Former B.C. cult property for sale

Brother XII's cult property on Decourcy Island for sale; includes farm, forest and housing

CBC News, Canada/October 3, 2016

By Liam Britten

The Decourcy Island property of reputed 1920s cult leader Brother XII is up for sale.

The 43-hectare property where Brother XII — born Edward Wilson — and his disciples lived includes a dormitory, forested areas and a farm with barn and workshop and is on the market for $2.2 million.

"It is the property that really forms the heart of the island. It's got pastoral fields, beautiful water frontage," realtor Mark Lester with Colliers International told All Points West guest host David Lennam. "It's got some wetlands, some wildlife areas, things like that. So it's got a real diversity to it."

Brother XII attempted to found a utopian society near Nanaimo in 1927, but accusations of embezzlement of the group's funds, sexual affairs and even group members' imprisonment and forced servitude led to the group's breakup by the decade's end.

Many questions still unanswered

Brother XII's group, the Aquarian Foundation, was bankrolled by wealthy donors from across Europe and North America.

At its peak, the Foundation boasted 8,000 members, but only a few of them lived on Decourcy.

"One of his wealthy patrons purchased Decourcy Island and Ruxton Island and gave them to him. They occupied the entire island," Lester said.

"He seemed to have quite a following. He set himself up at Cedar-By-The-Sea and then expanded the colony out onto Decourcy Island and onto the north end of Valdez Island."

But that idealism ended when Brother XII reportedly isolated himself, becoming distrustful of his followers and using their donations for a private fortune.

He and his mistress reportedly destroyed Foundation property on Decourcy, scuttled the group's boat and then steamed off in their private tugboat to escape justice in British Columbia.

There are still many unsolved questions about Brother XII. Even his reported death in Switzerland in 1934 was believed by some to have been faked.

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West

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