In 1995 Robert Brodie asked John Williams, a fellow member of the then Pacific Northwest Commandery in Vancouver, BC, if he would consider forming a Victoria Commandery. John was about to transfer to Victoria as General Manager of the famous Empress Hotel. John agreed to try, and indeed eventually arranged a dinner in the Palm Court Room of the Empress, on December 5, 1995, for potential Aspirants. Support from Vancouver included Robert Brodie, Peter Legge, Al Wagner, Robert Phillips, and Gordon Denford, who lived in Victoria but had been invited by Ray Addington to join the Pacific Northwest Commandery in 1993. This represented the conceptual founding of the Victoria Commandery, and its success led to the Investiture of eight founding Aspirants in Vancouver on 9 March, 1996: David Adams, Judd Buchanan, Robert Hunter, Arne Lane, Mark Scott, Cedric Steele, Donna Thomas, and David Titterton. Gordon Denford became a founding member, and John Williams, the founding Commander. The following year on March 8, 1997 the first Investiture was held in Victoria at Christ Church Cathedral, followed by a gala dinner at the Empress Hotel. The five new members Eric Charman, Terry Farmer, Nick Gudewill, Jane Heffelfinger, and Brian Smith, further helped establish the quality, and thus the viability, of the new Commandery.
There followed a period of consolidation; the small Commandery finding it difficult to identify a charitable cause which was unique, important, and affordable. Following the New Millenium celebrations in Vancouver, it hosted members mainly from the San Francisco, San Jose and Palm Beaches Commanderies, to a reception at Gordon Denford’s house in Victoria followed the next day by lunch at Government House, hosted by Lt. Governor Garde Gardom, and his wife Helen. This exposure was significant in giving early birth to the warm international relationships so valued to this day. In 2005 it was able to provide a gift of $5,000 to the Victoria Hospital Campaign, and establish a website to help co-ordinate charity fundraising in the city. In 2007 it conceived and implemented its “Living Spaces” Project, in partnership with the Victoria Hospitals Foundation, which provides personal beds and linens to the mentally ill homeless under the care of the Mental Health Division of VIHA. Initially a campaign led by David Moore raised C$76,000 from the 27 members. This has since been augmented by outside donations to a total of C$220,000 contributed to this project by March 31, 2011.
In 2007 Hugh Gordon led the initiative to establish the status of a public charitable foundation, ”Sovereign Order of St. John Victoria Commandery”, and a part-time Administrative Secretary was retained to maintain electronic files, etc.
By the end of 2010 membership had grown to 47, strong in community leadership representation, in large part due to the service of Nick Gudewill, followed by David Moore, in the effective management of invitations to potential Aspirants. These efforts were supported in particular by the generosity of members such as Eric Charman, Gordon Denford, Nick Gudewill, Michael O’Connor, in offering their homes or yachts for social events, often capably organized by Deedrie Ballard, which helped consolidate fellowship in the Commandery. Gail Mackay established a local source for capes, and thus conveniently managed the regalia locally. Walter Creed served as Treasurer for over 10 years, providing the crucial continuity of financial oversight.
Commanders – Victoria Commandery 1997-present
- 1997-1998 John S. Williams
- 1999-2000 Gordon A.C. Denford
- 2001 Eric Charman
- 2002 Vacant
- 2003-2005 Darrell D. Jones
- 2006-2007 John S. Walton
- 2008-2009 Robert B. Mackay
- 2010-2011 Michael J. O'Connor
- 2012-2013 Deedrie Ballard
- 2013-2015 David W. Moore
- 2015-present Stewart Johnston