From Hatley castle a brief history.

Victoria Travel Blog

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James Dunsmuir commissioned Samuel Maclure, a Victoria architect to design the castle.  Brett and Hall, from Boston were commissioned to plan the garden and surroundings.  Local stone, trimmed by Valdez and Saturna Island sandstone was used in the building's construction.  James Dunsmuir told his architect "Money does not matter" "Just build what I want".

It is said that James and Laura sat down with the architect to design their home, and both having very different tastes.  Therefore, one side of the main floor had been designed for Laura the the other side designed for James.

The building is 200 feet long and 86 feet wide, the turret is 82 feet high.  At one time the conservatory was filled with white orchids imported from China.

  A banana tree grew in the centre under the dome.  10 kilometers of road interlaced the estate.  The castle was completed in 1908, and the Dunsmuir family took up residence that year.  It was reported that it only took only 18 months to build.

Early in 1910 James sold his collieries, his coal rights, and all his business connections to MacKenzie and Mann, railway promoters for $11,0000,000.  He then retired to enjoy his home, his yacht "Dolaura", shooting, fishing and golf.  He died in May 1920, at the age of 69.  His wife, Laura from North Carolina, lived on at hatley castle with her daughter Eleanor until her death in August, 1937.  Eleanor died six months later.

For the next three years it was in the hands of a cartaker.

In November 1940, it was purchased by the Dominion Government for $75,000.00 to begin it's career as a naval training establishment. It operated as such until October 1942.

It has changed hands from the Royal Canadina Naval College, the royal Canadian Air Force College, The Canadian Services College, Royal Road Military College.

On February 22 1994, it was announced the Royal Roads Military College would close the following year.  June 21, 1995 it became Royal Roads University.

Now for a bit of fun stories of history...it is said that since it had been sold in 1930, some of the new owners began to see ghosts.  The spirit of James Jr who was killed in World War I is seen dressed in his military uniform and rising from the lake near the Japanese Gardens.  When Hatley Castle became the military academy, the ghost of Laura Dunsmuir started to appear.  It is alleged she would pull cadets out of bed and there were sightings of a tiny old woman.  The ghost of Annabelle, a servant who jumped from a window after a love affair, can be seen near the window where she leaped to her death.

 

 

bkretzer says:
You have a gift for nailing the historical part of the places you visit! And you write well! Why haven't you earned the Writer Award?
Posted on: Mar 16, 2008
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