Saturday, January 3, 2009

Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria

Craigdarroch South Exterior

The first thing we did after checking into Abigail’s Hotel in Victoria was to head off to Craigdarroch Castle located at 1050 Joan Crescent Road. It’s about 20-30 minute walk from the hotel. We actually stopped on the way and had Thai food at a place that I don’t recall, but it is located next to a nice little bakery called Bubby Rose’s Bakery and Café at 1022 Cook St. We stopped at the café on the way back for coffee and snacks and it was good. 

The castle, how was it? It was interesting. We don’t turn down the opportunity to snoop around a castle when it arises. However, the castle didn’t really seemed to have that much “people history” and really is more interesting as an example of a Victorian-era house of the late 19th century. Houses of this period, built by rich industrialists, are sometimes referred to as “bonanza castles”. This bonanza castle was built between 1887 and 1890 for the Scottish immigrant turned coal baron Robert Dunsmuir (1825 – 1889), but he died before it was completed and he never lived there. His widow Joan lived there for 18 years and then after her death it was sold. Some of the items today in the house were purchased back from the big garage sale after Mrs. Dunsmuir’s death and others are of the same time period. The castle then went through a series of different uses in the 20th century. 

It’s interesting to note that much of the castle’s components (design, paneling, stained glass, etc.) came from the US. Might one infer that Dunsmuir wanted to show his American counterparts that he too could have good American craftsmanship? Craigdarroch means “rocky, oak place” in the Gaelic language which we think describes the site of that the castle is situated on. The castle used to sit on 28 acres. Today it is down to 1.75 acres and his hemmed in by a mix of housing, some nice and some not so nice. Old Dunny must be sighing.
Bubby Rose - Cafe On the Way to Craigdarroch

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