One of Greater Victoria’s favourite heritage sites is slated to undergo a long-awaited restoration of a key space.
Thanks to funding from the Province of British Columbia and Heritage B.C., Victoria’s Craigdarroch Castle will have its kitchen and pantry restored to a state that hasn’t been seen in more than 100 years.
The $288,000 in joint funding will help return the castle to how it was during the Dunsmuir era, before the kitchen and pantry rooms were radically altered in 1919 with the opening of the Craigdarroch Military Hospital.
Located just minutes from downtown Victoria, Craigdarroch Castle was built between 1887 and 1890 by Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant who made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal. Dunsmuir himself died in 1889, leaving his entire estate to his wife, Joan, who lived in the Castle with their children until her death in 1908.
The immense fortune of the Dunsmuir family is reflected in the National Historic Site, featuring four floors of exquisite stained glass windows, intricate woodwork and fabulous Victorian-era furnishings.
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In later years, the castle was home to the military hospital, Victoria College and the Victoria Conservatory of Music.
Over the years, walls, windows, moulding, floors and mechanical elements such as the laundry chute and the intercom panel have been removed. The restoration will include replacing the shutters, adding new wainscotting and mouldings around windows and doors, repairing and painting plaster surfaces and installing flooring.
The castle’s food preparation area will be returned to the Dunsmuir era, while abiding by the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.
“Bringing the kitchen back to the Dunsmuir era presents a powerful opportunity to broaden the visitor experience,” says John Hughes, Craigdarroch Castle executive director.
“A kitchen is a place that attracts us all and has a universal language.”
Hughes says that 86 per cent of the castle’s visitors surveyed expressed a desire to experience the kitchen and wanted to learn more about Dunsmuir-era servant activities and food preparation.
Plans to restore the kitchen have been around since 2017, when the museum gift shop was moved from the kitchen space to the visitor centre.
Craigdarroch Castle is open year-round and at Christmas boasts lavish Victoria-era decorations throughout. Plan your visit at thecastle.ca
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