The Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens is showcasing its first feature display, ‘The Politics of Luxury’ (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Point Ellice House exhibit offers new lens into colonial history

The new ‘Politics of luxury’ display studies the wealthy O’Reilly family from several angles

A new exhibit at the Point Ellice House Museum pulls back the silk curtain on early Victoria’s upper class.

“The Politics of Luxury” is the museum’s first feature exhibit under new management, and includes artifacts, images and stories to give visitors a glimpse of the people, power and privilege of Victoria’s past.

While visitors might marvel at the extravagance of the O’Reilly family’s lifestyle, the exhibit goes beyond high-end China-wear and jewels. It also looks at the colonial past of the wealthy and influential, and at how decisions made within the walls of the B.C.’s richest homes impacted British Columbians, particularly First Nations – and continues to reverberate today.

ALSO READ: Historic Victoria site plagued with hefty trash dumps

“This isn’t your grandma’s historic house tour,” said Kelly Black, executive director. “What we’ve tried to do is change the narrative of a historic house museum and tell the good stories and the not so good stories. We hope people will be unsettled by that, but in a good way that will provoke change and conversation.”

Point Ellice House was built in 1862, and was occupied by the O’Reilly Family for 108 years.

Original occupant Peter O’Reilly originated from England before coming over to the Colony of British Columbia to serve as a gold commissioner, a judge and sheriff for the colony. Soon After, O’Reilly also served as an Indian Reserve Commissioner, a role he held for 18 years.

ALSO READ: New operators share future vision for hidden Victoria landmark

“He did that work here in this house; the corresponding with the prime minister and with Joseph Trutch about ‘are the reserves too big,’ and ‘are they adequate,’” Black said. “That kind of everyday work of colonization happened at this house, so we feel it’s important to highlight that so we can learn from that work and hopefully move forward in a good way.”

The house is filled with interpretive texts and hundreds of artifacts to help paint the picture for visitors, who can also explore the museum’s gardens.

“People will be able to come here and enjoy the grounds and the house for what it is, but also to be able to leave thinking critically about the future of British Columbia, as well as the past.”

With files from Nina Grossman

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens is showcasing its first feature display, ‘The Politics of Luxury’ (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Just Posted

Saanich school district parent pens open letter as CUPE strike continues

‘It’s not a strike that’s just affecting adults,’ wrote the parent who wants kids back in school

Union president ‘cautiously optimistic’ school strike could end over the weekend

Saanich School District strike has kept staff, 8,000 students out of school since Oct. 28

Saanich councillor assures residents they won’t pay twice for Kings Park

Capital Regional District set to discuss potential for funding Saanich park

VIDEO: North Island man trapped under ATV for days shows promise at Victoria hospital

Out of induced coma, 41-year-old is smiling, squeezing hands and enjoying sunshine

More people are being evicted from subsidized housing in Victoria, experts say

Closing of Pacifica Housing’s Fairfield Hotel a sign of ongoing trends

VIDEO: Six months later, downtown Victoria business still feels the burn of Pandora fire

Sattva Spa stripped to the bare bones and won’t be operational for another year

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Ski resorts selling mountain water is a risky move, critics say

Alberta allowed ski resort in Kananaskis Country to sell about 50 million litres to third party

Sportsnet looks at new options for Coach’s Corner time slot, post-Don Cherry

Spokesperson says Hall of Fame feature on tap this weekend after co-host’s firing

Grand Forks residents protest on bridge to call for ‘fair’ compensation after 2018 floods

Demonstrators also criticized how long it has taken to be offered land deals

B.C. taxi drivers no longer exempt from wearing a seatbelt

Before, taxi drivers were allowed to forego a seatbelt when driving under 70 kilometres an hour

Car dash covered in papers not an excuse for speeding, Delta police warn

After pulling driver over for speeding, police found his speedometer blocked by a stack of papers

B.C. woman seeks return of jewelry box containing father’s cremated remains

Sicamous RCMP report handmade box was stolen from a storage locker

Most Read