Deceased Brethren

M.W. Bro. Marcus Wolfe (1850-1896) was a member of Ashlar Lodge, No.3. He served as Worshipful Master of Ashlar Lodge, No.3 in 1887, 1888 and 1894 and also as Grand Master of B.C. in 1891-92.

Tragically he committed suicide in Nanaimo in November 1896 and is buried in the Victoria Jewish Cemetery. His grave is unmarked and the Victoria Jewish Cemetery do not show its exact location, so we are uncertain where Marcus Wolfe is buried.

Marcus Wolfe as Grand Master of B.C., 1891-92
Marcus Wolfe as Grand Master of B.C., 1891-92 (photo copyright Grand Lodge of B.C. & Yukon)

Here is some basic information about M.W.B. Marcus Wolfe, taken from Ashlar Lodge, No.3 records:

Here is a brief biographical sketch of Most Worshipful Brother Marcus Wolfe, taken from contemporary newspaper reports of his death and funeral:


Assigned By the Coroner’s Jury as the Explanation of the Suicide of Marcus Wolfe

NANAIMO, Nov. 21.-(Special) – At the inquest on the body of Marcus Wolfe to-day a verdict was given of “death by his own hand during a fit of temporary aberration.” The deceased will probably be buried in Portland, Ore. That the dreadful deed was premeditated is apparent from the fact that he had placed a small looking-glass in position so he that could take direct aim for his temple. Mr. Wolfe was the first Grand Master of the British Columbia Grand Lodge of Masons; Past Grand Master of the United Order of Workmen, secretary of the Nanaimo Board of Trade since its inception, and secretary of the Nanaimo Water Works Company. He also conducted an extensive insurance business, but it has been known for some time that he has been in financial difficulties, and this no doubt preyed upon a sensitive mind and drove him to the rash act. For many years he was a partner in the Pioneer Red House firm of Mayer & Co., of this city, his father-in-law, the late Alex. Mayer, being the senior partner.

Mr. Wolfe was born in California (note: Ashlar Lodge, No.3 records say he was born in New Orleans, LA) about 51 years ago, and has been in British Columbia over 35 years, having been connected at Yale and in the Cariboo districts with the firm of Oppenheimer Bros., of Vancouver, to whom he is related. He leaves a wife and daughter overwhelmed with grief at his loss.

Mr. Stirtan left Mr. Wolfe at the waterworks office at about 10 o’clock yesterday, and he was then as cheerful as usual. On returning at 1 o’clock he noticed that a small looking-glass had disappeared. He then noticed a smell of gunpowder, and going into the office found Mr. Wolfe in a chair in the northwest corner of the office, his head leaning towards the left and a bullet hole in his right temple. He was still alive but very near his end. The bullet had completely pierced his skull. There was a chair on each side of him and on one on the left was a mirror which he had evidently used to shoot by. On the desk were two letters, one addressed to J.W. Stirtan with a red pencil and the other to Mrs. M. Wolfe, his wife, addressed with a blue pencil. These were placed carefully on the desk and were written in a steady, bold hand. On discovering Mr. Wolfe. Mr. Stirtan telephones for medical aid, as Mr. Wolfe was still living. Returning immediately he found Mr. Wolfe breathing his last. The bullet had pierced the head and was found on the floor a few feet away. Mr. Wolfe has evidently not moved from the chair, as there was a pool of blood just below him. The last note the deceased had made before the deed said: “See about water at Haslam’s cabins. Party called here and said it was not on for some time.” “

Source: Daily Colonist, 22 November 1896, page 3

The Remains of the Esteemed Nanaimoite Committed to Their Last Resting in the Jewish Cemetery Here

The funeral of the late Marcus Wolfe of Nanaimo, whose tragic death cast a cloud over the entire province on Thursday last, took place from the Masonic Temple in this city yesterday under the auspices and direction of Victoria-Columbia lodge, No. 1, A.F. & A.M. The deceased, an honored Past Grand Master of Free Masons, was until the time of his demise an active member of Ashlar lodge, No. 3, of Nanaimo, and his death is lamented not only by all members of the craft but by the whole community of which he was a prominent and respected member.

The funeral, which was at first expected to take place in the city of Portland, was attended by members of Victoria-Columbia lodge in large numbers, the impressive burial services being conducted by the Worshipful Master, Mr. H.L. Salmon. At the graveside, in the Jewish cemetery, the services were conducted by the V.W. Professor D. Wilson, D.D.G.M., followed by the Hebrew services, delivered by Mr. H. Bornstein, with an English translation by Mr. S. Schultz. The chief mourners were Messrs. John Mehrer, M. Leiser, S. Oppenheimer and G.H. Seelig, and the pall-bearers Messrs. W.J. Quinlan, D. Wilson, Theo. H. Robinson, L. Lewis, J. Isaacs, E. Frank, J.W. Coburn and J. Rostein.

Beautiful flowers and wreaths were sent in token of sympathy and regret, by Mr. and Mrs. A.R. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Thompson, Mr. and Mrs. Pawson, Mr. and Mrs. Stirton, Mr. and Mrs. Leighton, Mr. and Mrs. W. Hunter, Rev. C. Rosenquet [note: this could be a misprint for R. Bosenquet], Mr. and Mrs. H. Cooper, Dr. and Mrs. Davis, Mr. and Mrs. G.H. Seelig, Mr. William Power, Mr. and Mrs. Haslam, Dr. and Mrs. Perry, Mr. and Mrs. M. Lenz, Mr. and Mrs. Dempsey, Mr. and Mrs. F. Barrett, Chemainus, Mr. and Mrs. A. Harnis, Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Morris, the Messrs. Simpson, the Grand Lodge, Ashlar lodge No. 3 of Nanaimo, Victoria-Columbia lodge, No. 1, A.F. & A.M.; and the A.O.U.W., of which the deceased was Past Grand Master.”

Source: Daily Colonist, 24 November 1896, page 5

We have looked for M.W.B. Marcus Wolfe’s grave in the Victoria Jewish Cemetery but have been unable to find it. The historian at the Congregation Emanu-El synagogue in Victoria tells us that the original grave marker on Marcus Wolfe’s grave has disappeared and the Victoria Jewish Cemetery records do not contain an exact location for Marcus Wolfe’s grave.

A University of Victoria Anthropology course, ANTH 395, is currently using the Victoria Jewish Cemetery as a teaching aid for archaeological methods. One of its goals is to identify the locations of unmarked graves in the Victoria Jewish Cemetery. We are very honoured that the ANTH 395 students have been regularly using the Ashlar Lodge No. 3 website and the Temple Lodge No. 33 website as research tools for their work in the Victoria Jewish Cemetery. We have asked the ANTH 395 students to keep us updated on their efforts to locate Marcus Wolfe’s grave.

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