Past Exhibits

Springs and Scavengers: Waste and Water in Victoria, 1842 to 1915 (May 2020 to June 2022)

Click here to view an interactive map of waste and water stories in Victoria

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.

We are grateful to the City of Victoria for their financial support of this exhibit.

Click here to view an interactive map of waste and water stories in Victoria

The Politics of Luxury (July 20th, 2019 to April 30th, 2020)

The Politics of Luxury

The Politics of Luxury was a previous feature exhibit at Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens in Victoria’s Rock Bay. Through images, artifacts, and stories, The Politics of Luxury cast a new eye on early Victoria’s upper classes. The exhibit examines the relationships that sustained people, power, and privilege. Visitors meet the O’Reilly Family, tour their home, experience the luxury they lived in, and meet some of the working people who supported their lifestyle.

The Politics of Luxury isn’t your grandmother’s historic house tour. The exhibit takes on the colonial past and examines how decisions made within these historic homes had important and sometimes devastating effects on the people of British Columbia, particularly First Nations—decisions that continue to shape the province today.