Famous films and ghostly sightings are part of the charm at Hatley Castle, one of two castles in Greater Victoria, says Erin Limacher, Royal Roads University spokesperson.
The castle was built in 1907, taking around 10 months to build, and was the primary residence for James and Laura Dunsmuir, Limacher says.
Dunsmuir was the premier of British Columbia from 1900 to 1902 and lieutenant governor from 1906 to 1909. The couple had purchased a parcel of land for $70,000 and it was a place to retire and live in a secluded location.
Dunsmuir’s father, Robert Dunsmuir, had built Craigdarroch Castle in the Rockland neighbourhood of Victoria. The Scottish immigrant had made his fortune from Vancouver Island coal, and died in 1889, leaving his entire estate to his wife Joan, who lived in Craigdarroch Castle until her death in 1908.
Over the years, Hatley Castle also served as part of Royal Roads Military College and today, Royal Roads University. It’s also a heritage site, with a variety of gardens and… an occasional movie set.
Films made here range from Hallmark movies to major Hollywood blockbusters such as Deadpool and X-Men. “Those were probably the largest productions – certainly the ones that had the most buzz around them.”
Ghostly sightings also occur around Hatley Castle, and a strong smell of cigar smoke can sometimes be sensed.
“I have a member of our security team who loves to tell ghost stories. He has had personal encounters,” Limacher says.
In fact, the castle has a lot of secrets.
“When you pull up to the front doors of the castle, you’ll notice a little staircase built of stone. That was to support people as they were getting out of their horse-drawn carriages.”
“Then, as you go into the dining room, you’ll notice a tiny little metal lever on the dining room floor. And that was for Laura Dunsmuir to summon kitchen help.”
There’s also a secret passage in the castle, and it was initially used so Dunsmuir could escape his guests, she says.
“He could sneak in and out without having to be bothered with entertaining folks.”
Learn more at hatleypark.ca
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