The Royal B.C. Museum will host students from Camosun College and the public to explore Victorian era funeral rituals on Saturday. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Camosun students, Royal BC Museum to bring Victorian funeral rituals to life

Free with museum admission or membership

Funeral rituals from the Victorian era will be on display in the streets of the Royal BC Museum’s Old Town and Helmcken House on Saturday, Nov. 23. Locals are invited to participate in a number of interactive exhibits created by students at Camosun College. All activities are free with museum admission or membership.

The interactive exhibits take place in the streets of the museum’s Old Town from 1 p.m. Next, revellers can walk through to Helmcken House where a recreation of a Victorian wake will be performed by Camosun anthropology students from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

READ ALSO: With $4M investment, Camosun College offers first sonography program on Vancouver Island

Students in Nicole Kilburn’s Anthropology of Death class are partnering with the museum to explore historical aspects of death. These include post-mortem photography, headstone engravings, memorial stationary, the use of clairvoyants, hair jewelry, mourning clothes, and the economy of death.

The funeral recreation will focus on the death of a fictional man of British descent and the rituals associated with his culture, and socio-economic status. Students will also explore other perspective on death in the B.C. community in 1900, such as perspectives of Chinese immigrants and First Nations.

Camosun’s schools of Health and Human Services, and Trades and Technology will also help make this Victorian funeral come to life. First Memorial Funeral Services donated a casket to be used in the funeral, and Helmcken House’s parlour will be decorated in accordance with Victorian era funeral traditions.

“We’ll have crepe-covered mirrors and [a clock] stopped at the time of death as well as a casket with a mannequin dressed in funerary attire,” Kilburn said. “Students have learned that the Victorians left the windows open so that the spirit could leave and that a boxwood wreath on the door communicated to the community that a death had occurred.”

Student organizer Laurel Hanson said she appreciates the opportunity to immerse herself in her studies. “This type [of] applied learning gives me concrete skills and has also resulted in a volunteer position at the museum,” Hanson said. “I would never have had this opportunity without this project.”

Kilburn said Victorians were “much more familiar with death in their everyday experience” because of higher infant mortality rates, women dying during childbirth, and deaths caused by unsafe working conditions.

“It wasn’t that people feared death less, but there was more familiarity with it. The dead were still tended to in the home rather than these roles being outsourced. Death touched a family earlier and more often than today, and it was memorialized in very particular ways,” Kilburn said.

The public are invited to attend, to be curious, and ask questions while being respectful of the solemn nature of the topic.

READ ALSO: Camosun’s continuing education site a quick hit

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow @yrlocaljourno

EducationRoyal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich calls for applicants to join Housing Strategy task force

Council to appoint ‘diverse group’ to tackle housing challenges

North Saanich submits ALR exclusion despite large opposition

Opposed North Saanich residents now shift their attention to ALC after 6-1 council vote

B.C. ends short experiment with growler fills at restaurants

Province extends take-out sales of six-packs, wine

VicPD seeking witnesses for fatal crash on Hillside Avenue

A pedestrian was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries, where she later died

21 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in B.C. as virus ‘silently circulates’ in broader community

Health officials urge British Columbians to enjoy summer safely as surge continues

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Tough time for tree fruits as some B.C. farm products soar

Province reports record 2019 sales, largely due to cannabis

‘Let’s all do a self-check’: Okanagan mayor reacts to racist vandalism targeting local family

Home of Indo-Canadian family in Summerland was targeted on evening of July 13

Province agrees to multimillion-dollar payout for alleged victims of Kelowna social worker

Robert Riley Saunders is accused of misappropriating funds of children — often Indigenous — in his care

Feds fund safe drug supply pilot program for Cowichan

The opioid overdose crisis continues to be one of the most serious public health crises

B.C. businessman David Sidoo gets 3 months behind bars for college admissions scam

Sidoo was sentenced for hiring someone take the SATs in place of his two sons

PHOTOS: Inside a newly-listed $22M mega-mansion on ALR land in B.C.

The large home, located on ALR land, is one of the last new mansions to legally be built on ALR land

Most Read