The Dream of Brother XII - 2016-03-22
Sun-dappled paradise in summer, sodden purgatory in winter, the ruggedly beautiful British Columbia coast has long attracted utopian visionaries. Case in point: Edward Wilson, better known as the infamous religious cult leader Brother XII, a wayward 1920s theosophist at the centre of one of the most bizarre interludes in Canadian history. Jen Moss explores what happens when lofty ideals crash against B.C's rocky shores.
For hundreds of years British Columbia has attracted all manner of utopian idealists: each set on building their own version of a better society. Needless to say, most of them changed their minds when they encountered the harsh reality of the BC coast.
From obscure Christian cults and arcane theosophists to determined back-to-the-landers and intentional communities of all kinds, BC probably has a greater percentage of failed utopias than any other province in Canada. Why so many? And why do so many of them go so wrong? Is it merely the environment itself? Or is it something deeper that causes these carefully constructed dreams to collapse?