Aaron Lewis

Birth: 1860 or 1861 probably in Victoria, B.C.

Death: June 27, 1916 in Victoria, B.C.

Biography:
Aaron Lewis was the youngest of three children born to Rachel and Lewis Lewis. The date that Lewis Lewis arrived in Victoria is unclear. He moved from New York to San Francisco to Sacramento where he and a partner went into the clothier business. By 1863 Lewis established himself in the same business on Yates Street in Victoria. His wife and children joined him at some point. It’s unclear where or when Aaron was born. Records of his birth range from 1860-1865.

Lewis was one of the first Jewish residents in Victoria. He felt Victoria in the early days was too wild a place for women. His wife, Rachel and daughter Rosina lived in Victoria for part of the year and in San Francisco for the rest of the time. It is unclear whether the boys also commuted between the two cities.

According to the 1881 Canadian census, Aaron was 17 and living with his father and siblings. He was listed as a tinsmith. The City Directory that year indicated that he was working at the stove and tinware business, SL Kelly & Co.

Aaron later became partners with the tinsmith Frank Lemberger in a location on Johnson Street. The firm of Lemberger & Lewis was dissolved in August, 1884 when Frank retired. Renamed Aaron Lewis & Co., this stove dealer and tinsmith shop was located on Yates Street, next door to his father’s clothing business.

Aaron Lewis & Co. remained in business until the spring of 1893 when Aaron sold it to his bookkeeper Robert Dugeon and the hardware merchant George Frank Matthews. Aaron continued to operate a tin and stove-works shop at the address on Yates Street until circa 1905. After his father retired from the clothing business, circa 1901, he helped out at Aaron’s store.

Aaron ran afoul of the law when in the summer of 1886 he fell victim to a police led crack down of city by-laws. Aaron was charged with an infraction under the “Consolidated Sidewalk and Awning By-law, 1881” for “exposing goods for sale” on the sidewalk. His case was withdrawn when Aaron agreed to pay $2 for each of the goods that he had placed on the sidewalk.

Some of the trips that Aaron took were documented in the local newspaper. Those including many trips to San Francisco, “flying trips” to Vancouver, the Sound, and Seattle.


Aaron was a member of the Knights of Pythias and in 1889, he helped to organize their 25th anniversary celebration. He was also an Odd Fellow and held the office of Secretary.

In 1891, Aaron and his father Lewis tore down their buildings on Yates Street and built a three-story brick building to match the commercial building that Caroline Humphreys was constructing. Once separate buildings, over time they have been joined. Known as the Lewis and Humphrey Block, they still stand at 566-570 Yates Street.

A wedding announcement for Miss Selina Jackson of San Francisco to Aaron Lewis of Victoria appeared in the San Francisco Call on November 7, 1892. They married on January 18, 1893.

Aaron was admitted to St. Joseph Hospital on October 18, 1899 with rheumatism. His condition gradually improved and he was released from St. Joseph’s on January 6, 1890. At the end of January, Aaron went to Pasorobles Springs, California for additional recuperation. He declared in the local press that his father, Lewis, would be his power-of-attorney during his absence.

According to the 1901 Canadian census, Aaron was living in a household with a number of other people including his father, brothers, wife Selma (sic) and a 7-year-old Mannie P.

Early in 1901 Aaron retired from the tin-smithing business. It’s possible that his wife, Selina died circa 1901-2. Aaron planned to move ‘north’ to work in George Cunningham’s cannery, but changed his plans due to his father’s ill health. That fall, Aaron and his father, Lewis, planed a trip to Pasorobles Springs, California in the hope that it would improve Lewis’ health. Lewis died in 1904. Aaron was the executor of his estate.

In February, 1895, George Voltz of Humbolt Street was brought to court for assaulting Aaron. In April, he started serving a ‘couple weeks’ in jail for that crime.

After having unsuccessfully attempted to get elected to the School Board in 1898, and with the backing of his friends, on April 6, 1899, Aaron was the first to announce his candidacy for School Board. However, in January 1900 he withdrew because people confused him with another candidate; Mr. E.A. Lewis. Aaron didn’t want to be elected under the “misapprehension that he’s some other fellow.”

Aaron returned to the tin-smithing business in 1905, retired circa 1908. That year, Aaron publicly supported the candidacy of Liberal Hon. William Templeman. Aaron then began a string of unrelated jobs which he held until his death. Some of his jobs included elevator operator for D. Spencer Ltd., night watchmen for CPR, the Marine & Fisheries Dept, and at the Custom House.

After a three month illness, on June 29, 1916, Aaron died at St. Joseph’s Hospital of kidney failure due to Brights’ Disease.

Gravesite Details:
location of plot unknown; likely in family plot with his brother and father

Parents:
Rachel Abraham Lewis (1825-1852)
Lewis Lewis (1828–1904)

Spouse:
Selina Jackson Lewis

Child:
Mannie

Siblings:
Rosina Lewis Nathan (1856–1931)
Philip Lewis (1858–1884)

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