Emily Carr House curator Jan Ross tells of the history of the Carr family home, located in Victoria BC, and of Emily’s childhood there.

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Jan Ross, Curator, Emily Carr House
20th/21st Century
Victoria, British Columbia, CANADA
© 2007, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. All Rights Reserved.


Emily’s father had this house built in 1863 on what was then four acres of land. It was out a good ways from the city and was really a farm at that point in time, in that he’d planted a huge vegetable garden, a big barn was at the back, there were wild lily fields beyond that that Emily tells us about in her writings.

This was a loving and caring home for Emily as she grew up, but it was certainly a strict one. Emily had no doubt a great deal of tension sometimes with her sisters and with her father in particular. But she loved growing up here in Carr House.

As Emily tells us in her Book of Small, when she was a little girl she would walk hand in hand down what became Carr street with her father as he was on his way to work down on Wharf street. After waving goodbye to him she’d rush back up the stairs to the house, open the front door, take a peak in the hallway and see if her mother was in the dining room.

The dining room at Carr House is very special. It is also the first studio that Emily painted in when she came back from studying art in San Francisco. After dinner, the ladies would withdraw from the dining room, and come into the drawing room, or parlor, a beautifully appointed room at the front of the house. We have a special room that houses artifacts, things that have made their way back to the house that once belonged to the family. We call this our people’s gallery, in honour of Emily. We have a sitting room where the father would read the bible and where we now show information and have an archive on Emily and her childhood.

The house itself has been restored to the period when the family lived here as a family, from the 1860s to the turn of the century. We have very carefully restored the wallpaper, the woodwork, the paint colours, but you’re not stepping back exactly into the time that Emily lived here. The furnishings are not original to the house, but what we’re hoping you’ll find when you come to Emily’s house is an interpretive center, for her life, her art and her writings.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans