About Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is an example of a “bonanza castle”, massive houses built for men who became wealthy because of the industrial transformation of North America. Three of Dunsmuir’s American business associates were railroad entrepreneurs who had built their own bonanza castles: Collis P. Huntington, Leland Stanford, and Charles Crocker.
Dunsmuir’s American connections are reflected in the Castle itself. He commissioned architect Warren Heywood Williams of Portland, Oregon to design Craigdarroch. When Williams died, Arthur L. Smith (a member of the same firm) completed the project with assistance from Williams’ son, David L. Williams.
The interior oak panelling was fabricated by the A.H. Andrews Co. of Chicago from white oak probably felled on land owned by the subsidiary Andrews Lumber Company in Arkansas. These pre-fabricated elements (including stairs, doors, window frames, and 2182 panels) were shipped from Chicago to Victoria in five railcars in the summer of 1890, and installed in the house.
Other woods used in the house included: Spanish mahogany (in the Library); western red cedar (in the Porte Cochere Entrance); cherry (in the Breakfast Room and used for the window sashes throughout the house); Hawaiian koa (in the drawing room floor); and multi-patterned parquetry throughout the house incorporate exotic woods such as walnut, jarra, rosewood, maple, holly, and oak.
Craigdarroch Castle has one of North America’s finest collections of Victorian residential stained and leaded glass windows. These windows are believed to have been produced by an American studio.
The red slate for the roof was produced from a quarry near the Vermont/New York border. The ridge and hip roof pieces were originally manufactured in Lincoln, California by Gladding, McBean (a company still in operation). Paintings depicting American landscapes by Frederick Schafer adorned the walls of the Castle.
Email us for information on how to help us continue the work we do. Giving to The Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society is easy. As a registered charity, all donations are tax deductible according to the Canada Revenue Agency guidelines. As one of the few museums in Canada which receives little government funding, we count on our donors, members and admissions to support our important work. The Society gratefully acknowledges the City of Victoria for providing us with a permissive property tax exemption. Their contribution allows us to direct our money to the ongoing work in and around the Castle.
A gift to The Castle Society supports the ongoing preservation, restoration and curatorial process. With your help, we can protect and preserve this extraordinary piece of Canadian heritage.