Craigdarroch Castle in 21 Treasures
About the Book
Told in 21 objects—including furnishings, artwork, and tools—this approachable museum guide takes readers into the family history, local lore, and oddities of one of Victoria’s most famous landmarks.
Craigdarroch Castle, built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir for his wife, Joan, and their family, was completed in 1890. Following Joan’s death, the castle was put up for sale in 1908, and later housed a military hospital and the nascent University of Victoria.
Since 1979 the castle has operated as a museum and is one of the top tourist attractions in the city, a prime example of a “bonanza castle” and a rich repository of Victorian-era furnishings and décor, as well as objects evoking the hospital and college eras. Author Moira Dann offers the reader 21 selections from the castle’s collection, using each artifact as a portal into the history of the building and life in Victorian and more recent times.
The Black Forest clock, acquired by Joan on a trip to Europe; the telescope used by the eldest Dunsmuir son, James, aboard his yacht the Dolaura; the castle’s famous stained-glass windows; a nineteenth-century intercom system known as a speaking tube—these and 17 more are described with detail and enthusiasm, and accompanied by photographs. Dann provides careful research into each object’s provenance and manufacture, while inviting readers to join her imaginative journeys into the lives of the castle’s occupants through the years.
“This beautifully designed little book describes with wonderful insight the wealthy life of the Dunsmuirs (which is as intriguing as the objects) through items such as radiator brushes, son James’ telescope, a speaking tube for in-house communication and oil paintings by American artist Frederick Schafer.” —Times Colonist
“Craigdarroch Castle in 21 Treasures chronicles one of this city’s most famous landmarks, and certainly its most awesome castle.” —Capital Daily
“Moira Dann, the “21 Treasures Tour” will take you on 21 stops to all four floors of the castle, top to bottom, and offer portals to stories from the many lives of the Castle: The Dunsmuir Dynasty Victoria “bonanza castle”, the Military Hospital period, the Victoria College days, the Victoria School Board and Victoria Conservatory of Music eras, right up to its transition to the current incarnation as a world-class heritage site stewarded by the Castle Historical Society.” —Victoria Buzz
“an ingenious way to tell the story of a Scotland-type castle and its owners” —BC Magazine
“Craigdarroch Castle in 21 Treasures is a beautiful volume of introductions and connections: Moira gives readers a taste of our vast collection by introducing castle artifacts and the stories they tell, and connects each treasure to castle life and to the reader’s curiosity,” —John Hughes, Craigdarroch Castle Executive Director
“Inspired by A History of Canada in Ten Maps by Adam Shoalts and A History of the World in 100 Objects (a BBC/British Museum podcast partnersip that became a book), this book came about when Dann seized on the idea of using a “limited number of objects to do a deep dive into the story” of the castle and “to follow my own twisted trail of curiosity.” —Jennifer Bain, National Parks Traveler