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Craigdarroch Castle

1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, British Columbia, V8S, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1992/02/13

Exterior view of Craigdarroch Castle, 2004.; City of Victoria, Libby Walton, 2004.
south elevation
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Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1885/01/01 to 1890/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/10/05

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Craigdarroch Castle is a four and one-half storey High Victorian mansion on the crest of the Rockland residential neighborhood.

Heritage Value

Craigdarroch Castle is significant because it was commissioned by Robert Dunsmuir, one of the most wealthy and powerful capitalists who made his fortune in the mining and shipping industry, and as the financier for the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. Robert Dunsmuir chose the highest point of land in Victoria to build this massive stone mansion; Craigdarroch resides on the crest of Victoria's most prestigious neighborhood, and set a high standard for the subsequent development of Rockland's residential architecture on the mansion's former grounds. This building evokes an image of Victoria's upper crust in the gilded age, and is a monument to the Dunsmuir dynasty and the self-made man's belief in personal wealth and social power. The mansion is Victoria's most prominent symbol of the nouveau-riche that carved their place in the young province.

Designed by architect Warren H. Williams, and built during the years 1885-1890, this mansion possesses a significant architectural style reminiscent of a castle in the sky. The unique character of Craigdarroch Castle is evocative of an American interpretation of a Scottish baronial castle. The high quality of the interior finishes set this mansion above all other homes; the extent of such features as the imported millwork and superb stained glass are in a fashion befitting the wealthy entrepreneurs.

Used over the years by a variety of groups such as Victoria College, the Victoria Conservatory of Music, and as a historic-house museum, Craigdarroch Castle has played an instrumental role in Victoria's cultural development.

Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Craigdarroch Castle include:
-the diversity of architectural styles popular during the Victorian era, such as the repeated Roman arches, Jacobean dormers and Elizabethan chimneys;
-the picturesque silhouette of the steep Chateau roof (reminiscent of French Gothic architecture) punctuated by the tower, turrets, and gables;
-the decorative ironwork, iron-braced chimneys for thirty-five fireplaces, the elaborate stone arches and contrasting colours and textures of sandstone and pink granite columns and capitals with foliated decoration on the ground-floor veranda;
-the historic perimeter stone retaining wall on the Castle grounds and the south lawn;
-the extent and condition of authentic (historic) interiors including oak panelling, the oak ceiling of the entrance hall and stairs, mahogany, carved woodwork and superb stained and leaded glass windows, plaster work in the drawing-room, Minton tiles in the carriage entrance, and elaborately painted ceilings (dating to the time of the Dunsmuir family residence up to 1908).

Recognition

Jurisdiction

British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.967

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date

1992/02/13

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Museum

Historic

Residence
Estate

Architect / Designer

Warren H. Williams

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

DcRu-470

Status

Published

Related Places

General view

Craigdarroch National Historic Site of Canada

Situated on the summit of the highest hill adjacent to downtown Victoria, British Columbia, Craigdarroch National Historic Site of Canada is a well-known and prominent landmark.…

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