On October 13, 1866, the first known meeting of Masons at Barkerville happened and was presided over by Jonathon Nutt. It was decided by the 13 Masonic Brothers present to establish a Masonic Lodge and build a Masonic Hall. The original 13 were soon joined by 20 more. Each Brother made a weekly pledge of 50 cents to $1.00. It was estimated that the total cost to build a Masonic Hall would amount to just over $3,000.00. Each Mason was committed to giving $100.00 toward the building effort. Brother W.E. Boone was the contractor who built the first Masonic Hall.
Alas, on September 16, 1868, the first Masonic Hall in Barkerville, with its hand crafted furniture, library books and regalia all perished in the great fire which destroyed most of Barkerville. Fortunately the attendance and meeting minutes survived the fire. Soon after the fire the Brethren engaged Brother Bruce and Brother Mann to build the second Masonic Hall in which the first meeting was held on February 20, 1869. 67 years later, on December 28, 1936, the second Masonic Hall burnt to the ground. This fire started in a building next door, when a still exploded, which then spread to and consumed the Masonic Hall. This time the precious Lodge records survived in a fireproof safe located on the 1st floor under the floating staircase.
Meanwhile, the Brethren temporarily met in the Quesnel Masonic Hall until they held the first meeting in their new Barkerville Masonic Hall on September 4, 1937, complete with the lifting staircase as a salute to the predecessors who built the 1869 Hall after the first great fire. Finally in 1966, the 1937 building was moved back 10 feet to enable the restoration of the 1869 fancy front to make it like the good old days.
Barkerville Historic Town & Park, Highway 26, Barkerville, British Columbia V0K 1B0, Canada