Hatley Castle is a grand stone Edwardian mansion with beautiful gardens and a small museum at Royal Roads University in the municipality of Colwood.
As its name suggests, it’s designed like a castle which has made it a popular site for wedding receptions, movie filming and tourist visitors.
Hatley Castle Park
Today Hatley Castle is a museum, university building, National Historic Site and park. Located at 2005 Sooke Road, it’s about an 8-minute drive from Fort Rodd Hill and 18 minutes from Goldstream Provincial Park.
The main grounds at Hatley Castle are free and open to the public, additional expansive gardens have an admission fee, the small museum is by donation and guided tours of the castle are available for a charge at designated times or by appointment.
About Hatley Castle
The grounds at Hatley Castle Park were purchased in the early 1900’s by James Dunsmuir, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia from 1906 to 1909. The mansion with its more than three dozen rooms was completed in 1908 and then used as the family home until 1937 when, upon the death of Dunsmuir’s wife, Laura, the property was sold to the Government of Canada. Since that time the castle has been used as a naval college, military college and public university.
Hatley Castle was designed in a Tudor-revival style by the BC architect Samuel Maclure. It was a magnificent Edwardian mansion that rivaled the finest homes in Western Canada, including the one he grew up in as a young boy – Craigdarroch Castle – which his wealthy father, Robert Dunsmuir, had built in the 1890’s close to downtown Victoria.
Today Hatley Castle is open to the public at certain times and has a small museum in its basement and extensive gardens all around.
About the Gardens
In addition to the castle residence, Hatley Castle Park is home to many acres of beautiful gardens and 15 km of trails. The main grounds at Hatley Castle are free and open to the public every day of the year, and they are truly quite grand. Equally or even more impressive, however, are the Italian Garden, Rose Garden and Japanese Garden, all of which cost an admission fee and are open only at certain times.
Self-guided tours of the gardens from early September until the end of April have cost about $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors (age 60+) and $3.50 for youth (ages 6-17) in past years. From the fall of 2018 until May 2019, however, self-guided garden tours are apparently free!
In the summer months the price is close to double the regular rates though, but on weekends when there is a wedding on site it is discounted 50% to reflect the consequent more limited access.
About the Museum & Tours
Hatley Park Museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm from late spring until the fall. It’s a tiny and fairly simple museum located in the basement of Hatley Castle and includes just a couple of rooms featuring artifacts from the Dunsmuir family and Royal Roads Military College.
People don’t go to Hatley Castle primarily for the museum – they go for the views from the outside and for the gardens – the museum is just a small bonus. Admission is by donation.
The museum takes only a few minutes to go through, but more extensive guided tours of the castle are also available. The castle itself is only accessible via the formal estate tours which take place at various times during the summer season and only by appointment for groups of 10 or more in the shoulder season.
Guided tours can be purchased at the gift shop downstairs for about $19 for adults, $16 for seniors (age 60+), $11 for youth (ages 6 to 17), and free for children age 5 and under. A family with 2 adults costs about $52 and groups of 10 or more are eligible for a discount.
Castle Movie Trivia
Hatley Castle has been the setting for numerous Hollywood movies and television shows including The Boy Who Cried Werewolf, Deadpool, Descendants, MacGyver, Poltergeist: the Legacy, Ripper, Smallville, The Killing, Witches of East End, X-Men, X2 and others.