this meeting were composed of railway workers, stage drivers, ranchers and businessmen. Emulation Work of Kamloops Lodge No. 10 was adopted at this meeting. The Lodge’s present Canadian Work was adopted in 1936.
On September 17, 1923, Zarthan Lodge was duly constituted during a meeting at the Oddfellows Hall by Most Worshipful Brother C.E. Tisdall. The first Installation took place during a joint meeting between Kamloops Lodge No. 10 and Zarthan Lodge No. 105 on January 8, 1924.
During a meeting held on October 13, 1927, the question of the Lodge acquiring its own home arose. Brother Dr. Beech offered to sell his property, and building, to Zarthan Lodge for the sum of $1,500. A motion to purchase the property was carried.
On May 10, 1928, the first meeting was held in the new renovated building.
During the Second World War, Zarthan Lodge carried on with not much happening but in 1947, twenty-six degrees were conferred and membership had climbed to ninety. Membership reached its peak in 1958 with One Hundred Nineteen.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s the copper mines at Highland Valley developed and brought new membership. Unfortunately, in the 80’s the Lodge lost their Tracing Boards and ceremonial swords due to theft. These items were gradually replaced, the Tracing Boards by Worshipful Brother Marriott of Kamloops Lodge No. 10 and the ceremonial swords by Prince Arthur Lodge whose Charter had been handed in.
On December 1, 1990, Zarthan Lodge celebrated the 100th Birthday of Brother James Kidd Robertson, a veteran from World War One. Brother Robertson was honoured again on his 103rd birthday in 1993 and again for his 105th Birthday on December 4, 1995. On April 17, 1996, in his hospital room surrounded by Brethren, Brother Robertson was presented with his 70 Year Pin by Right Worshipful Brother Jack Harper.
In recent years, Zarthan Lodge has faced declining membership. Several factors including industry automation, the creation of the Coquihalla Highway and employment cutbacks, have forced some families to relocate out of the area.
However, through the generous support from Brethren from Caboose Lodge No. 173, plus affiliate members from Kamloops No. 10 and Mt. St. Paul Lodge No. 109, the Lodge continues to operate and provide Ashcroft and area with a Masonic Lodge.
In 2005, with declining membership, it became difficult to retain the Lodge building snd a decision to sell was made. In May of 2005, Brother Andy Anderson, the Mayor of Ashcroft at the time, offered the use of an old board room above his Irly Bird retail store. This space has since been transformed into a small but attractive Lodge room where members and guests enjoy the work and fellowship found in most Craft Lodges.
501 Railway Avenue, Ashcroft, British Columbia V0K 1A0, Canada