Victoria’s Craigdarroch Castle Offers a Glimpse of BC’s History

In central Victoria, Craigdarroch is near many other attractions. To be fair, no battles were ever fought on the grounds of Craigdarroch Castle, and it was never home to royalty. It was, however, built for the shipping and mining magnate Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan. It was intended to be the couple’s mansion home, but Robert passed away in 1889, about a year before it was completed. Joan lived there until her death in 1908.

Craigdarroch (which means rocky oak place) changed hands a few times after that. It seemed to me that no one really knew what to do with it until it ended up as it remains today, a National Historic site which is run by a non-profit society. The donations and admission fare goes directly into the society.

No expense was spared for the décor. I think the wood work is worth seeing alone, and the stained glass windows look as if they came straight from a European cathedral. The building cost was about $500 000 in the end, and that was in the late 1800s!

See History Recreated as you Explore Craigdarroch Castle

There are 87 steps between the floors and 39 rooms to explore. In the rooms you will see the past lives of the mansion recreated: it served as a military hospital, the Victoria School Board, and the Victoria Conservatory of Music.

It has also been used as a venue for professional theatre productions that have entertained audiences for years. Check their website for upcoming plays and other special events. These plays are staged throughout the castle: experience the story as you explore the property.

Craigdarroch features celebrations of major holidays – celebrate Victoria’s Scottish heritage on Robbie Burns Day (January 25th) by attending the Address to the Haggis. Christmas is of course a splendid time of year. The castle comes alive with authentic Victorian decorations, toys, and other historic touches. Expect to see festive children’s concerts and seasonal music productions throughout December.

The Castle makes a Fabulous Backdrop for any Celebration

Craigdarroch castle can also be booked for weddings and other private parties. I can imagine some stunning wedding pictures with the mansion as a backdrop, especially for black and white photos.

Self-guided tours of the home are about 45 minutes and are not suitable for wheelchairs. Group tours are also available for 15 people or more and are offered a discounted rate. Children won’t be bored with the I Spy tour and the freedom to run around on the beautifully appointed grounds.

In Central Victoria, Craigdarroch is near many other Attractions

To make your visit to Craigdarroch more memorable, here are a few extra ideas that are in the Victoria neighborhood. Keep in the historical era vein and stay at Abbeymoore Manor Bed &Breakfast on Rockland Ave. There are a few pubs and shops in the area to visit and you can even stroll to the Government House, home of the Lieutenant Governor of BC. Also within walking distance is the Victoria Art Gallery on Moss St. There is always something new and exciting to look at there.


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