Deceased Brethren

John Sabiston (1825-1902) was a member of Nanaimo Lodge No. 1090 and later of Ashlar Lodge No. 3. He also served on Nanaimo City Council.

We are gradually building this page but here is what we have so far:

This is from a document in the Nanaimo Community Archives:

“Saga of John Sabiston

John Sabiston was born in the Orkney Islands in 1825. At the age of 13 ran away to sea as a Boy Seaman. During his youth travelled from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere, the seven seas, on many types of sailing ships and under ship’s masters of stern and brutal ones. There were not too many of them for the Boy Seaman Sabiston.

Young John returned to England as an Able Seaman. He learned the Hudson’s Bay Company was hiring on crew for the Company ship “Norman Morrison”, outbound for the Colony of Vancouver Island. In January 1850 the ship arrived at the entrance to Victoria Harbour, and the ship tied up at its berth. John had decided to sign of [off?] Ship’s Articles, and get away from his seafaring career.

John saw his first steamship, the “Beaver”, under the command of Captain Dodd and First Officer Thomas Wade. The vessel was short of an Able Seaman. John forgot about retiring from the sea [and] signed on at age 25.

The “Beaver” went over to Stellacombe, Washington Territory. Mr. Wade had been with the ship 10 years, [and] seem[ed] to be content with what he was doing. The morning after arrival Wade was found dead in his cabin, from an apparent suicide. No one [knew] the reason why, and the American authority would [not] look into the death. No report ever received on the investigation.

The “Beaver” returned to Victoria to lay over until spring of 1851. John was kept busy working on the ship’s overhaul, and still [the] ship was laid up until the fall of 1851.

Captain Stuart had [to] take command from Captain Dodd who was taking a rest. The ship departed for Nisqually, Washington Territory to pick up cattle from the Company subsidiary, Puget Sound Agricultural Company. John was on the “Beaver” and a witness to the detention of the ship.


Note: we will transcribe more of this as time permits…

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