Three weeks from today, on 25 April, is the two-hour premiere of the second series of Hallmark’s When Calls the Heart (2014) in the US at 9/8c! (The second series will premiere on Super Channel in Canada in May, possibly around the 3rd-7th.) I am very much looking forward to the return of this series as I have missed gushing over Elizabeth Thatcher and Constable Jack Thornton. I’m hoping for a wedding between the two this time. 😉
In the meantime, I’d like to introduce my readers to Hycroft Manor in Vancouver, which was featured in the S2 trailer (click here). You can see Elizabeth and Jack riding in a buggy into the manor in the opening scene, as well Elizabeth and her two sisters (I’m assuming the lady on her left is her other sister, who was mentioned but did not appear in S1) walking down the grand staircase in another. Since the last day of my historical fashion show at Hycroft, I had known that WCTH would be filmed inside the elegant heritage building in Shaughnessy. (This is where all the fine mansions in Vancouver are. The Toronto equivalent would be Bridle Path.) Sadly, filming began the day I left Vancouver so I did not get to see Erin Krakow (Elizabeth) or Daniel Lissing (Jack), otherwise I would have been chuffed to bits! Based on what we’ve heard in the trailer, we can assume this is the manor that will be set as Elizabeth’s family’s mansion in Toronto, Ontario.
Hycroft Manor has been the home of the University Women’s Club of Vancouver (UWCV) since 1962. (Memberships, by the way, are open to all women who have earned university degrees from Canada or around the world. Just be willing to part with $400 – or $200 if one is under 30 – a year, partly to support the maintenance of the building.) The Edwardian mansion was constructed between 1909-1911 as the estate of Alexander McRae, a renowned businessman, politician, and Major General in Western Canada. The five-acre estate consisted of the 3-story mansion with 30 rooms, a coach house, mews cottage, stables, and garden. McRae’s home was considered to be the exclusive place to be during the Edwardian era, the Roaring 20’s, and the 30’s. Only the creme de la creme could find themselves on the guest list at social functions. One such popular event was the annual New Year’s Eve masquerade ball. (Having just read this, it now seems only fitting that Ivan Sayers’ had a historical fashion show on masquerade costumes in October 2013!)
Tragedy befell Hycroft and the McRaes during the Second World War. The children had all grown up and moved away, Mrs Blanche Mcrae passed away in 1942, and Mr Mcrae sold the property to the Government of Canada for $1 as a hospital for war veterans (just like Downton Abbey – only it wasn’t sold, thank goodness!). Four years after the death of his wife, Alexander McRae passed away in Ontario. When the property was divided in the 1960’s (the UWCV own the mansion, coach house, mews cottage, and the surround grounds; the other part is across the road and has new luxurious historic-looking townhouses and also has the original swimming pool), UWCV found the mansion in disrepair. According to the UWCV website, there were even raccoons living in the manor! It took five years to restore the manor. Much of the antique and vintage furniture have been generous donations of members and friends.
Hycroft has also been the venue for weddings, the house of the French Olympic team during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games (I can’t help but smile at this; course they had to choose an elegant venue), and, of course, the set for numerous films. It also houses part of the historical clothing and accessories collection by SMOC (Society for the Museum of Original Costume).
I had the privilege to attend a private tour of the mansion during a Diamond Jubilee Afternoon Tea event in 2012. It felt very much like visiting the ‘Downton Abbey’ of Vancouver, as we explored every room, including some of the servants’ quarters. Do enjoy the photos I’ve taken. 🙂
There are many opportunities to visit the mansion and its grounds:
- SMOC fashion lectures – ballroom only
- annual Christmas craft fair in November – all three storeys, garden open
- various events open to the public for a non-member fee* (*these might be open to women only). See UWCV’s Programmes & Events page for more options.
- Vancouver History: Hycroft Manor (Miss604.com)