Nanaimo Historical Society Fonds
Series 2 Sound Recording
Tapes 14a and 14b
Interview by Wm. Barraclough of Victor B. Harrison concerning Brother XII
Date of Interview: September 12 1968
Transcribed by Glenys Wall, September/October 2003
Tape Sound Quality is Poor
Barraclough: This tape recording concerns the facts of the Brother XII affair. Brother XII, born about 1870 as Edward Arthur Wilson. His father was reputed to be a Catholic missionary in [unintelligible]. In 1905, Wilson was working as a baggage clerk for the Dominion Express Company in Victoria, British Columbia. Little is known of his movements for the next 20 years. He did [unintelligible] stating he had visited the Mediterranean countries, the Caribbean, and the Orient. He became a student of [?]
[The rest of the introduction is unintelligible; transcription is resumed with Mr. Harrison speaking].
Harrison: speak on the Brother XII, a very notorious character who came here to Nanaimo. He first landed in Northfield and rented a house from Mrs. Reynolds if I remember, no relation to the newspaper family of Reynolds who lived in Nanaimo. I think her name was Peggy Reynolds. The first I ever heard of him was this lady Mrs. Reynolds, Peggy Reynolds, came into my office one day and told me about the Brother XII. His real name was Edward Arthur Wilson. He was born in England, the son of a clergyman in the Catholic Apostolic Church. He had married a princess from India, from Kashmir, India. However, to continue the story of the Brother XII.
She said, "He owes me some rent and I'd like you to collect it".
I forget the amount; it wasn't very much.
She said, "He keeps on promising to pay me this money, he's writing all the time, he's writing ..there's a quantity of paper all over; he's constantly writing", she says, "there's an enormous amount of written material".
And he said " I'll pay you someday, I'll pay you every dollar" he said " I have no money just now" but he says "I'm starting a new religion" so she said, "then I'll have plenty of money".
So I wrote a letter to him and she came in a few days after, or a week or two and said
"This Reverend Wilson, the tenant, paid this rent to me " she said "and I appreciate you getting after him" and so forth so she said "what do I owe you?"
I forget what I told her I think the collection was 8% or 10%. I forget. So I heard no more of this man except stories came into me from time to time that he had bought 145 acres at what they called Cedar by the Sea and had tried to buy an area about the same size from the Bakers who owned at one time the Dewdrop Hotel on Halliburton Street. That deal did not come off but he did buy the 145 acres so the story came in and these peculiar people were in town. He was forming a new religion it seems. And I heard many queer stories about this group of people. I got acquainted with some of them because they used to come to a little restaurant, which was over the tobacco store on the corner of Commercial and Wharf Street. Billy Gray's tobacco store. There was a two-story building on the corner there and it stretched quite a way back and Mrs. Reed ran the tearooms there and I used to go there. I went there on several occasions and that way I got to know them all by sight and some of them got acquainted with me and [intelligible]. It seems a rather bad lawsuit had commenced because there was a man called [Ireland?] who had at one time been on the detective force, the Pinkerton's in the United States and he had joined the group. And he was in the big central building out on Cedar by the Sea and he complained that he wasn't getting his salary. He was the bookkeeper for the concern. And he put in a slip it seems on the books to show he was getting his salary, he put a correct entry in to arrears and took the $10,000 arrears of salary as the result the Brother XII or Amiel de Valdes as he was afterwards called arrested him for embezzlement or fraud or something of that kind. And he was being tried before the then police magistrate at [unintelligible] he held court at that time in the City Hall building at the corner of Bastion and Skinner Street and my office was right across Skinner Street right opposite this police court and the police station was next door to that and there was an alley running through. I heard funny stories about this affair in the police court but I didn't see much of it actually. One day I heard, of course, what it was about. And Mr. Cunliffe, F.S. Cunliffe, he was a lawyer who has now passed away, was acting for the Brother XII and Ireland to get back at the Brother XII he brought an action against the Brother XII for obtaining some $25,000 from Mrs. Connally, Mrs. Mary Connally.
Barraclough: Yes I remember Mrs. Connally.
Harrison: Her family came from Virginia, she was a very wealthy person it seems and he had met her in a hotel in Toronto and got $25,000 out of her on the representation that he required, he required this money to build a place called Greystone, a stone building on the De Courcy group of islands, which he had obtained from I think the Flewett estate; I just forget who he bought it from. There were very nice islands and there were two islands north and south of it, Ruxton and Pylades. He owned one, I think Ruxton but I think Pylades was bought some people called Roberts. However, this action came for trial, I think it was adjourned and tried several times, and I wanted to see Sergeant Russell, who was then in charge of the then Provincial Police. So I walked in through this alleyway by the old police station and came in the side door into the police court. The police court was jammed with all people of different kinds just to see what was going on and there was Beevor-Potts sitting up on the bench and here was the lawyer for the prosecution, a man who has now passed away, by the name of Morton; and he was a man who had no belief in these mysterious things that Brother Xll was dealing with. He said he had no fear of spirits or ghosts or anything of that kind. So I was just watching trying to get Sergeant Russell's eye to tell him what I wanted, and I saw Mr. Morton, the lawyer, collapse on the bench and four or five people collapse and fall to the floor. I thought this was a very extraordinary performance; and from out of the audience came Brother Xll, strode across the police court floor and held out his hand to shake hands with me and he said:
"This is an awful state of affairs," he said, "they're trying to prosecute me," he said, " but there's nothing in it and you're going to be appointed by the Crown to prosecute this case."
I said "Don't talk to me, go away. I don't want to be bothered by you." And he then retired and went back into the audience. Beevor-Potts was very much disturbed and in a rather shaky voice he managed to say, "This court is adjourned".
Barraclough: Mr. Harrison, just before you go any further, could you give us a little more detail of why people fainted or passed out in the court there?
Harrison: Well that was some mysterious… they claim it was a mysterious power to the Brother Xll. He was the son of a hypnotist or what you might call him, I don't know.
Barraclough: You think he really hypnotised them?
Harrison: Well, I think some people are subject to hypnotism, there's not a doubt about that. Though I don't think Mr. Morton would be, but still he went down. He was the first man to collapse and however, the next thing I heard if I remember rightly, it may have been before that time or after, I cannot remember, they came to my house - a delegation -from the followers of Brother Xll. The leader of the delegation was a mystery-man, they called him, from Florida and several others. They came into my office and said: "We want to put a proposition to you" and they explained to me the various things that had happened there while they lived under the influence of this Brother Xll, who was the leader of this colony. They pointed out that he had a new religion, which they had joined and in which they had placed great confidence. It was to the effect that all people born in this world must be born under the correct signs of the zodiac and they must not only be born themselves under the correct signs but their parents must be also born under the same signs, and the houses, as they call them, must be in conformity with the requirements of astrology. And unless you were born under these signs you would never amount to anything. You would be an [astrobrat?] and once an [astrobrat?], always an [astrobrat?].You could not help yourself, you'd live and die in this world and they'd bury you and they might speak well of you as the case may be, but you'd never get anywhere. But those who were born under the right signs as given from astrology would become leading people of the world. And they pointed out that all the leading people in the world had been checked on and they found they conform with that theory of the Brother Xll. I might say I had heard of this before and I had visited Mrs. Phillips who had rented from me what they call Hedley Park. I was one of the executives of Hedley Park with George E. Church of 55 Wall Street, New York and we were both executives of the estate of old General Faulkener-Dickenson who died out there and he left this and he put me in charge of the building to dispose of it.
Barraclough: This Hedley Park, where was that?
Harrison: Hedley Park was at Nanoose Bay, a very nice place and I had been out there as Mrs. Phillips had called my office to talk to me and had given me a cordial invitation to come and hear something of this extraordinary belief connected of course with the Brother Xll who I hadn't had anything to do with at that time, and who had this colony at Cedar-by-the-Sea and she had been there and she was a member of the organization and that she before that had been ..eh she wrote the column on astrology for the San Francisco Examiner, one of the Hearst papers in San Francisco, and she had been a graduate of one of the colleges down there and she was a very learned, able person I thought. So I went out to visit her and I came to the house and she rented this house from me and I chatted to her about the rent because we weren't worried about renting the places because we were going to sell up the estate and dispose of the thing. And I hadn't done that just yet because Mr. & Mrs. Church were coming out from New York, which they did later on. But in the meantime, I had rented this to this lady and she had this large room, when I came in, with round tables…. I suppose there were half a dozen in this large room, at the house on Hedley Park, and there were maps and signs of the zodiac and all this kind of thing in this room [the tape quality is very poor again] and this was her study. And she went over the whole theory and talked to me about what I have already mentioned and the signs of the zodiac and people being born under them and if they were not they were [unintelligible] and would get nowhere and she pointed out the great people in the world and named a lot of them including Caesar, and one of the great favourites was Pythagoras, the ancient Greek, and a number of other ancient Greeks they [unintelligible] and George Washington and I don't know….[unintelligible] and Thomas Edison and all these people and they were all born correctly according to the signs of the zodiac and their parents were in line with the same proposition and were born according to the houses, as they call it in the heavens and that's [unintelligible] and their children would be great people if they were born according to the signs of the zodiac, if not they would be [astrobrats?] like the rest of mankind. Now, there's the theory of his religion as was explained to me. So when this delegation from the Aquarian Foundation came to my law office in Nanaimo to see me, I knew something about the activities of that organization and I knew of Mrs. Phillips and the theory of their religion. They roughly said:
"We are in revolution against the Brother Xll, we are here to have … to get your advice to see what we are to do. We've considered all the lawyers here and in other places and have decided you're the man that will fight. Now will you act for us?"
I said "Certainly I will if you have anything to fight about".
"Yes we have".
And Mrs. Connally said how she had given $25,000 to the Brother [unintelligible] after seeing him for about an hour or less than that in a hotel in Toronto and old Barley, Alfred Barley, who had graduated from Oxford and was born in England and knew the Brother Xll and his father when he was a boy there, and had given him $18,000 odd and his wife had given him some money, she had been an English schoolteacher and how he bought the de Courcy group of islands and this land, the 145 acres at Cedar-by-the-Sea, and built these large buildings and put in an awful lot of money. And he had raised this money from various of his followers including one of his followers a big powerful man by the name of Davis or Davies, he had been a sparring partner for Jack Dempsey at one time and he looked the part. To my surprise, he was more under the influence of these mysterious carryings on of Brother Xll than most of them. Then there was Mrs. Phillips, er.. Mrs. Phillips wasn't there, but there was Mrs. Sarah Tuckett, she was an old lady of about 80. She had been a schoolteacher in the states of Oregon and Washington all her life practically. She had been born in New York State I think it was, in New Jersey and had been very clever in her schoolwork and at a very early age had graduated with proper degrees for teaching in the public schools in the United States and had moved out to the West Coast and had spent her life teaching and had got a very good salary and she had money that she kept from her teaching days. She had been injured in an accident in San Francisco and was quite lame. This happened when she was a young person and the doctors had not made a very good job of her broken leg and she was still lame and would remain so, she said. There was the story of Rudy they told me, we just called him Rudy, that wasn't his name we'll just say his name was Rudy. Now these stories were something like this: here was Mrs. Sarah Tuckett, she said:
"I joined the colony, I had been a great teacher not only in the public schools all my life but I firmly believed in religion and I taught Sunday School almost all my life" and she said "when I heard of this wonderful man, the Brother Xll who had been down in California" she said " I decided I should join his colony up in British Columbia and turn my money over to him".
Which she did and she then made an agreement to turn over her monthly income from the school board or school authorities of the United States. This was her life pension. I don't know how much it was but it was a fairly good pension. Now I said:
"What is your story, what is your complaint?"
"Well" she said, "it's rather bad. You know this money and I turned it all over to the Brother and then just lately" she said, "just a short while ago my relations in New Jersey" I think she said or Connecticut, "wrote to make enquiries in regard to me and I found or I heard of this letter at the colony, the letter had been coming out to our organization at the head office, Cedar-by-the-Sea".
And she said, "Then quite a time went on, and I heard nothing more but at last word got through that they had been writing again to enquire about me and if there was such a person to hear something". And she said, "Then what happened was this. The Brother came to me one day and said:
"Now, Sarah, do you still want to help the great cause?"
She said, "I most certainly do".
" Would you give your life for the cause?"
"I most certainly would."
"Would you be prepared to pass away and pass into the next world to give us the information that is required?"
"Oh most certainly I would. I would do anything to help this great cause on and the great work you are doing. The great work you are doing for mankind in general in this world" she said "because we'll all belong to you some day, everyone."
So he said, " Well what you're to do is to have a little cottage we've built up on that little hill," she said "and every evening the boys will come and bring your food there and you will live in that cottage, no-one will bother you and your to live there. You can live and sleep there and you'll get fed there and whatever you want to eat will be brought to you in a basket and put on the front verandah of the little cottage." And he said " at the right time you are to go down to the harbour, right to the waterfront, and the boy will take you down and put you in a small rowboat and you will sit in the back of the boat and he's to row you up and down, up and down just outside the lagoon and at the right moment, throw yourself backwards right into the water. Just throw both hands up and down you go." "
[unintelligible] drown will they?"
" No you will immediately rise, your spirit will rise, immediately, from the water. Your body's nothing, what is your body? And then when your spirit arises it will go across into the heavens way beyond the clouds and when you get there you're to look into heaven and see what's going on and all about it and come back and tell the Brother. Are you willing to do it?"
"I most certainly will" she says "and all that will be just as you say?"
"It most certainly will, I know that".
So they took her up and showed her this room, this nice little cottage built there and then later on, towards the evening was coming, Zee, Zura de Valdes, one of the wives, the second or third wife, I don't know which, of the Brother Xll, came up and spoke to her and after a long while speaking together about all kinds of religious subjects and what not, she said:
"Now remember, you are ready to do what the great Brother has told us?"
"Oh certainly, yes".
"The boy will come in a few minutes, he'll be up here and he'll guide you down".
She was very lame so you always had to guide her, she had difficulty walking up and down the hill; she virtually couldn't do it without assistance.
"Then you are to get in the boat and remember at the right time throw yourself backwards, have no fear, down you go."
"But I'll drown, the Brother said I would".
"Well of course you'll drown, but you'll immediately rise and your spirit…. and away you'll go off into the heavens, away beyond the great white clouds and look in and see, see what is going on in Heaven and then you'll immediately come back and tell all about it, explain the whole thing to the Brother and everything will be grand. That's your great service. Are you willing to do it?"
"Oh, I most certainly will" she said, "I'll do it most decidedly. I'm only too anxious to do it. You know I've been a religious teacher all my life".
And she said to me:
"You know, it's a strange thing, all my life I've believed that before every good Christian dies, a good person dies, a little voice, a silent voice, they hear what I call the silent, little voice calling them. That voice calls you. When that voice is calling you to Heaven and then you die and away you go. That is what I've always taught, I've taught that, the silent, little voice that calls you home" she says "I've taught that for years and I still believe it. And you know in that boat, the boy came that evening, rowed up and down, up and down, and, it was night time of course" she said, " very dark, it wasn't jet-black, it was early in the evening, and quite sufficiently dark to see with some difficulty" but she said "I kept thinking of what my duty was to perform this great act, to save the colony and eventually save the world and let us live as Heaven lives, on earth as it is in Heaven" when she said " I could not throw myself back, to my surprise, I could not!" And she said, "I'm afraid I couldn't do it. I tried several times and the young fellow rowed me up and down and all outside the room, yes, the water's very deep there but that makes no difference" she said " I was determined to carry out the great duty which was placed before me. So then I said
" "Alright I can't make it" she told the boy so he rowed her into shore and she got out of the boat and he helped her up into her cabin. So she was sitting there in the little cabin and worrying a bit about it that she kind of hadn't made good on this proposition and someone knocked on the door and immediately entered Zura de Valdes and Zura said:
"Well, Sarah, you didn't make it?"
"No, I'm very sorry I didn't, and she prayed and prayed and she and I both prayed and I said ‘oh if I can only make it' and she was kindness itself to me and everything was wonderful. I was to do my level best, and bring all my strength together"
"And the boy will be here tomorrow evening and every evening until you go over and let it be soon and do not fail" she says.
"No I will not if I can possibly help it, I shall certainly act bravely and according to the way I'm supposed to act.
So Zura went away and the next evening the boy came up and he helped her down and she got in the boat and started to row up and down. She said:
"I tried. I even prayed to the little voice. I prayed most earnestly. I begged the Almighty, let me hear the little voice, I will go. But I could not throw myself back, I was sitting in the back in this little, flat boat" she said "but I could not throw myself over" she said " I could [intelligible] but still I couldn't because I hadn't in my mind to do it. I hadn't heard the voice and I knew it wasn't my time! That was really what was worrying me.
So she rode ashore and Zura came up and she talked to her at great length.
"You're still here, your still here, you know, you haven't carried out the great work."
"No" she said, "I'm afraid I have not". She was almost in tears she said, "because I had failed so badly".
She said "One more chance, this will make your third night. Now tomorrow night you must make it".
" Oh I certainly will if I can" she said. "And so after a long talk in which she explained to me [unintelligible],"
The boy came up on the third evening, if I remember right, and he rode her up and down and she couldn't make it although she did her best. Then the young fellow helped her back into the little house. And then there was a violent knock at the door and in burst Zura de Valdes and she said:
"Well, Sarah, you've failed again!"
" Oh, I'm so sorry, I have, but Zura I will not fail again".
" You dirty, low cur" she said. And she swore at her and called her "you dirty back-sliding …" most awful language she used at me. " You dirty coward of no value whatever. Look at you! You're just like an old wreck! You're lame and your miserable ole carcass ready to fall to pieces now with age. What have you done in this world, anything?"
She said, "the abuse I got was something scandalous" she said, " I broke into tears, I couldn't stand it anymore. I just lay on the bed and I wept." She said "Zura, give me another chance, I will never fail you. Give me another chance, give me another chance."
So there was a whole lot of talk along this line, far more than I'm telling you know. But that's sufficient to give you an idea of the way he got people under his control.
So it was approaching toward the following day, the next day and she was worried. And before it was dusk, it was quite late in the afternoon, but still late. Someone came up on the verandah, and there was a noise of feet, they burst in and here they were, Roger Painter was leading them, he's the mystery man, and Alfred Barley and his wife. And she gave me the names of all the others there, the other man from Florida was there too. He had been in the clothes pressing business, I think, a very fine fellow he was too; and his wife, a charming woman. And this crowd of about six or seven who were the same people, almost exactly the same who were in to see me as a committee. And they said to her
"Are you gong to join us or not?"
She said "What do you mean, join what?"
He said "We've revolted, we're throwing out the Brother. He's going back on his word, he's left the colony and he's no good. The Devil has got him".
Or words to this effect. The general explanation was that they were in revolt and they were going to break up the colony and take the Brother and throw him out all together and stand by Roger Painter and he would guide them through until they found some other arrangements if necessary.
So that was her story. I got all that down in writing. And then the next story was, the reason why they were breaking up the colony, and she told me about the money and what she had left and all that and [intelligible] came in and how he had taken these packages and put $18,000 in "and all must be in gold. You will not put anything else but in gold. Paper money and silver money is of no value," he would say. He kept at them and he went and got it all changed to gold except a small amount which he didn't get time to change and the Brother cursed him for doing it. And he gave him $18,000 and he had a habit, he was a good bookkeeper himself, a methodical man, he put his initials on the packages so that particular package contained $18,000. I think his initials were put on and just 18 as is my recollection. Anyway that money was put in the bow of the Brixham trawler known as the Lady Royal, because in the meantime before this happened, the Brother Xll had gone to England and purchased a Brixham trawler for $10,000. This was a two-masted, schooner, a fishing schooner. And he bought that and he sailed that boat from England through the Panama Canal, right up to the Islands in the Gulf here. And he tied up to one of the American Islands there, Stewart Island I think, and the boat was unladed there and they took stuff out of the boat for a long while and put them amongst the rocks, they told me. He brought with him Agate, a very large and powerfully built man, who he picked up in the Canal Zone and he was supposed to be related to the Brother Xll, I don't think he really was though, and of course [intelligible], and two San Blas Indians, who were the crew. And the Brother Xll was the navigator because Barley said that when he was a young boy, only in his teens, his father had put him in the British Navy and he had served his time and became a navigator, and a very able navigator he was and during the war he took supplies from Norfolk, Virginia to England and back. That was one of his main jobs, I think, during the war. And according to their story he had admitted himself that many years before that he had been "blackbirding" on the Mediterranean, that is taking the coloured people from the African shore and taking them into Turkey where they were sold into slavery. That was a dangerous job and he finally got out of it.
Well so far I am reciting to you the stories that some of them told me and why they were in revolt and why they wanted me to start an action for them to break up the colony and to take the money and property away from the Brother Xll. Then Mrs. Connally gave her story and I think I've more or else [intelligible]. But there was another story, which was very, very strong to the point of mysticism and other things. It was a man and his wife who came from the United States and joined the colony. Now I don't recall their names but we just called them Rudy and his wife, we used that name. And she was a very fine-looking, young woman; she was his second wife, I believe, and she was no more than in her early twenties, physically and featurely (?) a very fine-looking, well-built woman; very attractive and very intelligent. Rudy seemed the same. It seemed that the Brother fell violently in-love with this lady and it seems that he put up a job with her that she was to complain bitterly this... they were living then of course on Valdes Island and DeCourcy Islands, well the main island of DeCourcy. They had a farm there and it was a well-timbered island, a very fine island; it was one time owned I think and found by Captain Flewitt, one of the pilots here in the early days. In any event he arranged with her that she was to complain to her husband continually about this island - "What a terrible place it was, oh it's simply unbearable to live there"-and how she hated the Brother Xll and she couldn't stand him any more, she said "I'm right through with him".
So she kept this up and then they both were to leave the island, as soon as she left she was to come back and live with the Brother and go up to his special house, he had quite a mansion built there, and live with him. So this kept up and up, and she complained to her husband, Rudy, and he said-"I can't do it, it's terrible, I dare not, this is the place to be. It's a wonderful place, closest place to heaven that I'll ever be"-and all this kind of [unintelligible]. So one day, now one of them gave me the evidence in fact, it was Barley I think. One day they were both sitting, Brother Xll, Barley and another man, one of the followers, I think it was Painter, were sitting in the basement of this house that they called Greystone. (It wasn't made of stone, it was a large, wooden building) and whilst sitting there in the basement where they had a library and they had a case of guns; six rifles, high-power rifles and military guns he had bought from Eaton Company in ..... However, I know that he bought these, I saw the bill of lading later on. And he was sitting there talking when a knock came to the basement door. The Brother said, "Come in" and and knock again, "Come in, come in!" He shouted and knocked again and the door opened about six inches. "Come in, come in! Don't stand there and knock! Come right in, come in! You're welcome!"
And the Brother of course knew perfectly well who it was; it was Rudy. So finally the door opened and he couldn't walk in, he stood in the open door, trying to walk, he staggered trying to hold on to the door. "Come forward, come forward! Don't be so afraid! What are you shaking about?"
He was shaking. So he said, "I cannot say, I cannot say" he said, "It's too much, too much. I can't tell you, I can't say!"
"What is it? Is it that you wish to leave this colony?"
"I'm only afraid it's too true".
"Why " he said, "you're quite right" he said "you're honoured for making such a statement and you'll be honoured for leaving because it is your duty to leave this colony and we'll be glad to see you leave and we'll honour you out in the outer world again. It's all part of our organization that we never hold anyone here if they feel they should go back into the outer world."
And he stepped forward to him and he shook hands and he began to feel better. And he said
‘Well it's only too true I'm afraid Brother" and they always called each other Brother, they always went ...and women and men were all Brothers, there was no such thing as sexual distinction according to their theory. Every woman is a brother just as every man is a brother. The daughters and women were all brothers. And that it was always [tape is unintelligible again].
Harrison continues:.....when I visited that place again later and getting all the evidence ready. So the upshot of it was that the Brother arranged with Rudy, as we call him, to leave tomorrow morning, leave tomorrow. He said:
"Will that suit you?"
"Well" he said "I'm afraid it would, I'm afraid it would, if I should leave."
"Well certainly leave! It's only right and your wife go with you".
"Why certainly, yes".
This is the way they filled him up. So the next day they got out the yacht, the launch, well I don't think it was the boat called Khuenaten, but it was a smaller boat, the launch just the same. And the Brother ordered them to put in a sack of food and then he got the other man from Florida and put him in charge of the boat, although he wasn't a seaman, and knew nothing about a boat. Then Rudy was put in and then his wife. "Now" he said, "take this boat down to a certain beach below Chemainus".
They all knew where Chemainus was because they went there [?] for their meals and banking and what not and they also knew Nanaimo because Nanaimo was more or less their headquarters on Vancouver Island, although they kept their bank account in Chemainus, or one of their bank accounts.
"So" he said, "stay out until the evening. Just as evening comes quite dark, go onto this beach and then let them off". So they left, they saw them into the outer world.
Very shortly after that, Mrs. Rudy returned and went and lived with the Brother in his house.
One day it seems, as it turned out, later on as I gathered the story together, which I will explain in a few moments, Rudy went to Seattle and Tacoma, one of these American cities which he was well acquainted with and he went to a hotel there with his wife and in the morning his wife wasn't in the room, she was gone! The bed was empty and he was there, but no wife! Nobody! He phoned down below, never heard of her, made enquiries, none knew anything about her. Then he got desperate, he got dressed and went down and saw the police. He was in such a state the police couldn't make head or tail of him, it seems. He then went and saw a different set of police or sheriffs or whatever, authorities anyway and they couldn't make much out of him and they thought he had been drinking or was out of his mind or something. So they asked him to put something in the paper. So he put some advertisements in the personal column asking her to return and everything and it would be all right. And if she read this and she would know what it meant. However there was no reply and he got very, very much worried. So it dawned on him one day after I don't know how long, several days anyway, that she may have returned to this island in British Columbia, this DeCourcy Island. So like a wise man he armed himself with several hundred dollars in, I think, Canadian currency and came back to Chemainus, which he knew, and made enquiries but no-one seemed to know what he was talking about. So he went to a police station and he saw this policeman in charge and he told his story but the policeman couldn't make head or tail of him. A man telling such an extraordinary story as that about his wife on an island was one too many for him. So he kept at it and finally the officer said:
"I'll phone up the officer in charge, Sergeant Russell".
So he phoned up and talked to Russell for a while and it seemed Sergeant Russell told him:
"I was coming down that way and I'll drop in pretty soon".
So he said all right the sergeant would be down and, in due time, Russell came into the police station and told Russell the story. Now I checked this with Russell long afterwards and what he said was quite correct. He told his story to him and Russell said:
" I thought he was some kind of a crank or there was something the matter with him. So I didn't know what to do with him."
He was so persistent that his wife was on this island and how he'd left and all this sort of thing, and how he went back into the States where they belonged, in someplace in Washington State, Seattle I think it was. And Russell said I said to him:
" It'll cost money for me to order a boat and a launch to go to this island as a policeman and that's going to run into money and what will I tell the Attorney General of this country if he said why all this expense for nothing."
"What'll cost you?" he said.
"Well it might cost me a couple of hundred dollars anyway".
"Do you mean that what you say?"
He says, "Well certainly I mean that what I say".
So he pulled his hand right out and put $200 right on the counter in front of him:
"There's the money now" he said "will you make good on that?"
So Russell told me:
"What in the world could I do? I had no intention to do such a thing. But I had to do it, a man putting it up like that. I'm a man of my word and I gave him my word so I got a launch, a police-launch I think it was, and I got a police officer aboard, two officers, and we started out for the island."
I've missed a bit from the story. When Rudy couldn't find his wife and he advertised... oh this is the thing, he came out to the island, before he went to the police station he took a boat and he rowed to that island himself and when he got to that island they seized him, denied that she was ever there and threw him in a cabin, and gave him nothing to eat and in the morning they put him in the row-boat and took the launch to tow the row-boat and cast the row -boat off at Yellow Point. And he had great difficulty in getting back to Chemainus. He was a stranger and he couldn't navigate very well. So this time he came to the police officer. So as the police boat was reaching the islands, the main land guard in the forts, because you must remember he had forts over the island, dug down below the surface of the ground, lined with stone and men were always there with rifles, parading up and down at all times, and with glasses scanning the ocean. And they see this launch coming and report it back to the headquarters, to Greystone, that's where he was living at that time, and they told him the boat was coming.
"Who are they?" the Brother Xll said, and he told him:
"It looks like police".
And he came out and he went nearly crazy, and he put a great curse on, especially against Harry Pooley, the Attorney General, and everybody else. And he kept up this cursing and this damnation so terribly that the boat had actually landed on the beach and he told them.. he told Barley to deny that she was ever there, or ever seen. And he ran, he was in such a hurry to get out of the way he threw himself on his face in the brush and he lay there motionless as far as they know, until the police had gone. So in the meantime the police were on the trail leading up from the beach and they met the policemen and they told Sergeant Russell himself, and gave him his word. I think it was a secret word, a lodge word, he gave them that it was true that the wife was not there, and he gave his word she wasn't there and had never been seen there and all this kind of thing, and the police withdrew. Now she was in the house, upstairs in the attic which they put her in, they nailed the way up to the attic, they told me that, and left her up there until the thing was over. The police had gone and she came out and they got her down out of the attic, and they put a ladder there and down she came and he said:
"You've got to leave" he says "you'll have me in jail yet and you'll have us all locked up if the police raid the whole place".
The police, of course, had gone away. The following day he arranged to have the launch brought there and a sack of food put in and he put in charge this other man from Florida and several others to take this boat and go down, this launch, and wait till nightfall and then as it got into evening go to a certain beach they knew of, below Chemainus, and put Rudy off onto the beach and let her go and give her no money or anything else, she's got to get home the best way she knows how. So the boat.......
"So" he said, "hide behind some of those little islands until it gets quite dusk".
So they did that, and in the dusk they took this launch to the beach and they put Rudy off onto the beach. And before she got in the boat to leave the island, she threw herself on the Brother Xll, showering him with kisses and begging him to forgive her and to keep her back and not to send her away. He was violent; he swore at her and threw her down violently on the platform or the float. He said, he called her all sorts of foul language said she would ruin him; the police would come in and arrest everybody and make a lot of trouble. Anyway she's on the boat and they put her off on the beach and it was dark and she started to walk and she walked and walked as far as she could and getting more desperate all the time and it got that dusk that she couldn't see which way to go and she kept falling over the logs, apparently. So she stopped and screamed and screamed, and no answer, so she walked again and then screamed some more and on the bank she saw what apparently was a cabin and the door opened and some men came out. They were Chinese wood cutters and they came to her with some [unintelligible] and they didn't know what she was talking about and so their foreman finally came along and she explained to the foreman as best she could and this Chinese foreman was very sympathetic to her and he thought she had been out picking blackberries at a picnic and got lost. So he brought her into the cabin and cleared one of the rooms and wheeled in a bed and wheeled in some food and he said:
"Here this is yours, they all for you. Now you tell me in the morning what you want me to do, it's too late tonight."
So in the morning they came in the Chinese brought her some breakfast and they treated her wonderfully well and the foreman said:
"I'm ready to go with you, anyway you say".
"All I want to do" she says " is get on the road."
"You want the road?"
So he took her to the path and he put her on the road. That was the main highway leading to Nanaimo. And she said:
"Of all the treatment I ever got" she says, " those Chinese treated me better than anybody that I have ever run across yet in this country."
So in the early morning, the young fellow who delivered at that time the newspapers from Victoria to Nanaimo was coming along, was driving his car towards Nanaimo and she stopped on the road and he took her aboard and she stopped the car and this driver took her onboard and said " where do you want to go?" and she said "Nanaimo" and he said " I'm going to Nanaimo" so away they went. He drove at a very fast pace and kept going and whenever she cared to speak at all, she said "I've been lost out on a picnic", or something. So he said:
"Now when we get to Nanaimo, where do you want to go?" he says, "I'll drive you anywhere you say. It's early in the morning and you're apparently a stranger".
"Well", she says, "I know the wharf and I know the post office in Nanaimo and I've often been there. So leave me there".
"All right" he says.
So he left off at the post office. So when she got there she waited and waited for the steamer to come and in and she walked down on the wharf and in hopes of getting on the steamer and she had no money and the steamer pulled out, the boat, that is, the ferry that goes to Vancouver. And the launch Khuenaten with some of the followers of Brother Xll had come in for the morning mail and they got their mail and they were just going and she was still on the wharf and I don't think she knew where she was or what she was doing, I don't know. They saw her on the wharf and an argument started that she was on the wharf and some of them denied that it was her and others said that they were perfectly positive it was her. And they said it couldn't be because we put her out on the beach down below Chemainus last night. So they whirled the launch around and passed by the wharf again and then it was her right enough so they pulled into the wharf and got her aboard. And that's how they learned her story, that's how they found out.
" Now", they said "we'll get enough money to get....."
"I want to get," she said "going back, I'm going back to the States. I want to go to Seattle."
And they dug enough money for her between them to pay her passage on the steamer and then take a bus into Seattle or wherever she wanted to go. So that's what they did and they went back to the island.
Now this lawsuit finally came on for hearing before Chief Justice Morrison in the courthouse in Nanaimo. The late Mr. Cunliffe acted for Brother Xll and I acted for all those in revolt against the colony, which was practically them all by this time, there were no dissenters. And after a lengthy hearing and all this material got before the court the judge rendered a verdict completely in favour of the members for whom I brought the action. He gave judgment for Mrs. Connally for the money she'd advanced and for Barley and he was even ordered to return the title of the islands and if he refused to sign them over the registrar would sign over the island and all the other lands to members of the group. So that ended that. And when I went down to the office of all the things in the world here was a letter. It was only addressed to "Lawyer Harrison, Nanaimo" as I remember. And I opened the letter and in it was a memoranda scribbled by Rudy and his wife saying to this effect:
"Dear Brother Xll,
We are so sorry. We have both talked it over. You are right, we are wrong. Do take us back to your colony. We will be good Aquarians and we will do our best to serve the great cause that you represent."
Or something to that effect. So I got in my car and I drove down to the colony and I showed them it and they had another letter addressed to the colony with a phrasing in it begging forgiveness and that everything they did was wrong and the Brother was right. So there you are.
And many peculiar things happened there too. I can remember various incidents. One time, he built a mystery house high up in a big fir tree. It was so skillfully constructed, I know the carpenter who constructed it and he's living in Vancouver, and he built with strict instructions to tell no one where it was and never to discuss it. And it was so hidden in the trees [unintelligible] you wouldn't know there was a big room up in the trees. And they often talked of this mystery house, how the Brother would go up there. They very seldom see him up there and he would disappear and it was the only place he could be going. So I said we must go and see that mystery house before we get on this trial so we know something about it. So we started out for the mystery house, a whole crowd of us and as [unintelligible] getting closer to the house the big powerful man, who used to be a sparring partner, got weak and he couldn't walk any more and he almost sat on the ground, he couldn't keep on his feet. He kept looking back towards DeCourcy Island, which you could easily see from Cedar-by-the-Sea. And finally, we came to the first steps that go up to the tree and they all held back and (laughing) I had difficulty persuading them to come up. I said, "Follow me, be not afraid. We're in the law-suit now" I said, "we've got to show this court what it is." We went up and opened the door in this room, and here was an empty room with a spring-bed in it and a mattress, the only thing that was in the room; and a framed picture of the "Incantation to Light" written by the ancient Greek, Pythagoras. As I mentioned before, they were very fond of Pythagoras and a number of the other ancient Greeks of about Plato's time, Demosthenes and Aristotle and such and those wonderful thinkers of ancient Greece were all recorded on the tables which Mrs. Phillips had made out to show that their birthdays coincided with the right positions of the stars as designated by astrology.
As they had won the case and every particular with costs, and judgment was perfected on the court-house records and they should still be there and all the papers will still be on file in the court, the colony then largely broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Barley and several of the others including Roger Painter went to Mrs. [unintelligible] and she went to California, I believe. I've heard about her since, she's a very nice person and a beautiful looking girl.
Barraclough: Do you remember Mr. Hobart, as a member of the colony?
Harrison: Oh yes.
Barraclough: When I was working in Rod Mitchell's office at the time they were selling the islands, I became well acquainted with Mrs. Connally, Miss White and Mr. Hobart.
Harrison: Yes, I remember Miss White. Miss White, I saw her on the farm and I saw Mrs. Connally. I went after the judgment was all over and after these others had left for Oregon and Washington States and they wrote me to say they had taken up some logged off lands and they opened up quite a place there and I think they did very well. Poor Barley! He used to go down to Portland, not far from Portland, and he used to go down there every once and a while and take his steam baths to restore his health. He wasn't very well it seems and no wonder!
(Barraclough now says: "Approximately one minute erased" and the tape is blank before it continues)
Harrison continues: I went over to the island, DeCourcy Island, and I saw Mrs. Connally there and I talked to her. And she said,
"Oh my," she said, "it is all terrible. If the Brother would only come back and be his old self again", she said, " we would all join right in. I would be only too glad to join with him again. Forget all the past".
"Why", I said, "Mrs. Connally, you've got all these islands back".
"Oh," she said, " that's nothing. I'd give them all back to him. I'd be with him again. If only he'd be his own self again" she says. "it's terrible. If he'd only return" she says, " I know we'll be all very happy. I certainly would".
Barraclough: Isn't that amazing!
Harrison: It is [unintelligible] the influence. It's not doubt. I think hypnosis had something to do with the whole situation. I'm convinced that big, husky man who was his sparring partner was under the influence of hypnosis. He must have been, because, I don't know, when I found out he had Hindu…his mother was a princess from Kashmir. Barley who knew it because he had known the Brother Xll and his father when he was in England and he saw very little of him because he went to the Navy to stay there until he graduated and once in a while he did get off on leave and he saw him there but it's gone out of his recollection now. He was a man….
Tape Ends and interview continues on Tape 14b
Harrison continues: …a man I would say no more than average height, I wouldn't know, perhaps 5 ft 7 or 7 ½' something like that, he was not a bad-looking man at all. He looked like pictures of Captain Kettle, you know that old pirate they used to talk about a lot, the adventures of Captain Kettle. Well he just looked the very spitting image of that man, a black-pointed beard and very black hair, very thick; big luminous, dark eyes, red, his eyes were sort of red in some way.
Barraclough: When Brother Xll came to town, if I remember, he was always in an automobile and he had long, hair, down over his collar.
Harrison: Very thick hair. As I already mentioned I had a warrant out to seize all his goods that was in the hands of Sheriff Trawford. And Sheriff seized the Lady Royal anchored in the lagoon at DeCourcy Island and he found the ballast was a large amount of about a ton of iron, cast iron ballast, which fitted exactly into the hull so it wouldn't shift in a storm. And he took that ballast out and he sold it and it was bought by the Nanaimo Foundry and Engineering Works, I think. The late Joe Dobeson handled the deal and I don't remember how much it realised. He then seized the boat itself and sold that. The boat is now in British Columbia in one of the ports. I've seen it in the harbour and it's been fitted out with engines since and it's a sea-going vessel.
Barraclough: Is that the Lady Royal?
Barraclough: I thought it went to Europe.
Harrison: No it's been in the harbour here since.
Barraclough: Well what happened to all the gold Mr. Harrison?
Harrison: Well all the gold and money was always demanded by the Brother to be put into, all coin into gold money. He kept several bank accounts but he had them changed and he got gold on every occasion. And one of the boys or two of the men who packed the gold up ready for shipment explained to me how it was done. They made two wooden boxes, I think of ordinary planks, as I understood them, and then he got fruit jars, like you would put up jam or some other preserved fruit in there and he would then take the gold coin, always gold coin, no other kind, and stack them in the glass jar until the glass jar was full. Hot wax was poured in that jar until it was a solid block of wax and gold coin. Then those were fitted into this box. Then hot wax was poured between the glass jars until the whole thing was one solid, block of wax. The lid was then spiked on with spikes. Two boxes put up in that way were made by these two followers and [intelligible] they knew the gold was there, nothing else but gold and no other kind. And he swore, as I already mentioned, Barley, because he gave $18,000 and some of it was not gold coin, it was paper or silver. Then he stored those two heavy boxes. He had several large and husky men belong to the colony; one was Agate and the other was Davies or Davis, the sparring partners I call them. And they leave these boxes, they put them stowed in the bow of the Lady Royal. Right in the front of the Lady Royal's bow there was a steel safe that had been put in there, fitted in there. Small change was loaded in there until they loaded their boxes up with wax. Now what became of the things; Sheriff Trawford couldn't find them, but long since after that, long after that, I found out through the help of Mr. Roberts of Roberts Creek, where the money was hidden, up in the brush and from Mr. Coats, who now runs a store on north Gabriola Island. He was very sorry he didn't get acquainted with me those days or we'd get that money, we would put the Sheriff on it. Now there was other monies. Mr. Coats speaks of the smaller boxes, they were butter boxes loaded with wax; I did not see them but they told me of them, the other members of the colony. But these two big boxes were separate and to the smaller butter boxes. Coats knew, Mr. Coats knew, William Coats his name is, they were heavy; he knew they contained something of value and those big boxes. This man, Big Agate, all he could do was lift them big boxes off the floor. So what its weight was I don't know, perhaps 150 lbs or so.
Barraclough: Was it ever found out where Brother Xll died, where he went?
Harrison: Yes. According to his brother, who wrote a book about him, he died in Adelaide, Australia and there was an undertaker's strike was on at the time and he made his brother promise faithfully to bury him and he was buried there as a woman. So there's where he's supposed to be buried now. Sergeant Russell found that he crossed the Pacific with most of this, with a great part of this gold, perhaps all of it and landed in Adelaide, Australia with this stuff and I told him to get in touch by wire with the chief of police there and have it held because it belonged to these followers. The next thing was he left; it was all gone. They said that he left for Neuchatel, Switzerland. So we got busy and sent wire there and of course Russell asked and they said he landed there and he was in Neuchatel and I told that to Bruce McKelvie, who was the reporter for the Vancouver Province who had been especially delegated by that newspaper to watch that case. And McKelvie did so and he got word that he was landed in Algiers and he sent word to some of the officials in Algiers to trace that man through the immigration and they said they'd found him there and they had spotted him. He answers to the description; he's here! Before we could get busy on the thing a lot of trouble started in Algiers and I could get no word about anything. I don't doubt in the least that all that trouble in Algiers with the French Government and such was originated or started through Brother Xll, Amiel de Valdes as he called himself. That name, Amiel de Valdes, was taken, his lawyer
TAPE ENDS ABRUPTLY