Victoria’s Point Ellice House has closed its own chapter in the history books
The historic museum has announced it will be closing its doors, effective as of today, March 22
Operators of the Point Ellice House took to social media to announce the closure after several months of financial turmoil.
The posts claim a lack of funding and government support has left the museum unable to keep up with operating costs.
Just months before the pandemic hit, the historic site changed ownership. Despite facing turbulent times, such as experiencing $5,000 in flood damage last February, the site has managed to survive until today.
In a tweet, the National Heritage Site’s director apologized for the closure saying that despite his best efforts, the trajectory of the facility could not be changed.
Every year the group that runs the property receives $80,000 from the provincial government to operate, however, a 2007 report called The Provincial Heritage Properties Sustainability Study showed that Point Ellice House needed $236,000 per year for operation.
In 2021. the Vancouver Island Local History Society wrote a letter to the province requesting long-term sustainable funding, and in 2022, then-Mayor Lisa Helps wrote a letter to the province asking for financial support for all provincially owned heritage sites.
Reacting to news of the closure, the B.C. government said in a statement it is committed to protecting heritage resources but needs to balance that with maintaining other heritage sites that require ongoing funding.
However, it said if it receives official notice that Point Ellice’s current operator would like to leave the contract, it will launch a search for a new operator that will take about two to three months.
It also highlighted that the province has invested over $1 million in Point Ellice House since 2019, including $425,000 for site operations, $337,813 for site maintenance, and a one-time grant of $226,000 through the BC 150 Time Immemorial program.
Point Ellice House was built in 1861 and purchased by the Gold Rush commissioner Peter O’Reilly in 1867.
O’Reilly’s family lived there for 108 years and when they finally moved they left behind nearly 16,000 artifacts.
Point Ellice House was designated a National Historic Site in 1966 and became a Provincial Historic Site in 1975.
With files from CHEK’s Hannah Lepine.
Dear Visitors: It is with heavy hearts that we announce the closure of Point Ellice House, effective immediately. Our non-profit took over management of the site just a few months before the pandemic began… /1 of 4 pic.twitter.com/1aXR1m0Bar
— Point Ellice House (@ElliceHouse) March 22, 2023