Walk the staircase of a landmark Victoria treasure and escape back in time through the rooms of Craigdarroch Castle. You’ll be amazed.
When I was a little girl, I used to go to bed pretending I was a princess.
Everyone who has ever seen princess movies of long ago knows that when a princess is rescued by her prince, she is sleeping peacefully on her bed with her sheets all smooth around her while her hair cascades on her pillow.
I thought this scene was so beautiful, that I taught myself how to sleep just like a princess. I even learned to take it so far that when I would roll over in bed, I would manage to keep the covers smooth.
I just wanted to be ready for my prince to wake me.
There was something magical about princesses.
They wore pretty dresses, they danced beautifully, they were friends with all the woodland creatures and they always got to live in a castle.
I have spent my entire life in North America and believe it or not, North America is not known for its ancient architecture. Our known history really only dates back a few hundred years, so when it comes to castles and princesses, we don’t have much to contribute.
So I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I learned Victoria has a castle.
On our latest romantic getaway to Victoria, Jay and I decided to step back in time and check out the Craigdarroch Castle. It is a very short drive or walk from the harbour or Magnolia Hotel and Spa where we were staying.
Before the city was fully developed, the Craigdarroch Castle stood out prominently as a formidable landmark, pronouncing the wealth and prestige of the Dunsmuir family.
We walked up the steps and entered this grand castle and were given a headset for our self-guided tour through Craigdarroch Castle.
This first view got my mind focussed on the grandeur that is Craigdarroch Castle.
From here I realized three things:
One, I would probably learn a lot and two, I was thankful we had a lot of time because this place was pretty big. Three… I couldn’t believe Jay didn’t know that wood can make up the interior of castle walls.
Craigdarroch Castle was built to be the home of the 1st self made millionaire in British Columbia and influential Dunsmuir family who made their fortune in the coal industry on Vancouver Island. Even though the Dunsmuir family was not royalty, they certainly wanted to live and be perceived as though they were.
As I wandered through the first floor of the castle, I found myself stepping back in time imagining what life was like in this grand home.
The attention to detail is impressive. Above in the picture I discovered what they called a “reading machine” which consisted of a mechanism that held your page open with a spot to insert the candle for light.
From the amazing custom woodwork to the Victorian era furnishings, from the gorgeous stained glass windows to the innovative and modern (for it’s time) conveniences, every room is exquisite. The first floor contains a library, a formal dining room, a sitting room and more.
I had a hard time leaving each room as I just wanted to soak up all the history of the space.
The guided audio tour was fantastic for me as it allowed me to wander through each room at my own pace and gave me information I would not otherwise learn. There were also volunteers from the Castle Society available to answer any further questions I had.
One of my favourite rooms was found way at the top of the stairs: the ballroom.
Such grand parties took place here with live music (ha! of course it was live! The Dunsmuir family lived here before record players, CDs and iPods!) and dancing.
Oh, I can just imagine what it was like.
To come to such a grand house, walk up these gorgeous stairs and dance the night away.
Excuse me while I disappear into my imagination….
Since the castle’s completion in 1890, it has served as family residence, military hospital, college, music conservatory and now historic museum.
With so much history in just 125 years, it’s no wonder that Craigdarroch is such a draw for people visiting Victoria, and honestly I had a hard time leaving.
I probably could have stayed and gone through the whole castle again and learned more, noticed more, and dreamed a little more.
Because the truth is, I still go to bed with my hair cascading over my pillow and my covers smooth across my body.
For you see, a princess is always ready…even when she sleeps.
Craigdarroch Castle: thecastle.ca
1050 Joan Crescent
Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island
Purchase your admission ticket ahead of time and save time:
Students $8.95 (13+ with Valid ID)
Children $5.00 (6-12) • Children 5 and under are free when accompanied by a paying adult.
OPEN DAILY: 10am – 4:30pm, with extended hours from June 15th to September 6th (9am – 7pm).
Plan to tour the castle for a minimum of 2 hours
How To Get to Craigdarroch Castle:
While our experience at Craigdarroch Castle was complimentary, you can rest assured that our thoughts, opinions, and findings are our own as always.