M.W. Bro. Sibree Clarke, M.D.
By E. Stuart Wood, P.M.
M.W. Brother Sibree Clarke was born in Coventry, England, in July, 1832. His father was a clergyman of the Anglican Church, who located in Dresden. Lambton County, Ontario, when Sibree was a small boy. He attended school there, passing up through the various grades until he obtained a teacher's certificate. After teaching for a few years, he opened a drug store in that town as he had little love for teaching and not much respect for teachers. On one occasion, he remarked to me that he never knew an old teacher who was not an old fool, but as I had aspirations of becoming his son-in-law, I did not argue the point with him, but remembered his remark just the same.
On October 12, 1859, he married Miss Isabell Miller, daughter of James Miller, M.D., who with his family came from Kilburnie, Ayrshire, Scotland. Of this union were born two sons (now both deceased) and five daughters of whom four are still living, Mrs. McArthur and Mrs. Brett, of Salmon Arm, B.C., Mrs. Venn, of Long Beach, Calif., and Mrs. McEachern, of Spokane, Wash. Mrs. Clarke passed away in July, 1912, at the age of 76 years.
In 1877, he took out his M.D. diploma and practised medicine in conjunction with his drug business. Being of a roving disposition, he found the lure of the West too strong to be resisted, In 1883, he came to B.C. and settled in New Westminster, entering a drug store partnership with David S. Curtis, and also practising as a medical practitioner. In 1885, he came to Kamloops and opened a drug store on the south side of Main Street, and the next year was followed by his wife and family. He was appointed coroner for this district, which office he retained almost to the end of life. He took a keen interest in civic affairs, and when the city was incorporated, he had the honour of being its first mayor.
After leaving Kamloops about 1910, he went to Lillooet where he was in business for some years. He then removed to Ashcroft, where he continued in the drug business and the medical profession, until the end of April, 1919, when he was stricken with his last illness. He came to the Royal Inland Hospital at Kamloops for treatment, where he passed away on May 8, 1919, at the ripe age of 87 years. He was given a masonic burial in the Pleasant Street Cemetery in Kamloops beside his wife (who had been laid to rest there in July, 1912). We shall now turn to his masonic activities, for with him Freemasonry was almost a religion and the mainspring of his social life.
He was initiated into Freemasonry on January 9, 1871, in Wellington Lodge, No. 46, G.R. Can. (In Ontario) at Chatham, Ontario. He was then 37 years old. He was passed in that lodge on February 13, 1871, and raised April 10, 1871, and took his demit from that lodge on the date of his becoming a Master Mason to become a Charter Member of Sydenham Lodge, No. 255, Dresden, Ontario, which was then being organized. He later became the Worshipful Master of this lodge. Owing to the fact that the records of this lodge were destroyed by fire in 1912, it is impossible to give fuller details.
On reaching Kamloops in 1885, and finding several members of the Craft in that city, but no masonic lodge, he immediately began to organize, with the object of having one established there. In conjunction with W. Bro. Rev. D. W. H. Harlock, who had held high office in the G.L. of England, and seven others, an application was made to the Grand Lodge of B.C. for a charter. A dispensation from Grand Master Thomas Trounce was received in January, 1886, for a Lodge to be established in Kamloops to be called "Kamloops Lodge." It was duly instituted on January 5, 1886, with Brother Clarke as Senior Warden. At this meeting, only seven members were in attendance, Brothers J . O. Grahame and J. A. Mara being absent. Brother Harlock was the first Master, with Brother Clarke as Senior Warden. The Charter of Kamloops Lodge, as No. 10, was authorized at the meeting of the Grand Lodge in June, 1886, and was signed by M.W. Brother Wm. Dalby. M.W. Bro. Angus McKeown named as proxy for the Grand Master, constituted the lodge on September 6, 1886. W. Bro. Clarke took a very keen interest in the progress of the new lodge in which he was elected Worshipful Master for three years, 1886, 1895 and 1897, a distinction that has not come to any other member of the lodge since its organization.
In 1887, he first attended the meeting of Grand Lodge where he acted as Grand Chaplain in place of V.W. Bro. A. W. Sillitoe, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, who was unable to attend. At that meeting, he was appointed Grand Sword Bearer. Later in that year, he was commissioned by Grand Master A. R. Milne to constitute Mountain Lodge, No. 11, at Donald, B.C. [now at Golden] and to install the officers. His regular attendance at Grand Lodge, and his interest in its work soon warranted recognition, and in 1890, he was elected Grand Junior Warden, Grand Senior Warden in 1891, Deputy Grand Master in 1892, and Grand Master in 1893. He was also one of the Committee on uniform ritual in 1892, which, in 1893, resolved to allow matters to stand as they were. He was not able to attend the regular communication of Grand Lodge at New Westminster in June 1894, owing to the disruption of railway traffic by the Fraser River floods at that time. His address was read by the Deputy Grand Master, R. B. McMicking. During his year of office, he laid the corner-stone of the Protestant Orphans Home in Victoria, and St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church at Nanaimo.
It was his intention to visit the lodges at the coast on his way to Grand Lodge, but he was prevented from doing so for the same reason that he did not attend Grand Lodge. It may be noted that the same trouble prevented representatives of Mountain Lodge, No. 11, Spallumcheen Lodge, No. 13, and Kootenay Lodge, No. 15, from being present. During his term of office, he granted a dispensation for a lodge at Nelson, B.C. [Nelson, No. 23] and for a lodge at Esquimalt [United Service, No. 24] both of which are still flourishing. Brother Clarke's favorite recitation was "Mrs. Mehitable Bird, the awfullest story that ever was heard, that wanted to be a Mason," and I've often been sorry that I did not get a copy of it, as it was really very good.
Outside of Freemasonry, Brother Clarke's chief pleasure was fishing, and many an hour he spent whipping the old Thompson River in the hope of getting a rise.
In conclusion, I would say of Brother Clarke that he was a good friend and an absolutely honest man
Grand Lodge Annual Proceedings [no year noted] p. 175.