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Canada's Castles

While Canada's history never called for the construction of numerous fortified defensives castles or elaborate royal residences, Canada is full of castles. Some Canadian buildings are built entirely in the image of castles while others have features of castles overtly or subtly worked into their architecture. Canadian castles vary in function from courthouses to hotels to private residences. The many examples of castles found in Canada show that Canadians truly love a good castle.

Some of the most well-know structures with which Canadians have expressed their appreciation for castles are hotels. The most famous hotels in Canada were built Chateau Frontenac, Parks Canada / Château Frontenac, Parcs Canadain the image of the Châteaux of the Loire Valley in France by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The hotels are spread across the country from the Château Frontenac in Quebec City to the Empress Hotel in Victoria and served as stops where people travelling by train could stay the night in comfort. The French Château-style was chosen because it was felt to express the concepts of luxury and elegance that the managers of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company hoped would encourage people to travel on the railway. These hotels remain some of Canada's most magnificent and iconic castles.

The use of castle architecture is not restricted to luxury hotels; Canadians also expressed their love of castles in the architecture of public buildings. A great example of the use of castle architecture in public buildings can be found in a group of three courthouses in Ontario, the Middlesex County Courthouse constructed in 1827 in London, the Milton County Courthouse constructed in 1855 in Milton, and the Guelph County Jail and Middlesex County Courthouse, Parks Canada / Palais-de-Justice-du-Comté-de-Middlesex, Parcs CanadaGovernor's Residence constructed in 1911 in Guelph. The architecture of these courthouses is reminiscent of fortified gothic castles from Middle Age Europe which, unlike the Château-style hotel's sense of comfort, conveys the authority of a judicial court. With sparsely adorned stone facades and crenelated towers, the architecture of these buildings exudes the strength and sternness of the colonial judicial authority necessary to govern the Canadian people. Buildings such as the courthouses show that Canadian love of castles has not been simply frivolous; the architecture of Canadian buildings resembles castles so as to be beautiful and commanding at once.  

In a manner similar to Ontario's castellated courthouses, castles have been usedCathcart Armoury, Canadian Cultural Programmes / Manège militaire de Cathcart, programmes culturels canadiens as a model for the architecture of armouries all over Canada. Similar to European castles these armouries were built to contain soldiers and weapons to protect the people. As military institutions the use of castle motifs in these structures conveys the image of strength and impregnability. Examples of Canadian armouries built to look like castles can be found in the Montreal Cathcart Armoury built in 1933 in the imposing Tudor-Gothic Style and the fortress-like Beatty Street Armoury built from 1899 to 1922 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canadians incorporate the features of castles into their military buildings for the same reason that they used castles features in the courthouses; castles remain an image of authority whether military or judicial.

The true love of castles within Canadians can be seen in the number of private residences built to resemble castles across the country. One of the oldest Canadian castles in existence can be found in Hamilton, Ontario. Hamilton's Dundurn Castle was built in 1834 in the Classical and Italianate styles with a 13 hectare property for Sir Alan Napier McNab a Canadian politician and businessman. On the west coast in British Columbia there is another beautifully constructed private residence, Hatley Castle, which was built in 1908 and 1909 following the style of Tudor-Revival manor houses. Approximately 70 meters long the castle was designed by famed Canadian architect Samuel Maclure and lies in the centre Sowden House, Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sport / Maison Sowden, Historic Resources Branch, Manitoba Culture, Heritage, Tourism and Sportof a vast, 229.84 hectare estate built as a residence for coal baron and provincial politician, James Dunsmuir. More modest Canadian homes have also reflected Canadians' love of castles; one example can be found in the last place anyone would look: Souris, Manitoba! Built in 1910 for Fred Sowden and his wife Maud, the Sowden House resembles a fortress with crenelations and towers. It is the private residences that prove Canadian love for castles, these are not commercial buildings meant to convey comfort and luxury, nor are they government buildings meant to convey authority, the private castles in Canada are there because the Canadians who built them liked castles so much they wanted one for themselves.

Though Canada's great castles are young in comparison to those in Europe, they are no less loved. The architecture of Canadian castles shows their owners constant desire to create beautiful and formidable buildings in which to work and live. Canadians, from pioneers to politicians, have embraced castles as their own, because who could resist a castle?

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