Walk in the footsteps of one of Canada’s richest families at this castle that would look at home in the Scottish Highlands.
Watch a theater performance at Craigdarroch Castle or simply admire the Victorian-era decorations and furnishings. The picturesque building with its masonry chimneys and tiled roof is reminiscent of the medieval castles in the Scottish Highlands.
The four-story castle sits in a 28-acre (11-hectare) estate and was completed in 1890. It was intended as the home of Scottish-Canadian coal tycoon Robert Dunsmuir, but he passed away before it was completed.
Pick up a self-guided tour map at the main entrance and explore some of the castle’s 39 rooms. For an extra charge you can also rent an audio guide. Let the children go on a treasure hunt after getting the instructions at the reception.
Start in the Main Hall, which leads to the castle’s 87-step staircase. To see portraits of Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan, visit the library. Opposite it is the drawing room where you can see original 19th-century stained-glass windows. In the hallway of the second floor, look for the speaking tubes, a fine example of a pre-digital internal intercom system.
From the Dance Hall on the top floor you can look out over downtown Victoria and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Climb the castle’s tower for even better views, with the Olympic Mountains visible on a clear day.
The rooms of the Craigdarroch Castle become performance spaces during special theater shows. Imagine watching a performance about Dracula in this fitting setting! Listen to bagpipe bands during the Robert Burns Day celebration in honor of the famous Scottish poet whom the Dunsmuirs admired.
Situated in the Rockland neighborhood, Craigdarroch Castle is a 10-minute drive from downtown Victoria. Free parking is available and public buses stop outside the gate. There is an admission fee. You can combine your visit with an exploration of the nearby Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.
The castle is open daily, except on major public holidays. Opening hours are extended from mid June through early September. Find the schedules of tours, events and shows on the castle’s official website.