washstand

Object

Accession Number
997.009.001.002a-c
Description
Part of a three-piece bedroom suite, the cabinet has a removable high-backed, pinkish-gray coloured marble top, the top with small shelves at each side with rounded corners attached to a short back-splash of marble, the cabinet burled black walnut veneer over wood frame, the single long drawer across the top with two raised rectangular pieces of veneered wood running lengthwise, below this is a band of machine-carved wood in a horizontal repeating oval pattern, with a vertical piece of wood carved on each side of the panel in a repeating V design, the center with a round metal key escutcheon, two decorative brass handles with sunflower motif on each side, on the lower left two drawers with brass handles matching the top drawer handles, and on the right, one cupboard with a handle that turns, the surface decoration the same as above, the cabinet sitting flush to the floor.
Narrative
This washstand is part of an important three-piece walnut bedroom suite consisting of a bedstead, washstand and dressing table purchased by the donor’s friend at the 1939 Hatley Park auction. It was probably made in the United States in about 1880 and shipped to James and Laura Dunsmuir when they lived near the Dunsmuir's Wellington colliery shipping wharf at Departure Bay, near Nanaimo.

James Dunsmuir had been sent by his father Robert Dunsmuir to manage the colliery's shipping wharf in about 1880 when son-in-law John Cowper Bryden was hired to manage the Wellington Colliery. James and Laura Dunsmuir lived used this bedroom suite in a new house specially built for them.
History of Use
The bedroom suite of which this washstand is part, was used by James and Laura Dunsmuir at their Departure Bay, B.C. house from about 1880 until mid-1889 when they moved into Fairview, the Victoria (James Bay district) residence of Joan Dunsmuir, who was travelling in Europe with her daughters until the fall of 1890 when Craigdarroch was completed.

It is not known whether Joan Dunsmuir left Fairview furnished or empty when she left Victoria. If she left it furnished, the bedroom suite might have stayed in the Departure Bay house. If she put her furnishings in storage, then the suite might have been used by James Dunsmuir's family in Fairview.

While living in Fairview, James and Laura Dunsmuir were building a new house named Burleith on Victoria's Gorge waterway. It was completed in 1891, and the bedroom suite was moved into it from the Departure Bay house or Fairview at that time. 

The suite might have been moved to Government House in 1906 when James began his 3-year service as British Columbia's Lieutenant Governor, or it might have been left in Burleith during that period. Hon. James Dunsmuir resigned as Lieutenant Governor in 1909 while construction of the family's new residence at Hatley Park was nearing completion. The suite was moved into Hatley Park in 1910, and was used by the Dunsmuir family there until 1939, when it was sold by the Executor's of the Estate of Mrs. James Dunsmuir.

The set was then used by three different owners in the Victoria and Cobble Hill areas until it was donated to Craigdarroch Castle. 
Date
circa 1880
Dimensions
95.5 cm x 45.3 cm x 81 cm
Material
Wood, walnut; Wood; Stone, marble; Brass
Technique
Cut; Flat sawn; Veneered
Country of Origin
United States of America

Related person/business/organization
James Dunsmuir (owner)
Related Associations
Departure Bay (house) (was used in)
Burleith (was used in)
Hatley Park (was used in)
Related Objects

bed, 997.009.001.001a-d (is related to)

Table, Dressing, 997.009.001.003a-f (is related to)

photograph , 2012.007.008.180 (is related to)