Besides being the first recorded Jewish person to arrive in British Columbia, Alexander Aaron Phillips was Victoria's first baker of "Passover Bread" (matzoh), which he sold all over Vancouver Island and the state of Washington. In the fall of 1858 he opened the Pioneer Syrup, Soda and Cider Works. ALexander Phillips was the second president of Temple Emanu-El, a founding member of a local Masonic Lodge and Odd Fellows Lodge, as well as a member of the ST. George's Society and the British Columbia Benevolent Association.
John Mahrer, an immigrant from Prague, opened a brewery in Nanaimo, a coal mining centre and port that is located north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. When the brewery amalgamated with the Union Brewery in 1891, Mahrer became its manager and master brewer. Mahrer was on the Nanaimo City Council for eight years and belonged to several charitable organizations as well as the city's band. John and Louise Mahrer's home and the Nanaimo Opera House, which John built, were the centres of Nanaimo's cultural life at the time.