Deceased Brethren

William W. Lewis (1864-1968) was Worshipful Master of Ashlar Lodge, No.3 in 1901 and 1902, District Deputy Grand Master in 1903 and Treasurer of Ashlar Lodge, No.3 from 1914 until 1936.

Here is some basic information about him from Ashlar Lodge, No.3 records:

We will add more information about R.W.B. William W. Lewis as we discover it through additional research.

But the Nanaimo Community Archives has an audio recording of William Lewis discussing his life. The recording was made by William Barraclough in 1963 as part of a series on Nanaimo pioneers.

January 2017 Update:

Our Ashlar Lodge No. 3 Historian was rooting around in some long overlooked storage areas of Ashlar Masonic Temple and he discovered a silver plate on copper commemorative tray presented to William W. Lewis in 1937 by Ashlar Lodge No.3.

The commemorative tray presented to William W. Lewis by Ashlar Lodge No. 3 in 1937. We recently found this in a storage area in the Ashlar Masonic Temple.
The commemorative tray presented to William W. Lewis by Ashlar Lodge No. 3 in 1937. We recently found this in a storage area in the Ashlar Masonic Temple.

Our Historian has put up a post about this tray, which we having cleaned before being put on permanent display in the Ashlar Masonic Temple so that people can actually see this item instead of it lying overlooked, forgotten and collecting dust in a cupboard.

Here is some biographical information about William Lewis taken from various sources in the Nanaimo Community Archives.


Mr. Wm. Lewis was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Miss Mary Caldwell at the residence of Mr. Caldwell, Wallace Street, at 8:00 o’clock this morning by the Rev. W. Ross, Presbyterian Minister. After the ceremony had been completed the bride and bridegroom sat down to breakfast with a large number of their friends, who had collected to witness the imposing ceremonies. After breakfast being partaken of, the bride was presented with a considerable number of handsome and useful presents, many of which will be useful in their matrimonial life. Many were the congratulations offered by their friends in which the FREE PRESS also heartily joins for their future happiness and welfare. The bride and bridegroom then drove to the station amid a shower of rice in company with Miss Watkins, who accompanied them to Victoria. A large party of their friends collected at the station to witness their departure on their honeymoon, and as the train moved out the party shook hands with the young couple and wished them God-speed and prosperity in their wedded bliss.”

(Source: Nanaimo Free Press, 1890, no specific date given, in Nanaimo Community Archives records. )

“Billy Lewis, Resident In Nanaimo 85 Years, Is 97

Rotarians Honor Member With 40 Years’ Standing

Billy Lewis, 60 Dawe Street, is celebrating his 97th birthday today. Tomorrow is the actual birthday, but today he is receiving congratulations from friends.

It is difficult to believe that Mr. Lewis is 97. There is nothing about his looks or his actions to indicate he was born in 1862. A bright cheery manner, an alert mind, and active faculties belie his age, in fact, he is more like a person half his number of years.

Billy Lewis has been a resident of Nanaimo for 85 years. He arrived here on the steamer Maude in 1875. It was a seventeen hour trip from Victoria, or thereabouts, he recalls, depending on whether or not they had to wait for a favorable tide through Dodds Narrows.

The settlement of Nanaimo then consisted of a few log cabins. Coal mining was drawing miners here and Billy’s father was a miner who had left his native Wales to make a fortune in the California Gold Rush of ’49, and eventually found his way into the Nanaimo coal mines.

What about the philosophy of this remarkable man? In the first place he is an incurable optimist.

“It’s a wonderful world,” says Mr. Lewis. “Of course, the world situation looks bad, but there always has been something for people to worry about. Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” His advice is “Live one day at a time and make the most of it.”

Because he is so physically fit, although nearing the century mark,  he gets asked if he has any particular formula. He tells them all that, “The keynote of health and contentment is…moderation.”

Strong moral principles and spiritual values underly [sic] the quiet calm exterior of Nanaimo’s fine old gentleman.

Mr. Lewis attended yesterday’s Rotary luncheon and heard fellow Rotarians sing “For he’s a Jolly Good Fellow.” He has been a member of the local club for 40 years and seldom missed a meeting up until recent years.

Mr. Lewis is also a member of Ashlar Lodge A.F. & A.M. and has been a mason for 66 years.  His home on Dawes avenue has a view of the harbor and he likes to recall the old days when the harbor was used by tall masted sailing ships.

“Today’s mechanization is a fine thing, it makes life easier for all. Unfortunately, because of the increased pace and modern methods, we lose that personal touch, that human relationship is gone. It is something we of the older generation miss.”

(Source: Nanaimo Free Press, July 1960, in Nanaimo Community Archives records. )

“Famed “Billy” Lewis Dies Here At The Age Of 104

William Lewis

Nanaimo’s Grand Old Man, William”Billy” Lewis died Sunday in Nanaimo Regional Hospital.

He was 104 years old last July 13.

Probably the most well known and liked centenarian in the province, Mr. Lewis has been a highly respected figure for many years in this community.

In spite of his great age, he had remained in fairly good health up until about three weeks ago. Always impeccably dressed, an excellent conversationalist, his mind was keen and clear until his final illness.

In his own way he was a philosopher and interested observer of the passing scene.

Only three week ago he remarked, “I’m only here now on overtime.”

Of his exceptional long life he commented, “It has been a good life. I have enjoyed it. The changes I have seen over the years are tremendous. Today’s world is so different from when I was young.”

He came to Nanaimo as a child, when his father, a Welsh miner who had followed the gold rush to California, decided to move on the Klondike rush after working in California for a number of years.

The family stopped off in Victoria, then Mr. Lewis senior decided to take a job in the Nanaimo coal mines, just getting going at that time.

Billy Lewis for the last 94 years has been an outstanding figure in this community.

He was born at Portwine, California, July 13, 1863.

Mr. Lewis resided at Dawes street, Nanaimo, for many years until a few months ago when he moved to 1717 Boundary road.

Mr. Lewis first went into the clothing business with his brother-in-law, James Caldwell. He later was manager of Nanaimo Electric Light Co. , and when it sold out to Nanaimo, Duncan Utilities Co., he was also manager. When it was sold to B.C. Hydro he retired.

Mr. Lewis was a Past Master of Ashlar Lodge No. 3 A.F. and A.M. of B.C. Grand Lodge; a member of Scottish Masons [note: Scottish Rite], Rotary Club and an honorary member of Nanaimo Historical Society.

Mr. Lewis was pre-deceased by his wife, Mary, many years ago, and is survived by three nephews, R.R. (Dick) Caldwell, 1400 Townsite road; Will Caldwell, Hamilton, Ontario, and Richard Lewis, Seattle, Wash., and two nieces, Miss Clara St. Clair Johnson, Vancouver and Mrs. John Hoskins, Escondio, California.

Funeral services will be held at St. Andrew’s United Church Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., Rev. Dr. Clyde Woollard will conduct the services.

Westwood Chapel of Flowers is in charge of funeral arrangements.

Interment will be in the family plot, Nanaimo Cemetery.”

(Source: Nanaimo Free Press, 1968, no specific date given, in Nanaimo Community Archives records. )

Would you like to leave a comment or question about anything on this page?