Our first visit to Craigdarroch Castle was in 1978. Over the years, we have returned to the “Castle” many times to feel a sense of history. There are many stories held safe within these walls.
Robert Dunsmuir, a wealthy coal baron, wanted a family residence for his wife, Joan, and children. With 39 rooms and over 25,000 square feet of living space, the family could spread out comfortably.
It is estimated that Robert Dunsmuir spent up to $500,000 to build his Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion, which included granite from British Columbia, tile from San Francisco, and an oak staircase prefabricated in Chicago. Alas, Robert Dunsmuir died in April 1889, seventeen months before construction on the castle was completed.
The Dunsmuir Saga by Terry Reksten tells the story of Robert and Joan Dunsmuir, who immigrated from Scotland and became the richest family in British Columbia. It is a story of hard work, luck, ruthlessness, and tragedy. With Robert’s passing, family squabbles played havoc on the family finances. The fortune was eventually spent by Robert’s grandchildren.
Craigdarroch Castle remains a symbol of power and progress. Now, the Castle belongs to all of us.
The Dunsmuir Family (1890–1908)
Military Hospital (1919–1921)
Victoria College (1921–1946)
Victoria School Board Office (1946–1968)
Victoria Conservatory of Music (1969–1979)
Craigdarroch Castle museum (1979–Present)
“A story in the New York Times announced: “Premier sued by his Mother”. As a result of the legal action, Joan and James did not speak for years. When she died in 1908 having lived in Craigdarroch for 18 years, the local newspaper reported that James (then serving as Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia) was not expected to attend her funeral. At the last minute he changed his mind and did attend. During the service, he broke down and wept.” The Castle Website