Josephus Barnet Joseph and Lionel Barnet Joseph: Early Jewish Real Estate Investors of Victoria, BC

Josephus Barnet Joseph and Lionel Barnet Joseph

Values Codes I – E – L


Josephus Barnet Joseph and Lionel Barnet Joseph were descendants of an old Anglo-Jewish family that settled in Cornwall early in the eighteenth century.

Lionel Barnet Joseph was born in 1827, and Josephus Barnet Joseph a few years later, in Liverpool, where their father, Barnet Lionel Joseph was one of the founders of the Hope Place Synagogue.


Along the way

At the time of the California Gold Rush, the brothers went to the Pacific coast where they engaged in the coast trade, especially in produce and later in exports to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), from 1850-58.

With news of the discovery of gold on the Fraser River, in Canada, Lionel Barnet Joseph instructed Josephus to fit out a vessel and proceed at once to Victoria.



Josephus arrived with a shipment of building materials early in July 1858.

He sold the cargo by auction at the corner of Johnson and Government Streets and immediately invested the proceeds of the sale in Victoria and in mainland property.

Much of this real estate is still in the hands of the family, a record of continuous holding from the time of the first grant and transfer.

The Archives of the Canadian Jewish Congress have copies of the original grants to the Josephs from Governor Douglas, 1858: deeds from the Hudson’s Bay Co., grants and deeds for properties in New Westminster, and more extensive holdings.

As Josephus Joseph did not have enough funds with him to complete the purchase of the lots, he paid with promissory notes on San Francisco which were duly honored.

Lionel joined his brother Josephus in Victoria and they settled there. They participated in Jewish communal projects.

Shortly after 1863, they left the Victoria colony for San Francisco, and thence back to England.



In 1906, Mrs. William Schonfield, the daughter of  Lionel Barnet Joseph, visited Victoria during High Holy Days, and presented an Eternal Lamp for the Emanu-El Synagogue.

Main Street, Victoria BC, Turn of the Century, Vintage Postcard


  • Cyril Leonoff, editor, “Pioneer Jews of British Columbia,” Western States Jewish History 37/3&4.
  • Sarah H. Tobe, “Lured North of the 49th, Jewish Colonial Roots,” Western States Jewish History 46/2&3.
  • Archives of Sarah H. Tobe, Cyril E. Leonoff, Christopher J.P. Hanna, and David Rome.

Sarah H. Tobe is curator of this Joseph Brothers exhibit.