Welcome to the Point Ellice House Blog

This blog is a space to share stories and updates about our work here at Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens. We hope you enjoy reading and that it encourages you to come see the site for yourself – maybe it will inspire you to get involved with helping us tell the many stories of this site. Welcome!...

Artifact of the Month: February 2020

Christeah Dupont, Curatorial Assistant Styles may come and go, but curling irons have been used to style hair for several millennia. From the small bronze curlers of Ancient Egypt to the modern electric iron, little has changed with curling technology in the centuries since the first strands of hair were wrapped around a hot piece of metal for the sake of style and status. For our February artifact of the month we chose a pair of curling tongs and a pair of crimping tongs. Although we do not know exactly when or where these objects were manufactured, both pairs...

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Rehabilitating the South Garden at Point Ellice House

Dr. Kelly Black, Executive Director According to heritage garden expert Cyril Hume, the gardens at Point Ellice House are one of the best surviving examples of Victorian-era gardens in North America. The importance of the gardens is reflected in the site’s statement of significance; the gardens are a character defining element of heritage value, especially all of the mature historic garden and landscaping features, which include the croquet/tennis lawns, pathways, rose bushes, flower beds, mature trees and shrubs, and the sequoia tree planted by Peter O’Reilly. The gardens at Point Ellice House are an extension of the site’s collection...

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‘The Progress of the Country’: Peter O’Reilly in Wet’suwet’en Territories

Dr. Kelly Black, Executive Director As Wet’suwet’en people and their supporters resist the incursion of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Coastal Gas Link into their territories, I am reminded that there is a direct link between these events and our historic house museum in Victoria, 1200 kilometers away. Point Ellice House was home to Peter and Caroline O’Reilly, and their descendants, from 1867 to 1975. From 1880 to 1898, Peter served as Indian Reserve Commissioner (IRC) for the provincial and federal government. Writing on O’Reilly’s IRC work, historian Kenneth Brealey titled his article “Travels from Point Ellice:...

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Hidden Treasures: Conducting an Inventory at Point Ellice House

Christeah Dupont, Curatorial Assistant As Point Ellice House undertakes its annual closure and visitor footsteps are no longer being heard creaking through the halls, one might think that the house sits quiet and empty until re-opening on the Family Day long weekend. However, the house is busy with activity! Christmas decorations are being removed, cleaning and conservation duties are in full swing, and a large project is underway. In October 2019 we began an inventory of the Point Ellice House collection to gain a better understanding of just how many artifacts we have on site. The provincial database for...

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December at Point Ellice House

Dr. Kelly Black, Executive Director Historically, December was a time of celebration at Point Ellice House. For the O’Reilly family, it was December of 1867 when they moved into the house on Pleasant Street. December also brought the anniversary of Peter and Caroline O’Reilly’s marriage (December 15th, 1863), and the birth of their daughter, Kathleen (December 31st, 1867). Sadly, Caroline O’Reilly passed away on December 23rd, 1899. The O’Reillys often spent Christmas day calling on neighbours and family around the city. Many Christmas dinners were held at Fairfield, Joseph and Julia Trutch’s residence (located today at 601 Trutch Street)....

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November’s Artifacts of the Month

French Military M15 Adrian Helmet and Royal Canadian Air Force Group Portrait Lisa Wilson (Curatorial Assistant) and Kelly Black (Executive Director) November was a time of remembrance at Point Ellice House. To  acknowledge those who have served in conflicts around the world , we displayed two artifacts that connect Point Ellice House and the O’Reilly family to the First and Second World Wars. The first object has an element of mystery attached. Our collection contains a “Republique Francaise Army” M15 Adrian helmet,  issued by the French Military during the First World War (FWW, 1914-1918). We believe it was brought...

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October’s Artifact:  Thermos Set with Leather Case

Lisa Wilson, Curatorial Assistant (Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens) For October, our Artifact of the Month was an item that reminds us of spending time outdoors during the fall. This three-piece Thermos set was likely owned by Frank or Jack O’Reilly and used to bring warm beverages and snacks on hunting and fishing trips. It may also have been used by their sister Kathleen for equestrian adventures, or by Jack’s wife Mary for her own hunting trips. The set from our collection was manufactured in Germany during the 1910s-1920s and consists of a leather carrying case, a metal...

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Artifact of the Month at Point Ellice House

Lisa Wilson, Curatorial Assistant (Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens) Every month at Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens we select an artifact for our volunteer interpreters to show visitors. This new program is exciting as it offers an opportunity for our interpreters to handle and learn about an artifact, while visitors get to view something from our large collection up close – usually an artifact that has never been exhibited before. In September, our debut artifact for this program was an issue of a British magazine called The Bystander, published August 20th, 1913. The Bystander was a tabloid-style...

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The Search for Caroline O’Reilly’s Grave

Guest post by Tim Fitzthum, Point Ellice House Volunteer Interpreter Visitors to Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens are sometimes inspired to share their knowledge, stories, and photographs relating to Point Ellice House or other aspects of local history. This shared knowledge adds to our understanding of local history and reveals aspects of the Point Ellice House story that have been lost to us through time. We value these contributions and encourage others to share their knowledge. One recent contribution comes from Tom Osaki who wrote an account of the death of Caroline O’Reilly and the reason for her...

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Point Ellice House & Victoria’s Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Point Ellice House, Museum & Gardens National Historic Site is a green oasis surrounded by industrial lands on the shores of the Selkirk Water. The Point Ellice House shore is a component of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary and the Victoria “naturehood,” as recognized by Nature Canada. The site’s vegetated shoreline was restored in 2014 and is among the wildest left in Victoria Harbour and nearby waters. This restoration work continues today. To be a part of our ongoing efforts, consider volunteering at Point Ellice House. Guest Post by Jacques Sirois, Co-Warden – Trial Islands Ecological Reserve, Caretaker...

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