Vancouver Island Masonic History Project
 Vancouver Island Cemeteries – Masonic Interments

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 John Thompson Galbraith, who is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.

Here is a brief biography of John Thompson Galbraith (died 1887, aged 65) taken from the local newspaper reports of his death and funeral:

Mr. John Galbraith Passes Away After a Short Illness – A Brief History of His Life- Funeral Arrangements

The community was shocked last evening when it was announced the Mr. John Galbraith, one of British Columbia’s oldest pioneers and most respected citizens, had passed suddenly away. He was seen on the streets on Saturday in apparently good health, and retired as usual to his rooms in the Driard at 11 o’clock that night. Feeling indisposed he remained in bed all day Sunday, but nothing serious was thought of it. He kept to his bed yesterday morning, and only at noon was his condition thought serious. Dr. Powell remained with him, and did all that medical skill could do to save his life. He speedily became unconscious, however, and entered into rest at 5 o’clock in the arms of his faithful wife. So sudden was it all, so unexpected, so lamentable, that his friends could hardly bring themselves to realize that he passed forever from their midst. Expressions of genuine sorrow and regret were heard on all sides and the virtues of honest John Galbraith loudly extolled. He has long been a sufferer from liver disease and it is thought his heart was also affected. The case is one of peculiarly sad interest. He was born in the north of Ireland, the son of a Church of England clergyman, and came to California in 1858, being then aged about 28 years. He traveled extensively through the mining districts of California, Idaho and Montana, and engaged largely in mining and packing. Mr. Louis Redon knew him intimately in Idaho twenty-five years ago, when he packed from Lewiston to the mines, being in the employ of the American Express Co. Thence he went to Kootenay in 1865. He owned pack trains with which he took supplied to the mines from Walla Walla. He settled down to ranching about 1867 or 1868 at Joseph’s Prairie were he had a store and carried on stock raising. He was the proprietor of the Kootenay ferry for the last 16 or 17 years. He sold out his ranche [sic] at a large figure in 1884 to Col. Baker, since which time he has resided at Parson’s Bridge, where he owned a farm, coming in to Victoria at frequent intervals. His brother Robert, ex-M.P.P.  for Kootenay, who was associated with him in business for many years, has long looked after his interests in Kootenay. The firm did a large trade during the past year in forwarding supplies to the interior of Kootenay and contemplated extending it next year, putting up several buildings, including a large hotel at the Hot Springs, Columbia Lake. His wife is a native of South America. General sympathy is extended to her in her terrible bereavement. His sister and brother-in-law reside in Kootenay, and his brother, James, occupies a position on the Northern Pacific railway. The deceased was always recognized as a good business man, fair in all his dealings and warm-hearted as only an Irishman can be. Throughout British Columbia, wherever he was known, and he counted hosts of friends everywhere, his demise will be learned with grief, and his memory held in pleasant recollection. How deeply does this “cutting off” recall to us “That in the midst of life we are in death!” The body was taken to Chas. Hayward’s undertaking rooms, and the funeral will take place to-morrow afternoon at 2 o’clock from the Masonic Temple, corner Douglas and Fisgard streets, under the auspices of the Free Masons, of which body he was a member. Deceased was 65 years of age and possessed of considerable wealth.”

(Source: Daily Colonist, 8 November 1887, page 1, column 7)

“Laid to Rest – The funeral of the late John Galbraith took place yesterday. In the morning the remains were removed to the Masonic Temple and at 2 o’clock, the services of the Order, conducted by Grand Master Bro. A.R. Milne, were conducted. At 2:30 o’clock the procession was formed and proceeded to Christ Church cathedral, where the Rev. A. Beanlands officiated. The 93rd Psalm and two hymns were sung by the choir, after which the procession reformed, the strains of Handel’s Dead March being played with marked effect by Bro. Hookway, the Temple organist. At Ross Bay cemetery the Masons closed their service, during which the mortal remains were lowered into the grave. The floral offering were particularly lovely and appropriate, being placed upon the handsome casket with great taste. The chief mourners were Dr. I.W. Powell, Hon. Mr. F.G. Vernon, Hon. Mr. Beaven and Mr. J.J. Austin, the pall-bearers being Judge Vowell, and Bros. E.C. Neufelder, Wm. Manson, A. McKeown, M.W. Waitt and J. Johnston.”

(Source: Daily Colonist, 10 November 1887, page 4, column 3)

We will get a photo of John Galbraith’s grave and post it here in the near future.


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