Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Victoria’s historic Point Ellice House to reopen at the end of May under new direction

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The historic site in Rock Bay is being resuscitated after the former site manager company was forced to call it quits near the end of March.

On March 22nd, Vancouver Island Local History Society, the non-profit organization who was responsible for operating the Point Ellice House and Gardens announced they would be shutting down the Point Ellice House and Gardens to the public, effective immediately.

They had taken over operations of the historic house just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and they couldn’t manage to weather the storm without much in the way of funding from the province.

“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.”

As of May 5th, BC has announced that they’ve appointed the Forager Foundation as an interim site manager of the Point Ellice House while they continue to seek out a more permanent and long-term site manager. 

“Point Ellice House belongs to the people of British Columbia, and we are committed to keeping this important heritage site open for locals and visitors,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. 

“We are excited the Forager Foundation will reopen this special heritage site and continue to keep its rich history accessible to everyone.”


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The Point Ellice House dates back to 1861 when it was built by the O’Reilly family who were early settlers of Victoria.

The house stayed in the O’Reilly family through the decades until 1975 when they left the house behind with over 16,000 artifacts from the days of early Victoria.

The Forager Foundation who took over the property’s management is a non-profit organization that focuses on the preservation and promotion of natural and cultural heritage. They specialize in educational development and integrating modern technology to tell the story of days past. 

“As acting director of Heritage at Forager Foundation, my team is excited to work with the Province to keep the doors open at Point Ellice House,” said Bryce Mathew Watts, founder and president of Forager Foundation. 

“We will be working to build off of the legacy of previous site managers and create new programs and resources that share Point Ellice’s unique story with a broader audience in Victoria and across the province.”

Point Ellice House will reopen to the public by the end of May, according to the province.

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Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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