Over the years, historians and journalists have attempted to tell the story of Roland Stuart’s life, but have been left with more questions than answers about this “man of mystery.” He was born in England in 1861, but it is unclear when he came to Victoria or what drew him to the area. Roland established a residence in Esquimalt that was a social hub for the wealthy and well-connected of Victoria at the turn of the century. This residence, along with a substantial art collection, was destroyed by a fire in 1906. In 1907, Roland sold the property, known as Hatley Park, to British Columbia Lieutenant Governor James Dunsmuir, who commissioned the construction of an extravagant mansion that is today a National Historic Site. After the sale, Roland’s presence in Victoria waned, and he moved to Europe permanently in the following years. Roland’s time in Victoria warranted frequent mention in the newspapers, making note of his travels, business affairs and charitable donations. One of his business endeavours included the purchase of land in the Kootenays in the 1880s, today famous as the Radium Hot Springs. A few traces of his relationships emerge in the historical record: a monument erected in Esquimalt in 1903 to honour his late mother, Elma, and a notice posted in the Daily Colonist in 1890 seeking the return of a beloved pet dog.
List of Calling Cards
The Point Ellice House collection contains hundreds of calling cards left for the O’Reilly family by visitors. This initial research was conducted by Public History students at the University of Victoria, and these biographies constitute only a portion of the individuals represented by the calling cards within the collection.