The first Jews arrived in 1858, mostly from San Francisco.
Gold prospectors had to stop in Victoria, the capital, to obtain mining licences, and then go on to the mainland, where gold was discovered.
In the 1850s, there were about 200 Jews in Victoria.
The Victoria Hebrew Benevolent Society (the first Jewish organization in Western Canada) purchased a burial site on Cedar Hill Road (which at that time was on the edge of town).
On Feb. 5, 1860, the cemetery was founded. That same cemetery still serves our community today.
The cornerstone-laying ceremony took place June 2, 1863. This was a gala celebration and was attended by the mayor, town council, Chief Justice, the Freemasons, Hebrew Benevolent, French Benevolent and St. Andrews Societies, bands and choirs.
Our synagogue today is the oldest house of worship in British Columbia, and the oldest synagogue in continuous use in Canada.
The Low Years
Congregation Emanu-El, 1461 Blanshard Street, Victoria, B.C. V8W 2J3 Canada
Tel: 250-382-0615 • InfoAtCongEman
Office hours: Tues–Thurs 9:30am-2:30pm