If Hatley Castle’s grand exterior looks familiar, it’s probably because you saw it in a film or television show. Several X-Men movies, the hit series Smallville, and the legendary 80s TV show MacGyver all used Hatley Castle as a backdrop. In 1906, the Canadian Lieutenant Governor, James Dunsmuir, hired architect Samuel Maclure to build a sprawling 40-room mansion in the style of a Scottish manor in Victoria, British Columbia. Dunsmuir named the estate Hatley Castle. Ever since the final stones were put into place in the early 1900s, onlookers have been captivated by Hatley Castle’s regal architecture and lavish gardens.
Hatley Castle served as the Dunsmuir family estate until the onset of World War II, when the castle was sold to the Canadian Government. For a brief time, Hatley Castle was considered as a remote safe space for the British Royal Family if German soldiers invaded England. The British Royal Family ultimately decided that it was best to stay in England for the duration of the war.
From 1948 onward, Hatley Castle served as a military training facility. Most recently, Hatley Castle has served as the campus for a public college called Royal Roads University. Hatley Castle’s majestic exterior and ornate gardens have been lovingly preserved. Visitors can spend hours strolling around carefully manicured Japanese and Italian gardens. Wild peacocks roam the castle grounds freely.
Hatley Castle offers walking tours of the interior and exterior of the estate during the warmer months. Since the estate houses a fully functional university, access to the interior is limited. Hatley Castle also hosts weddings, conferences, and other special events. Visitors can access the gardens and the Habitat Cafe—which serves locally sourced food—year-round.
Visitors and groundskeepers claim that Hatley Castle is home to a few resident spirits. James Dunsmuir’s youngest son Jim tragically died en route to Europe to fight in World War I when his ship was ambushed by a German U-boat. Visitors have spotted mournful apparitions hovering in doorways and heard slow, sad music coming from the study. The mournful spirits are believed to be James and Laura Dunsmuir, who are eternally grief-stricken over the loss of their son.
Snapping a photo of yourself standing in front of a grand castle, featured in numerous films and TV shows, is certainly worth the journey to Hatley Castle. Spending a few hours wandering around Hatley Castle’s lavish gardens will surely transport you to a fantastic world of your own choosing. Have you ever visited a place with such a rich history? What part of Hatley Castle would you be most excited to explore?