The Inspector

By NPI, Inc.



Haunted Places Series: Hatley Castle

 October 25, 2021 |  Holiday, Just for Fun |  entertaining, fall, Haunted Places Series

Location: Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC
Architectural Style: Gothic Revival
Built: 1908

Rounding out our 2021 Haunted Places series is a major historical landmark near the coast of Vancouver Island. Opposite of another stunning (and spooky) castle, Hatley is surrounded by beautiful grounds lined with blossoming flowers. But what draws many visitors is the chance to capture something more out of the ordinary.

James Dunsmuir Commissions the Castle
Lieutenant-Governor James Dunsmuir, son of coal-magnate Robert Dunsmuir, ordered construction of the castle on Hatley Park. James originally planned the grounds to be used as a farm, complete with a dairy and hunting grounds for James and his friends. Enlisting the help of Victorian architect Samuel Maclure, James envisioned a commanding and lavish home. Cost was no obstacle for James, and it shows in the final details. All in all, the sprawling estate would feature 40 rooms, an 82-foot turret, surrounding stone wall, cow stables, smoke house, and other workstations. Hatley Park and the castle would remain owned by the Dunsmuir family until the latter half of the 1930s.

Hatley Castle and the Military
After the Dunsmuir family sold the estate, the Dominion Government purchased it and used it as a Naval Training Establishment. The castle was also considered in the early years of WWII as a place for the English Royal Family to retreat in case Germany took control of Europe. Cadets would live and train at the Royal Canadian Naval College at Royal Roads. Hatley Park’s use as a military academy would continue through WWII. In 1947, the school was renamed as the RCN-RCAF Joint Services College, then shortly changed again to the Canadian Services College Royal Roads. Finally, in 1968, it became the Royal Roads Military College. The Royal Roads Military College eventually closed its doors in 1994, and it would linger on in academia as Royal Roads University.

Doomed Dunsmuirs
James was often criticized as a public official, and he used Hatley Park as his escape when he retired. James and his wife Laura had 12 children. Their youngest son, Jim, was of fighting age when WWI broke out. Eager to serve, Jim boarded a ship for Europe--the RMS Lusitania. Tragically, a German U-boat torpedoed the Lusitania, and Jim’s body was never discovered. James was heartbroken by the death of his son. He spent the majority of his days mourning him, dying shortly after Jim.

Hauntings at Hatley
The Dunsmuirs have had a long and tumultuous history that’s been ingrained into both the Craigdarroch and Hatley Castles. There have been accounts of music playing in the study, where James would play somber dirges to honor his lost son. Other strange noises, such as footsteps and doors opening and closing, have also been reported in the castle. When the castle was a military college, cadets would see the apparition of Laura Dunsmuir searching the faces in the dorms for her son. One visitor to the castle says a spirit followed her home, mimicking a crying baby in the night and pestering her at work.

Take a Trip to the Historic Hatley
Hatley Park has been a must-see venue for visitors and movie makers for decades. The castle and grounds are still used as part of Royal Roads University. Book your trip today!

Don’t get spooked by your new home! Contact National Property Inspections and schedule an inspection today!

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