As part of our Vancouver Island Masonic History Project series on Vancouver Island Cemeteries and Masonic Interments, here is a some information on James Orr (died 19 July 1871), who is buried in Pioneer Square, Victoria, B.C.
Most of what we know of Brother James Orr comes from the reports of his death and funeral in the British Colonist, the local newspaper of the day. James Orr was a native of Scotland; he was a member of British Columbia Lodge, No. 1090 E.R. in Victoria, a member of Columbia Lodge, No. 2, I.O.O.F. and was the Foreman of the Tiger Engine Co., one of Victoria’s three volunteer fire brigades. Victoria’s three volunteer firefighter companies became the Victoria Fire Department in 1875.
James Orr’s tombstone (shown below) is still in Pioneer Square but has been moved from its original location to the eastern portion of the grounds, so we do not know the actual location of his grave.
The Funeral Notices for James Orr which appeared in the local newspaper, the British Colonist, are also shown below.
Here are the contemporary reports of James Orr’s death and funeral from the British Colonist newspaper:
In this city, on the 19th inst., Mr. James Orr, a native [of] Cootbridge, by Ardrie, Lanookshire, Scotland. [note: these appear to be a series of misprints. We think it should be Coatbridge, by Airdrie, Lanarkshire.]
The funeral will leave the Masonic Hall, at 2 p.m. TOMORROW (Friday), and proceed to St. Andrew’s Church, Courtenay street, for divine service. Friends are respectfully invited to attend.”
(Source: British Colonist, 20 July 1871, page 3, column 1)
“FUNERAL OF JAMES ORR – The funeral of Mr. James Orr, late foreman of the Tiger Engine Company and president of the St. Andrew’s and Caledonian Society, took place yesterday. The cortege – which was headed by the Volunteer Band – comprised members of the UH & L Company [note: Union Hook & Ladder Company] and the Tiger and Deluge Companies, British Columbia, Victoria and Vancouver Lodges of Freemasons, Victoria and Columbia Lodges of Odd Fellows, the St. Andrew’s and Caledonian Society, and a number of citizens. The remains were received at Masonic Hall and conveyed to St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, where service was read by Rev Mr McGregor. Thence the procession proceeded to the cemetery, where the body was interred with Masonic honors – the service being read by Thos Shotbolt, Esq., W M of British Columbia Lodge. An additional interest attached to the obsequies from the fact that Mr Orr was engaged to be married to an interesting young lady of this city, who was present and sobbed during the solemn proceedings as if her young heart would break.”
(Source: British Colonist 22 July 1871 page 3, column 1)
Here is the funeral notice which appeared in the British Colonist newspaper:
The photos below show James Orr’s gravestone and some details and Masonic imagery still visible on the stone.
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