The annual Mother’s Day festivities at Hatley Castle are a great opportunity to tour the gardens and mansion. There are kids’ activities throughout the grounds, as well as tours of the castle and free admission everywhere.
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 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. During World War II, plans were made for the Royal Family to live here, until they decided against leaving the UK during the war. From 1941-1995, Hatley Castle served as a military college.
Now, Hatley Park is a national historic site and part of Royal Roads University. It has been a popular location for movie companies. We recognized it as the setting for some scenes in Disney’s Descendants movie! It also appears in the Smallville TV series as Luthor Mansion and in the X-Men movies as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, as well as many other movies.
Mother’s Day Festivities
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 at Hatley Castle. 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.
How to Be a Tourist
My advice for being a tourist in your own hometown (and saving money while doing so)? Watch for festivals like Mother’s Day at Hatley Castle 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).
We returned to Hatley Castle a few years later with my friend Jessie to do a photo shoot of Jade in her new Heidi Klum outfit. Our seven kids had a lot of fun exploring and Jessie took a ton of cute pictures, including these ones of Jade with her little friend (who is about a month younger than her):
Jessie Yanchus is the talented graphic designer behind my new blog logo and watermark. Like me, she’s a Catholic convert and a recent arrival in Victoria. Our oldest daughters attend Kindergarten together.
Have you visited Hatley Castle?
If you enjoyed Hatley Castle and Gardens, you may also enjoy the Butchart Gardens!