Brother Twelve

Brother Twelve (also, Brother XII), religious leader (b Edward Arthur Wilson at Birmingham, Eng 25 July 1878; d at Neuchatel, Switz 7 Nov 1934?). A mystic and former sea captain, Brother Twelve established an occult society and utopian community called The Aquarian Foundation outside Nanaimo, BC, in 1927. The society claimed more than 2000 members at its height, including many wealthy and prominent individuals. A series of sensational court cases, during which Brother Twelve was accused of misusing foundation funds, advocating free love and claiming to be the reincarnation of the Egyptian god Osiris, led to the breakup of the original colony.

Brother Twelve formed a new settlement, a "City of Refuge," on nearby Valdes and DeCourcy Islands, where he and his disciples believed they would survive the coming Armageddon. Conditions at the colony gradually deteriorated, as Brother Twelve and his sadistic mistress, a woman known as "Madame Z," turned their followers into slaves, subjecting them to the most appalling hardship and privation. They also attempted to murder their enemies, including high-ranking government officials, by black magic.

The disciples eventually revolted, bringing a court action against their leader to recover their money. They won their case, but Brother Twelve wrecked the colony in vengeance, and fled with a fortune in gold. His death in Switzerland is unconfirmed.

A complex mixture of mystic and charlatan, Brother Twelve ranks as one of Canada's most notorious cult leaders; how sincere he was originally, and how authentic his powers were, is still uncertain. He claimed to be the twelfth Master in an occult Brotherhood said to guide the evolution of the human race; hence the name, Brother Twelve.