Wash Your Hands: Interpreting a Bar of Soap

Christeah Dupont, Curatorial Assistant Content Warning – Racism In our new exhibit, Springs and Scavengers: Waste and Water in Victoria, 1842-1915, the politics of cleanliness is on display. One artifact visitors might recognize is a bar of Pears soap.  This particular bar of soap probably became part of the Point Ellice House collection in the 1960s when Inez O’Reilly, likely aware of the prevalence of the Pears brand in the Victorian period, put it on display in the house. Despite the simplicity of this object, a closer look at Pears soap tells us a surprising amount about social status, imperialism,…...Continue reading

‘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: Peter…...Continue reading

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