Table, Dressing
Table, Dressing

Table, Dressing


Accession Number
Part of a three-piece bedroom suite, the black walnut dressing table has handles and escutcheons of brass and mirror pivots of steel, the marble top removable and greyish-pink in colour and covers the hand-written black lettering on the carcass beneath it, the square-back mirror removable, the cabinet with three small drawers level across the top opening, the middle one with only a key escutcheon, the two outer drawers with ornate handles cast in sunflower motif in the centre, the two lower drawers with the same cast handles, a lock and escutcheon in their centre.
This dressing 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 dressing table 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. 
circa 1880
182 cm x 55.5 cm x 122.5 cm
Wood, walnut; Wood; Stone, marble; Metal, brass; Metal, steel
Machined; Cut; Flat sawn; Veneered; Cast
"James Dunsmuir Departure Bay";  "W" (crossed out);  "Chicago" (crossed out); "Ills." (crossed out)
Country of Origin
United Sates 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

washstand, 997.009.001.002a-c (is related to)

bed, 997.009.001.001a-d (is related to)

photograph , 2012.007.008.180 (is related to)