1. Dundurn Castle, Hamilton, Ontario
Dundurn Castle is an 18,000-square-foot property in the Burlington Heights area of Hamilton, Ontario. The Italianate-style home was built on a former site of a British military post for Sir Allan Napier MacNab, businessman and Premier of the United Canadas from 1854 to 1860. The castle’s construction was completed in the 1830s and cost $175,000—which is the equivalent of more than $5 million today.
MacNab and his family lived in the 40-room estate for more than 25 years. The park-like property offers a panoramic view of Burlington Bay, and the main residence features oak paneling, Murano glass ornaments, grand chandeliers, and a floating staircase. The rest of the properties on the grounds include a gardener’s cottage, a stable, and a two-storey pavilion. Dundurn, which means “fort on the water,” is known for hosting a number of influential people, including King Edward VII and Sir John A. MacDonald.
Fun fact: Camilla, Queen Consort, became the royal patron of Dundurn Castle in 2010, as MacNab is one of her ancestors.
The City of Hamilton acquired the property in the 1900s, and eventually declared it a National Heritage Site in 1984. The castle still maintains its architectural integrity and has been turned into a museum. The castle and museum is open year-round to the public for a fee. The only way to access the house is through the hour-long guided tour of all 40 rooms, including the bedrooms, sitting room, library, kitchen, wine cellar and basement.
Hamilton itself is full of heritage buildings with fascinating histories. Learn more about them and what else you can do in the city in this REALTOR.ca neighbourhood guide.
2. Craigdarroch Castle, Victoria, British Columbia
With Southern French, Italian Romanesque, and Spanish architecture combined into one, you have a castle that exudes grandiosity from every corner. Situated on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen people in Victoria, British Columbia, Craigdarroch Castle is a 25,000-square-foot castle that gives visitors a glimpse into an exuberant family’s life in the 1890s.
Craigdarroch Castle was built by Scottish-born coal baron Robert Dunsmuir between 1887 and 1890. Although Dunsmuir died before its completion, his wife, Jane, and their 10 children lived in the bonanza castle—a term used to describe oversized mansions built by wealthy industrial era entrepreneurs. This particular castle is four stories tall with 39 rooms featuring stained glass windows, exquisite hand painted and stenciled ceilings, intricate wood paneling, and Victorian-style furnishings.
Over time, Craigdarroch has served as a military hospital, a college and a music conservatory. The castle was declared a National Historic Site in 1992 and restored to its full Victorian glory. It’s now open for tours Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but tickets must be booked in advance. You’ll also find a visitor centre, gift shop, and teahouse on the grounds. You can also take a virtual tour!
Unfortunately, Craigdarroch Castle isn’t wheelchair accessible and visitors are encouraged to leave large items in their vehicle as there’s no storage.
3. Casa Loma, Toronto, Ontario
Toronto is home to many of Canada’s top attractions, but very few have a history as fascinating as Casa Loma. The castle, which is located in the heart of the city, was designed by E.J. Lennox to function as the home of soldier and financier Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife Lady Mary.
At the time of its construction, Casa Loma was the largest private residence in Canada at 64,700-square feet. It cost $3.5 million to build in 1911, which is the equivalent of more than $85 million today, and took 300 workers three years to build. The Gothic Revival-style property is filled with a labyrinth of 98 rooms, hallways, and hidden passageways. The home also has a conservatory, gardens, two towers, and stables. Its structural integrity remains intact, thanks to some restoration work over the years.
Casa Loma, which sits on a hill that overlooks Lake Ontario, didn’t stay in Sir Pellatt’s possession for too long. Financial struggles began to set in and he lost the house nine years after its completion.
Today, Casa Loma is operated by Liberty Entertainment Group, which is responsible for its day-to-day operations as a tourist attraction, museum, event venue, and filming location. The home has been used by Hollywood filmmakers as a set many times. You can see parts of the castle in Beauty and the Beast, X-Men, Scott-Pilgrim vs. the World, Chicago and more.
If you’re planning to visit, Casa Loma is open daily between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Many areas of the castle are accessible. You can purchase tickets through the castle’s website or as part of the Toronto City Pass for some savings.
While you’re in Toronto, you can check out other buildings designed by E.J Lennox, including the Old City Hall. For more activities in the downtown area, check out this neighbourhood guide.
4. Hatley Castle, Colwood, British Columbia
Craigdarroch isn’t the only castle in British Columbia that once belonged to the Dunsmuir family. In 1908, James Dunsmuir, former Lieutenant-Governor, coal baron, and Robert Dunsmuir’s son, built Hatley Castle to serve as a retirement home for he and his wife.
The castle, located in the Greater Victoria Area, is another Edwardian-era wonder that sits on 237 hectares of lush rose gardens and forests, a farm, a conservatory, bridges, and man-made water bodies known as the Hatley Park National Historic Site. The main residence, which offers direct views of the Juan de Fuca Strait and Olympic Mountains, boasts 40 rooms across 50,000-square feet. The parked yacht, located in the rear lawn, is nearly as lavish as the house with a library, a dining room, a smoking room, a drawing room, and private sleeping quarters.
Following the death of its owners, Hatley Castle was eventually acquired by the Department of National Defense in 1940 for a mere $75,000 (it cost $1 million to build at the time, which is around $23 million today). It was converted into a Naval Training College, then into Royal Roads Military College. Finally, in 1995, Royal Roads University took over the castle and turned it into its administrative hub.
Hatley often doubles as a film set and can be seen in movies like X-Men and Deadpool, and TV shows like MacGyver, Smallville, and Arrow.
As it stands, Hatley Castle is open to the public for tours of the residence, gardens, museum, and gift shop. The castle is open between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. daily.
5. Stone Hall Castle, Regina, Saskatchewan
Self-described as “Canada’s only Medieval-style castle,” Stone Hall Castle in Regina is a bit different from the others on our list. Francis Nicholson Darke originally built the castle more than a century ago after a devastating cyclone hit Regina in 1912. It’s a local legend that Darke’s wife, Annie, asked him to build a home where she could feel safe again. The Saskatchewan Legislative Building was right across the lake, and seeing as it didn’t face any damage during the storm, Darke ordered the exact limestone used on that building to construct his own. The castle was finished in 1926, and kept Darke’s dear Annie safe until 1964 when she passed away.
Stone Hall Castle sat empty for a while, later becoming a funeral chapel for more than 30 years. The interior was altered and additions were made, but it still held a history of being built out of love. It wasn’t until Regina-born real estate investor Jason Michael Hall purchased the castle in 2003 when it became a personal residence once again. Hall did his own renovations and restoration, stripping the castle to its bones and taking away any of the Art Deco past, transforming it into a medieval marvel.
Now, with years of design and architectural attention, not to mention thousand-year-old limestone imported from Greece, Stone Hall Castle is open to the public. Explore the 16th, 17th, and 18th century “museum-quality” furniture, and go back in time to the era of lords, nobles, and knights. Tours run seven days a week, and you can even book an overnight stay in one of three suites!
Castles bring so much character to a town or city, reminding us of eras gone by and how much craftsmanship went into buildings with such grandeur. If you’re looking to find a theme for your next road trip, castles across Canada could be a royally good choice!
Courtesy: realtor.caPosted by Infinity Admin on
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