Descending a narrow back staircase revealed a stark contrast between the upstairs and downstairs worlds of Dundurn Castle.
Gone was the light and airy, ornamental atmosphere of richness and grandeur. In its stead were rough stone floors, whitewashed brick walls, and halls filled with darkness, breached by the occasional light from an ensconced candle or two. But for all it's utilitarian appearance, there was a warmth downstairs I had not perceived in the rooms above. An affability perhaps brought about by the nature and purpose of the people who had worked and lived in these rooms.
Caring for a noble household is by no means a small task. Certainly such servitude was, and still is, filled with endless days of bone aching weariness and toil. Yet I doubt very much that the people working in Dundurn Castle would have considered it an unfair chore to be assigned such duties while the MacNab family reaped the benefits from their hard work. There was a sense of pride in a job well done, not to mention a sense of security brought by a hot meal and a warm bed at the end of the day.
Being hired by a wealthy house was a good position during a time when everyone worked hard to scrape a living from dawn until dusk. The employ of a person such as Sir Allan MacNab also brought with it a certain amount of social esteem, especially when said employer was keen enough to consider comforts such as building windows in the outside facing rooms of the basement, providing an abundance of light in what would otherwise have been endless gloom.
|Small washstand in the cook's bedroom.|
What grand house can possibly exist without it's very own brewery? The beer produced would
have been primarily for the serving staff.
All of the beautiful light in this room is coming from the widows. Cheery and clean, it boasted this fireplace for pots and kettles as well as an impressive cast iron stove and oven for baking.
|Wash basins in the kitchen. |
Scrub brush for cleaning and soap in a basket. Water came down the wooden chute with a hand pump
attached. Dishes were washed in a separate scullery room.
|One of the historical cooks left open their recipe book. This room was warm and cheery and smelled|
However, all good tours must come to an end, including this one. There were many more rooms to see both above and below stairs, not to mention the grounds to explore, I have given only a highlight. However, if you are interested in further information about Dundurn Castle (including wonderful colour pictures), life in Canada during the early 19th century and the rise and fall of Sir Allan MacNab, an excellent source book can be found here:
Thanks for stopping by!