In 1906 James Dunsmuir, son of Robert Dunsmuir, purchased 800 acres of land in Colwood near Victoria overlooking the distant Olympic Mountains. Like his father, who had built Craigdarroch Castle, he had grand schemes for his own castle. He also shared his father’s use of cheap labour and fought organized labour.
James Dunsmuir commissioned Samuel Maclure, a renowned architect in Victoria to design his 40 room home in the Scottish baronial style much like his father had done. Maclure was instructed “Money doesn’t matter, just build what I want.”
Local stone was used for the grand exterior and the interior was equally impressive. Hatley Castle was completed in 1908. Landscape artists from Boston created the various gardens which, like the house, can be enjoyed today. 100 men were employed in the gardens alone. Today the 565 acre estate is tended by less than a dozen staff. James Dunsmuir retired in 1910 and lived at Hatley Castle (the name we most commonly call Hatley Park) until his death in 1920. His wife continued to live there until she died in 1937. In 1939 the family sold Hatley Park to the Dominion Government for $75,000 and it became Royal Roads Military College. Then Royal Roads University was established there in 1995.
The gardens are a particular joy to visit, Particularly impressive are the Japanese, Rose and Italian gardens. It is interesting to compare the Japanese Garden with other Japanese gardens in Victoria: those at the Butchart Gardens and at the Gardens at HCP (Horticultural Centre of the Pacific).
Select from either a guided tour or take a self-guided tour. The Castle interior can only be viewed on the guided tour. Afterwards you might like to explore adjoining Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighhouse.