Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Victoria’s historic Point Ellice House announced it is closing for good


It is a sad day for Victoria history buffs as the famed Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens announced it is closing its doors for good. 

The closure is to be effective immediately, according to the Vancouver Island Local History Society, the non-profit organization who took over the operations of the house and gardens mere months before the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

The Point Ellice House was built between 1861 and 1862. It is located in Rock Bay on the scenic Gorge waterway and remains one of the oldest houses built in Victoria.

The house was designated a National Historic Site in 1966 and then it became a Provincial Historic Site in 1975.

The house is also listed on the City of Victoria’s heritage registry.

The house and gardens have been visited by thousands since it was sold with all of its contents to the province in 1975. Over 12,000 artifacts from old Victoria were included and remained in the home for patrons to learn from. 

The Vancouver Island Local History Society came in with the best of intentions, trying to run the historic site in an inclusive way that would be representative of communities who the Point Ellice House was significant to. 

“Although we were able to successfully weather three years of the pandemic and address a significant amount of deferred maintenance at the site, we have been unable to secure sustainable funding for our operations from the Province of BC,” wrote a spokesperson from the Point Ellice House’s team in a farewell to their patrons online. 

“In 2021, managers of provincially owned heritage sites wrote to the Province and indicated that without an increase in operational funding, closure would be likely; we have continued to make that point.”

“Unfortunately, that day is now here for Point Ellice House.”

The site was also well known as a haunted destination in Victoria, being an integral part of ghost tours and Victoria Harbour Taxi tours of the Gorge. 

Historia Haunted BC expressed its “devastation” over the loss of the Point Ellice House going into spring on Twitter. 

“A heartbreaking beginning to the Spring season,” said Historic Haunted BC. “Can only imagine what the staff are feeling.”

The Vancouver Island Local History Society remains hopeful that the province will step up and provide funding to protect this historic treasure in Rock Bay going forward.

Curtis Blandy

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