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

40 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

What a fascinating and beautiful place. Thank you. Kathleen was a skilled artist too. Very skilled.

Elephant's Child said...

I love and marvel at the ingenuity. I suspect they had an easier life than many early settlers though.

Jz said...

That definitely looks like a marvelous day out!

P. J. Lazos said...

What a great place and great photos, Hilary. I'm always fascinated by how people lived without as many gadgets as we enjoy today. Of course, they had all the "modern conveniences" but I would never trade the most luxurious of homes for today's modern home if it didn't have indoor plumbing!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Very pretty! And you say you actually LIVED in a place like this? Wow!

Hels said...

Gorgeous gardens!

In cold weather, the fire had to be excellent enough to keep one multi-purpose room warm and cosy. The formal Dining Room was only used for dinner and so may not have been the most important room in the house.

But the informal Drawing Room for 'working in' was critical; I would have cleared out the rubbish and put the Bible, table for afternoon tea, desk, library, piano and harp etc ... there!

Chatty Crone said...

This reminds me and I know it is off the wall - Anne of Green Gables.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Having recently spent some time going around old English houses, this was fun to read about; and you solved a puzzle I had from one garden visited... it's Jerusalem Sage! YAM xx

Anabel Marsh said...

What a beautiful house! It sounds a really interesting visit.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I love that old stove. There was a smaller version of it in my father's workshop. I've no idea what ever became of it.

Annalisa Crawford said...

What a fascinating house. I adore old houses, they bring history to life in a way that even kids find interesting. (And it's so much better now that the National Trust allow you to touch some of the exhibits!)

Jo said...

What a fascinating house and interesting that it is being restored to its original state. Can you imagine having a stove explode - pretty frightening I would think. Water purifying - seems so modern for those days.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - it is a lovely place to be able to visit ... and Kathleen was extremely talented ... I love that painting of the house. The early settlers who had to survey the land ... and exist - must have, as you say, had a much more difficult time ...

@ Jz - it was a fun visit ... and a delight to see round the property ...

@ PJ - thanks ... a mixture of my photos and from the guide book. I'm not sure about the dusting of all the items around the home. In fact there were two toilets - one inside and one out, and a bathroom ... probably with running water though I can't remember! But I agree ... I'm so grateful I live in today's age ...

@ Sue - well I can remember things from my childhood that would fit into this sort of home ... just the layout, small rooms, but cottage like, outside pumps for well water ... we certainly didn't have so much stuff around ... but the gardens and flowers were similar ... my grandparents had a long-drop at their home ... we did have indoor plumbing with a chain toilet/washroom ...

@ Hels - the gardens were stunning ... this dining room was obviously cleared of the china - while the family used it during the winter months ... though the other rooms had fireplaces, and there was a stove, I think, in the corridor ... but this was the 'cosy' room ... their clothes were heavy duty ... If we lived there I expect we'd do things differently ... but the dining room we were told was the general family room, particularly when it was really cold ...

@ Sandie - I haven't read Anne of Green Gables ... but I'm sure many houses in that era were similar...

@ Yam - great I solved Jerusalem Sage for you ... it really stood out as a flower - I had to find someone who knew what it was ...

@ Anabel - it was a lovely day out ... we went down by coach and those water taxis ... delightful place to see how life was really led ... as it was all recorded ...

@ Diane - yes the stove was made in Victoria; how interesting to know your father had one similar in his workshop ... was it used to warm the place, I wonder ...

@ Annalisa - this was special as this was how they lived and we could see the layout of the rooms etc ... the National Trust does a great job ... and interesting, in certain places, they let people touch things now ... have you been to Tyntesfield, Wraxall near Bristol - that's an amazing property with things in situ ...

@ Jo - it was a fabulous place to be able to visit; the fact the copper water heated exploded must have been frightening - not sure when it happened and if people were around ... but must have been horrible ... the water purifier was 'the thing' in London - so on a visit they brought one over ...

Thanks so much for your interest ... the ride out in the water taxis and then the tea, and tours ... were a delight to join in with - cheers Hilary

Andrea Ostapovitch said...

And that's why I journal! I know I'm not meticulously organized with my records, but I've already found them so useful and very entertaining.

I would love to visit a place like this, it is so very inspiring.


Have a great week,

Andrea

Dan said...

Thanks for the tour! I love that copper water heater.

diedre Knight said...

Point Ellice looks like such a lovely place to visit! The fact that it reminds you of your childhood home makes it all the more fascinating ;-) I can only imagine the multitude of pleasant memories made in the home during the course of 108 years! Ours has been in the family barely half that amount of time.

Inger said...

What a lovely place, I wish we had visited Victoria when we were in Washington State. So close, so many lovely things to see there. It feels good to be back to blogging again.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

What an amazing place I really like such places

Liz A. said...

Oooh, what a lovely place. And you could comment on whether it's more English than the English. Is it?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Andrea - well done ... I'm not good at keeping records ... but the blog certainly helps ... I think if I moved to a new house and wanted to create something in the garden - then I'd do more ... it is a stunning place - and I'd love to go to a talk on the records and conservation etc

@ Dan - the water purifier bemused me ... but the copper heater does look spectacular doesn't it ...

@ Diedre - it's sort of the look of the home - not the nick-nacks or delicate china ... but just the layout, lawns, corner cupboards, borders ... that somehow brought back childhood memories ... each of us kids have moved around ... but 50 - 60 years in a home is pretty good going ...

@ Inger - it was a delightful visit ... Vancouver too ... but you've been to Washington State at least. Sightseeing is more worthwhile now - because the knowledge is available and doesn't need to be sought out, also travel to and from various places is an awful lot easier ...

@ Jo-Anne - so glad you enjoyed the post and photos ...

@ Liz - I would say it was more English than the English ... as you have 'upper class' ideals squashed into a smaller space ... yet filled with all the 'modern' gadgets and ideas of the time ...

I've seen large manorial type homes preserved - or large estates ... Tyntesfield spring to mind ... and then two of Kipling's home in Sussex: links here ...

Tyntesfield : https://positiveletters.blogspot.com/2013/09/where-theres-muck-theres-very-large.html

Kipling is in two parts ... first part here (the second part shows more of the interior of his home): https://positiveletters.blogspot.com/2012/11/putting-house-to-bed-batemans-kiplings.html

Thanks so much ... it's wonderful to know you're all enjoying these posts - cheers Hilary

Joanne said...

I would love to tour this home. How splendid and I'm so glad they did do restoration. Your research and report of the house history is wonderful and thorough. Very nice post

bazza said...

Hi Hilary. Haven't been around much lately but I'm glad that I've seen this lovely post. The O'Reilly House is beautiful. My cousin from Vancouver has been staying with us so on our next return visit we have something to see. Thank you! Hope you are keeping well.
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s equanimous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Jacqui Murray said...

What a house! I love the backs on the chairs to keep guests from getting too hot. Who would even think of that!

mail4rosey said...

I know we're so lucky to have the conveniences and space that we do today in homes. There is something wistfully wonderful about the family being so close together in the home though. I think that part I would rather like. :) I was surprised about the filtered water. Good for them!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Visiting that home must have been like taking a step back into the past. I LOVE places like that! Thanks so much for taking us with you.

Nas said...

Hi Hilary!

I always learn interesting things with you! Thank you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joanne - it was a lovely visit - now I want to go back and see more. Just delighted the post satisfied ... thanks so much for the comment ...

@ Bazza - no worries ... but how wonderful to have a cousin staying and be able to see them and spend some time catching up with family news. It'd be a really good day out for you from Vancouver to Victoria - but perhaps a few days here too ...

I'll be doing my report back on my Vancouver trip sometime soon ... so more ideas to consider there ...

@ Jacqui - it was fun to see all the originals in situ - and to learn a few tricks occurring in the house - such as the removable wicker backs ... next time I'll be able to ask a few more questions!

@ Rosey - yes we are so lucky ... I think about the sparse days of growing up - appreciating and looking after all the things we had or were given.

Good thought about the 'togetherness of family' back in the day - some families still manage it ... and yes I'd have loved our family to be like that ... but it wasn't to be ... we went our independent ways.

I know - it must have been interesting finding out new ideas via their visitors, or trips abroad and back to the home country ...

@ Susan - it's an extraordinary place ... we were so lucky to be able to take the tour ... and to get there by water taxi and then have the coach come and pick us up ... it's a pleasure having you along!

@ Nas - it's always lovely to see you here ...

Thanks to you all - just love your visits and comments - cheers Hilary

H.R. Sinclair, Southpaw said...

That place is absolutely fascinating. I love the door -- and the blue of the cheese plate. And they were so modern with the fancy stove and filter. Just wonderful!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That is a truly lovely place. I would love to see it.

Susan Kane said...

Dedication to detail in restoration really shows. Beautiful.

We just returned from Illinois (family). Went to see Abraham Lincoln's home where it also has been restored. We walked through history.

Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating. Who would have thought they had water filters and hot water tanks at that time.
Cheers

Kelly Hashway/Ashelyn Drake said...

Really great pictures and info. Thanks for sharing this.

Elsie Amata said...

Those gardens are breathtaking! I don't blame him for protecting his estate from us greedy Americans! I'd of done the same thing :)

Elsie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Holly - thanks for liking the door and cheese plate ... and weren't they interested in getting the latest gadgets ...

@ Susan - thanks ... I hope one day you can get to Victoria and see round ...

@ Susan - yes the conservators have been very thorough ... it must have been really interesting for them and then to be able to see their achievements in the property now ...

@ Sandra - I know ... it was a real opportunity to see a house 'in its original form' or as near as possible ... especially the 'modern' kitchen ...

@ Kelly - glad you enjoyed the 'tour' a la blog post!

Thanks so much for visiting - lovely to see you all ... cheers Hilary

Levi's Dad said...

What a beautiful post! I am so glad you are finding so much inspiration this summer :)

Deborah Barker said...

Hi Hilary, Loved this post. Also, love all the blog forays you seem to be into. I am behind with reading but will catch up. Meanwhile, I dip in and out and there is always a delight to be found on this blog which is why I enjoy it so much. How long are you staying out there for?! Debbie :-) X

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Robert - there's a lot to take in ... and being on the Island opens all kind of doors - and I'm fortunate in having a happy disposition ... and thus can be inspired: blogging has opened many doors ...

I expect you've been out to Point Ellice house ... also your children might enjoy a visit if they haven't been ... ?!

@ Deborah - my world is a-changing .. which is good for my brain and my outlook at life. Thank you - I've always tried to make the blog interesting and different to others - hopefully 'catching' a few happy readers along the way ... and love having positive comments.

I can stay, all being well, til November next year ... so that's the 'plan' - but life can change ... time will tell.

Cheers to you both - and lovely to see you here - Hilary

Lynn said...

That must have been a wonderful place to visit. I love the idea about the wicker shields.

DMS said...

So interesting to see all of this with you. :) Amazing to see all the items that were left in the house- and what a treat for visitors to get such a real picture of what life was like at that time. I can't get over the modern kitchen and water filter. Wow!

Thanks for sharing and taking us on this journey.
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - yes it's an amazing place and I was bemused by the wicker shields ... and with a roaring fire in there - it'd have been really hot on that side of the table ...

@ DMS - it was a treat to go out via water and then to see the house as it would have been a hundred years and more ago. I know the kitchen was pretty efficient for those days ... lots of other gadgets around too ...

Cheers to you both - lovely to see you here ... Hilary