Victoria City Tour

Craigdarroch Castle – Joan Crescent

Craigdarroch Castle was designed in 1887 by architect Warren Heywood Williams for Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan Dunsmuir. It was built between 1887 and 1890.

It is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada. It is now a museum operated by the Craigdarroch Historical Museum Society.

Craigdarroch Castle, west facade.

Craigdarroch Castle, west facade.

Craigdarroch Castle, viewed from the south west.

Craigdarroch Castle, viewed from the south west.

Craigdarroch Castle, north facade and tour entrance.

Craigdarroch Castle, north facade and tour entrance.

Here is a map showing the location of Craigdarroch Castle:

 

Here is a Google Street View image of Craigdarroch castle, as seen from Joan Crescent:

Additional Information About Craigdarroch Castle

A Brief History of Craigdarroch Castle

Robert Dunsmuir (1925-1889) was a self made coal baron who made his fortune in developing Vancouver Island coal mines, particularly in the area around Nanaimo.

About 1882, Robert Dunsmuir began acquiring land for his castle. By 1887 he owned the lot on which Craigdarroch Castle now stands along with about 28 acres around the site.

Craigdarroch Castle was designed in 1887 by architect Warren Williams. It was built between 1887 and 1890 by local contractor Thomas Catterall.

The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten, book cover

The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten, book cover

Robert Dunsmuir died in April 1889 so he didn’t live to see Craigdarroch Castle completed. Robert Dunsmuir left his entire estate, including Craigdarroch castle, to his wife Joan Dunsmuir, who lived in Craigdarroch Castle until her death in 1908.

In May 1909, the executors of Joan Dunsmuir’s estate held a public auction of Craigdarroch Castle’s contents. In June 1909, Joan Dunsmuir’s estate sold Craigdarroch Castle, and the 28 acres of land it stood on, to Joan Dunsmuir’s accountant, Griffith Hughes, who promptly subdivided most of the surrounding 28 acres into building lots, creating the Craigdarroch subdivision.

Since nobody was willing to buy the Castle, Griffith Hughes came up a novel way of disposing of it: he organized a raffle with Craigdarroch Castle as the main prize.

The winners of the raffle were Solomon Cameron and Parker Clarke. Solomon Cameron retained ownership of Craigdarroch Castle until 1918, when the Bank of Montreal foreclosed over Solomon Cameron’s unpaid mortgage on the Castle.

In 1919, the Bank of Montreal leased Craigdarroch Castle to the federal government, which used it as a military hospital for soldiers recovering from First World War wounds and injuries.

When the military hospital closed in 1921, the Bank of Montreal leased the Castle to Victoria College which occupied the Castle until 1946, when it moved to what is now the Lansdowne campus of Camosun College.

In 1929, the Bank of Montreal sold Craigdarroch Castle to the Victoria School Board. When Victoria College moved in 1946, the Victoria School Board took over Craigdarroch Castle as its main offices.

In 1959 the Victoria School Board rented Craigdarroch Castle to two tenants: the Victoria Conservatory of Music and the newly formed Craigdarroch Castle Preservation Society.

In 1979, the Victoria Conservatory of Music moved to a larger premises, leaving the Craigdarroch Castle Preservation Society (now the Craigdarroch Historical Museum Society) as the sole occupant.

In 1994 the City of Victoria transferred Craigdarroch Castle to the Craigdarroch Historical Museum Society for $1.00.

Craigdarroch Castle is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

 

The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten, book cover

The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten, book cover

The Dunsmuir Saga – for more information on the Dunsmuir family we recommend The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten.

We consider this the best history of the Dunsmuir family currently available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would you like to leave a comment or question about anything on this page?