Vancouver Island Masonic History Project

As part of our Vancouver Island Masonic History Project series on Vancouver Island Cemeteries – Masonic Interments, here is  a page on Eli Harrison Jr. (1852-1930), a member of Vancouver & Quadra Lodge, No.2 who is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, along with his father, Eli Harrison Sr., Past Grand Master.

Judge Eli Harrison Jr.
Judge Eli Harrison Jr. (1852-1930).

Eli Harrison’s house is still standing at 546 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo. It is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places and the City of Nanaimo Heritage Registry.

Harrison House, 546 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo. Built in 1892 for Judge Eli Harrison. (photo by Temple Lodge Historian)
Harrison House, 546 Prideaux Street, Nanaimo. Built in 1892 for Judge Eli Harrison. (photo by Temple Lodge Historian)

Here are the local newspaper report of Eli Harrison, Jr.’s death and funeral:

“JUDGE HARRISON PIONEER OF B.C. DIED YESTERDAY

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Late Jurist Joined Bar here 52 years Ago; Served in Nanaimo and Cariboo

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After only a few days’ illness of pneumonia, Judge Eli Harrison, former County Court judge of Cariboo and Nanaimo and member of a well-known pioneer family of this Province, passed away yesterday at the Mayfair private hospital, aged seventy-eight years. He is survived by his widow and six children: Mrs. J. Colborn Coote, of Vancouver; Mrs. Forsythe, of Seattle; C.L. Harrison, city prosecutor of Victoria; P.P. Harrison, barrister of Courtenay; V.B. Harrison, barrister of Nanaimo, and H.R. Harrison, a California attorney.

IN COVERED WAGON

Judge Harrison’s father came to the United States from England in 1850. Judge Harrison was born in 1852 while the family was in Missouri. In 1853 the family joined the covered wagons in the long trek across the plains and mountains to California.

From San Francisco his father came to British Columbia reaching here in 1858, and became prominent in the masons, having been Grand Master of British Columbia in 1878 and in later years. As Grand Master he laid the corner stone of the Masonic Temple in Victoria in 1878, and in the same year dedicated it.

 JOINED B.C. BAR FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS AGO

Judge Harrison accompanied his father to British Columbia and was educated at the Collegiate School. He studied law in British Columbia, and later at San Francisco. Returning to the province, he was called to the bar of British Columbia nearly fifty-seven years ago.

In 1875 he was acting registrar of titles and law clerk to the Legislature 1876 and 1878. He was solicitor in the Attorney-General’s department in 1878 and in 1883 was elected a bencher of the Law Society. In 1884 he was appointed stipendiary magistrate for the Province and in the same year County Court judge for Cariboo and Lilloet. He was transferred as County Court judge to Nanaimo in 1889, and was appointed local judge of Supreme Court with full powers in that jurisdiction.

 ON GOVERNMENT COMMISSIONS

During the twenty-five years he held office as a judge, he was given numerous government commissions, including one to inquire into the management of the fire and water departments of New Westminster after that great fire of 1898, and as commissioner to inquire into the grievances of the settlers within that tract of land granted to the E & N Railway.

On many occasions he held court in Victoria, and at times was requested by the chief justice to take Supreme Court work in Victoria as well. He was named as a judge of the assizes several years. He also held Court of Revision for many years in different parts of the Island.

During his many years on the bench, Judge Harrison earned a wide reputation as a fair-minded, painstaking and able judge, and some of his cases were selected for publication in the law reports of the day. His opinions and career are favorably cited in Canadian and English publications, both legal and lay.

 HELPED REVISE LAWS

Judge Harrison was often requested to aid in the revisions of the laws of the Province or the adaptations of the English statutes to this country, repeatedly receiving letters of commendation and appreciation from the government.

He was a member of the Church of England, and in 1901 attended as a special lay delegate to represent the church at the general convention in San Francisco.

Judge Harrison was, like his father, a prominent member of the Masonic craft, and had reached the thirty-second degree. In 1912 he compiled and annotated the first Masonic Code of British Columbia, a highly regarded and widely-used work. At the time of his passing he was still representative of the Grand Lodge of England, having held the office since his appointment in July 29, 1886.

Funeral services will be held on Monday at 1:45 o’clock from Hayward’s B.C. Funeral Chapel, proceeding to Christ Church Cathedral for services at 2 o’clock. Interment will be made in Ross Bay Cemetery.

(Source: Victoria Daily Times, 8 February 1930, page 15)

Eli Harrison Jr. is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery in the same plot as his father, Eli Harrison Sr., a Past Grand Master. The family grave marker has disappeared in the intervening years.

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