Society Emmanuel
Society Emmanuel, or Congregation Emanu-El of Victoria, Vancouver Island, came into being in 1862. The arrival of Jews in Victoria in 1858 during the gold rush allowed for the growth of a Jewish congregation and the construction of the first synagogue -- the oldest house of worship in British Columbia and the oldest synagogue in Canada.1
The synagogue's cornerstone laying ceremony took place on 2 June 1863. The ceremony was attended by the mayor, town council, Chief Justice, Freemasons, Hebrew Benevolent, French Benevolent, and St. Andrews' societies.2 In 1864, the Articles of Constitution considered the congregation a body politic and corporate in deed and in law by its name and that this society shall have and enjoy all such rights, powers and privileges as by common or statute law.3
Near the end of the nineteenth century, the Jewish population was declining in Victoria. By the mid-1940s, only 10-15 “paid families” belonged to Congregation Emanu-El, the synagogue was 80 years old and deteriorating.4 The restoration of the synagogue began in the late 1970s and was completed in 1982. Its completion was celebrated with many cultures, ethnicities, and religions -- similarly to the celebration in 1863.5
In 2004, the congregation reached approximately 215 families and it is still thriving to this day.6
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British Columbia

Vancouver Island