Feature Exhibit

Springs and Scavengers: Waste and Water in Victoria, 1842 to 1915

In Victoria, fresh water has long been precious—and political. Springs and Scavengers brings you up close (but not too close) to the story of water and waste management in early Victoria. Through images, stories, and artifacts—including a spectacular collection of chamber pots— Point Ellice House weaves a story of basic human needs, and the struggle that early Victoria had in keeping up with them. Visitors will encounter the rapid expansion of the city’s water works, from a few simple wells on the edge of town to the damming of Elk/Beaver Lake and its pipeline of swampy-smelling water to Victoria’s fashionable homes. The exhibition showcases night soil scavengers—tradesmen who made a living manually removing sewage from the city’s homes. Springs and Scavengers connects the personal with the political. Visitors will peek into the water closets of the O’Reilly family, and learn of their business interests in the privatization of the city’s water supply. Visitors will discover how in early Victoria, marginalized communities—Chinese, Indigenous and Black—were involved in waste and water matters, and how they were both denied basic amenities and criticized for the lack of them.
Springs and Scavengers opens July 4th, 2020.