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Victoria historian awarded for retelling of Point Ellice House’s history

Kelly Black highlights former house owner Peter O’Reilly’s 18 years as Indian Reserve commissioner
Kelly Black, executive director of Point Ellice House Museum, stands among the collection of chamber pots on display as part of the Springs and Scavengers: Waste and Water in Victoria exhibit. (Black Press Media File)

A Victoria historian won the Anne and Philip Yandle Best Article Award from the BC Historical Federation for his story that rethought the history of Point Ellice House.

Kelly Black’s story “Explaining Settlers to Ourselves: Rethinking interpretive narratives at heritage sites” seeks to address gaps in how the house’s history has been told in the past, specifically related to Indigenous history.

In his article, Black highlights how the former house owner Peter O’Reilly’s 18 years as Indian Reserve commissioner has been scarcely mentioned in previous tellings of the house’s history, which instead has focused on the romantic aspects of Victorian-era life. In recent years, the non-profit society that cares for Point Ellis House – Black is the executive director of Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens in Victoria and an adjunct history professor at Vancouver Island University – has reassessed and reimagined the site.

There were 35 entrants for this year’s competition.

“It’s more important than ever to revisit our historical narratives in B.C. and it was a pleasure to write about this for BC History Magazine, a leading source for engagement with the past,” Black said in a statement.

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