Valentine’s Day is much more than pretty flowers, nice cards and warm sentiments, it’s a time to reflect on those things that are so meaningful to us. Here at Toad Hollow we march to the beat of a slightly different drummer and with this in our hearts we take us back once again to one of our favorite subjects to shoot and blog about, that is Ross Bay Villa. We have covered this wonderful little spot in Victoria, BC often over the last few years. For those just joining us now, please refer to our previous articles in the series “Ross Bay Villa” for details on the history and the ongoing restoration process that brought us all together today.
As you can read in our previous posts, this little house right on the outskirts of Victoria, BC is an important link to our heritage and history in terms of colonial settlement. A number of years ago now TLC The Land Conservancy of BC bought and took over the property with an eye towards a complete restoration with intents of having it become a living museum that everyone can visit and enjoy. Acquiring the property was only the first real step, the hard work was to occur over the following many years as teams of experts and volunteers came together to turn this from an old and somewhat forgotten house into the pristine beauty we see and enjoy now.
So we were very excited to have a chance to revisit the Villa late in 2013 to photograph the finished results. The inside is finished to the perfect standard that we see on the outside, and in today’s post we will take a grand tour of this important and historic home’s interior.
Upon entering the home we are immediately struck by the warm and inviting feel, accented by the tall hallway and warm tones created with the wall and floor coverings. To really appreciate the incredible efforts the volunteers and experts undertook in creating this please visit our blog post “A Project Of Love” where we documented and discussed in great detail the making of the authentic oilcloth floor covering we see in the entrance. It’s so easy to take these efforts for granted in this day and age where you can visit any home improvement store and buy off the shelf wallpapers and floor coverings in a myriad of patterns and colors. This most certainly was not the case at the time this house was built in the mid 1800’s, these features had to be made by hand. This practice was followed in the restoration process and makes for a compelling story to read, and really helps us appreciate the monumental differences we experience in modern-day living.
Also, if you look at the wall covering you will see a distinct 3 dimensional aspect to it. It looks to be authentic and real wood paneling, doesn’t it? It’s not. How wonderful is that, especially in the context of a life led over 150 years ago?
As the settlers traveled across treacherous oceans and struggled in a hard life in the new land, the comforts of home were never far behind. It’s easy to picture Mrs. Roscoe fussing over every detail and feature in the house, attempting to bring the feeling of home all those thousands of miles away to her new house. During the restoration phase, the wonderful people at TLC procured and installed authentic carpets and drapery in the room adding to the meticulous period-correct feel. It’s this very attention to every aspect of detail that makes a visit to Ross Bay Villa a truly lovely experience. In short order you are completely immersed in the environment and half expect ladies in bustling dresses and petticoats to suddenly pop into the parlor here for a lovely chat and some tea.
Artifacts on display like the piano and the sewing machine add so much to the sensation of the visit and serve to draw you in deeper into the experience itself. It’s so easy to imagine the ladies of the time sitting here making drapes or clothes while someone tickles the ivories gently on the piano, filling the space with the wonderful sounds of music and chit-chat.
Afternoon tea was enjoyed in the lovely bay window, taking advantage of the afternoon sun as you looked out over the expansive gardens that were groomed and maintained to near perfection. What a lovely experience this must have been for Mrs. Roscoe and her visitors.
Now we head into the dining room where more treasures await us.
This warm and inviting space played host to many a dinner party. With Mr. Roscoe’s involvement in local government and the formation of the city itself, this must have been a place that everyone who was anyone came to regularly. Dinner parties were gala affairs, showcasing a bit of the gentile lifestyle that melted away just a few feet outside the house in the wilds of the untamed Canadian west coast.
The intricate chandelier is as much as piece of art as the items hanging on the wall. Delicately designed using a spring to help easily raise and lower the lighting fixture, lighting the candles was made elegant through the art of simplicity. I can honestly say we’d be thrilled to have such a fixture on display in our own house today.
As we leave the dining room and head towards the kitchen, we cross through a beautifully adorned hallway, bathed in gorgeous colors and light. We walk past the bedrooms as we make our way down the hall, to be greeted by an incredible authentic door that leads into the back area of the house where the kitchen is.
In today’s modern world the kitchen is the heart of the house. In previous times, it was designed to be much more utilitarian in nature, serving as an area to store and prepare food and not really much else. This adds a great element to the visit as you discover and ponder life in these times. What a fabulous way to spend an afternoon and learn about links to our past.
We feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to visit Ross Bay Villa, and to have a chance to meet and get to know some of the terrific people who worked so hard on this project and helped make it all happen. Each and every one has played an important and indelible role in the experience we enjoy today and they deserve our heartfelt gratitude and thanks for these efforts. These aren’t easy times we live in these days, and many of the groups responsible for maintaining our heritage sites are struggling to continue their mandate. This makes it more important than ever to show our support. We can think of no better way to do so than by coming to visit the Villa in person. Tours are conducted every Saturday afternoon and we can honestly say it’s a simply wonderful tour hosted by knowledgeable folks who share a passion for our history and the Villa. We really encourage you to come see for yourself, and when you do, tell them the Toads sent you.
Happy Valentine’s Day, my friends!
We really appreciate your kind visit to The Hollow here today, thank you so very much. As always, we love to hear from all our visitors, so please do feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have below. Until next time, my friends!!