Birth: 1820 in London, England
Death: September 20, 1879 in Victoria, B.C.
J.P. Davies was born in London, trained as a rabbi, but when he was about 18 years old he moved to Australia. He met and married Maria Harris, both of whom were free settlers. Attracted to California by the gold rush, JP, his wife and their three children set out but the boat was shipwrecked and they were adrift for 6 weeks off the coast of Monterey, California. Once they reached land, J.P. opened a Hotel in Monterey. The family soon moved to San Francisco, and three other children were born. J.P. was very active in the Jewish community. He also prospered as a wholesale grocer. He vouched $30,000 for a friend, but was left to settle the account when his friend absconded with funds.
The family loved to Victoria in 1863. J.P. opened an auction house with his son Joshua. JP Davies & Co. (1218 Wharf Street). The business did well and was involved with large real estate sales in Victoria, Vancouver and Washington. The firm also sold household goods and livestock. Frank Sylvester was hired as an accountant and later married Cecelia Davies (J.P. and Maria’s second daughter).
J.P. was very involved with the Jewish community, the Odd Fellows, and the Freemasons.
J.P. gave the keynote address on behalf of the Freemasons at the cornerstone laying ceremony for the synagogue building. An excerpt of his speech is:
“it was now 2675 years since the Temple of Solomon was build and (this) was the first instance since then of the ancient order of Masons or any other fraternity taking part in laying the foundation stone of a Jewish edifice.”
J.P. ended his remarks with statements about the good things that the various societies had been doing and thanked them for their attendance.
J.P. ran for public office but was narrowly defeated by Amor De Cosmos.
J.P. had a heart attack and died suddenly while walking with his son, Joshua near Bastion Square. Joshua took over the business.
His funeral cortege was one of the largest in the city to date.
The Pallbearers were J H Innes, James Fell, R Roberts, P McQuade, W P Sayward, L. Vigelius. He was buried with Jewish rites led by Mr H Bornstein. Mr. Roberts led the Odd Fellows burial rites.
Gravesite Details: Row F – Plot 31.
A shaft carved from Beaver Cove marble by Mortimer & Reed once stood on the granite base.
September 20 1879
Aged 59 yrs
Jewish Museum of the American West:
Vancouver Island Masonic History Project: