furnishing, dollhouse
furnishing, dollhouse
furnishing, dollhouse

furnishing, dollhouse


Accession Number
Alternate Name
tete-a-tete chair;toy chair
A miniature hand-carved wooden toy tete-a-tete chair. S-shaped chair with two places to sit on opposite sides of each other; heavily carved open patterned s-shaped back forming the arms and back of the chair; round plain seat; curved heavy legs.
The style of this 15-piece set of miniature hand-carved furniture in the Rococo Revival style, popular in North America from approximately 1840 to 1860. When the set was donated to Craigdarroch Castle in July 1960, it was described as being made from teak wood. This has not been scientifically verified. 
History of Use
In 1960, this important set of miniature furniture was donated by three sisters who were great-grand-daughters of Robert and Joan Dunsmuir.1 Their mother was Joan Olive Bryden (1887-1959), who was the only daughter of Elizabeth Hamilton Dunsmuir (1848-1901) who was herself the first child born to Robert and Joan Dunsmuir. Joan Olive Bryden married Alastair Douglas Macdonald in Victoria in 1910. The three Macdonald sisters were born in 1911, 1913, and 1914. They moved in the upper-echelon circles of Victoria society, and were often simply referred to as "the Macdonald sisters". As children, they played with this furniture at their home Duntulm, a farm situated in North Saanich, B.C.

In 1975, Castle Society founding President James K. Nesbitt told Craigdarroch's curator, Bruce Davies, that the set had been owned by the Dunsmuir family from their earliest days on Vancouver Island. The set was probably acquired by Robert and Joan Dunsmuir in Nanaimo in about 1855 or soon afterward. Precisely when it entered the Bryden family is unknown. It could have been around 1887 when Joan Olive Bryden was born, or perhaps later if Mrs. Robert Dunsmuir kept the set for use when her many grandchildren visited her in Victoria at Fairview and later on at Craigdarroch. Unless definitive proof is found which documents the set's full history of use, it will be necessary to acknowledge that the only places where this set can be confirmed as being used in are the Nanaimo cottage used by Robert and Joan Dunsmuir at the corner of today's Albert & Wallace Streets, at Ardoon the subsequent Dunsmuir house built there, at Dalzellowlie, the Bryden's Esquimalt house, and at Duntulm, the Macdonald farm in North Saanich. 

1. The Daily Colonist, July 29, 1960 p.19; The Daily Colonist, March 27, 1969.
circa 1855 – 1860
14 x 22 cm
Wood, oak