THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 5 S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 7 777
The Empress Hotel
Inside the Nanaimo heritage courthouse is a courtroom that the Nanaimo
Free Press described in 1896 as “no doubt one of the prettiest in the Province”
and “with a character that will help to lighten up materially the labors of
Judges, and the Legal fraternity”. The Nanaimo Free Press was also enthusiastic
about the courthouse’s internal lighting at the time that the facility
opened. We are particularly enthused about this ourselves as it meshes well
with this issue’s Bench and Bar; see page 787 – Asst. Ed. The newspaper noted
that the electrician had completed his work earlier that day and “the building
is generously supplied with lighting in tastefully designed globes and
chandeliers”; indeed, the courthouse was to be “fully illuminated” that
evening for public view.
Fittingly, the first case heard (in County Court) in the Nanaimo courthouse
was R. Bickle v. Honourable J. Dunsmuir (of coal and other renown);
in that case, the plaintiff received judgment for the price of lamps purchased.
Cases heard in the Nanaimo courthouse have also included the trial
of “Brother Twelve” (or “Brother XII”), Edward Arthur Wilson, an English
mystic and cult leader accused of misappropriating his disciples’ funds.
One story claims that during this trial, a witness (in the course of testifying)
and several people at the back of the courtroom simultaneously passed out
and the judge temporarily lost the ability to do more than growl; once