Hatley Park / Former Royal Roads Military College National Historic Site of Canada

Colwood, British Columbia
General view of Hatley Castle, 1995. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, L. Maitland, 1995.
General view
© Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, L. Maitland, 1995.
General view of Hatley Castle, 1995. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, L. Maitland, 1995.Canted steps leading to a fountain, above, in Hatley Park, 1995. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, L. Maitland, 1995.General view of the Japanese Garden in Hatley Park, 1995. © Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, L. Maitland, 1995.
Address : 2005 Sooke Road, Colwood, British Columbia

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 1995-07-06
  • 1908 to 1913 (Construction)
  • 1908 to 1995 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • James and Laura Dunsmuir (original owners, 1908-1937)  (Person)
  • Department of National Defence (Royal Roads Military College, 1941-1995)  (Organization)
  • Samuel Maclure  (Architect)
  • Brett & Hall (landscape architects)  (Architect)
  • Isaburo Kishita (landscape design—Japanese garden)  (Architect)
  • George Gibson (wood carving)  (Builder)
Other Name(s):
  • Hatley Park / Former Royal Roads Military College  (Designation Name)
  • Dunsmuir Estate  (Other Name)
  • Hatley Castle  (Other Name)
  • Royal Roads University  (Other Name)
  • Royal Roads Military College  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 1995-035
DFRP Number: 17452 00


Existing plaque:  2005 Sooke Road, Colwood, British Columbia

This superb example of an Edwardian park was laid out for James and Laura Dunsmuir in the early 20th century. At its centre stands a Tudor Revival mansion, whose picturesque design is enhanced by a rich array of decoration and fine craftsmanship. The grounds, featuring a variety of native and exotic vegetation, unfold from formal gardens to recreational spaces, farmlands and forests. Acquired by the Canadian armed forces in 1940, Hatley Park evolved to meet the needs of Royal Roads Military College in a manner that has preserved its essential Edwardian character.

Description of Historic Place

Hatley Park is a 228.84 hectare estate situated on the edge of Esquimalt Lagoon, with Hatley Castle, a Tudor Revival-style manor house, as the centrepiece of an evolved Edwardian landscape that is comprised of four zones: the gardens, the recreation spaces, agricultural lands and forest. The estate also contains a variety of elements that reflect its lengthy role as a military college and the evolving landscape of Hatley Park. These include the adaptation of several auxiliary buildings to classroom space and staff accommodation, as well as an overlay of purpose-built structures, two sports fields and a parade square dating from the 1940s to the mid-1970s. The designation refers to the landscape with its Dunsmuir-era buildings.

Heritage Value

Hatley Park or the Former Royal Roads Military College was designated a national historic site because:
its distinctiveness as an evolved cultural landscape defines its national significance—the integration of architecture and landscape with Hatley Castle at its centre, its gardens, lawns, forests, playing fields, recreational lands, agricultural lands, ancillary buildings, roads, pathways and other features all contribute to its remarkable sense of place; it is a superb Canadian example of an Edwardian park which remains practically intact in its plan, the extent of its grounds, and the quality and variety of its features; while its defining features as an Edwardian park remain clearly intelligible, the institutional imprint of Royal Roads Military College, which occupied Hatley Park for over 50 years is apparent and, in many ways, complementary.

Built in 1908-09 for James Dunsmuir, wealthy industrialist and provincial politician, Hatley Castle is notable for its Tudor Revival design by famed west coast architect Samual Maclure, and for its central relationship to the Edwardian landscape devised by landscape architects Brett and Hall. The Dunsmuir family lived here until 1937. In 1940 the estate was purchased by the Department of National Defence to accommodate Royal Roads Military College.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1995.

Character-Defining Elements

Aspects of this site which contribute to its heritage value include: the organization of the property according to Edwardian design principles, including the use of a hierarchical progression from the formal through the naturalistic to the forest; its distinctiveness as an evolved cultural landscape from its original design as an Edwardian park through its adaptation to encompass the institutional imprint of Royal Roads Military College; the orientation of the castle to the lagoon, and the controlled vistas both into and out of the site, including views from Hatley Castle to Esquimalt Lagoon, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains; the system of roadways, service lanes and foot paths that date from the Edwardian estate and from the military college period; Hatley Castle as the centrepiece of the estate and as the hub of the estate plan, and the integration of the house and formal gardens through the plan and materials; the Tudor Revival style of the castle with its four-storey massing and castellated tower block; the high quality of the castle's design, craftsmanship and Arts and Crafts aesthetic as illustrated by Tudor arches, half-timber details, banks of stone mullioned and oriel windows, end towers, decorated gables, granite walls, Tudor chimney pots and crenellated parapets; the well-preserved interior plan and the interior decorative scheme which incorporates a wide range of materials and which exhibits an Arts and Crafts methodology and design aesthetic that reinforces the Tudor Revival style of the building’s exterior; the 1913 perimeter wall along Sooke Road and the original main gatehouse, their forms, massing and materials; the organization of the estate into four distinctive landscape zones: garden, recreational, agricultural and forest; the hierarchical ordering of the Garden Zone into nine ‘garden rooms’ which include the upper and lower terraces, Italian garden, Neptune Court, Rose Garden, Japanese garden, English garden, and lawn area; the physical values and distinctive character of each of the garden rooms defined by the plan, layout, architectural elements, original plant material, and by sympathetic additions executed by the military college; physical values of the Recreation Zone including the three artificial lakes stocked with fish, interconnecting water course, and fish ladder, croquet lawn with its level grassed playing area enclosed by cropped hedges, riding trails and pathways; physical values of the Agricultural Zone including former agricultural buildings (greenhouse, head gardener’s house, two stables, dairy barn, herdsman’s cottage, roothouse, footman’s house, laundry and butler’s cottage), their siting, massing, exterior forms and materials and interior modifications associated with their adaptation to military college functions, former paddocks, field patterns and fencing; physical values of the Forest Zone including its importance as a buffer between the estate and the outside world, as a frame and contrast to the three more cultivated zones, as a vital component of the aquifer that sustains the watercourses and wetlands within the estate lands, and as a significant ecological reserve encompassing wildlife habitat and stands of 300-year-old Douglas fir with “old growth” attributes; the Grant Block and other post-1940 buildings that respect the aesthetic intent of the Edwardian estate and chart the evolution of the cultural landscape during the military college era.