Last Sunday, we took advantage of the annual Mother’s Day festivities at Hatley Castle to tour the gardens and mansion. I took over fifty pictures during the afternoon (and only stopped because my camera card was full), so it was hard picking just a few highlights. We might have to make the Castle a Mother’s Day tradition.
We wandered around the main floor the castle (the upstairs was mostly closed) and then the girls played outside in the “maze” while I joined a guided tour (they haven’t yet acquired my interest in history). Hatley Castle was built in 1908 by James Dunsmuir, who wanted it to look like an old English estate. In 1940, after the family had all passed away, the property was bought by the Canadian government. From 1941-1995, it served as a military college; now, the castle and surrounding facilities are part of Royal Roads University.
For Mother’s Day, the grounds were busy with vendors, bands, clowns, and children’s activities. Lily made bath salts for me while Sunshine watched a clown. Then Lily blew bubbles with giant wands while Sunshine strung beads on a necklace. Sunshine would have returned to watch the clown, but we convinced her to tour the gardens instead.
I was amazed at how big the gardens are. It seemed that every corner we turned, there was another gate to another part of the gardens. The rose garden wasn’t yet in bloom, but the other parts of the garden more than made up for that. There were a few gazebos to sit in, a water wheel, a fish ladder, two lakes, a large greenhouse (locked to the public), and flowers everywhere. The girls enjoyed running down the paths.
My advice for being a tourist in your own hometown (and saving money while doing so)? Watch for festivals like this one that offer free or discounted admission or sign up for sites such as Groupon that offer daily deals (you just have to watch for the deal you want).