In 1862, Mrs Blinkhorn bought a lot (#1096) on Fort Street and the following year Henry B. Ella bought the lot (#1097) beside it. These two lots were to be the future site of the family home, completed in 1863 and known as Wentworth Villa
The architects for the project are thought to have been Wright and Sanders. The home was built in Carpenter Gothic style and on its completion was one of the largest family residences in Victoria, with 2 stories, 14 rooms including 5 bedrooms, and 9 fireplaces (Nesbitt, 1944). The Ella family continued to grow with the addition of 3 more children: Henry Reece (b. 1864), Frederick William (b. 1866), and Mary (b. 1868).
Tragedy struck in February 1873 when Henry B. Ella was working as a coastal pilot. He was leaving in a canoe from the Moody, Dietz, and Nelson Mill on the North Shore side of Burrard Inlet near Lynn Creek [present day North Vancouver]. Ella was heading to the Moody Mill on the south side of the Inlet [present day Vancouver] when the canoe overturned about 400 metres from shore (according to one eye-witness account submitted as part of the Will probate papers in 1874). Ella drowned, but his Chinese companion clung to the canoe and survived. Apparently Ella couldn’t swim and sank like a stone; his body was never recovered.
Henry B. Ella’s death left Martha Ella a widow with 7 children to raise (the oldest, Elizabeth Annie, would die the following year).
Mrs. Blinkhorn celebrated her 80th birthday at Wentworth Villa on 11 Aug. 1884. The dance card prepared for the occasion lists the following dances: Quadrille, Waltz, Polka, Lancers, Galop, Mazurka, Schottische, Sir Roger. It must have been quite a party! Dr. John Helmcken comments in his Reminiscences of Doctor John Sebastian Helmcken , Dorothy B. Smith (Ed.). 1975, p. 145: “When Mrs. B. reached her 80th year, she must needs have a celebration of the event, and numerous were the visitors — and presents. Poor woman, she was attacked with dysentery immediately after and died after a week or two. There was no one more liked or respected in Victoria than this ever-industrious kind-hearted old lady — one of the olden time.”
Mrs. Blinkhorn died 29 August, 1884.
On 9 February 1887, Marion Ella married Sam Nesbitt Jr., who lived in Erin Hall (built 1874) just down the road from Wentworth Villa on several acres in the area now known as Carberry Gardens. Sam’s parents were also early Victoria pioneers; his father, Samuel Sr. (b. 1829, Ballyhaise, IRE), arrived from California in 1858 aboard the vessel Commodore, his mother, Jane A. Saunders (b. 1843, London, ENG), arrived in 1862 aboard the bride ship Tynemouth.
The Ella / Nesbitt wedding was held in the Church of our Lord, with a reception following at Wentworth Villa. Marion Ella would eventually have three children: Lancelot Gilroy, b. 1887, Eileen Ella, b. 1895, and Cyril George Dickson, b. 1899. It is worth noting that Marion was the only Ella in her Victoria family to leave descendants.
Louisa Ella was a very attractive young woman and talented artist. She received a proposal of marriage from Arthur S. Farwell, Surveyor General of BC (and who the town of Revelstoke was initially named for), but turned him down, marrying Robert E. Dodds on 23 April 1888. The wedding reception was held at Wentworth Villa. The couple moved back east to Watford, Ontario, but when Robert died a few years later, Louisa returned to Victoria and worked as a seamstress out of her home at 1256 Monterey Ave. After Dodds died, Farwell proposed to Louisa again and was accepted, but he died before they were married.
In 1903, ownership of Wentworth Villa was divided amongst the six surviving Ella children (Stark and Barr, 2012). Martha Ella died in 1911. Thomas, Marion and Louisa had moved out by this time, but the rest of the Ella offspring continued to live in the Villa.
Mary Ella had mental health issues and was committed to the ‘Public Hospital for the Insane’ in New Westminster where she died in 1918.
In 1922, the City of Victoria took possession of Wentworth Villa for non-payment of property taxes, but the two brothers, Henry and Fred, continued living there as tenants of the City. Fred Ella was a bartender and co-proprietor of the Grotto Saloon. He married in 1925 and moved out of Wentworth Villa for a few years, but returned when he and his wife separated (Stark and Barr, 2012).
Henry Reece Ella had various jobs over the years. A 1932 letter, sent to his nephew George Nesbitt, has a letterhead that states ‘Accountant, Auditor, Financial Agent and Adjuster. Timber, Piling, Logs. 501-2 Sayward Building, Victoria, BC.’ Henry R. Ella also deserves credit for being the first family historian. He gave talks on Ella family history to the Metchosin Pioneers group in 1928 and to the Victoria Historical Association in 1936. Henry continued to live in Wentworth Villa until 1939, when he moved to the Pacific Club, on the 5th floor of the Pemberton (now Yarrow) Building (Stark and Barr, 2012). Henry died in 1941.