The Military Hospital Era
Soon after Joan Dunsmuir died at Craigdarroch, her daughters sold the Castle to local real estate developer Griffith Hughes. The 28-acre estate was then sub-divided and the Castle raffled. The lucky winners were Solomon Cameron and Parker Clarke. Cameron’s brother, Thomas A. Cameron lived here until his death in 1917. Eventually, Solomon Cameron lost the Castle to the Bank of Montreal over unpaid debts. Craigdarroch’s institutional life began and continued into the 1970′s before being taken over by The Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society.
Craigdarroch was extensively renovated by the federal Department of Soldiers Civil Re-establishment (DSCR) prior to opening as a military hospital in September, 1919. The original kitchen was replaced and internal walls
reconfigured on almost every floor. New sinks, bathrooms and hydrotherapy facilities were installed.
An article in the local paper read:
“A review of the numerous beautiful spots throughout Canada selected by the Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-establishment could hardly discover anything more wonderful than the picturesque pile erected by the late Hon. Robert Dunsmuir about 30 years ago in what was then, as now, a point of vantage so far as viewing the city and surrounding landmarks are concerned… Whole walls have had to be torn down to extend some of the rooms to dimensions such as would follow out any practical scheme; repairs made necessary by the long period of desuetude which the building has suffered have been carried out…”
The Daily Colonist, September 3, 1919
Tourists visiting the Castle today will see that some of the work done to accommodate the military hospital has been removed. The mandate of the Society is to restore this Victorian era mansion to the way it was when Joan
Dunsmuir and her daughters lived here. Admission to the Castle will show visitors where walls have been restored and woodwork recreated.
The restoration of this legendary attraction is on going and has taken more than 30 years to get it to its current condition. Craigdarroch Castle is a ‘Must See’ for any visitor to Victoria.
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