60 descendants gathering to re-enact family photo from late 1800s

More than 60 people are gathering in Victoria this weekend to re-enact a family photo taken in the late 1800s.

The idea came from Gillian Leitch, the great-great-granddaughter of Frederick and Mary Pauline, a couple who came to Victoria from England with their family in the 1880s. The original photo, taken in 1890 or 1891, depicts 25 members of the family across three generations in front of Tod House, the family home, on Heron Street in Oak Bay.

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From Thursday to Saturday, about 60 descendants of Frederick and Mary are coming together to recreate the photo almost 130 years later. Relatives are travelling from across Canada, as well as from California, Arizona and England, said Leitch, who came from Quebec for the gathering. Many of the family members coming to Victoria have never met each other.

Leitch said she has been planning the reunion for about a year. “I just got this weird idea to recreate the picture of us from the 1890s,” she said.

Leitch said she first became interested in genealogy when she worked on a family-tree project in high school, and went on to a career as a historian and genealogist. Through her research, she has discovered a link between the family’s matriarch, Mary Pauline, and the British monarchy.

The Paulines’ oldest son, Frederick Arthur Pauline, was a politician after he retired from business, representing Saanich as a Liberal MLA from 1916 to 1924. He also served as Speaker of the legislative assembly from 1922 to 1924.

After losing an election in 1924, he became the agent-general for B.C. in London, England, representing the province in the United Kingdom. Mount Pauline, which straddles the border between B.C. and Alberta northwest of Jasper National Park, was named after him.

The family members gathering this weekend are planning to visit the Oak Bay archives and Ross Bay Cemetery, where many of their relatives are buried. Leitch has organized a private tour of the legislature to learn more about Frederick Arthur Pauline’s political legacy. The photo re-enactment will take place on Saturday, with permission from Oak Bay, which owns Tod House.

“It’s going to be cool. It’s going to be fun. Everyone’s enthusiastic about going back to the Tod House and recreating the picture,” Leitch said.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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