Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Victori-as Part 3: Castle Adventure

Before a trip somewhere I go into crazy research mode, trying to get as much information as I can about a place and all it has to offer, from the shopping, to the food, to the attractions. During one of my research sessions, Thatboy happened to look over my shoulder. "OOOHHH A CASTLE! I WANT TO GO THERE!" So I added Craigdarroch Castle to my list of "must dos" in Victoria.

Craigdarroch Castle was the home of the Dunsmuir family, built by Robert Dunsmuir between 1887 and 1890. Unfortunately, before the house was finished, Robert Dunsmuir died, leaving his widow to move in without him and run both the household and his business. Thatmom felt an instant kinship to Joan Dunsmuir. You see, Thatmom and Thatdad had just moved into their new home a couple of months before he died. Their pictures weren't even hung on the walls yet. And Thatdad called the home "his castle" due largely to the tower that made up the front entrance way - the primary reason they bought the house in the first place.

Robert Dunsmuir is a true rags to riches story. He began his life renting mines and eventually was granted the right to mine independently. When he struck the richest coal seam on the island, everyone in the Dunsmuir family prospered. Including his wife who saw this as an opportunity to launch her younger, unmarried daughters into society. Of course, they needed a place to do the launching from. And thus, Craigdarroch Castle was born.

And that's just the front of the castle, the back is equally as impressive:

Because of the age of the castle, there is a requirement to clean your shoes before walking through the home. Here UDubb demonstrates the proper form.

The castle is filled with wood - from the oak paneled interior, Spanish mahogany, western red cedar, cherry, Hawaiian koa, walnut, jarra, rosewood, maple, and holly.

And some of that wood is incredibly ornately carved.

Most of the rooms have been restored to how they would have looked when the Dunsmuir lived there, although the Castle has had several incarnations since then, including a veteran's hospital and a college.

We joked about secret passageways because of all the wood paneling, and when we got to the ballroom on the top floor, we learned there WERE passageways in the walls, but not secret. The passageways just made it easier to maneuver during the dances. The piano there is not original to the house, and visitors were told that they were welcome to play if they were musically inclined. So we goaded UDubb into plunking out a few notes.

I think everyone's favorite part of the castle were the stained glass windows. They were in almost every room, and every stairwell. So different than stained glass I've see in other places, with the most beautiful designs.

Up next: Remember how 2010 is the year of Thatgirl's flower pictures? Well you certainly won't want to miss these!


  1. I haven't been to this castle. I will have to make sure to stop by on my next visit.As far as flowers I love the walls of hydrangeas in the summer, this time of year it would be azaleas and maybe rhododendrons. They all make quite a show.