Those who have never heard of Hatley Castle have still likely seen it in film. This is one of the most famous and storied castles in North America and is located just out of Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. It really is a must-see for anyone visiting that eye-watering island. See here for everything you can do on Vancouver Island if you only have a weekend.

This is one of the most opulent homes ever built in Canada. It and its massive gardens have been carefully maintained to keep their luxurious grandeur. For one of America's oldest resorts that have hosted more than half of all American Presidents, see here for what to expect at the Greenbrier in West Virginia (it even had the survival bunker for members of Congress).

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History Of Hatley Castle

Once a hundred men were employed in the extensive gardens. It boasts extensive grounds with formal gardens and stunning trails through mature first and second-growth forests. There were also a number of other buildings on the estate to provide for many needs of just a large household. Many of these satellite buildings have since been demolished.

  • Trail: The Hatley Castle Park Boasts 15 Kilometers or 10 Miles of Trails
  • Built: The Castle Was Completed In 1908

Today the Hatley Castle is part of the Hatley Park National Historic Site and is a Classified Federal Heritage Building in Canada. From the 1940s to 1995 it was used as a naval training facility by the Royal Roads Military College.

  • Spared No Expense: James Dunsmuir Quoted "Money Doesn't Matter, Just Build What I Want"

When visiting the castle, one will be awe-struck by how its impressive exterior is equally matched by its lavish interior. It boasts oak and rosewood paneled rooms, teak floors, specially made lighting fixtures, and a baronial fireplace. In the words of John Hammond in the movie Jurassic Park, it was "spared no expense."

Hatley Castle In Film

It has hosted scores of movies. These include:

  • X-Men Film Series: Xavier's School For Gifted Youngster
  • Spider-Man: Osborn Estate (Interior Only)
  • Other Movies: Masterminds (1997), Poltergeist: The Legacy, Fierce People (2004), The Changeling (1979), Descendants 1, 2, & 3 (2015, 2017, 2019), The Professor (2018), and Others

Related: Climbing Aboard Canada's Rocky Mountaineer, One Of The Most Scenic Trains In The World

A Backup Residence For the Royal Family

During the dark days of World War Two, following the fall of France in 1940 and before America and the USSR entered the war, things looked very bad for Britain. The United Kingdom could not rule out the possibility of an Axis invasion of the home islands. In that eventuality, the Royal Family would have been evacuated to more secure homes in Britain. But should Britain have completely fallen, then the plan was for the Royal Family to flee to Hatley Castle here in Victoria, British Columbia.

The Royal family at the time was King George VI, his wife Queen Elizabeth, and their two daughters, princesses Margaret and Elizabeth (the current Queen Elizabeth II of Britain today).

Visiting The Castle

Ordinarily, one can enjoy a guided walking tour of its immaculate estates and tour the stunning castle itself.

Currently (September 2021) the main grounds at Hatley Castle are free and open to the public.

  • Main Grounds Hours: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm (Open Now)
  • Covid-19 Note: As At The Time Of Writing The Castle's Website Stays "Guided Walking Estate Tours Are Not Being Offered Due To The BC Restart Phase 3"

As of the time of writing, the main Castle and the Estate Tours have been canceled due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Ordinary hours, prices, and tours have been removed from their website, the following information is pre-Pandemic information from Victoria Best Places.

When the castle reopens, be sure to come and marvel at the stunning Italian Garden, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, and a biologically diverse lagoon - these gardens (unlike the main grounds) do require an admission fee.

Related: A Travel Guide To Vancouver: 10 Things To Know While Planning Your Trip

Summer Admission Rates For The Gardens

  • Adults: $9.75
  • Children: $6.75

Hatley Park also has a small museum in the basement of Hatley Castle. It is open from late spring until fall and occupies a couple of rooms with artifacts from the original Dunsmuir family and the subsequent Royal Roads Military College.

  • Open: Daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Touring The Castle

The castle itself is only accessible with a formal estate tour. The opening times vary by the season and generally guided tours can be purchased at the onsite gift shop.

Admission For Formal Estate Tour

  • Adult: $19.00
  • Youth: $11.00 (Aged 6 to 17)
  • Kids: Free For 5 and Under
  • Pets: Dogs Are Not Permitted In The Formal Gardens

Hopefully, the situation will improve soon and everyone will be able to put Hatley Castle on their essential Victoria bucket list. Check their website for the latest updates.

Next: Mayne Island: The Complete Guide To One Of British Columbia's Most Beautiful Islands