A Family Home, A Storied Past
Imagine a house full of everything you, your siblings, your parents, and your grandparents ever owned. What could this building and these objects tell you about your family, your life, or your community?
In 1975, John and Inez O’Reilly sold their family home, Point Ellice House, to the Province of British Columbia. Taking only a few personal items, they turned the house over, complete with 108 years of family possessions: Furniture, dishes, luggage, letters, pictures, paintings, musical instruments, clothing, and a lot more.
Victoria and British Columbia changed rapidly around Point Ellice House. Similar houses and properties were demolished, but Point Ellice House, its contents, and its gardens remain; it still has stories to tell.
Point Ellice House is a part of the colonial history of Vancouver Island and British Columbia. Peter O’Reilly worked as a colonial official and it was through this work that he came to own the house and property. The house and its past occupants are linked to the many disruptive processes of colonization that sought to replace First Nations peoples with a settler society.
Point Ellice House is located within the territories of the Lekwungen peoples, known today as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. On April 30th, 1850 the Swengwhung family group signed a treaty with the Colony of Vancouver Island’s governor, James Douglas. This treaty encompasses the land that Point Ellice House now occupies.
It is with respect that we recognize the territories of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations and their ancestors. We acknowledge that the human occupation and use of this site reaches far beyond the arrival of settlers to this land and we commit to ongoing efforts to build relationships and address this site’s place in the history of colonization.