Eyes on Craigdarroch Castle

The following is a guest blog post written and researched by one of Volunteer Victoria’s volunteer writers, Gwen Hill. Gwen is one of two Volunteer Victoria Media Copy Writers and she has been with us for just over a year. She says she “has been writing for pleasure and craft since she figured out how to hold a pen”.  Gwen maintains a blog on managing depression, which you can visit by clicking on this link.”  Enjoy!

It was first a lavish Victorian home. Then a military hospital. A college, a school board – And now, it’s Craigdarroch Castle.

From the day Robert Dunsmuir’s home – sadly, a home in which he was fated never to live – was begun in 1887, Craigdarroch Castle has been through incarnation after incarnation. The history of the Castle can be read on the Craigdarroch website, and it does make for fascinating reading – but nothing compares to the feel of walking through the doors of this particular piece of Canadian history.

From the moment you do so, you are surrounded by volunteers. A volunteer will welcome you to the castle. Another will be leading a tour group. Should you see a restoration project, you can bet there are volunteers working on it, and if you’re lucky enough to attend an event –  haunted houses and tea parties and dances, oh my! – you will be assisted and entertained by volunteers.

So what brings approximately 140,000 visitors to this paragon of architecture every year? Certainly, the castle itself. Absolutely, the history contained within. The volunteers who make every visit spectacular? No doubt about it.

I posed a few questions to these talented volunteers, and here’s what they had to say:

What inspired you to volunteer?  

“Volunteering time and experience is a good way of giving back to the community when you don’t have money to give!”  – Kathy H.

“In elementary school I went on one or two field trips to the castle and instantly loved the building.  I had a bit of time this past summer so I thought I’d volunteer and get to know the place better.”  – Elaine K.

“A love of history and my country and culture. The chance to share knowledge of that with Canadians.” – Jennifer H.

“I volunteered at Craigdarroch because I love the house and the history, and find it a fascinating place to be for one half day a week!!!” -Grant T.

What do you like about volunteering?

“Definitely meeting the visitors to this wonderful city/province and working with people of like minds, attitudes and willing to give of themselves.” – Kathy H

“What’s not to like? But I especially love having the privilege and opportunity to play the beautiful Steinway in the drawing room!” – Elaine K

“Freedom to decide what I do and when. It fits in with my life, yet I can give to something I believe in.” – Jennifer H.

“I’m an international student just coming here. I have some spare time but no friends or family around, so for a while, I really felt frustrated. Volunteering helped me out. Learning history and culture fulfills me. Wonderful co-workers make me laugh. Contributing to the community gives me confidence. Helping people, especially those from my homeland but not so good at English, makes my work even more meaningful.” – Wendi Z.

What’s your favourite aspect of volunteering at Craigdarroch Castle?

“Criagdarroch is fabulous in its history and the incredible saga of the Dunsmuir Family through several generations and the work in preserving it.”  – Kathy H

“Staff and other volunteers are all very nice.  Seeing the awe in tourists’ faces is great too! Going to the castle feels like coming home.” – Elaine K

“Educating visitors about my people, our history and how that fits into Canadian history.” – Jennifer H.

Learning lots about the history and the architectural details.” – Fran K.

 “Studying history and culture of Victorian Era, and tranferring them to visitors. The dynamic work circumstance and communication with people. And amazing partners!” – Wendi Z. 

As you can see, the volunteer opportunities at Craigdarroch are yielding an amazing environment of community and education. Why not see if there’s a volunteer spot fit just for you? Volunteer Victoria: Craigdarroch Castle

And don’t forget to check out the wonderful events going on at Craigdarroch in 2012!  Craigdarroch Castle Events





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