From the Archives: Sarah Byrd Dunsmuir Audain

Sarah Byrd Dunsmuir, Guy Audain in India McCann Collection RRU Archives

Although the eldest four of the Dunsmuir's 10 children never lived at Hatley Park - they were all married by the time the family moved in - each of their stories tell a lot about the Dunsmuir family. As there are a number of RRU Archives photographs of the older children that accompany these stories, the post today on Sarah Byrd Dunsmuir is the first of a "From the Archives" series that will highlight these family members.

Sarah Byrd, "Byrdie", the eldest daughter of James and Laura Dunsmuir, was born on Nov. 22, 1878. Her middle and pet name came from Laura's connection with the noteworthy Byrd family of Virginia, for which her mother was so proud. In 1901, Byrdie married Guy Mortimer Audain, a British captain in the Indian army, after they had met when he visited Victoria while he was on extended leave. They intended to live in India permanently after they wed but, according to Terry Reksten in The Dunsmuir Saga, Byrdie hated it there because of the heat and the social isolation. She therefore convinced her father to pay her husband a generous annuity for Guy to retire from his post and to move the family to Victoria. This offer was accepted, and the Audains returned to Victoria in 1906, where they moved into a newly built house on Foul Bay Road and named it Ellora after the stunning caves in India.  Upon their return, Guy became James' aide-de-camp at Government House while his father-in-law was lieutenant-governor. He later served in the First World War but otherwise Guy did not have to work another day in his life as James' allowance was very generous.

The McCann collection images highlighted here are likely from when Byrdie accompanied her husband on a hunting trip in India. The photo at the top has Byrdie in the centre, and her husband Guy on her left. In the lower right corner below, you can see a rather limp Byrdie taking shade underneath an umbrella in their well decked-out camp.

Caroline Posynick
RRU Archivist
250.391.2600 ext 4122