Paradise pond name has fascinating origin

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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An unidentified group posing outside the Octagon Castle.

We’ve done a lot of walking and running around Octagon Pond in Paradise. It’s where we often train for the Tely 10 or occasionally take our son when he’s climbing the walls with more energy than Muskrat Falls will ever generate.

The trail is an ideal spot us, a short drive from home, sheltered from traffic, and natural enough in parts to feel like being in the woods.

In the decade I’ve been hitting these trails, I’ve always assumed Octagon Pond was named after its shape, even though I’ve never checked for eight sides.

What other reason could there be?

Turns out a pretty cool one.

Last week, when my wife mentioned running there, her aunt asked if we knew the origin of Octagon.

I confidently suggested the pond’s shape and she proceeded to tell me about Octagon Castle and a man known as “Professor.”

“Don’t you know anything?” she chided.

Admittedly, I don’t know a whole lot about anything.

But Google seems to know almost everything about anything, and a quick search turned up more info about the castle, which officially opened 117 years ago tomorrow. According to an entry in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography by Michael Harrington, the castle consisted of a four-storey, eight-sided tower. There were wings off three of its sides.

“The imposing style of the exterior was complemented by a dazzling interior that has been described as a combination of 18th-century baroque and the Arabian Nights,” the item reads. “Hundreds of yards of satin and tinsel decorated the banquet hall and the rooms set aside for reading, smoking, dressing, and private dining.”

Harrington’s article says the highlight of a castle tour was the coffin belonging to owner Charles Henry Danielle. He is said to have slept in it.

“Elaborately decorated with more than 7,000 white satin shells, (the casket) was displayed in a vault on the fourth floor surmounted by a gilt-framed inscription that read, “In the back of this Frame will be found Full instructions to be followed Immediately after my death.”

Yikes!

Obviously this Danielle guy was a tad eccentric.

And it was that characteristic that led him to build a castle in a place then known as Irvine.

Continued...

Organizations: Google, Arabian Nights, Government House

Geographic location: Baltimore, Victoria

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Recent comments

  • gerry
    June 26, 2013 - 11:15

    Re:the octagon castle,maybe if the home town area of Mr.Danielle in the U.K was rease To find out more info on the arcitecture of the old castle some more research could be done on Mr. Danielle's home town in the UK.Maybe the Octagon tower was built from drawings of a building that still exists somewhere in the UK.

  • scott
    June 18, 2013 - 11:20

    The concept of preservation and tourism do not exist in Paradise. It has been terraformed beyond recognition by it's rapacious lust for development. No tree is safe. A lot of old growth forest was decimated without a thought. Paradise should consider the few green spaces it has left and try to preserve them. As for tourism, they should rebuild the Octagon and make it into a tourist attraction.

    • PETER WELLS
      June 18, 2013 - 13:10

      The idea of rebuilding the Octagon Castle has been tossed around before, but there are many obstacles, the first being that the land it once occupied is now occupied by others, and had been since the 50's. There is little in the way of original plans, designs and interior specs, and what is know about it would cost millions of dollars to reconstruct. It sure would be nice, but who would put up the kind of money it would take to rebuild it and run it and of course up keep such a facility? There is much more to it than just build it. A model of sorts would be nice and displayed along with the history and pictures the town holds though, and display it at the community centre.

  • Mike Warehan
    June 18, 2013 - 03:45

    Interesting story...let's hope developers aren't allowed to level the place surrounding it like they did with Adam's Pond and now Neil's Pond.

  • PETER WELLS
    June 17, 2013 - 16:05

    Good article, nice to see it in print again. I have been giving talks on the Octagon Castle and Professor Danielle for about 15 years now at the Paradise Municipal Day, and from time to time at Paradise schools. This includes several pictures of the castle, of the Professor, his grave stone, and his funeral procession. Drop by it next year, or drop by my office at the Town Hall during working hours and I can let you have a look at what I display for the town every year. Good to see some interest in a unique piece of Paradise history that was almost lost.