Gold Country journey brings history alive

California's Sheila Jensen visits sites her grandfather knew in the 1920s.

  • Jul. 29, 2012 7:00 a.m.
Mayor Andy Anderson welcomes Sheila and Peter Jensen from California to the Village of Ashcroft and the Masonic Ashcroft “Zarthan” Lodge

Mayor Andy Anderson welcomes Sheila and Peter Jensen from California to the Village of Ashcroft and the Masonic Ashcroft “Zarthan” Lodge

Sheila Jensen’s grandfather, John Nicol, played a significant role in her life as she grew up in the Ashcroft and Walhachin area. He had been a track maintenance worker with the Canadian Pacific Railway. He and his fellow workers in Spatsum, south of Ashcroft, were an active part of the group of men who, in 1923, petitioned to create the Zarthan Lodge No. 105 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.

Nicol later acquired enough seniority to become a Section Head in Kamloops, where he became affiliated with the lodge there. Sheila fondly remembers her many visits to her grandfather’s home at 351 Nicola Street, Kamloops. It is now the address of the current Kamloops lodge.

Sheila and her husband Peter, now living in California, had previously travelled to Scotland to trace her grandfather’s roots. Several months ago, Sheila contacted Master Gerry McRae of Zarthan Lodge through Zarthan’s website. Numerous email exchanges led to Sheila and Peter travelling to the Interior, where they received a guided tour from Zarthan’s Past Master Fred Dewick. Their journey took them through cemeteries, museums, and lodges, in places ranging from Spatsum, Ashcroft, and Walhachin to Kamloops.

While in Ashcroft, Sheila and Peter met with prominent Mason Andy Anderson, and viewed Lodge records from 1923. They were also feted at the Central Cafe, believed to be the refreshment stop for the railroaders prior to their lodge meetings.

Sheila, a relentless investigator, gathered documents, photographs, and mementos in the Ashcroft Museum, the homes of childhood friends, and Masonic lodges. Her enthusiasm injected a note of contemporary realism, and put the history back into historical Ashcroft.

Gerry McRae

Worshipful Master

Zarthan Lodge 105

Ashcroft