Branch History

75th Anniversary of the United Empire Loyalists Branch in Victoria

by Gene M. Aitkens UE

November 2002

The year 2002 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada branch in Victoria. What follows is the history of its first 26 years, roughly to the end of WWII, and is taken from the minutes of meetings.

On 4 February 1927, the descendants of the United Empire Loyalists in Victoria held their first meeting in the Assembly Room of the Parliament Buildings Library with 24 present. Most of those gathered were Victoria businessmen, some having previously belonged to the B.C. Historical Society, but they were anxious to form a Loyalist Branch in British Columbia and to become part of the Canadian Association, headquartered in Toronto. Major Beaumont Boggs convened this meeting, and was requested by those present to act as the chairman. Colonel T.B. Monk became Secretary-Treasurer. Those two men could be considered as the Founding Fathers. It was moved by Mr. F.E. Winslow and seconded by Mr. Alexander Fraser that the Meeting for Incorporation be held on Friday 4 March at 8 p.m. The Provincial Librarian, Mr. Hosie, kindly offered the Assembly Room of the Parliamentary Library for the occasion. The offer was accepted with thanks, and all but one of the meetings that first year were held there. At that first meeting, Mr. Winslow, a New Brunswick Loyalist, gave an address on the Winslow Papers, the records of his family.

During the balance of its first year, at all the meetings, the new society continued having addresses by its members on their Loyalist roots. Members also gave advice on historical accuracy to Spencer's store (forerunner of Eaton's) on the preparation of a float for the 1 July parade, and they kept trying, unsuccessfully, to get the Branch acknowledged by Toronto headquarters and the Charter issued. The Executive also worked on its new Constitution, and the result was presented at the 1 November 1927 meeting. With a few amendments it is the same one we use today, its objects being (1) to perpetuate the memory of Loyalists, their allegiance to the British flag, and the part they played in building Canada, and (2) to use every effort to have the true history of our country taught in our schools. Membership fees were set at $1.00 per year, payable at the annual meeting in November (fees have been amended several times, of course!). The Treasurer's statement for 1927:






Room rental




Cash on hand


Signed T.B. Monk, Sec.

Strangely, two years passed without a meeting, apparently because President Beaumont Boggs was very ill. Col. T.B. Monk became President in November 1930. 22 members again met in the Parliament Library.

The matter of affiliation with the Dominion Association was again discussed, and the Secretary was instructed to write to Toronto requesting a Charter, and to include $5.00 for costs. He was also to ask that Victoria be made the Provincial society for B.C., there being no other branches at the time. (This was never granted.)

At year's end 1931, the Secretary-Treasurer's report showed no funds on hand other than a 4c stamp!

During 1932, the Victoria Branch was asked to support the Native Sons of Canada in advocating a distinctive flag for Canada - long before it came about in Lester Pearson's time, in 1965!  Loyalist Day, 18 May, was celebrated in the old Craigflower School on the Gorge. Teas were served at 35c each to the 25 members who were present. A letter was sent to the Public Library with a list of books published on Loyalists that should be on the library shelves (no follow-up). New Branches were formed in Toronto, Hamilton, Brantford, Kingston, Regina and Vancouver - five years later than Victoria! Christmas cards and official stationary were ordered from Toronto. Victoria Branch placed a wreath at the Cenotaph at the 11 November ceremony.

During 1934, Mr. J.P. Watson, who had been Secretary for two years, was elected President. He was also President of the Chamber of Commerce and a Rotarian. Sadly, in the following year, he became ill and died, and was mourned by all. He was the father of our long-time member Eleanor Watson.

During 1935, the Branch was still writing to Toronto regarding the Charter, and getting tired of sending dues with nothing in return. The new branches were busy erecting memorials to their Loyalist ancestors and Victoria was contemplating doing the same. One plan was for a cairn on the highest point in Beacon Hill Park where a space had been offered by the City, but this idea was abandoned as too costly, and a drinking fountain in the Park was decided on instead. Raising the money took several forms: demonstrations of B.C. products and aluminum ware in the Hudson's Bay Co. store, an Auction Bridge, and teas like this one recorded in the minutes.

The Provincial Branch of the U.E.L.s held a very successful Garden Party at the Home of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Richards, Cadboro Bay, to raise funds for the drinking fountain which they plan to present to Beacon Hill Park in commemoration of the life and deeds of the Loyalists. Tea was served at small tables placed around the beautiful garden, the weather being ideal for the occasion. Mrs. T.B. Monk presided at the tea table, being assisted by ladies of the Society. A stall of home cooking and candy was managed by Mrs. O.D. Wilson and Mrs. M. Ap'John and conducted in a very jolly manner by Mr. Yardley. Mr. Lossee had charge of the ice cream booth.

Recording Secretary, Queenie Tabor.

The branch's two priorities were historical and social, and it did remarkably well at both. There was a Program Committee that presented vocal, piano, and violin solos, recitation and readings at all the meetings, and there seems to have been plenty of talent. There were no Application Forms to fill out at this time, no proofs required and no Certification. Prospective members told their family history as the historical part of the meeting and were accepted. About 1940, the national association changed the rules and a Branch Genealogist was appointed to help people fill out their forms.

In 1939 with war clouds gathering, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth were welcomed on their cross-Canada tour by having a designated spot under a banner on the Parade route and by planting a maple tree in the Mayor's Grove in Beacon Hill Park. At the dedication ceremony on 29 May, the members gathered around the tree and the program began with the singing of "O Canada”.

Mr. Tabor, the President, made his remarks and "The Maple Leaf Forever" was sung. A dedication prayer by Rev. McLean, the Chaplain, followed. The members dedicated the tree by touching it in turn, and then formed a circle around it. In conclusion, "God Save the King" was sung. The tree with its plaque at the base is still thriving in the Park.

During the war years, spurred by patriotism, the membership grew to about 60. The Branch inaugurated a Comforts Fund to send small items to soldiers overseas, and also raised $100.00 at a Garden Party for the Queen's Canadian Fund. The drinking fountain was forgotten and was never erected. An item of interest I spotted in the minutes of this period was that "a beautiful woven scarf, made and donated by Mrs. M. Bjornfelt, was raffled at one of the meetings and realized $22.00 for the Comforts Fund." Mrs. Bjornfelt was Corresponding Secretary and mother of our member, Ingrid Bjornfelt.

The long-awaited Charter was finally presented on 31 January 1940 during the presidency of Mr. F.E. Winslow. It was dated 1936, nine years after Victoria Branch's first application, and did not reflect the true age of the Branch.  Sad to say, the original Charter was lost and despite years of searching, has never turned up. It was only replaced when our present Branch was reactivated in 1967.

Interest kept waning after the active war years and although meetings continued to be held the turnout was poor. In 1953, both President and Secretary were absent and two of the faithful women members, Mrs. Olive Wilson and Mrs. Kathleen Mullard, were filling those offices. Soon after, the organization went into abeyance.

In 1967, the same Mrs. Olive Wilson decided to reactivate the U.E.L. Association in Victoria as her Centennial Project. Ads were placed in the newspapers and about 65 people, including some former members, met in the Empress Hotel, and the present Branch had its beginning - but that's another story.

Founding Members

These members joined


during the 1930s and 1940s



Col. T.B. Monk

Mrs. Walter Adams

Mr. J.F. Armstrong

Mrs. May Anderson

Miss Baynes

Mr., Mrs., and Miss Carman

Miss Copp

Rev. E.C. Church

Rev. George Dean

Mr. and Mrs. W.G. Evans

Mr. Alexander Fraser

Mr. W.S. Fawcett

Mr. W.C. Gauce

Mr. C. Bart Fisher

Mr. Grasse

Mr. P.L. Grass

Mrs. F.C. Green

Mr. J.H. Gray

Mrs. Addie Greenwood

Dr. Wallace Gunn

Miss Harris

N. Hemsley

Mrs. E.C. Hart

Miss  M. Ap'John

Mr. A.E. Jones

Mr. W.H and Miss Long

Mr. W.E. Lossee

Mrs. Gertrude Marshall

Mr. Mann

Mrs. Mathinson

Mr. C.W. Risteen

Mr. Darcy McLeish

Mrs. H.B. Ross

Mr. and Mrs. James Mullard

Mrs. A. de B. Shaw

Mrs. Pope

Mr. J.R. Simons

Mr. J.H. Richards

Mrs. Wheatley

Mrs. Russel

Mr. F.E. Winslow

Miss Queenie Tabor


Col. E.R. Tooley


Mrs. Olive Detlor Wilson


Rev. McLean


Mrs. Bell


Mr. Percy Watson


Mrs. A.C. Ross


Mrs. H. Taylor


Mrs. William McLeish


Mr. Wasson


Mrs. I White


Mrs. McNaughton


Mrs. Wells


Mrs. Spofford


Mr. Senton

 -edited by Joan Clement UE and Irene Feir UE