Inside Victoria, B.C.’s Historic 1890 Craigdarroch Castle

Inside Victoria, B.C.’s Historic 1890 Craigdarroch Castle

1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, V8S 3L5

If you’ve ever visited Victoria, British Columbia then there is a good chance you’ve heard of or even been inside the historic Craigdarroch Castle. It was built in the late 1800s by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir for his wife Joan. The legendary castle was under construction between 1887 and 1890 and sits prominently on a hill overlooking the City of Victoria. Robert passed away shortly before the castles completion in 1889, leaving the entire estate to his wife Joan. The original architect, Warren Heywood Williams, also died before completion, and was finished by his associate, Arthur L. Smith, in 1890. Joan occupied the castle until her death in 1908. Following Joan’s death the castle had been used as a variety of different venues including a military hospital, Victoria College, offices for the Victoria School Board, and the Victoria Conservatory of Music. 

It’s believed to have cost as much as $500,000 when it was built, and includes materials such as granite from British Columbia, tile from San Francisco, and a grand oak staircase that was prefabricated in Chicago and shipped via 5 railcars with 2,128 oak panels to Victoria, British Columbia. There are 17 fireplaces throughout the residence with seven chimney stacks adding to the architectural charm of the exterior. Today, the landmark castle is owned by the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society and is open to the public for tours generating well over 150,000 visitors annually. 

The 39-room, 25,000 square foot historic stone residence is also popular with the film industry having been used in productions such as Little Women (1994), Spooky House (2004), Cats & Dogs (2001), Spooksville (2013) and the recent horror film The Boy (2016). We visited the castle in mid-July and captured some beautiful scenes throughout the five levels of living space. Admissions range from $7.91 – $18.52 depending on your age, but once inside you can explore all 25,000 square feet for as long as you like. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all tours must be booked in advance online. The Society has done a phenomenal job restoring this landmark back to the original splendour. You will without a doubt be impressed with the quality, detail, and size of this landmark residence. Be sure to visit Craigdarroch Castle’s website for more information.

Since its completion in 1890, the building had six major occupants, including:
The Dunsmuirs (1890–1908)
Military Hospital (1919–1921)
Victoria College (1921–1946)
Victoria School Board Office (1946–1968)
Victoria Conservatory of Music (1969–1979)
Craigdarroch Castle museum (1979–Present)



The kitchen is in the process of being restored as of July 2021.


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