Description of Historic Place
Hatley Castle is located within Hatley Park / Former Royal Roads Military College National Historic Site of Canada in Colwood, British Columbia. Built as a country mansion, it is designed in a late-Gothic Revival style overlaying a formal symmetrical plan. Its castle-like appearance is captured by its substantial masonry-work, large Tudor windows, crenellated rooftop and beautifully crafted details. The quality of its construction is carried through to the Castle’s formal rooms. Hatley Castle is the centrepiece of a substantial estate that now belongs to an educational institution. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Hatley Castle is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Hatley Castle, an imposing stone mansion set amidst a 260-hectare estate, represents the culmination of an era that witnessed the construction of elaborate castle-like mansions by Victoria's elite. It was built between 1908 and 1909 for James Dunsmuir, son of Robert Dunsmuir and former premier, lieutenant-governor and wealthiest man in British Columbia. Hatley Castle is a symbol of the Dunsmuir family’s affluence and values, and offers a glimpse of the elegant lifestyle that flourished in Victoria. Hatley Castle is also directly connected to the history of naval and military education in Canada because it served as the site of the Royal Roads Military College from 1940 to 1995.
Built according to the plans of architect Samuel Maclure, Hatley Castle is a fine example of Gothic Revival architecture in the spirit of early- 20th-century mansions. This four- storey building features a gable roof punctuated by dormers, regular fenestration and a castellated tower block. Hatley Castle’s architecture also displays very good craftsmanship in its substantial stonework and through the joinery executed in exotic woods.
Hatley Castle’s picturesque character and park-like setting within Hatley Park / Former Royal Roads Military College National Historic Site of Canada are reinforced by its surrounding gardens, agricultural land, recreational facilities and old-growth Douglas fir forest. The landscape speaks to the two main phases of its history, eloquently testifying to the carefully planned and balanced Edwardian park of the early 1900s, while bearing the imprint of its years as a military college.
Sources: Edward Mills and Nathalie Clerk, Hatley Park / Former Royal Roads Military College National Historic Site, Colwood, British Columbia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 85-002; Hatley Castle, Colwood, British Columbia, Heritage Character Statement, 85-002.
The following character-defining elements of Hatley Castle should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic design, excellent functional design and very good craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- its four-storey massing with a gable roof punctuated by gable dormers;
- its construction of locally quarried granite and domestic and imported woods with sandstone trim;
- the regular fenestration of flat, multi-paned windows and large Tudor windows;
- elements that speak to its late-Gothic Revival style design, including its crenellated rooftop and tower;
- the decorative elements which give it a castle-like appearance, including Tudor arches, half-timber details, banks of stone mullioned and oriel windows, end towers, decorated gables, granite walls, Tudor chimney pots and crenellated parapets;
- the well-preserved interior plan and the interior decorative scheme which incorporates a wide range of materials and which exhibits an Arts and Crafts methodology and design aesthetic that reinforces the late-Gothic Revival style of the building’s exterior, including wood panelling, wood and tile floors, fireplaces, original light fixtures, stained glass windows and original door and window hardware;
The picturesque character and park-like setting of Hatley Castle and its function as a landmark in the region, as evidenced by:
- its prominent position as the centrepiece of the estate, surrounded by gardens, agricultural land, recreational facilities and old-growth Douglas fir forest;
- its relationship to the evolutive cultural landscape of its Edwardian park plan and to the components of Hatley Park / Former Royal Roads Military College National Historic Site of Canada.