Calling Cards of Visitors

The Point Ellice House collection contains hundreds of calling cards left for the O’Reilly family by visitors. This initial research was conducted by students in the 2021 HSTR 515A: Public History course at the University of Victoria, and these short biographies constitute only a portion of the individuals represented by the calling cards within the collection.

The O’Reilly family, who lived in Point Ellice House for over 100 years, belonged to the colonial social network of Victoria in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The Point Ellice House Collection contains hundreds of calling cards acquired over the span of decades by the O’Reillys. During this period, etiquette dictated that individuals exchange calling cards imprinted with their names for social and business purposes. These cards are a physical remnant of the social practices of the elite at the turn of the century in Victoria.

What follows is a selection from the calling card collection and short biographies of the individuals behind them. These individuals were wealthy and well-connected. Many of them were politicians and business owners who enriched themselves through natural resources taken from First Nations territories.

The calling cards are representative of the social circle of the O’Reillys and offer a glimpse into the social hierarchies of life in Victoria at the time. The cards illuminate the many connections that these Victorians formed: as friends, colleagues, business associates, political allies, and families. Point Ellice House was a hub in an extensive social network that spanned British Columbia and the British Empire

This collection of letters and documents has been digitized from an earlier transcription project and is for informational purposes only. This transcription has not been verified against the originals. Researchers interested in these letters should consult the original documents housed at the BC Archives.


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