Max Leiser was a member of Vancouver-Quadra Lodge #2 in Victoria. He was one of Victoria's leading businessmen.

His brothers, Gustav and Simon, were also prominent Victoria businessmen and Freemasons. Simon, Max and Gustav Leiser are all interred in the Victoria Jewish Cemetery.

- Victoria Jewish Cemetery -

Max Leiser

(9 April 1851 - 12 May 1917)

The grave of Max Leiser in Victoria Jewish Cemetery.

The GPS location of the grave is: N 48⁰ 26.394’  W 123⁰ 20.740’

Here is a brief biographical sketch of Brother Max Leiser, taken from contemporary newspaper reports of his death and funeral:

Simon Leiser, After 37 Years Residence In Victoria, Succumbs To Stroke

          Following a paralytic stroke which he suffered two weeks ago, when on a visit to Vancouver, Simon Leiser, one of the pioneer merchants of this province, died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Milton Oppenheimer, 2040 Nelson Street, Vancouver, at 2.30 this morning, in the presence of members of his family.

          The end was expected, although reports of his rallying had been issued on two occasions since the stroke. He had been under medical care for some time before the end.

          Victoria loses in him one of its oldest citizens in the business world, one who occupied many public offices, who filled them acceptably, and proved a true citizen, always mindful of the welfare of Victoria.

                                   In The Cassiar

         The late Simon Leiser was born in Germany, and came to British Columbia at an early age, probably in his twentieth year, in 1872. His first employment was as a contractor for the overland trail from Telegraph Creek to Dease Lake, and then he opened in the grocery line which afterwards came to be his specialty. The Cassiar district in the late seventies was a favorite of the miner, and there he operated four stores.

         In 1880 he came to Victoria, and set up in business as a grocer on Johnson Street, the business prospering rapidly. He soon launched out into the wholesale trade, moving to Yates Street. Here in after years he built the block which became by 1890 the largest wholesale grocery in British Columbia.

         In extending his business interests, and Mr. Leiser was a man always to make a venture in the field of commerce, it was natural that he should take a hand in Victoria’s great sealing industry, then the chief characteristic of the port. He personally operated the Wanderer in the northern waters, and thus it came about that his interests took an international turn in the protracted negotiations which eventually led to the cessation of pelagic sealing by Canadian ships. It came about in this fashion: The contracting parties to the modus vivendi had agreed that instruments for sealing of a certain character were prohibited on the vessels, and the United States protection cruisers claimed the right of search of British vessels. In June 1894, the Wanderer was halted and with the Favorite was seized. Mr. Leiser later filed a claim, but so far as is known the claim has never been adjusted. Afterwards he became a director of the Victoria Sealing Company.

                                  Naturalized in 1892

         Prior to that time he had become a Canadian citizen, being naturalized in the County Court here on September 1, 1892.

        Business prospered through the nineties, and the great opportunity came with the remarkable developments around Bonanza Creek in the Yukon during the Klondike rush. It was not the gold, but the feeding of the miners which was the object of Mr. Leiser’s activities, and so his business expanded, until it eventually became a limited company, whose directorate includes some of the most influential citizens of this community. His interests on Vancouver Island employed approximately one hundred people.

                                  Board of Trade

          His chief public work was done as a member of the Council of the Board of Trade, during which he served on that body for 15 years. He reached the vice-presidency in 1907, when F.A. Pauline, M.P.P., was the president, and was elected president in the following year, serving two terms in the chair.

         He was very active during his year in office, one notable feature being in securing, by aid of the late Hon. William Templeman, a large appropriation for the improvement of Victoria harbor, going to Ottawa in company with Joshua Kingham for this purpose. Another subject which engaged his attention was the locating of the Empress Hotel here, which was under construction during his term of office, and he organized the entertainment of Lord Shaughnessy in connection with the scheme, when a banquet in his lordship’s honor was held here. The locating of the G.T.P. [note: Grand Trunk Pacific] docks here also owed much to his active interest.

         In 1905 he received a tempting offer to remove his business to Seattle, a million dollar business and a new building being offered as inducement, but he declined the pressing invitation. To the last he continued to give personal attention to his business, which had extensive connections.

                                Other Public Bodies

          Another institution to which he gave ungrudging time was the Vancouver Island Development Association, since re-organized. No one not intimately connected with the former body can be aware of how often his personal efforts prevented it becoming moribund at critical times shortly before the re-organization.

          An institution to which he particularly devoted himself was the Royal Provincial Jubilee Hospital, of which he has been vice-president, and although turned off the board by the subscribers, a place was made for him next day by the resignation of a city representative, and the City Council immediately elected him to the vacancy, since which he has continued to sit on the board. In the economical purchase of supplies he was particularly valuable to the institution, in saving unnecessary outlays.

                                    Opera House

         He was actively identified with the fortunes of the Victoria Opera House Company, and took a leading part in the building of the Royal Victoria Theatre, making the inaugural address when the building was opened on December 29, 1913. On that occasion a loving cup was presented to him by the donors. Later a bust was put in the lobby, in memory of his services.

         On public bodies Mr. Leiser was an independent, fearless figure, who never hesitated to speak out plainly what he thought, and showed that he gave considered judgment to his opinions.

                                      The Family

         Born on April 9, 1851, he was just 66 years of age. The immediate members of the family are the widow, who was formerly Miss Carrie Lenz, of Madison, Wis.; a son, Herbert Leiser, of Victoria, and three daughters, Mrs. Milton Oppenheimer, of Vancouver; Mrs. Otto Guthman, of Seattle, and Mrs. Hamburger, of this city.

         Mrs. Sol Oppenheimer died two years ago, leaving two children, Ruth and David, the death of this daughter being a great grief to him. Mrs. Hamburger’s children are Nora, Adele and Gus; Mrs. Guttman’s Caroline and Florence, and the other grandchild is Edith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Oppenheimer, at whose residence he passed away.

         The brothers are Max Leiser, of this city, and David Leiser, of Brussels, who was ruined by the German invasion, and whose son, Henry Leiser, was wounded in the attempts to stop the enemy on the road to France.


The arrangements for the funeral have not yet been made pending the arrival of the body to-morrow in charge of Mr. Herbert Leiser. The interment will take place from the residence, St. Charles Street, under the auspices of the Hebrew Synagogue, to which congregation he was attached.  


Source: Victoria Daily Times, 12 May 1917, pages 1,4

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Greater Victoria Cemeteries - Masonic Interments


Victoria Jewish Cemetery - Masonic Interments



Congregation Emanu-El, Victoria, B.C.


Temple Lodge, No. 33

Ancient Free & Accepted Masons

Duncan, British Columbia, Canada