Posted by: cherylyoung | June 6, 2012



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

for coal.

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

 sole owner.

 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

glacial period.


Some of these springs are carefully being tapped

for irrigation on campus in place of water from

the municipal system.



VICTORIA B.C www.cherylyoung,ca \

Oh yes, that’s me on the left

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