The History of Hatley Park

Situated just outside of Victoria, British Columbia, Hatley Park is a National Historic Site and home to Royal Roads University. The estate has a rich history of learning and living, built on a strong connection with the natural environment. From the original First People to the international learners of today, the land is clearly treasured and respected by those who appreciate our vital connection with the land and sea.

A Land of Opportunity

The property known today as Hatley Park was originally part of the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish people; the Xwsepsum (Esquimalt) and Lkwungen (Songhees) nations. The region offered an abundance of wildlife, fertile land, and a sheltered lagoon that provided protection as well as sustenance. 

A Vision of Beauty

The natural landscape was the canvas for the country estate envisioned by James Dunsmuir. After purchasing the property in 1907, Samuel Maclure was commissioned to create Hatley Castle; a grand home for James and wife Laura to entertain the local high society, escape the business world, raise their children, and enjoy a tranquil retirement.

A Place of Learning

In 1940, the property began developing its reputation as an educational institution through the creation of a training establishment for naval sub-lieutenants. Over the years, the original building and grounds served as a training space for a variety of Canadian service people; initially as HMCS Royal Roads, then evolving to provide training for a larger selection of service personnel: the Royal Canadian Naval College; RCN-RCAF Royal Roads; the Canadian Services College Royal Roads; and eventually the Royal Roads Military College. 1995 marked the graduation of the final class of students of RRMC and the decommissioning of the military college.

Royal Roads University was established in 1995 to offer high-quality, applied and relevant programs designed to enable professionals to improve their skills and advance their careers.

Archival Records

Our online archives contain old photos and other media from days gone by. Access our archives database online.