Fonds - Charles H. Danielle fonds

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Charles H. Danielle fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title is based on the contents of fonds

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1881-1901 (Creation)
    Danielle, Charles H.

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Physical description

2 cm of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Charles H. Danielle (1830-1902), dance instructor and hotelier, was born at Baltimore, Maryland, on 1 November 1830, son of Isabelle and Joseph Danielle. Danielle died at St. John's on 1 May 1902.

Danielle was drawn to the theatre at an early age, and began an acting career at age fourteen. By 1850, Danielle owned and operated his own dance school in Chicago, under the moniker "Professor of the Terpsichorean Art". Danielle deliberately kept details of his personal life shrouded in mystery, including his true name. According to one source, Danielle's real name was Charles Augustus Emerson. Danielle often referred to himself as "The Professor".

Danielle arrived in St. John's in 1861 and opened a dancing school, which proved unprofitable. He returned to the United States, and by 1880, was residing in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He maintained a summer home in Forest Lake Township, "Deer Lodge Farm", until around 1886. Danielle returned to St. John's in 1888 and operated a series of business ventures. In September, he leased a rink located on Prescott St. and held a "grand carnival and oriental ball". He continued to hold dance lessons at the studio, until the rink was destroyed by fire. He then opened a restaurant on Water St., the "Royal". The restaurant did well, but was lost in the fire of 1892. A second restaurant was opened at the top of Beck's Cove, the "Little Royal". This business was also successful, and Danielle soon expanded to larger premises on the shores of Quidi Vidi Lake, the Royal Lake Pavilion. Although the Pavilion was popular, Danielle felt unwelcome by neighbouring businesses and decided to move his premises elsewhere.

In 1895, Danielle dismantled the Pavilion and rebuilt next to a pond outside the city. The building was an eight-sided wonder, known as Octagon Castle, and boasted a ballroom, banquet hall, elaborate bedrooms, with many of the decorations hand-sewn by Danielle. One conversation piece was Danielle's coffin, the lid made of glass and the case lined with thousand of satin shells. The resort was very popular, and hosted many outings by the various St. John's clubs and societies. In 1898, Danielle hired an assistant, Frederick A. Brazill, whom he later adopted and made his heir. "The Professor" produced annual booklets advertising the pleasures of Octagon Castle, which included a lengthy list of house rules.

Danielle began to suffer heart troubles in the early 1900s; in his 1901 booklet, he forecast his own death within one year. Ever the showman, his prediction was accurate to the day. The Professor passed away in St. John's on 1 May 1902. The funeral procession drew crowds, as Danielle was delivered to the Protestant cemetery in his famous glass coffin.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of the papers of Charles H. Danielle including, correspondence (1881, 1901); a list of suspected thefts within Octagon Castle (1901); program of "King Momus" Oriental themed masquerade ball (1888), directed by Danielle; 1 sales book, (1894-97), 1 photograph of an unidentified older man.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Some of the records were acquired from John Caines, in two accessions on 22 December 1977, and 1 August 1978.


Language of material

  • English

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No restrictions

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Fonds-level description only

Associated materials

Frederick A. Brazill fonds

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No further accruals are expected.

General note

Published booklet on Octagon Castle, by C. Danielle, PRL, 647.94 D22 (stored in folder, Vault)

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Created - May 15, 2013

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  • English

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