Max Leiser

Birth: 1862 in Kerpen, Germany

Death: April 5, 1935 (age 72-72) in Victoria, B.C.

Biography:
Max Leiser came to Victoria at his brother Simon’s urging. He bought shares in the liquor business of Urquhart and Pither, founded in 1853. By 1893, Max became a principal and the business was renamed Pither and Leiser. Pither & Leiser was a prosperous company. They expanded to Vancouver in 1900. In 1910. They sold the business to Guinness family in March 1912. Luke Pither retired and lived with his wife on a farm in Saanich.

Max Leiser became a real estate investor and developer. He invested heavily in Victoria, mostly on Fort and Yates Streets and also in Oak Bay. By June, 1912 Max Leiser purchased the Klondike Saloon at 1320-1324 Blanshard Street (corner Blanshard and Johnson Streets). Intended to be used as a hotel and bar, Architect Thomas Hooper designed a 4 story terra cotta building with 36 rooms. Max Leiser named it The Kaiserhof. It’s unclear if Max operated the hotel and bar, or if he leased the premises. The building has also been known as; The Blanshard Hotel, The Cecil Hotel and Kent Apartments.

On May 7, 1915 during World War 1, the a German U-boat torpedoed the RMS Lusitania off the Irish coast. 1198 people were killed including James Dunsmiur Jr. son of a wealthy and influential man and other Victoria residents. Victoria was one of the few cities in the world in which rioting took place. People gathered at the Kaiserhof Hotel and began a few days of vandalizing any business with a German sounding name, including all the properties owned by all of the Leiser brothers.

Following his brother Gus’s death, Max married his widow, and cousin Sophia Lenz Leiser on February 17, 1903.

After WWI, Max turned his attentions to assisting his own and other Jewish families in Germany. He began traveling with his wife Sophia Lenz-Leiser. Sophia died in Germany in 1919. Around 1930, Max Leiser married Clara/Clare Rothschild.

When a Jewish choir was formed in 1901, Max joined it. He was also part of the Jewish delegation that greeted Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and (later King George V and Queen Mary), on their royal visit in October 1901.

Max was also a Freemason.

Gravesite Details: Row Q – Plot 1

Inscription:
In Loving Memory of
Gustav Leiser
Born in Germany
1856 – 1896
Max Leiser
Born in Germany
1862 – 1935

Family Members:

  • Spouse
    • Sophia Lenz Leiser
    • Clara/Clare Rothschild
  • Siblings
    • Simon Leiser (1851-1917)
    • Gustav (Gus) Leiser (1856-1896)

The Victoria Historical Society
“The Leiser Brothers of Victoria, B.C.” by Ronald Greene.http://victoriahistoricalsociety.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/The-Leiser-Brothers.pdf

Vancouver Island Masonic History Project
http://www.templelodge33.ca/VI%20Masonic%20History%20Project/Victoria%20Jewish%20Cemetery/Leiser-Max.html

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