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Eunice Seabrooke
(1860/06/15 - 1950/01/25)
Eli Harrison Sr.
The memoirs of pioneer, Eunice Harrison, contain a number of interesting insights into the early days of Freemasonry in British Columbia, as her father-in-law, Eli Harrison Sr. was Grand Master from 1878 to 1881, while her husband was also an active freemason. Her mistaken views on the Scottish Rite are understandable from the secretive nature of Freemasonry at the time, but there is little excuse for dismissing our first premier—and an active freemason—as merely an unimpressive justice.
Masonic and Naval balls were most fashionable at that time and at one of them I formally "came out." [p. 53.]
At one of the Masonic balls I met Eli Harrison, then a young lawyer in his twenties, who was becaming known as a Crown Prosecutor. [p. 54.]
I might mention here that Eli I had taken up Freemasonry with enthusiasm and became Grand Master in 1878, in 1880 and in 1881. Dr. Robie L. Reid, the Grand Historian, recently wrote me that my father-in-law and Dr. Powell were the "only two men who have been honoured in B.C. by election as Grand Master for three successive terms."
On April 22, 1878 Eli I had dedicated and laid the foundation stone of the Masonic Temple, Victoria, and it was consecrated by him on October 23, 1878.
My father-in-law was, as I mentioned in the covered wagon days, inclined to mysticism, and this led him into what is called, I believe, "speculative Masonry." He received the degrees of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite from four to thirty-two and was then appointed Special Representative or Deputy for the highest thirty-three degree for the Province, serving for six years.
My husband also advanced in the work and was a thirty-second degree. At the time of his passing he had represented the Grand Lodge of England in B.C. for forty-four years. He compiled and annotated the Masonic Code for B.C.
This interest in Masonry, especially in its mystic side, led to a close friendship with the remarkable American Freemason General Pike. (I understand that a magnificent temple of the Scottish Rite is dedicated to him in Washington, D.C.)
It was a period when large heavy beards gave many men a patriarchal appearance, and, it must be admitted, that beards made some men, young and old, look very handsome.
General Pike fairly towered in our small house, being well over six feet, and he was awesomely huge as he sat at the dining table, for he was broad as well as tall.
General Pike wore a full beard and long hair; he had very clear, bright, penetrating yet benevolent eyes. He had been a general in the Confederate States' army and, in his delightful Southern inflection, told us many interesting anecdotes. But it was plain that his all absorbing interest was in mystical Freemasonry and certainly I have never met a man whose noble character was more strongly impressed in features and manner.
I have an interesting letter from him in his own distinctive handwriting written on thirty-three degree letterhead to a member of the family. We had a great many social cards and letters written by people who played important roles in the history of the West; some of the writers are now almost legendary. Specimens of these letters, cards and official documents were acquired from me by the late Mr. John Hosie, Provincial Librarian and Archivist, June 30, 1933, and affixed in a manuscript book of 100 pages, 17" x 21," for preservation in the Archives, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C. [p. 87.]
Mr. Justice J.F. McCreight, a tall, thin man not very impressive, called quite a few times. He had been prominent in a lodge of Freemasons in Nanaimo. He retired from the Bench and spent the remainder of his days in France. Although he had made some progress in Freemasonry he became an ardent Roman Catholic. [p. 125.]
In a chapter on the discovery of unusual Chinese coins near Hazelton, Eunice records a conversation between Eli and his Chinese Court Translator, Ah Quan: "He had previously, on an occasion, shown the signs of Chinese Freemasonry, and as my husband readily understood them, he felt he was giving the disk into no alien hand." [p. 142.]
"Whenever my husband visited San Francisco in Freemasonry or as a Bishop’s delegate to the Episcopal Church conference there, he was at home with their judges and lawyers." [p. 209.]

The Judge’s Wife, Memoirs of a British Columbia Pioneer, Eunice M.L. Harrison. Introduction by Jean Barman. Edited by Ronald B. Hatch. Annotations by Louise Wilson. Vancouver, BC : Ronsdale Press, 2002. ISBN: 0921870922 pb 295p. 15 x 23 cm. Photo of Eli Harrison, Sr. (1824-1907) in his Grand Master’s regalia, c. 1878. Courtesy of L[ouise]. Wilson. p. 85 [Eunice Harrison’s granddaughter]


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