Time Traveling on a Saturday Morning

It was really too early for garage sale season. But the column in the paper did have a couple of possibilities. One, a “Giant Jumble and Plant sale” looked promising. Just say plant sale and I’m there. It was at Point Ellice House, and was a fundraising sale for this little gem surrounded by what is now an industrial area.

We were so lucky to arrive, just as a woman dressed in a long black dress and a black straw hat with feathers, invited anyone interested, on a free tour of the house. Bill and I gave each other a glance and both quickly fell in behind the lady in black, the tour guide by the name of Gail.

Now hopefully I’ve got my facts right.  Ellice House was originally built by the Warks for their son and his wife as a wedding present. Later, in 1867, it became the property of Gold Rush magnate and Commissioner, Peter O’Reilly.


In 1974 the house and all its contents were sold to the BC government. When they said all its contents, they meant it. From the dishes and cutlery, linens, the stove, the games and even letters. According to the brochure, “it is now one of the largest collections of Victoriana in its original privileged Victorian home.”

We entered by the back door, just off the verandah and were lead into the scullery and then the kitchen. We weren’t allowed to use a flash, so could only take photos and keep our fingers crossed that they would turn out.


All the pots waiting on the work table by the window, glowed in the morning light.

I’m kind of proud of the this photo, taken in the butler’s room, of the silver service catching and bending reflections of the curtains in the window. Sometimes you can get lucky.

Imagine the staff scurrying off at the sound of the bells, to wait on one of the O’Reillys.


The dining room, a Victorian period piece, all set for a gracious meal, perhaps with the Prime Minister or some other members of the elite of Victoria at the time.


If we were to follow this path it would take us to a set of stairs that would lead to the Gorge Waterway dock below where visitors embarked on boats to take them back to the Victoria harbour.


After the tour, we shopped the Jumble and found a few treasures, a little rag rug for the kitchen floor, a bright yellow throw for the couch or a daybed. No plants though. Nothing there that we didn’t already have. Ah well.

Then on to a flee market in Esquimalt. Tables and tables of treasures. And we found a treasure too, an album by Joni Mitchell, called “Wild Things Run Fast”, one that we had somehow missed! From 1982! I’m listening to it as I write. All new songs to me. Sorry Joni, don’t know how we missed this one.

And then back to the car and what did we see? Goats! Baby goats! In a little impromptu petting zoo set up in the parking lot.

So there was a morning’s travels in time, from Victorian times and the privileged classes and their servants, to 1982 and jazz with Joni, to the present full of exuberantly bouncing baby goats or should I say kids?
Now I’m off to pick more Spring rhubarb, a Crisp with oatmeal this time I think…


16 thoughts on “Time Traveling on a Saturday Morning

  1. Crafty Gardener says:

    I love wandering through old houses and using my imagination as to what life was really like. You got some wonderful photos. A great find at the flea market too. I can’t wait for garage ‘sale’ing to start around here.

  2. Edith Hope says:

    Dear Helen, I was totally captivated by the tour you have given us of Point Ellice House. I find it most intriguing to see around houses such as this one and the late Victorian/early C20 period is one which interests me greatly. I do so agree that your photograph of the lace curtains and silver is very special indeed.

    I am sorry that you did not find any plants at the flea market but I do not think that it really matters as you so clearly had a very enjoyable morning. The goats of course look very sweet.

  3. Helen at Summerhouse says:

    Hello Edith, I’m pleased that you find this home as intriguing as we did. The city of Victoria does rather capitalize on Victoriana. So much of our history is of this time but out here in Canada. We even have a rather imposing but wonderful statue of Queen Victoria in front of our Government Buildings on the harbour. I was surprised and happy at the photo of the curtains and silver set turning out as it did. When you are trailing along behind a tour guide in a dark house, point and shoot is all you can do and hope for the best.

  4. Helen at Summerhouse says:

    Hi Linda, Crafty Gardener, I’m with you, I like to use my imagination wondering what it was like then. But I am oh so glad I’m living now, not then. Garage sailing is the highlight of our weekends. I’m just surprised we’ve managed to find a few so soon.

  5. Gail says:

    Thank you for the tour~~it’s a treat to see how others once lived! Imagine living your life waiting for thee upstairs folks to ring the bell! gail

  6. Helen at Summerhouse says:

    Hi Jen, I have often wondered why you can’t use a flash. I suppose they think it will act like sunlight and, as you say, deteriorate the colors of things..some thing I’d really should investigate one day. As for that photo, I was happily surprised when I downloaded it.

  7. Noelle/azplantlady says:

    What a wonderful day you had, filled with some unexpected surprises. The house was beautiful and really gives you a feel for how people lived back then, doesn’t it? The goats are just adorable by the way 🙂

  8. mary-lou says:

    Well, it just goes to show you never know what the day may have in store. I’ll add my voice to the chorus re the “reflections in the teapot” shot: very nice indeed!

    And I’d like to be the first to wish you a happy 100th post to your most fabulous blog Helen! That’s a year’s worth of writing, must be close to book’s worth too ;^)

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