Musical Politicians in Victoria, B.C.
Lumley and Selim Franklin moved to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1858, during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush. The Jewish community was just starting to grow, and the first synagogue, Temple Emmanu-el, was established in 1863. (Temple Emmanu-el recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.)
The Franklin brothers opened Franklin & Company, Auctioneers and Land Agents, and were appointed government auctioneers by the governor since they were actually English citizens. While the booming business of a gold town was what brought them to Victoria, these British-born brothers each made their own unique contributions to the city and thus to Canadian history in general.
Selim Franklin, who was born in 1814 in Liverpool, was part of the great California Gold Rush. He and another brother, Edward, set up shop in San Francisco in 1849. They ran several businesses together before Edward went south to San Diego and Selim went north to Victoria. Selim quickly involved himself with city business and, in 1859, became one of the first Jews elected to the Legislature of British Columbia. He remained in office until 1866. After leaving the legislature, Selim returned to San Francisco, where he died in 1884. In addition to his business and political achievements, Selim was a top rated chess player who competed on an international level.
Lumley, who was born in 1808, entered the United States in New York City in 1845, and only cam west (after a successful business career) in 1854. He spent 4 years in California before heading to British Columbia with Selim. Victoria only became an official town in 1862. Three years later, Lumley was elected as the second mayor of Victoria, the first Jewish mayor of a city in British North America. Notably, during Lumley’s mayorship, the first telegraph cable linking Victoria to England was installed (a grand feat at the time). Lumley served for only one term before choosing a more private life. Lumley died in 1873 while visiting San Francisco.
In addition to their business and political activities, the Franklin brothers, who both earned the title of Esquire and were both noted Freemasons, are remember in Victoria for their music. In January 1859, the brothers took an active role in founding the Victoria Philharmonic Society, where they were well-regarded as vocalists.
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