Vancouver Island Masonic History Project

As part of our Vancouver Island Masonic History Project, with its sections on Vancouver Island Cemeteries – Masonic Interments and Deceased Brethren, here is a page on the Honourable Alexander Edmund Batson Davie,  Premier of British Columbia, 1887-1889, who is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.

Alexander Davie was a member of Cariboo Lodge, No. 4, in Barkerville.

Alexander Edmund Batson Davie (1846-1889) - B.C. Archives photo
Alexander Edmund Batson Davie (1846-1889) – B.C. Archives photo

He was a native of Somerset, England who came to Victoria with his parents in 1862. He was called to the B.C. Bar in 1873 and was elected to represent the Cariboo district in the B.C. Legislature in 1875. He lost his seat in 1877 but was re-elected to represent Lillooet in 1882.

Alexander Davie assumed the office of Premier of British Columbia following the death of Premier William Smithe in 1887. Hon. Alexander Davie died in 1889 while still in office as Premier.

Here are the contemporary newspaper obituaries of Brother Alexander E.B. Davie’s along with the reports of his death and funeral:

He Passes Peacefully Away at 3:10 This Morning
In the Death of its Premier the Province Sustains a Severe Loss – Sketch of a Useful and Busy Life

About 1 o’clock this morning there was a perceptible change for the worse in the condition of the Hon. A.E.B. Davie. Gradually the sick man sank, and at 3 a.m. the members of his family, all of whom were gathered around the bedside, knew that his last moments had come. At 3:30 he passed peacefully away, fortified by the last sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church.

In the death of the Hon. Mr. Davie the province loses one of its most gifted men – one who leaves behind him a brilliant record untarnished by any questionable act. In public and private life he was held in the highest respect and esteem. His conduct in all matters was such that he won the confidence of both followers and opponents, and in his intercourse with all men he was ever courteous and considerate. In the local parliament when he addressed the house he was listened to with the strictest attention and his opinions on all matters were valued by friend and foe, for he believed that but one motive – the desire to do what was fair and honorable – guided his conduct. As a member of the bar, he occupied a high place in the estimation of his fellows, and was a bencher of the law society. It is scarcely a month ago since he declined his appointment to the honorable position as a judge of the supreme court of the Province. He was Attorney-General at the time the settlement act of 1883 was drafted and successfully carried through the House, and he has been successful in the various disputes between the two governments, a recent and important decision in favor of the province being the ownership of the minerals in the railway belt.

The deceased was born in Somerset, England, in 1846 and came to this country in 1862 with his father. He was educated at Silcoate’s School, near Wakefield, Garkshire. He was articled as a clerk in Drake & Jackson’s office. He was admitted as an attorney in 1868, and called to the bar of the province in 1873. He lived for a time at Cariboo practicing his profession. He was law clerk for the legislative assembly from 1872 to 1874, and in 1875 was elected as a member for Cariboo district. In May, 1877, he became a member of the executive council of the Elliott government, and on going before his constituents for re-election in August of the same year he was defeated. In 1879 he formed a law partnership with Mr. Speaker Pooley, which has existed up to the present time, the firm enjoying a very large and profitable practice. At the general election in 1882, Mr. Davie was elected for Lillooett, and when the late. Mr. W. Smythe was called upon to form a ministry in 1883 he selected the deceased as his attorney-general, a position he occupied up to the day of his death. On 21st September 1883, he was made Q.C. On the death of the late Mr. Smythe in March, 1887, the deceased succeeded that gentleman as premier and president of the council, and retained the confidence of a large majority of the members of the legislature.

During the fall of 1887, through close application to the duties of his position, and of his business, his health failed, and so serious a phase did his illness assume that in the following spring his physician ordered a change of air. In company with his wife he visited Barkerville and in the bracing air of the mountains his health considerably improved, and he returned Victoria and again engaged in work. Early in the winter, however, his illness again strongly manifested itself, and Mr. and Mrs. Davie spent several months in California and Colorado. Returning after the session of 1888, again largely benefitted by the change, he remained in Victoria during the fall and winter, and was present during the session last spring. His system, however, was fast succumbing to the ravages of consumption, and though he spoke at length on several occasions, it required great effort on his part. When the house separated at the end of the session, every member felt they were parting with their first minister for the last time. Their fear has proved true. Mr. Davie daily attended to his duties at his office after the session, but he gradually declined in health and was finally compelled to take to his bed, and since then has gradually become weaker until he passed away this morning to his eternal reward, confident that there awaited him a better life in the world beyond.

The deceased was married on December 3rd, 1874, to Constance Langford, third daughter of the late Thomas S. Skinner, of Maple Bay, Cowichan, and she with four young children are left to mourn the loss of a kind and honored husband and father. Deceased also leaves four brothers – Dr. J.C. Davie, Mr. Theodore Davie, Q.C., Mr. William Davie and Mr. Horace Davie. The bereaved family will have the sympathy of the whole province in their great affliction.”

(Source: Daily Colonist, 1 August 1889, page 1, column 7)

“The Funeral of the Late Hon. Mr. Davie – In accordance with a desire expressed by the deceased the day prior to his death, the funeral of the late Hon. Mr. Davie will be of a plain and unostentatious character. The procession will leave the family residence, Michigan street, tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock for St. Andrew’s R.C. Cathedral, where a solemn Requiem Mass will be celebrated, and after the services the remains will be conveyed to their last resting place.”

(Source: Daily Colonist, 2 August 1889, page 4, column 3)

Funeral of the Deceased Premier – A Fitting Tribute to a Good and Honorable Man

The remains of British Columbia’s late Premier and Attorney-General, the Hon. Alexander E.B. Davie, were consigned to the grave in Ross Bay cemetery yesterday morning. The funeral, although of a simple and unostentatious character, was attended by a very large number of mourners, consequent on the great respect and esteem in which the deceased gentleman was held by all classes throughout the province. Representatives from Vancouver, Westminster, Nanaimo, Cowichan and other places, were present, in addition to members of the bar, Dominion and Provincial officials, and many private citizens of Victoria.

Shortly after nine o’clock the casket was placed in the hearse and the long procession of carriages formed on Michigan street, and started for the Roman Catholic Cathedral on View street, the hearse being preceded by six priests, with attendant cross-bearer and acolytes. Arriving at the church, the coffin was removed from the hearse, conveyed to the sacred edifice, and placed on a catafalque in front of the altar rails. The interior of the building had been heavily draped in black for the solemn occasion, and the family pew of the deceased covered in crepe. The church was crowded and mourners, pall-bearers, and friends, having taken their seats, the solemn services for the dead commenced. Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated by Rev. Father Mandart, with Father Haynen as deacon, Fathers Durand and Donckele as assistant priests, and Father Van Nevel as master of ceremonies. The Sisters of St. Ann rendered the choral service. At the conclusion of the solemn and impressive ceremony, Rev. Father Leterme ascended the pulpit, and in a few appropriate words, taking for his text, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.” etc.,(St. James, c. 4, v. 1-12) extolled the virtues of the deceased and called the attention of those present to three virtues that the dead man possessed – patience, virtue, and humility. He spoke a few comforting words to members of the family, and exhorted his hearers to follow in the honorable path that had been trodden by the deceased. The rev. gentleman was listened to with the closest attention by the vast crowd in the church.

At the conclusion of the oration the coffin was carried from the church and deposited again in the hearse. The cortege then drove off in the following order: The mourning coaches containing the officiating priests (Rev. Fathers Mandart, Van Nevel, Durand, Leterme, Donckele and Haynen) again led the procession, followed by the coaches with the pallbearers. Then came the hearse loaded at every corner with floral emblems sent by sympathizing friends. Following the hearse were a long line of carriages containing the deceased’s family, His Hon. Lieutenant- Governor Nelson, with his private secretary, members of the judiciary, and members of the provincial parliament, Dominion and provincial officials, the mayors of Victoria and Vancouver and the acting mayor of Westminster, members of the legal fraternity and private citizens of all classes in the community.

Arriving at the cemetery, the casket was removed from the hearse and lowered into the grave, the final services for the being chanted by the attending priests, after which the last rites were performed and the wealth of beautiful floral offerings heaped over the mantel of earth which marks the place where all that is mortal of the deceased now lies.

The chief mourners were the widow and the four children of the deceased, Miss Skinner (Mrs. Davie’s sister), Mr. Theo. Davie, M.P.P., Dr. J.C. Davie, Mr. Horace Davie and Mr. Speaker Pooley (law partner of the deceased).

The pallbearers were: Sir M. B. Begbie, C.J., Mr. Justice McCreight, Hon. John Robson, Hon. F.G. Vernon, Hon. J.H. Turner, Mr. M.W.T. Drake, Mr. P.E. Irving and Mr. Geo. Burnes.

The casket was metallic and covered in broadcloth, and with plain velvet trimmings, with an entire absence of silver adornments with the exception of a crucifix, a memorial urn (the latter bearing the letters I.H.S.) and the plate, upon which was the following in inscription:

        The Hon. Alexander A.E.B. Davie,
Died August 1, 1889,
Aged 43 years.

The remains of the deceased were attired in the habit of the Order of Mount Carmel, and up to the very last moment the features preserved their usual natural and life-like appearance, making it difficult to believe he had sank into the sleep which knows no waking.

Wreaths and emblems were contributed by the following: His Honor the Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. and Mrs. J Keith Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. W.J. MacCauley, Mrs. Theo. Davie, Mr. and Mrs. Englehardt, Mrs. Drake, Mrs. Theodore Lubbe, Mrs. G.A. McTavish, Mrs. J.C. Haynes, Ellis & Co., J.P. Walls, Mr. and Mrs. P.E. Irving, Mr. and Mrs. T.C. Nuttall, Mr. and Mrs. James Gaudin, Mr. and Mrs. Jas. Anderson, Mrs. Hy Young, Mrs. Bullen, Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair, Mrs. Wm. Charles, Mrs. Keast, Mrs. John Robson, Mrs. Robert Skinner, G.A. McTavish, Sisters of St. Anne’s Convent, Mrs. J.H. Gray, the Misses Maud, Edith and Kitty Davie, Mrs. J.C. Davie, Mr. Justice Crease, H.D. Helmcken, Mrs. Jesse, Mrs. Jamieson, Mrs. Chas. Wilson, Mrs. Moffat and numerous others.

All the details in connection with the funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr. Chas. Hayward.”

(Source: Daily Colonist, 4 August 1889, page 1, column 5)

Alexander Edmund Batson Davie is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.

The Alexander Edmund Batson Davie (1846-1889) grave, Ross Bay Cemetery. The grave has been damaged over the years. A feature, possibly a cross, which once stood on top of the base has since disappeared.
The Alexander Edmund Batson Davie (1846-1889) grave, Ross Bay Cemetery. The grave has been damaged over the years. A feature, possibly a cross, which once stood on top of the base has since disappeared.

Unfortunately there has been extensive vandalism of Ross Bay cemetery tombstones in recent years and Alexander Davie’s tombstone is one of those that appears to have been vandalized. There was originally a stone feature, possibly a cross, on the top of the tomb. That feature has disappeared, leaving only the base of the tomb and a footer stone on the ground in front of the main tombstone.

The base of the Alexander Edmund Batson Davie (1846-1889) grave, Ross Bay Cemetery. The grave has been damaged over the years. A feature, possibly a cross, which once stood on top of the base has since disappeared.
The base of the Alexander Edmund Batson Davie (1846-1889) grave, Ross Bay Cemetery. The grave has been damaged over the years. A feature, possibly a cross, which once stood on top of the base has since disappeared.
This newer grave marker has been placed in the ground at the base of Alexander Davie's original grave marker.
This newer grave marker has been placed in the ground at the base of Alexander Davie’s original grave marker.

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