Hatley Castle

Creepy Canada Synopsis:

A military academy is haunted by the family that once lived there.

Hatley Castle in Victoria was built in 1908 for James Dunsmuir, a former Premier and Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The house stayed in the Dunsmuir family until 1930, however once it was sold, a family of spirits moved in with the new tenants. The first sightings were of the son, who had died in the great war. He was seen by his sister, walking along the edge of the pond beside the castle. When Hatley Castle was transformed into a military academy, the spirit of Mrs. Dunsmuir began to appear. She has been known to drag young cadets out of their beds, pulling them to the floor in the middle of the night. Could this be her attempt to prevent her son’s fate from befalling them?

Other Synopsis:

Hatley Castle was the baronial country estate of James and Laura Dunsmuir and is now home to Royal Roads University. The period gardens are open daily at no charge.

Look for the ghost of Jim Dunsmuir Jr. in his World War I uniform rising from the lake by the bridge in the Japanese Gardens. Visit the museum in the basement of the castle and ask about the ghosts of James and Laura who haunt their former living quarters and about Annabelle, the servant whose ghost appears near the window where she lept to her death after an unfortunate love affair.

Hatley Castle stories are featured in the Creepy Canada TV series. On October 27, 2003 Hatley Castle hosts a day of ghostly activities, starting with a lecture at 1:30 pm, followed by a ghost tour of the castle.

Call (250) 656-0853 for more information.

V.I.P.S. researcher Rob Turner found another story with more information taken from The Martlet (Archives) – Volume 57, Issue 12 – Thursday, October 28, 2004

Beware the spectre in Hatley Castle

by Stephanie Baker

Hatley Castle is known as the best example of Edwardian architecture in Canada—but that isn’t what draws visitors. It’s also said to be haunted by several ghosts.

Located on Sooke Road, this expensive mansion was built by B.C. coal baron James Dunsmuir in 1908 for his wife and 10 children. James, son of Robert Dunsmuir, was only able to build Hatley after suing his own mother. The family fortune had been bequeathed to her, but James felt that he was entitled to the money.

One haunting at Hatley Castle involves the death of a young parlour maid named Annabelle. She had approached the lady of the house, Laura Dunsmuir, and asked if she could get married. Laura agreed and was generous enough to pay for the entire wedding. But on April 28, 1911, when Annabelle got to the church she found that she had been jilted. The man she was engaged to marry was, in fact, already married with two children. On the same day as her wedding,

Annabelle, devastated by the embarrassment of the whole affair, leapt out of her third- storey bedroom window to her death.

Since then she’s been spotted twice—both times on the same day as her death. In 1941, after the castle had been converted into a military academy, she frightened two cadets as she passed into her old bedroom through a locked door and then proceeded out the window from which she had jumped. In 1961 she vanished in front of two other cadets after meeting them outside her old room.

One of the other ghosts is that of James Dunsmuir Jr., son of James Sr. and his wife Laura. In 1915 he was a soldier in the First World War and had requested a transfer to England where he hoped to see some action. Unfortunately, the boat he was on, the Lusitania, was torpedoed by German subs in the Atlantic, and James was killed.

His body was never found, and his death shocked the family, but according to his youngest sister, Dola, he reappeared at Hatley. She claimed that she often saw him on warm summer nights in the Japanese Garden. Dola called out his nickname, Boy, but he would always disappear soon afterwards.

Laura apparently never got over her son’s death. In 1941 one cadet woke up screaming. He told his superior officer, Captain Grant, that a woman had tried to pull him out of bed and onto the floor. This was, of course, impossible because there were no women living in Hatley Castle at the time. But Captain Grant phoned Dola, who was still living on the castle grounds. She explained to Grant that the woman had been her mother, even though Laura Dunsmuir had been dead for five years. Dola said that Laura had been looking for her son James—and where better to look than in a place full of young men in uniform?

Volunteer co-ordinator Bill Blore has worked at Hatley for seven years but has never experienced anything ghostly himself.
I think there’s probably a scientific reason for all of it, but people love to come to a haunted house. They’d like to stay overnight and experience all of it, he said.

Hatley Park Museum is open every afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is located in the basement of Hatley Park Castle, the administrative centre for Royal Roads University, 2005 Sooke Rd., in Colwood. For information about tours of Hatley Park Castle, contact the museum at 250-391-2600, extension 4456.

One thought on “Hatley Castle

  1. Hello, I was wondering if you can tell me about the surrounding areas of Hatley Castle and the cemetery? On March 28th/08, my sister and I were taking photos at the cemetery at night. It was a foggy night when we pulled in and parked just before the first round about. We stepped out and took some pictures with our digital camera and noticed fog in the pictures right away. After we were done, we came home and uploaded the photos onto the computer and discovered 1 picture had what appeared to be a woman in a dark dress. Upon further concentration of the picture, we have found a couple what appears to be paying their respects to a lost loved one, a little boy, an angel and a few other faces. One day while I decided to enlarge the picture and started to notice what appeared to be house lights and then the design was coming into view. It was a big house on a hill. I thought that it was odd cause the houses there today you can hardly see due to the fence. This year I had access to a computer hooked up to a projector and was just amazed at the size of the house with steps, waterwheel and even you can see a person walking down the steps and someone in the window. All the other figures were just as awe inspiring as before. So, do you know of a house like this or is this a house from some other place? Thanks for your help. Stephen

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