Hatley Park National Historic Site is located in Colwood, British Columbia in Greater Victoria. It is the site of Hatley Castle, a Classified Federal Heritage Building. Since 1995, the mansion and estate have been used for the public Royal Roads University. From the 1940s-1995, it was used for the Royal Roads Military College, a naval training facility. The extensive grounds of the historic site have formal gardens, former farmland, and trails through mature stands of first and second-growth forest, including large Douglas fir and western red cedar.
Hatley Castle and Gardens:
Prior to European settlement, the area was inhabited for thousands of years by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Coast Salish inhabitants gathered berries and camas bulbs in the area. They harvested cedar bark to make clothing and shelter.
A Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque reads:
"Hatley Park. 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 craftmanship. 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."
The Royal Roads Military College band consisting of 15 pipers and drummers and 30 brass-and-reed musician recorded an LP in 1983-4. Petty Officer First Class Gabby R. Bruner, RRMC bandmaster from 1979-85 composed `Hatley Park` as the official quick march for RRMC and `Dunsmuir Castle`, for the Visit of Queen Elizabeth to RRMC in 1983.
In 1912, the Dunsmuirs engaged the American landscape architects Franklin Brett and George D. Hall of Boston, students of Frederick Law Olmsted, to develop a landscape for the entire site. They prepared a classic design for an Edwardian park that included the overall layout for the entire property. The plan organized the estate into four distinct landscape zones, progressing from a series of nine formal 'garden rooms' near Hatley Castle, to recreational spaces, then to agricultural lands, and finally to the forest surrounding the estate.
During the Dunsmuir era, approximately 100 gardeners and groundskeepers tended the estate. During the years when the cadets attended Royal Roads Military College, the Department of National Defence employed approximately 50 gardeners and groundskeepers to maintain the property; a testimony to their commitment to retain the integrity of the estate.
Today, Royal Roads University employs five full-time gardeners, one arborist, a garden curator, seven seasonal gardeners and groundskeepers, and one manager to tend to the entire 565-acre (2.29 km2) estate, including the formal gardens. As the university does not receive any federal, provincial or municipal funding to maintain the site, the gardeners must make choices about the areas that can be best presented. They have made the Japanese, Rose and Italian gardens the showcase areas of the property.
In June 2006, citing the unfunded costs of heritage preservation (estimated to require an infusion of $20 million over the next decade for a capital program), the university started charging admission fees to its main heritage gardens, an area that makes up less than five per cent of the 565-acre (2.29 km2) campus. This changed prompted some public controversy. After delays to the plan to include parking and admission in an omnibus fee, RRU changed the fee structure to garden-only admission, i.e., $8 for adults from the original cost of $12 per adult. It also introduced a $15 four-month summer garden pass for residents of Greater Victoria, in addition to the free pass offered to residents of Colwood.