Saturday, 21 July 2018

Point Ellice - the O'Reilly House ...

Learning more about the pioneers (on the Canadian west coast) of what I would call 'our age' ... ie Victorian life onwards - we'd recognise houses, tea parties etc ... earlier than that it'd have been pretty rustic and rough ...

Water colour by Kathleen O'Reilly - showing the drawing
room awnings to protect the textiles from the sun
(the house today is protected with sun blinds)

 Point Ellice house built in 1861, bought six years later by the O'Reilly family ... and as Peter and Caroline's family expanded the house was altered, the gardens developed ... with meticulous records being kept ...

Boating celebration for Queen's Birthday late 1800s

Access to the house was either by the water ... the Gorge Waterway was one of the many fjord-like inlets that abound in this part of the world ... or a rough track ... yet Peter O'Reilly insisted the gravelled driveway was meticulously raked and graded .... 

Cottage Garden Border

... it would have been quiet, surrounded by nature, yet easily accessible from Victoria, by then capital of British Columbia ... 'invasion for the gold, by the Americans, was to be avoided at all costs!' ... being here kept control of this part of the west coast ...

Love the stained glass - reminds me
of some we knew as kids down in Cornwall

The industrial nature of their surroundings started coming to the fore in the late 1800s ... sawmills and rail-yards arrived ... but family and guests could boat down the quieter waters of the Gorge.

Part of restored vegetable garden

The family owned the house for 108 years before selling it in 1974 to the Provincial Government - leaving everything, except their personal possessions, behind ...

Fremontodendron ... clambering around the front door

The cottage altered in those beginning years to accommodate their way of life ... but by the 1880s became a rambling asymetrical home in the popular Italianate style of that era ...

Lots of old perfumed roses, and foxgloves
were out for us to enjoy

Restoration has been possible through the archives available to house and garden conservators ... 

Croquet set ... a fielder was needed
to make sure the balls didn't
disappear into the gorge!

... original wallpapers, paint colours, locations of pictures, clothing, earlier layouts of rooms, garden plants and seeds ... 

Restored wallpaper by the
front door

... so much could be faithfully reproduced to bring the house back to its earlier glory - and give us an overview of life for those pioneering settlers ...

Dining room ... or warm winter room

Guests had wicker shields fitted over the dining chairs - so they didn't get the intense heat from the fire ... 

I didn't find out who these were ... but just liked them -
they were in the kitchen!

...while the warmth from the chimneys kept the table linens dry by means of the narrow cupboard fitted into the sides of the chimneys above the fireplace.

The family Bible

Ingenious - those early settlers .... that dining room as it was warm in winter from the fire - became the family's room for 'working in' ... hence the Bible, writing table, piano etc ...

Joseph Trutch's desk - which Peter used

Remember that WEP challenge we had in February last year - Back of the Drawer ... the family in the 1960s found letters from the first Prime Minister of Canada (1867 - 1873; 1878 - 1891), Sir John A Macdonald, to Caroline O'Reilly's brother, Sir Joseph Trutch, when he was appointed British Columbia's first Lieutenant Governor ... the O'Reilly's bought his desk when he decided to move back to England.

Peter and Caroline O'Reilly

The exterior walls have been scored to make the stucco material appear as though the house was built of stone blocks.  It was painted in pale rose, dark brown trim and with red detailing round the window sashes - faithfully restored.

A quick note to other points of interest I spotted or appear in the guide book ...

Kitchen range on which the Chinese cook made their meals

The kitchen was very modern for the 1880s ... a cast iron French range (coal and wood-burning) ... a copper hot water tank, heated by the tubes running through the stove (an earlier one had exploded).  

There's even a ceramic water filter ... a block of charcoal inside purifies the drinking water!  Made in London by the Silicated Carbon Filter Co. Patented Self-Aerating Moveable Block.

Butler's Pantry
A 154 piece of Minton china, King's Border is on display in the dining room ... along with other sets of china in the butler's pantry ... including large serving platters and what looks like a cake plate - which is actually a dark blue Wedgwood covered cheese plate decorated with a raised white fern motif.

The curators have secured the china ... so it hopefully doesn't get damaged in one of the many small earthquakes we get here ...

The drawing room ... with the piano and harp given
to Kathleen by Lady Trutch

A Victorian drawing room's overcrowded arrangement was common at that time ... Kathleen O'Reilly was very talented and simply decided she did not want to leave Point Ellice ... staying on after her parents died ... devoting herself to keeping the house and garden going as her parents had aspired to.

Jerusalem Sage - drought resistant plant ...
but I loved it - Phlomis Russeliana
Rudyard Kipling visited Victoria, but not Point Ellice house, however he remarked that the city was 'more English than the English' ...

... the house reminded me of my early home ... particularly the garden with the borders, roses, and hollyhocks - which weren't out ... but the guide book shows them ...

Kathleen, Frank and John

Point Ellice is a true historical record of the life and times of a family home and garden at the end of the 1800s ... not many properties are able to boast this sort of accurate history ... a lovely day out and visit ...

Back of the Drawer Bloghop post ... linked here ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 5) ...

The last book (for now) is titled Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic by the Canadian geographer, writer, speaker: James Raffan.

I found this book riveting ... it's about the four million people in eight countries, speaking dozens of languages and representing almost as many indigenous ethnicities.

Yamalo Nenets -
 autonomous region
in Russia

It highlights that we (in the middle latitudes - as Raffan describes it)  may be worrying about climate change - but they (the indigenous peoples) are concerned about their loss of language, cultural decay, loss of land - which we purport to own - yet they have travelled and accessed those lands for millennia ... their lands are their home - their soul ...

Nomadic Nenets - reindeer hunters

I made lots of notes ... but as I was leant this book - I need to get my own copy ... that says it all really.

Raffan decides to circumnavigate the globe at 66.6 degrees latitude: the Arctic Circle.  He is Canadian,  but starts his journey in Iceland, and on via Norway, Sweden, Finland, various places across Russia, over to Alaska and then into Canada ...

... this is where having read Island of the Blue Foxes, as mentioned in part 2, was really helpful ... I had some notion about Siberia ... and now recognise some of the names.

Yes, I have other books on the go ... but I thought you'd be interested to know about these ... back to normal posts in the future - but more books will follow anon!

The Yamalo Nenets Autonomous Region - Russia's most important source of Natural Gas ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 4) ...

A biographical book ... I read earlier this year ... that has been a-lingering for me to do a brief overview of Lucy Maud Montgomery's (1874 - 1942) life ... the author behind the sparkling eyes of Anne of Green Gables.

Not having read Anne of Green Gables, nor yet knowing anything of Montgomery - this was another fascinating journey into early Canada ... dealing with Maude Lewis, the artist (in the film I'd seen at the start ofthe year) 'Maudie' and Lucy Maud Montgomery ... I was getting my Mauds muddled ...

Apart from the story ... we learn of her early life on Prince Edward Island, Lucy's prolific output, her life as she travels the female path trying to get recognition for her writings and thoughts, the male dominance and down-putting ... that was considered the woman's place in that era ...

Lucy Maud Montgomery's birthplace

... and the part I found really interesting, as I know just about nothing of the publishing world, was the introduction to this world in Canada and in the USA back in the early 1900s ... where the chauvinist world came to the fore ... to Montgomery's detriment.

Leaskdale Manse - Ontario years

This biography by Mary Henley Rubio has many acclaimed acknowledgements - which to my mind are completely true ... and I'd say understatements ... it's a really exceptional biography - and if any of you haven't read it ... I'd recommend you check it out.

Rubio has been so thorough ... researching all Montgomery's letters, essays, correspondence in general, diaries et al ... once the book is written - it is long, but well worth the read, she goes into an epilogue on each of the main players ... which ties up loose ends, but explains things and gives us that overview on the book's contents ...

First Edition ... written in Canada - but
published in the States ... 

... then Rubio goes into 'Acknowledgements' ... a number ... then 'EndNotes' at the completion of her publication ... subdivided by the different location eras in the book ...

... then she gives us her 'Select Bibliography' ... which as she remarks is selective ... and finally we have an index ... bliss - I do like indexes to refer to ...

A photo taken in 1935
Mary Henley Rubio's book has been highly recommended ... and I add to that - for the various reasons given above - apart from the fact that Montgomery wrote one of the more successful books that has stood the test of time ...

If you haven't read it ... I hope you'll go looking for a copy ... as I was riveted ... especially the literary forays she made, and tried to make in the world of male dominance ...

Wikipedia's entry: Lucy Maud Montgomery

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 3) ...

Next small world:  I went to the local garden show and put a bid in for a small art work ... and 'won'.  

Sue Coleman's print - it doesn't appear to have a title - when I
go to the studio I'll check up 
Get rung up - please come and collect ... after some shenanigans here ... I make a plan to go down for the signed print by a local artist - in indigenous style ... to be collected from a couple's house nearby.

He's there, she's in Ottawa/Toronto researching ... what an amazing home and I get shown round, shown the garden ... the view across to Mount Baker on the mainland ... and we chat about all sorts of things ...

Exeter College founded 1314

... and that Oxford connection yet again ... she's a member of Exeter College - so he was bemused to know I'd spent 10 years of my life in and around the city.

Mount Baker from the Frazier River
by Albert Bierstadt (1890) in the
Brooklyn Museum

I was admiring their art, artefacts, plants, sculptures, talking ... and me being me ... asking more of what they do - knowing I'll be out of my depth ... but again: start somewhere and the pieces will fill out slowly.

This amazing couple are anthropologists ... research consultants engaged in anthropological and linquistic work here in British Columbia and Washington State.

Their specialisation is with ethnology - the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the characteristics of different peoples and the relationship between them.

As I was leaving with my art work I was asked if I'd like to go round for a meal sometime ... of course was my answer!  I also asked if I could have a book of theirs ... so I could try and get my head round their work: that sounds so amazing.

These are the two books I was lent or given ... the Lil'wat World of Charlie Mack, and the translation of an 1895 German edition of Indian Myths and Legends from the North Pacific Coast of America.  Well I've only glanced at them ... and am treasuring them ... as someone who's very lucky.

Franz Boas', who wrote the 1895 book, has an interesting background ... I've linked across to wiki, if you wish to look ... he has been called the "Father of American Anthropology".

Cowichan girl from 1913

So I am adding voraciously to my knowledge of many things and particularly getting a brief glimpse into indigenous life ... it will be a tiny understanding - trying to relate to their world ... which has so much to offer us.

These are here to be noted as reference books should anyone be interested in further research at some stage ... but I wanted to mention them.  I'm not sure how much I'll read of them ... but know that others here might be interested.

PS I'm over in Vancouver for 2 nights ... so will get back to replying at the end of the week ... 

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 2) ...

After Vancouver ... came this book:

Stephen Bown's book on Vitus Bering ... 'Island of the Blue Foxes' I found via a review in the paper ... I was enticed as it looked as though it would introduce me to Russia, Siberia, and the Bering Strait ... named for Vitus Bering (1681 - 1741) ...

... I found it fascinating and informative, especially about Siberia, the eastern side of Russia, down into China and Asia: particularly geographically and settlement-wise ... and the Europeans' early search for the Northwest passage and Alaska ...

Moving right on to more Eastern Europe -

The next book I read, having had access to one of the book club's books, was Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder;

Browder's Russian tax accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, was beaten to death in prison ... the Magnitsky Act, promoted by Browder, was passed into USA law in December 2012.

I found Red Notice a really informative read - disconcerting to say the least ... but I'd worked in this sort of life in my early days in London and Robert Maxwell features in the book - another fleeting personal connection ... his home was next to my school in Oxford.

Then I was able to read Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism ... how salutary: of the world we live in today ... (by a former three-star general in the Secret Police of Communist Romania, Ion Mihai Pacepa, and law professor Ronald J. Rychlak).  There's a companion film: Disinformation: The Secret Strategy to Destroy the West (which I haven't seen).

Some of the back blurb - the sentence by
R James Woolsey is worth noting

Upcoming in the fifth post ... Circling the Midnight Sun: Culture and Change in the Invisible Arctic by Canadian James Raffan.  This I was given by the lady who'd introduced me to the book club - she'd studied nursing at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington, Oxford - where I'd been at school ... we'd just about overlapped. 

Midnight Sun, Altafjord, Norway
Small world - she'd been up in the Yukon ... so I asked if she could bring me some information back - sadly my email to her was sent as she was on her way back ... but she lent me Raffan's book, and to change the subject,  inspired me to write the post about Salmon in the Yukon from some information she had given me.

The fifth post will be about the book 'Circling the Midnight Sun' - but otherwise here I have mentioned:

Island of the Blue Foxes by Stephen Bown

Red Notice by Bill Browder

Disinformation by a former three-star general in the Secret Police of Communist Romania, Ion Mihai Pacepa, and law professor Ronald J. Rychlak

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday, 6 July 2018

Educational Book Journey (part 1/5) ...

Where to start ... at the beginning: in this instance my arrival here in Canada, but really the A-Zs in April - my posts on subjects in Canada, and indigenous aspects that interested me ... there will be more - but I think these books are interesting and I learnt a lot - some you'll relate to others probably not so much - but I'd like them here ... I'll 'punch' these out every other day ... they go from Siberia to North America, Russia to circling the Midnight Sun ...

The book I highly recommend.

A Vancouverite suggested I read 'Vancouver' - a one book saga if ever there was one (along the lines of Michener's Alaska and Rutherford's Sarum) ... a Siberian's movement across Beringia into Alaska and down the west coast of north America ... introducing me to various myths, traditions, cultures of those early peoples ...

Little Women - the March sisters:
some of the 1994 film was filmed
in Cobble Hill.
By Louisa May Alcott

I read up on local families too - the Dunsmuirs - coal and railways on Vancouver Island; local history of Cobble Hill, where I live now; local artists Maud Lewis from the east coast (see post in February), and Emily Carr - who'd intrigued me for a while ... recommended by Deniz Bevan, a Canadian now over in Geneva.

Then came the A-Z ... starting at A for the Canadian Arctic Games ... and oh yes the extra comments, questions and queries ... as too my thought processes re what I was learning ... I felt somewhat overwhelmed - to make sense for me, let alone you.  More on these anon.

Beringia - pre glaciation
when it was possible to
walk from Siberia to
North America

I'd joined a book club ... a rather educated set of ladies, with some amazing insights into life ... I, who've never been much of a reader, nor moved in their sorts of careers - now am in the deep end ... once again: live and learn.

 So I've fluttered by the whole of the Canadian coast (and Alaska) ... touched areas of Canada ... and come across the indigenous peoples; as in Africa I'm pretty devoid of knowledge ... so some immersion dips were required ...

Emily Carr house 'restored' back to
1863 era
... Emily Carr and her artwork of the indigenous people's lands in the 1920s - her books to be read anon; ... totems - an eyelash pass so far ... so much to understand ...

Then the thrust of the group of intelligent women in this book club - that I happened to have the opportunity to be a part of, for the duration of my visit - max til Nov 2019.

So for this post ... the book 'Vancouver', and references to earlier posts.

Emily Carr - who was called 'Klee Wyck' by the indigenous people she met and painted particularly on Vancouver Island.

Maudie film - based on Maud Lewis ... seen at Cobble Hill

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories