It looks rather spooky in the twilight [I should have photo-shopped in a few bats]… but not so bad in the bright sunshine.
Craigdarroch Castle is one of western Canada’s finest examples of Victorian-era Scottish Baronial and Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.
Pronounced Craig-Derek, the Castle was built between the years of 1887-1890 by Scottish coal-baron Robert Dunsmuir, who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal.
Craigdarroch Castle stands on a hill overlooking the Canadian city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, in the province of British Columbia. The castle’s prominent location indicated that Robert Dunsmuir was the wealthiest and most important man in Western Canada at the time.
The lavish home was actually still under construction when Robert Dunsmuir died in 1889 but his wife lived at the mansion until her death in 1908. [What is it with these Gilded Age rich men who died before they could ever live in their castles?]
Fit for a king, the Dunsmuir home is a spectacle of ornate Victorian decor from the extensive stained glass windows to the elaborate woodwork. The castle also notably has many, MANY stairs – the tower alone possesses 87 steps!
After the lady of the house died in 1908, no surviving family members could afford to keep up the house as a private residence so it became a military hospital after the First World War and then later Victoria College and eventually the Victoria Conservatory of Music. In 1969 the castle was adopted by an organization dedicated to restoring and preserving significant historical sites.
Long rumored to be haunted, it is said that a cacophony of paranormal activity was kicked up during restoration work.
Among some of the claims are sightings of a ghostly woman in a white dress standing alone by a window in the ballroom; objects being moved by themselves; a disembodied crying child; and a piano which plays by itself when no one is present.
Today the castle is operated as a private non-profit museum and is open daily for self-guided tours. For a fee, you can wander at your own pace through the mansion and ogle at all the gargoyle-y goodness.
At over 20,000 square feet of interior space, the castle has plenty of nooks and crannies to explore.
Many of the room also feature exotic woods such as walnut, jarra, rosewood, and holly.
According to wikipedia, several movies were filmed on location at Craigdarroch Castle including Little Women (1994), Spooky House (2000) and Cats & Dogs (2001).
Ostentatious and grand, Craigdarroch Castle is thought to be an excellent example of a “bonanza castle” – large massive mansions built for the barons and titans of the industrial revolution in North America.
But poor Mr. Dunsmuir never got to enjoy his exorbitantly expensive monument to personal wealth. Perhaps it is he who plays the piano after hours when no one is looking, lamenting his inability to take it all with him to the grave.
Castle Craigdarroch, however, enjoys a much more pampered and prestigious state of being than the old abandoned Gilded Age mansion I featured last week. Robert Dunsmuir can rest easy knowing that his castle is in good hands.
For more information on Canada’s Craigdarroch Castle, see the following links:
Mother Nature has been viciously pummeling our friends all along the northeastern seaboard and miles inland. I sure hope everyone has been able to find a nice warm safe place to hibernate for a few days. And prayers that everybody’s shelters can withstand a very angry and irrational Mother Nature.
This too will pass.