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 Richard Lewis (died 1875,aged 51), who is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.
Worshipful Brother Richard Lewis was a native of London, England who came to Victoria, by way of San Francisco, in 1858. He served three terms on Victoria City Council and one term as Mayor of Victoria. He was a member of Victoria-Columbia Lodge, No.1.
Richard Lewis was a leading local architect of the period. Several landmark Victoria Heritage Buildings he designed are still extant.
Here is a partial list of Richard Lewis’ surviving architectural projects in downtown Victoria:
- Southgate-Leschelles Building, 1102-1104 Government Street, built circa 1861
- Rithet Building, 1117-1125 Wharf Street, 1861; additions in 1885 and 1889
- 1109 Wharf Street, circa 1861
- 1105 Wharf Street/500-502 Fort Street, built in 1862
- 1129 Wharf Street/29 Bastion Square, built 1862
- 1205-1213 Wharf Street/8-10 Bastion Square, built 1862-63
Here is some biographical information on Worshipful Brother Richard Lewis, taken from various sources:
“Death of Ex-Mayor Lewis
On Friday morning while the joy-bells were ringing merry peals of welcome to the new-born year, and the hearts of many were filled with the bright anticipation of a happy future, ex-Mayor Richard Lewis, one of the gentlest and kindest of men, surrounded by his wife and little ones and many friends, lay dying at his residence. For some days the sufferer had been beyond hope, and as the shadow of Death drew nearer and nearer, he gradually lost consciousness, and when the supreme moment came he fell into a quiet slumber, from which he will never awaken in this world. Mr. Lewis was a native of London, England, aged 51 years, and leaves a wife and four children. By profession he was an architect, and before coming to British Columbia followed his profession in San Francisco. He landed in Victoria in 1858, and has since resided here, taking an active part in public affairs. He was thrice elected to the City Council and served one year as Mayor, discharging the duties efficiently and well. During his term of office as Mayor the smallpox visited the place, and it was owing to the energetic efforts of Mr. Lewis that the scourge did not become epidemic. Masonic Hall and many of our finest buildings were designed by Mr. Lewis, and will long stand as monuments to his architectural ability and taste. Mr. Lewis was one of the most amiable and charitable of men, and always took a leading position in the organization and management of charitable institutions. At the time of his death he was a Past Master of Victoria Lodge F & A.M., a charter member of the Royal Arch Chapter F & A.M. [sic], and of the Encampment I.O.O.F, a member of Victoria Lodge I.O.O.F., and also of the Pioneer Society, and of the Deluge Engine Co., all of whom will follow the remains of their dead brother to the cemetery to-day. At the dying request of the deceased the funeral will take place from Masonic Hall at 2 o’clock this afternoon. The remains may be viewed at the Hall from 10 to 1 o’clock today. The funeral service will be conducted at the Reformed Episcopal Church. “
(Source: Daily British Colonist, 3 January 1875, page 3)
“Funeral of Ex-Mayor Lewis – The funeral of ex-Mayor Lewis took place on Sunday last from the Masonic Hall, and it was attended by an enormous concourse of friends and fellow citizens. It was the largest funeral that has ever taken place in Victoria. The cortege was under the management of Victoria Lodge, F. & A.M., and there were large representations from the Masons, Odd Fellows, Fire Department, B.C. Pioneers and the general public. From Masonic Hall the body was conveyed to the Reformed Episcopal Church, where the Reformed Burial Service was read by Rev. Mr. Cridge. From the Church the remains were borne to the new cemetery and there interred according to Masonic rites conducted by F. Williams, Esq., W.M. of Victoria Lodge F. &A.M. During the passage of the procession the City Hall and Fire Department flags were at half-mast and the bells were tolled.”
(Source: British Daily Colonist, 5 January 1875, page 3)
Richard Lewis is buried in Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, B.C.
Ross Bay Cemetery has suffered a lot of vandalism in recent years with many tombstones and monuments being damaged. Richard Lewis’ gravestone was one of those damaged; the top of the gravestone was broken off completely and broken up into several pieces. The damage was repaired as much as possible by the Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria but evidence of the damage is still very noticeable on the gravestone.
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