Deceased Brethren

William Hales Franklyn (died 1874, aged 58) was one of the civic leaders of Nanaimo between 1860 and 1870. Franklyn Street in Nanaimo is named for him.

William Hales Franklyn was a a member of Grand Master’s Lodge, No.1 (United Grand Lodge of England) in London and was instrumental in starting Nanaimo Lodge, No. 1090, the first Masonic Lodge in Nanaimo, chartered by the United Grand Lodge of England. (here is a link to a research paper with information on William Hales Franklyn and the development of Freemasonry in Nanaimo – note PDF)



William Hales Franklyn was subsequently posted to the Seychelles as British Chief Civil Commissioner. He died in the Seychelles in 1874 and his grave is in the State House cemetery.

Here is William Hales Franklyn’s Masonic history in England, courtesy of the United Grand Lodge of England:

Grand Master’s Lodge, No. 1, London, U.K.

  • Initiated,  19th April 1841
  • Passed: 29th May 1841
  • Raised: 20th December 1841
  • Age at Initiation: (Not recorded)
  • Address at Initiation: (Not recorded)
  • Occupation at Initiation: (Not recorded)
  • Last dues payment to Grand Master’s Lodge, No. 1 made in 1841
  • Nanaimo Lodge No. 1090, Nanaimo.  One of the Founders of this Lodge in January 1866
  • Master of Nanaimo Lodge No. 1090 in 1866 (Founding Member)

The following is from the City of Nanaimo Archives:


(Born around 1815 -?)

It would be interesting to know what the “British Lion” was really like! Lions are a sign of power and strength. Does this mean William Hales Franklyn was a strong and powerful man? Lions are also known as the “king of the jungle” because they attack so quickly their victims can’t protect themselves. They also attack big animals from behind and then rip them apart. Does this mean William Hales Franklyn was ruthless and feared by citizens of Nanaimo?

William Franklyn was born in Kent, England where he grew up and became a captain in the British navy. He did not come to Vancouver Island until 1859. He was 44 years old. It didn’t take him long to become the magistrate for Nanaimo. Magistrates were in charge of towns before they had a city council to govern them.

The provincial government ignored Nanaimo and gave them very little money. The town needed roads, police officers and postmasters. It was hard to get around town since there was a ravine in the middle of town. When the tide was high you couldn’t get from one part of town to the other. People living in Nanaimo were frustrated and angry. They were not being protected or helped. Many citizens felt Franklyn was paid too much for what he did. He was paid 150 pounds to issue liquor licenses and fine people who broke the law. William Franklyn had a hard time keeping law and order. He fired the first and second police constables. Nanaimo was not a safe place to live.

People never did really like William Franklyn. They felt he got paid too much and didn’t do a good job. He also lived a much better life than most of the people who lived in Nanaimo. William didn’t like the “coal mining” homes in Nanaimo. He owned a farm, Cob Tree farm, in Cedar and decided to live there. Farms in Cedar kept the stores in Nanaimo supplied with dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables. Franklyn had cattle, pigs and sheep. William soon got tired of the canoe trip into Nanaimo every day. He decided to move but also decided to build a new home, “Franklyn House”, at the corner of Franklyn and Dunsmuir streets in 1862. William used red cedar panelling from California and red bricks from England. It did not look like other homes in Nanaimo! Franklyn house was demolished in 1950 so the land could be used to build Nanaimo’s City Hall.

William’s real problems began when Vancouver Island united with the mainland in 1866. People did not agree which city should be named the capital. It was a race between New Westminster and Victoria. Captain Franklyn felt New Westminster was the best choice. Many people on Vancouver Island and especially in Victoria were upset with him. Captain William Hales Franklyn was magistrate for 6 years. He was asked to leave when his term was finished in 1866. William moved back to Victoria. However, in 1867, the Governor appointed him Nanaimo’s representative in parliament. In 1922, Nanaimo Board of School Trustees built Franklyn Street Gym in his memory.

William Hales Franklyn, “British Lion”: was he strong and powerful? feared?

For more information, see:

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