What’s New

Mrs. O’Reilly’s Christmas Cake

The picture on the left is the result of a long project by one of our volunteers at Point Ellice House, Jennifer Brown.  The following is her story on how she was able to create a current version of Mrs. O’Reilly’s Christmas Fruit Cake:

I have always thought it would be fun to try out some O’Reilly recipes, especially cakes and other sweets.  This October I started my search for recipes for the Christmas season.  I always make a fruit cake called Yorkshire Spice cake for my family and thought that making Mrs. O’Reilly’s fruit cake would be a good project.

I started looking for recipes in the historical information binders at Point Ellice but didn’t find recipes.   I tried the Victoria Public Library BC Room with no luck.  So I visited the BC Archives and searched a few microfilms of the O’Reilly Family papers.  I did find some recipes but not Mrs. O’Reilly’s fruit cake.  Then I had a bit of good luck:  a copy of an old book (unpublished) of Mrs. O’Reilly’s recipes was found in the files, and it had the fruit cake recipe.

And now the real challenge began, deciphering a recipe from Mrs. O’Reilly’s ‘shorthand’.  The recipe is very brief:  it doesn’t include the size of pan to use or the oven temperature or the baking time.  I wasn’t sure about a few of the ingredients:  what do Victorians mean by a “sultana”?  what is “Powder Spice”?  How many ounces in a Victorian pint of milk?  Are those large eggs or medium eggs?  What is meant by “mixed peel”?  Is a Victorian teaspoon rounded or level?  Many, many questions.

I spent a lot of time pouring over several resources: the unpublished book mentioned,  Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management (published in the mid-1850s), and my grandmother’s 1938 Five Roses Cookbook.    I also dug through my old cookbooks to find a cake with similar amounts of ingredients to determine a pan size.  And, yes, I used the internet to find out what “Powder Spice” is.

In mid-November, I finally made the cake.  It is now in a cool spot wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in sherry.  Mrs. O’Reilly probably used brandy.  We look forward to tasting it!

For a copy of Jennifer’s recipe, click here.

Victorian Era Christmas

The historic O’Reilly house has been decorated for Christmas in the style of the 1800’s, with greenery, Christmas Tree and various floral arrangements.

The Tours through the house will share the Christmas Traditions in the O’Reilly household, describing how the various rooms are used during the Christmas season and food preparation and presentation for the family and their visitors.

The Festive Christmas Tea is now available at the Secret Vintage Shoppe and Tea House on Saturday and Sundays 11:00 am until 4:00 pm through December 4.

Starting December 7 through December 23, the Secret Vintage Shoppe and Tea House will be open Thursdays thru Sunday.

Tours through the Heritage House are available on all days that the Shoppe and Tea House are open.

We are now taking reservations for our Festive Christmas Teas which start on November 25th.  The menu can be found here: Festive Christmas Tea Menu.

You can make reservations calling 250-380-6506 (please leave voicemail message) or by sending an email to info@PointElliceHouse.com 

In addition to the Christmas High Teas during December, we will have available for purchase Tea, Coffee and Mulled apple juice with spices.

And while you are visiting, you can also do your Christmas shopping at the Secret Vintage Shoppe where the Christmas spirit shows through in their decorations.

Book your Christmas Teas

Reminder that the Secret Vintage Shoppe and Tea House is open on Saturday and Sundays 11:00 am until 4:00 pm through December 4.  Tours through the Heritage House are available on days that the Shoppe and Tea House are open.

We are now taking reservations for our Festive Christmas Teas which start on November 25th.  The menu will be posted on our website (www.PointElliceHouse.com) and Facebook page soon.

Starting December 7 through December 23, the Secret Vintage Shoppe and Tea House, as well as Tours through the Heritage House, will be open Thursdays thru Sunday.

You can make reservations calling 250-380-6506 (please leave voicemail message) or by sending an email to info@PointElliceHouse.com 

Thank You to Our Volunteers

From our Volunteer Coordinator:

Point Ellice House was recently alive to say Thank You! to all of our most valuable volunteers for a dinner in their honour.  It was an opportunity to catch up with fellow volunteers and enjoy the food contributions brought by all.  Our volunteers are a dedicated group of people coming together to promote and to help preserve our treasured historic site.

We can’t thank our volunteers at Point Ellice House enough.  They are all making a difference and are driven by the desire to see Point Ellice House continue to be a wonderful historic site to visit now and in the future.

We also like to thank Save-On Foods at Westside Village for there support for our celebration and honoring of our volunteers.

Spooky Halloween


According to Ross Crockford, author of ‘Victoria, The Unknown City’, ‘Likely the most haunted house in town, Point Ellice House seems to be occupied by several long-dead members of the O’Reilly clan.’

Join us for a truly spooky Halloween experience.  Point Ellice House, rumored to be a temporary morgue for those lost in the 1896 collapse of the Point Ellice Bridge (aka the Bay Street Bridge), is ready to entertain those who enjoy all that the spiritual world has to offer.

Bring your family, your friends and especially your out of town guests who want to experience the life and times of the spooky English flavor that has enhanced the history and heritage of Victoria!

Spooky Halloween Tours:

October 27, 28 and 29
Tours scheduled at 5, 6 and 7 p.m.
we are accessible!

As tickets are selling quickly,  please call in advance to reserve your tour.

Special event rates*: 

Adults:  $12.00
Students (ages 12 to 18): $10.00
Children (ages 3-12): $5.00
Under 3:  Free
Family Rate:   $34.00
(2 adults accompanied by two or more of their children):

Point Ellice House Preservation Society Members:  50% off

Call Point Ellice House (250-380-6506) or email (info@PointElliceHouse.com) to make your reservations today.

Bringing our Afternoon Teas Indoors

Summer is winding down, and as the weather changes, our picnic tea baskets will be put away.

Starting in September, we will move the Afternoon Tea from on the lawn into the Visitor Centre where you can also browse the Secret Vintage Shoppe. You will be able to enjoy the same delectable menu (prepared by Truffles Catering) in our cozy shoppe filled with nostalgic memories, for all to reminisce.

Afternoon Tea will be served on weekends at 12:00 noon or 1:00 pm. In order to ensure your group will have a pleasurable event, reservation and prepayment must be made at least 2 days in advance (before 1pm, please). 

Tours of the Heritage House are available prior or after your Tea, and those enjoying Afternoon Tea can purchase a reduced price ticket of the House Tour.

The Point Ellice House Picnic Tea

With on site renovations to the Carriage House, we have been unable to  prepare and present the High Teas as we’ve had in the past.  We no longer have a kitchen, nor the ability to properly clean and sanitize our fine china.

However, in order to share the Point Ellice House gardens and to support the ongoing activities to preserve the heritage house and artifacts we are serving our ‘Picnic Tea‘.

The Picnic Tea, is served with a complete menu of sandwiches, scones, and dessert as we had in our high teas served in the past.  Truffles Catering is our partner who prepares and delivers as per advance reservations.

Our tea is provided by Silk Road serving their traditional black tea blend ‘Point Ellice House Tea’. Also available is their ‘Philosopher Brew’ herbal tea.

As being a picnic tea, the food and drink is served on our Gorge-view lawn under our tents using our comfortable chairs and tables, as we have in the past.  In case of inclement weather, the Visitor Centre is available for seating.

In order for Truffles Catering to properly prepare your Picnic Tea, we ask for reservations at least two days in advance.  Reservations can be made by calling the Visitor Centre at 250-380-6506 (please leave voice mail) or by email at info@PointElliceHouse.com.

If you have further questions, or would like to schedule a large group on a different time frame, please contact our Visitor Centre.

Volunteer opportunities at Point Ellice House

Point Ellice House VolunteersPoint Ellice House is in need of volunteers to assist with tourist activities to support the maintenance and support of the heritage house and artifacts:

  • Tour Guides— taking visitors through the historic house and telling the wonderful tales of the O’Reilly family who occupied the house for 3 generations on the beautiful Gorge Waterway.  Training and support given.
  • Tea Service — involving carrying tea and coffee thermoses to and from the lawn.
  • Crafters — for painting/refreshing small furniture items for the Gift Shop.
  • Hauling  (with small truck or SUV) — for delivery of larger items for the Gift Shop.

3 hours per week suggested for Tour Guides and Tea Volunteers, please contact Shirley at Volunteer@PointElliceHouse.com or call (please leave a message) at the Visitor Centre at 250-380-6506.