Restoration and Conservation
In 1969 the City of Victoria decided that it was important to support local arts and culture and their proposal to co-lease the Castle to both the Victoria Conservatory of Music and The Castle Society was accepted.
By 1979, the Conservatory, faced with increasing interruptions from visitors barging into classrooms during lessons, moved to a new location.The Castle Society was able to reach an agreement with the City to retain access as the sole occupant and began restoration on a full time basis. From that time on it has been a rewarding and often challenging task.
Information leading to the restoration and interpretation of Craigdarroch Castle and surrounding grounds.
Was your grandfather one of the many carpenters or stonemasons who worked on the construction of Craigdarroch Castle in 1890?
Were your grandparents among the first families to build a house on the newly created Craigdarroch subdivision of 1910?
Perhaps one of your relatives worked on the 1919 renovation that turned Craigdarroch into a hospital for wounded soldiers returning from the First World War? Or perhaps they visited one of the soldiers during his stay here?
If you can answer yes to any of the above, we’d love to hear from you.
Some of the most significant contributions towards the restoration and understanding of Craigdarroch have been provided by local Victorians: a 1909 photograph of a young child with the castle in the background; a selection of bathroom tiles “too nice to see thrown away”; the handwritten notations in the margins of a surveyor’s notebook as he passed by the gates on Fort Street. Even the smallest and seemingly most insignificant detail can answer a world of questions.
If you have, or think you may have, information that could help us in our research please contact our Restoration Manger: firstname.lastname@example.org
From our Curator
Conserving Craigdarroch is not an easy task. Historic photographs of the building and the surrounding landscape offer invaluable help in understanding how the Castle and its grounds used to look. If you have old photographs, we want to hear from you!
Returning Craigdarroch’s interiors to the Dunsmuir era (1890-1908) is especially difficult. Only one interior photograph from that period has survived. This lone photograph and a 1909 auction catalogue of Dunsmuir household possessions is our primary source of information to guide the conservation project. Maybe you know someone that might have pictures of this great Victoria house. Perhaps their ancestors were friends of the Dunsmuirs and took photographs when they visited. Please tell us if you have any leads, and we will happily follow them up.
The Castle now houses many important objects from Craigdarroch and other Dunsmuir houses. If you know of any Dunsmuir furniture, paintings, glassware, dishes, or other domestic material, we can help to identify what you have, and will try to determine which Dunsmuir house it came from. Maybe you know of historic letters and/or documents related to the Dunsmuirs or their businesses. We collect this material too.
As a registered charitable organization, The Castle Society can issue income tax receipts for gifts of objects and documents. In certain instances, the Castle may be able to purchase Dunsmuir things for its museum collection.
Please contact our Curator: email@example.com
Some Important Milestones
- 1962 –onwards President James K. Nesbitt builds museum collection, starts installing pictures on Castle walls with school board permission
- 1962-67 Floodlighting of exterior first walls and roof first, then illumination of Tower stained glass from interior
- 1969 Castle open for public viewing, big push to fill rooms with artifacts
- 1969 opening of porte-cochere through removal of hospital era partitions, removal of pink paint from stonework
- 1969-1970 removal of office lighting from front halls and stairway, installation of period lighting
- 1971 removal of hospital era porch glazing outside kitchen door
- 1971 faux finishing of hallway woodwork on 3rd floor and in tower
- 1971 three large original Dunsmuir oil paintings donated and put on display
- 1972 removal of linoleum from main hall stairs and floors, refinishing of floors in halls, library, drawing room, dining room
- 1977-1978 missing stained glass windows replaced
- 1980 billiard room restoration started by removal of school board partitions
- 1983 south balcony deck sealed with seamless membrane
- 1983 more interior rooms have non-original partitions removed
- 1984 project to “repoint” (replace mortar between stones) the north side of the Castle
- 1985 extensive repairs of main tower terra cotta and slate as well as repair of sandstone finials – extraordinary scaffolding and cranes required
- 1985 repair and replacement of elaborate woodwork of porte-cochere ceiling
- 1985 tests on drawing room ceiling lead to discovery of decoration and technique needed to uncover it
- 1986 outside Castle foundation perimeter drainage replaced
- 1994 Life-Safety upgrade including: fire sprinkler system throughout Castle; new fire alarm system; smoke detectors throughout building; new electrical system including stand-by generator and underground electrical wiring from street;
- 1994 Craigdarroch sold to The Castle Society by the City of Victoria for $1.00 (sale was conditional on Society installing sprinkler system)
- 1995 drawing room ceiling restoration starts…finished 12 years later
- 1996-1999 massive three-year roof repair job started involving replacement of all gutter and chimney flashings, repair and replacement of terra cotta on all roof areas
- 2000 Castle Society purchases the Dunsmuir’s 1-acre south lawn and 1889 retaining wall and completes wall stabilization program
- 2000-2003 massive three year project to “repoint” (replace mortar between stones) east, west, and south sides of Castle
- 2006 Castle Society acquires laneway between two buildings on Craigdarroch Road – this is part of the Dunsmuir’s historic carriageway
- 2008-2009 Dunsmuir Landscape Project completed, including: reconstruction of missing granite staircases on south and west lawns; reconfiguring the south lawn terraces; installing a lawn irrigation system; installing new granite stairs and simulated carriage way to Craigdarroch Road; installation of new floodlighting system; replacing all perimeter Castle drainage, regrading and paving the parking lot in faux stone surfacing; new site signage; building 12 feet high sandstone replicas of the Dunsmuir’s gates at the corner of Fort Street and Joan Crescent
With the support of annual visitation approaching 140,000 people per year, the invaluable contributions made by volunteers, and the dedication of our staff, The Castle Society continues its work as a non-profit organization.
We thank you for your support! Through your admission fee, gift shop purchases, membership and shared information you contribute directly to the preservation and restoration of this important National Historic Site.