Welcome to Craigdarroch Castle! While not a castle in the medieval sense of a structure fortified against armed attack, Craigdarroch is British Columbia’s finest example of a ‘Bonanza Castle’.
These impressive private residences were built by wealthy North American industrialists at the end of the 19th century as a reflection of their newfound financial and social status. Craigdarroch was referred to as a Castle by the citizens of Victoria almost from the moment construction began in 1887. Postcards and souvenirs depicting its imposing exterior were on the market shortly after it was completed in 1890.
The name is Scots Gaelic as a tribute to its owners’ Ayreshire origins, and means “rocky, oak place”, referring not only to the sandstone exterior and lavish wood-paneled interior, but also to the rocky hill upon which it is built and the Garry Oak ecosystem that surrounds it. Originally there were 28 acres of grounds that encompassed the Castle.
Craigdarroch was built by Robert Dunsmuir, who was the wealthiest man in B.C. when he died in 1889. He built his fortune upon Vancouver Island coal.
Robert died before Craigdarroch was completed, so it was instead his wife Joan who moved into the Castle, accompanied by 3 of her adult daughters.
After Joan’s death in 1908, none of her children wanted Craigdarroch so the land was put up for sale in lots and the Castle became a Military Hospital in 1919.
1921 - 1946
Craigdarroch was the home of Victoria College.
1946 - 1969
it was the office of the Victoria School Board.
1969 - 1979
it housed the Victoria Conservatory of Music.