Henry Emanuel Levy: Early Jewish Pioneer Businessman, and Purveyor of Comox Oysters in Victoria, BC

Henry Emanuel Levy

Values Codes I – E – L


Henry Emanuel Levy, born 1843, in Wellington, New Zealand.


Along the way . . .

The family moved to Sydney, but departed for California with news of another Gold Rush.

Circumstances required their returning to England.

Their journey back to San Francisco, in 1849, via the Isthmus of Panama was arduous, and the father died shortly after.


Victoria, BC

In 1859, Henry Emanuel Levy, a young 16 year old, came to Victoria and was employed as a Merchant Police Officer.

Levy held office in the Tiger Engine Co. #2, the town’s volunteer fire brigade.

Tiger Engine Co #2, H. Levy standing left, Frank Sylvester in middle.

Tiger Engine Co #2, H. Levy standing left, Frank Sylvester seated in middle.

Levy took part in the Leech River Gold Rush near Sooke in 1863.

In 1865 he opened the Arcade Oyster Saloon on Government Street — later known as Levy’s Restaurant, serving the famous Comox Oysters found nearby.

Levy’s Comex Oysters

It served full meals 24 hours a day, was renowned up and down the West Coast, and family run for 49 years.

Levy's Victoria Restaurant

Levy’s Victoria Restaurant

Local Newspaper Commentary on Levy's Comex Oysters

Local Newspaper Commentary on Levy’s Comox Oysters

Henry Emanuel Levy and his brothers, started a variety of entrepreneurial ventures in Vancouver Island and Washington Territory, including a soda-water factory and bottling works, a fish plant, a salmon saltery, a hop yard, and the Seattle Bazaar.

In 1870, Levy moved to Seattle, Washington to run the Seattle Soda Works.

For several years he grew hops and employed 1,200-1,500 Vancouver Island natives to pick the hops near Snoqualmie Falls, WA.



Mr. & Mrs. Henry Emanuel Levy were members of Congregation Emanu-El.

They were active in the Jewish community and always generous.

1899 Passover Event

1899 Passover Event


Henry Emanuel Levy married Eva Rostein, the daughter of an early dry goods merchant in Seattle, in 1882.

Mr. & Mrs. Levy, Victoria

Mr. & Mrs. Levy, Victoria

Suffering heavy losses in the Seattle Fire of 1889, the Levys settled permanently in Victoria.

He went into property development, at one time owning 52 houses.

The Levy's second home in Victoria

The Levy’s second home in Victoria

Henry Emanuel Levy passed away in 1929.

He was described as a “Retired Capitalist” on his death certificate.

The Levy's owned and enjoyed one of the earliest automobiles in Victoria.

The Levys owned and enjoyed one of the earliest automobiles in Victoria.


  • Cyril Leonoff, editor, “Pioneer Jews of British Columbia,” Western States Jewish History 37/3&4.
  • by 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.
  • Heritage Register Victoria West, http://www.victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/VicWest/Powderly723.html

Sarah H. Tobe is curator of this Henry Emanuel Levy exhibit.