The National Historic Sites and Monuments
Board of Canada has designated Hatley Park
a National Historic Site, as it is one of the few
Edwardian estates in Canada with its key
structural elements intact.
This is also the home of Hatley Castle.
The story of Hatley Park National Historic site of
Canada, rechristened Royal Roads from the
offshore anchorage in the Juan de Fuca Strait,
has it beginnings in the singleness of purpose
and dogged determination of one man.
No history of the estate would be complete without
some mention of the man in whose mind Hatley
Park was conceived and through whose efforts
the lands were assembled and the buildings
The Honourable James Dunsmuir was born at
Fort Rupert, BC on 8 July 1851, the oldest son
of Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish miner who, at the
time of his son’s birth, was on his way from
Ayrshire to “Vancouver’s Island” to prospect
It was not until 1869, however, when James was
eighteen years old, that Robert, prospecting on
his own, finally struck the rich seam of coal at
Wellington, near Nanaimo, BC.
He raised sufficient capital, acquired 2,000 acres
of land, and started operations which proved so
successful that before long he had bought out the
other three partners in the venture to become
During this time, James himself had worked
through all the stages of mining and had risen to
the position of manager in his father’s business.
Under his management, the daily output of coal
quickly rose from 30 tons to 1,500 tons.
After his father’s death in 1889, James devoted
himself to the development of the collieries at
Wellington and Cumberland, laid out the townsite
of Ladysmith, and initiated the Ladysmith-
Vancouver ferry service.
It was only natural that his prominence in business
should lead him into politics.
He was elected to the Legislature in 1898 and
became Premier in 1900; but, having no taste for
public life, he resigned in 1902.
He later served as Lieutenant-Governor of the
It was during the early years of this century that
he purchased the Hatley Park estate comprised
of about 650 acres.
The original Hatley Park house stood on the site
that is now the student parking lot (lot 3).
This house had been completely destroyed by fire
while its owner was in England.
Having amassed a huge fortune, James now
turned his attention to the building and planning
of the new estate to which he intended to retire.
The site features hundreds of heritage trees
significant for their size, rarity and diversity,
including 250-year-old Douglas firs that are among
the largest in the area.
The showpieces of the park are generally
considered to be the formal gardens of which
the Italian, the Rose and the Japanese gardens
are the best known.
The salt marsh estuary located at the mouth of
Colwood Creek along the shore of Esquimalt
Lagoon is a rare ecosystem in this area.
The estuary acts as a transition zone between
freshwater, marine and forest habitats.
As a result, it is highly productive and sustains a
wide diversity of plants and animals, including
sedges, grasses, cattails, raccoons, sea otters,
waterfowl, marine crustaceans, and both marine
and freshwater fish.
The salt marsh plays an important ecological role.
It provides habitat and sources of food for many
species, filters and purifies water flowing through
it, buffers against on-shore storm waves, and
regulates nutrients, sediments, and water in both
terrestrial and aquatic systems.
More than 30 natural springs remain from the last
Some of these springs are carefully being tapped
for irrigation on campus in place of water from
the municipal system.
CHERYL YOUNG, SISTER, FRIEND , BLOGGER AND REALTOR
VICTORIA B.C www.cherylyoung,ca \
Oh yes, that’s me on the left