Hatley Park Castle and journey back to the US

Victoria Travel Blog

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Totem Pole near Beacon Hill Park

Monday morning then! Happy Memorial Day America! Although business as usual in Canada... I woke up by 7am and was on the road at 8am. You could hear the honks of cars and buses, the commuter traffic, people going to work, college, etc. Return of the manic Monday. I seemed to be fairly at peace that day, I didn't have much on the agenda and try making it as relaxed as possible (although knowing me, it never really is, is it?!).

First stop of the day was the central park - Beacon Hill Park. Nice place, lots of animals, good for an early morning stroll. What is it about me and a fascination for Beacon? There's Beacon Street - my dream HOME in Boston and now this. Whilst I was parking, I noticed a series of totem poles by the museum. So I walked up there and took some pics.

Totem Poles, Victoria
It's so weird seeing the Totem Poles in Canada. I never knew this was one of the main attractions. I would've expected it in Hawaii or Fiji, or some tropical Pacific Island but not Canada. And not to this extent anyway.

I walked back through the park to the car, and drove for about 10 miles to my only visit of the day - the Hatley Park Castle. On Saturday I visited Craigdorrach castle that was built by BC's richest man Robert Dunsmuir. Well, his son is responsible for this Castle. It was meant to be very English Manor looking, and Tudor in appearence as well with the ubiquitous large arches and all. Hatley Park is now part of the First Reeds University, they are responsible for the upkeep and pay the Government of Canada a token 1$ a year as "rent". From the outside, the Castle is gorgeous.

Beacon Hill Park
Very reminiscent of tons of palatial homes I've seen in the UK, and more recently Blenheim Palace. I noticed like in the Fairmont Empress hotel, they have green creepers on the walls. The postcards show that come Autumn, the leaves change colour to burnt red, awesome looking.

The visitor's centre opens at 10am and the first tour of the castle is at 1030am. It was quite pricey - 18$! Wow! So I bought the ticket and headed for a stroll in the gardens. The gardens have been the spot of many film locations inc. the ice rink on X Men, and Poltergeist from years ago. The gardens are magnificent. The tulips were in full bloom. The arrangement of plants was also well done. Near the Castle were three statues representing Summer, Winter and Spring. There's a Japanese and rose garden as well.

Magnificent view of the Olympic Mountains from Hatley Park

The tour started at 1030am sharp. They take you around the outside first, and then indoors. The outside view was amazing. You see the Olympic Mountains in the background, with lots of greenery that leads up to it. Very impressive! The indoors on the other hand were a BIG anticlimax. For one thing, virtually every one of the 22 odd rooms is being used for administrative work - you have HR, accountants, all sorts of people working here. The larger rooms are used as conference rooms with video, whiteboards, etc. Very unattractive. I think the most tragic part was the history behind the Castle. In that, there is nothing remotely interesting. The same old story of the big halls, the fire place, the secret corridor and the office room. The only funny thing that happened was when the guide was showing us the toilet with the original tiling that Bruce Dunsmuir used to use, and proudly narrating how the tiles from those days were so strong, etc etc.

Hatley Park Castle's Italian garden in full bloom
.. when one of the ladies in our group who simply couldn't care less about the history of the toilet raised her hand and asked the guide - "I have a question - is this toilet usable still? ...... Because I badly have to pee". LOL! When she asked our guide the first part of the question, our guide perhaps had an erudite answer ready on how the toilet is still in tiptop shape, blah blah... and the stunned look when the lady just ran in and locked the room!

The tour got done at sharp 1130am, I had a walk around the gardens (very unimpressive, especially for the Butchart returnees such as self) and headed back to the carpark (quite a walk). My ferry from SWartz Bay was at 1pm.

The drive was peaceful to the bay, stopped by the store and had an egg-potato sandwich and chocolate milk for lunch before boarding the ferry.

View of Hatley Park Castle from the entrance
Unlike my journey to Victoria, the return journey was hardly anything to write home about. Sunny skies, cool breeze, the usual. We reached shore at 230pm and I made my way towards the US border. As warned on the highway itself, the waittime for clearance was about 50 minutes. But it was all peaceful.

I finally reached my hotel room in Seattle at about 6pm, and spent the rest of the day reminiscing about my debut trip to Canada. It's not too often that one gets to visit 2 countries in a span of less than 10 days. But after England, this was a nice post-holiday break! I still have some unfinished work in Victoria - the museums and some more around the island including the much talked about Port Hardy. So I will return sometime. And throw in Vancouver in as well... THE cosmo city of the West that isn't checked yet on my list. But overall, j'ai eu un bon temps au Canada, merci beaucoup pour les memoires, les experiences, le cuisin et plus important - les montagnes. Et aussi, je serais de retour a Victoria!

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Totem Pole near Beacon Hill Park
Totem Pole near Beacon Hill Park
Totem Poles, Victoria
Totem Poles, Victoria
Beacon Hill Park
Beacon Hill Park
Magnificent view of the Olympic Mo…
Magnificent view of the Olympic M…
Hatley Park Castles Italian garde…
Hatley Park Castle's Italian gard…
View of Hatley Park Castle from th…
View of Hatley Park Castle from t…
Front entrance of the Castle
Front entrance of the Castle
Same area thats used in movie sho…
Same area that's used in movie sh…
Shoddy interiors
Shoddy interiors
Very cheesy!
Very cheesy!
US-Canada border
US-Canada border
Im HOOOOOOOOOOOOME!!!!!
I'm HOOOOOOOOOOOOME!!!!!
Victoria
photo by: hummingbird50