The Masonic Temple is a large single storey rectangular hall style building constructed in 1936 located on the northeast corner of Front Street and Shepherd Avenue in Downtown Quesnel, BC. The historic place includes the building and the parcel of land it occupies.
The Masonic Temple is located in Downtown Quesnel which is the commercial and administrative centre of the city. The building is a physical reminder of the organizations that shaped the development of Quesnel.
Many of the original Freemasons in Quesnel were from eastern Masonic Lodges. They had come west to the Quesnel area to mine for gold and they wanted to have their own branch. In 1866, Williams Creek at Barkerville was the first Freemason Lodge. It became the Cariboo Lodge No. 469 A. F. & A. M. in 1867. The Freemasons in Quesnel wanted to have their own lodge. In 1913, Quesnel Lodge No. 269, A. F. & A. M. was established.
The Freemasons have occupied the Masonic Temple since it was constructed by local contractor C. E. Markle. George Johnston, of Johnston Brothers Motors, was the first man to join the new lodge in Quesnel. His father was a member in Barkerville. Many pioneering businessmen in Quesnel were Freemasons. Charles Allison was the first Master of the Quesnel Masonic Lodge and later became the District Deputy of Grand Lodge of BC. From 1911, until the completion of this building in 1936, the Freemasons occupied the upper floor of A. J. Elliott’s Tobacco and Billiard Hall on Carson Avenue.
514 Front Street, Quesnel, British Columbia V2J 2K6, Canada
Freemasonry in Quesnel, in large part, began because of the railroad. At the turn of the century mining was in a decline and seeing Quesnel's potential in the development of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway (PGE), which would run from Vancouver and connect with the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway at Prince George, a number of men began to set up shop in Quesnel. The boom brought in surveyors, land speculators, tradesmen, professionals, and businessmen. Within their ranks were also Freemasons, from the US, Eastern Canada, and Barkerville.
Edward Leight Kepnercame to Cariboo in 1904. By 1907 he purchased the old two-storey Occidental Hotel and within a couple of years he tore the building down and erected Quesnel's first four-storey building, and the Occidental became the centre of all activities. Kepner was a Past Master of Union Lodge No. 324, in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania. Within a year of his arrival in Cariboo, he affiliated with Cariboo Lodge No. 4.
In 1910 the Board of Trade (Chamber of Commerce) was inaugurated in Kepner's Rooms and prominent amongst the group were Freemasons. Kepner, in agreement with Charlie Allison, the local druggist, invited a group of Masons to a get-together at his home on Front Street in the Fall of 1911, to start a Lodge. He announced his intentions in the Cariboo Observer newspaper. Kepner proposed to build a two-storey building on Carson Street, the lower floor to be a tobacco and billiards room operated by A. J. Elliott, and the upper floor to be a Masonic Hall.
Under the direction of Cariboo Lodge No. 4, a Lodge of Instruction was created in Quesnel. A dispensation soon followed dated October 1, 1912, which authorized the 17 applicants to operate as Quesnel Lodge. Within the next six months 20 applications were received and Quesnel Lodge petitioned for a Warrant of Constitution, which was granted as Quesnel No. 69 on June 20, 1913. The lodge was formally constituted and dedicated on September 22, 1913.
By the time the lodge was constituted only 12 of the original 17 applicants remained in Quesnel. Interestingly, none of the 12 charter members were natives of BC—most were Ontario boys with a few Europeans and several Americans thrown in for good measure.