Brick by Brick: Uncovering the Past at Point Ellice House

Dr. Kelly Black, Executive Director It seems like each week at Point Ellice House we uncover a mystery that needs solving or a new artifact to identify. This past October was no exception! As part of our ongoing rehabilitation of the South Garden, Fallingwater Property Services began a small project to clear and level an area around our new garden shed. What began as a simple three day project became something much bigger when workers uncovered a significant but forgotten feature of the South Garden – a long and winding brick pathway about 20 centimeters below the soil. Although we…...Continue reading

Volunteering from Home: Transcription & Description of the Collection

Christeah Dupont, Curatorial Assistant  & Jeannine Worthing, Visitor Services Coordinator  Volunteers are a central part of the Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens team; they help maintain the gardens, act as interpreters for visitors, and assist with conservation of the house and its collection. With our temporary closure this past spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, staff had to get creative with remote volunteer projects. There are currently two interesting projects that Point Ellice House volunteers are working on from home. The first is a transcription project which has been ongoing since April 2020. Volunteers are reading select letters written…...Continue reading

What in the World is a Celery Vase?

Jeannine Worthing, Visitor Services Coordinator Among the many projects we have on the go at Point Ellice House, we are working on developing educational programming based on the BC Social Studies curriculum. One program we are excited about aims to teach classes about the history of food production and preparation by the O’Reilly family at Point Ellice House. This program will tie in with the work being done on the property’s South Garden, a multi-year project which aims to rehabilitate the kitchen garden and the orchard, as well as several other historical characteristics of the site. While searching the collection…...Continue reading

Exhibit Planning During a Pandemic

Dr. Kelly Black, Executive Director Since the Vancouver Island Local History Society took over management of Point Ellice House in 2019, our approach has been to look beyond the house itself and connect the site and families with the wider history of Victoria, British Columbia, and the British Empire. When we drafted our business plan for the site, we highlighted the prominent role the Wentworth Wallace and O’Reilly families played in the city and province, and noted the many stories that could be told through these familial connections, museum collection, and the Point Ellice House landscape. Victoria has many great…...Continue reading

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 –…...Continue reading

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 Point…...Continue reading

Uncovering the Stories of Point Ellice House

Last week at Point Ellice House, our Head Gardener Sheila and volunteer Tim were working around the circular drive, trimming holly trees and tidying up the garden beds. As they trimmed back holly branches, they uncovered an enormous stump, likely a horse chestnut tree planted by Peter O’Reilly in the 1870s. The stump was new to us and a reminder that Point Ellice House and its gardens continue to surprise. There’s a lot we know about the house and families that lived here, but there’s still so much we have yet to uncover. There’s rarely a dull moment in the…...Continue reading

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