The Drawing Room Mirror
April 2, 2014

Ross Bay Stories

The ornate, gilded, overmantel mirror in the Drawing Room at Ross Bay Villa has a history of its own.

Ross Bay Drawing Room Mirror
The Drawing Room Mirror – Image courtesy of Toad Hollow Photography

Mr. and Mrs. Gyles donated the impressive mirror for the Drawing Room.

Mr. and Mrs. Gyles had a wonderful 1890’s heritage house on Oakcrest Drive in Saanich that they had cherished for many years. In that house were a number of items that had come from Mrs. Gyles’ old family home.  Mrs. Gyles was a member of the pioneer McRae family, who had built a small cottage c1850, in the Shelbourne Valley.

House c1850 Shelbourne VAlley Gyles see block wallpaper in hallway
The first McRae family home in the Shelbourne Valley 

From that house – now long gone – came this mirror. Although designed as an overmantel mirror, Mr. and Mrs Gyles were not able to use it in their home on Oakcrest Drive, as all the fireplaces in the 1890’s house were already provided with overmantels.  The splendid mirror found its place leaning against a wall in an upstairs hallway in the 1890’s house.

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Mr. and Mrs. Gyles’ home on Oakcrest Drive, Saanich, built c1890

While finally having to sell their 1890’s home and clear its contents, Mrs. Gyles had been trying to find a good home for the mirror, and had offered it to Craigdarroch Castle, who had to decline it as it was of too early a date for their historic house museum.

Mrs. Gyles then heard about the restoration plans for Ross Bay Villa, and generously offered it to Ross Bay Villa.  It was accepted with great thanks, and carefully stored for several years until the Drawing Room had been restored and wallpapered.

It is interesting to note that another, nearly matching mirror, is in the collection of Point Ellice House in a room known as “Peter’s Study”. The only difference between the mirrors is that the Point Ellice House mirror is aligned horizontally, and the actual oval mirror is smaller. The Ross Bay Villa mirror is aligned vertically and the mirror is larger.  In all other respects the mirror matches, in the frame design, carving and gilding.

Point Ellice Matching mirror to Ross Bay Villa_2

The nearly matching mirror at Point Ellice House

As Fellows and Roscoe were known to sell mirrors in the 1860’s in Victoria, it is interesting to speculate whether Frank Roscoe’s firm might have sold these mirrors to other Victoria families in the 1860’s? And whether the “Mirror” that was sold from Ross Bay Villa’s Drawing Room in 1879, might have looked like this?

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Detail from the 1879 Auction List from Ross Bay Villa

Below is a detail of the delicate, gilded decoration of the frame of the mirror in the Drawing Room at Ross Bay Villa.

DETAIL Ross bay Drawing Room Mirror