As part of our Vancouver Island Masonic History Project and our series on Vancouver Island Cemeteries – Masonic Interments, here is a page on Joshua Philip Davies (1846-1903), a member of Vancouver & Quadra Lodge, No.2 who is buried in the Victoria Jewish Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.
Here is a brief biography of Joshua Philip Davies from the reports of his death and funeral in the Daily Colonist:
“It is with the keenest regret that Victorians yesterday heard the announcement of the death of one of their best known and most highly respected citizens—Joshua Davies. The tidings were not unexpected, for deceased had not been a well man for several years, having been a sufferer from that dread complaint, heart disease.
Some few weeks, ago he found it necessary to go to the Jubilee hospital in the hope that a course of treatment would result in an improvement, but though he rallied at times, he constantly drew nearer the time when he must answer the dread summons—and the end came suddenly. He was in the habit of taking a bath in his room after his morning coffee, and yesterday at the hour when he was supposed to have concluded that morning custom, the nurse went to his room and found him dead.
Joshua Davies was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1846. In the early 50’s the family left Australia for California, being wrecked on the southern coast near Monterey, where Mr. Davies’ father engaged in business for some years.
The family afterwards went to Sacramento, where they lost everything in a fire which consumed most of the city.
Mr. Davies spent his school days in San Francisco, graduating from the High school. He arrived in Victoria in 1864, where he soon afterwards became associated with his father in the auction business. On the death of his father he continued the business alone, and during his career conducted the principal auction sales in the city. He was noted for his rapid delivery in calling out bids at a sale, and has sold at a speed of 225 lots an hour.
Mr. Davies was one of the pioneers of Kootenay, having been interested in many of the early enterprises in Kootenay, notably the Davies-Sayward Land Company, Galena Trading Company, Nelson Land & Investment Company, all of which he promoted and founded. He was instrumental in inducing prominent Eastern capitalists in New Haven to establish the first smelter in British Columbia, at Pilot Bay.
D. C. Corbin, who built the Nelson & Fort Sheppard road, owed much to the active co-operation of Mr. Davies in securing the local franchise. Mr. Davies was also deputed by the government in 1901 to examine into and endeavor to effect a settlement between the Crow’s Nest company and the private owners of land at Fernie, and which he adjusted to the satisfaction of all interested.
He was also prominently identified with the Odd Fellows, and served two terms as grand master. He was most active in charitable work, and particularly centred his love on the progress of the Jubilee hospital, having previously for many years been a director of the old Royal hospital. He served two terms as president of the Jubilee, and his interest continued to the time of his death, Mr. Davies was also one of the largest contributors to the fund of the hospital at its inception.
As a pioneer he was actively connected with the volunteer fire department, frequently acting as engineer of the old Tiger steam engine.
Mr. Davies was a great lover of outdoor sports, having been a member of the first baseball team in the city, and playing in the first international matches between Victoria and the then principal city of Washington—Olympia.
Whilst not taking an active part in politics he has been a zealous protectionist and has always supported the cause of the Conservative party.
Mr. Davies succeeded his father as official auctioneer of the Imperial government, having personally conducted every naval sale for over 20 years.
Mr. Davies conducted the first auction sale of lots at Vancouver in 1885, when the townsite was put on the market.
The funeral will take place from the family residence, 195 Cook street, to-morrow afternoon at 2:30 o’clock.
(Source: Daily Colonist, 6 June 1903, page 3)
Funeral Today.—This afternoon at 2:30 the remains of the late Joshua Davies will be interred from the family residence, 195 Cook street. It is anticipated that the funeral of the deceased pioneer will be one of the largest held in this city in recent years. Masons, Odd Fellows and Pioneers will parade in a body, as will also the members of the Board of Trade and directors of the Provincial Royal Jubilee hospital. Owing to the death, the sacred concert which was to be held at the hospital this afternoon has been postponed.
(Source: Daily Colonist, 7 June 1903, page 5)
“There was a very large attendance at the funeral of the late Joshua Davies, which occurred on Sunday afternoon from the family residence, 195 Cook street. Impressive services were conducted at the house by H.L. Salmon. From the residence the cortege proceeded to the Jewish cemetery. Here Rabbi Montague N. A. Cohen took charge and gave an address appropriate to the occasion. He referred to the good work of deceased in charity and his attachment to the interests of the Jubilee hospital over since its inauguration. In conclusion, he said that Mr. Davies would he missed in many ways and that the sympathy of the whole community was extended to the relatives in their bereavement.
The pallbearers follow: (Honorary) Dr. J. C. Davie, Dr. I. Powell, G. H. McLaughlin, S. A. Spencer. T. Lubbe and H. Chapman: J. A. Virtue. C. A. Holland, H. E. Levy, J. Savannah, J. H. Baker and F. Landsberg.”
(Source: Daily Colonist, 9 June 1903, page 5)
The tombstone originally had an obelisk or a spire on top which has disappeared in the intervening years.
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