The property of Hatley Park in British Columbia was originally purchased in 1906 by James Dunsmuir, the province’s Lieutenant Governor. Dunsmuir and his wife commissioned the Canadian architect Samuel Maclure to construct a 40-room mansion, a project that took two years to complete. As Dunsmuir was of Scottish descent, the mansion was built in the Scottish Baronial style rather than the Tudor style that was in vogue at the time.
The mansion, known as Hatley Castle, became a local landmark. It was occupied by Dunsmuir’s descendants until the end of the Great Depression, after which the estate was sold to the Canadian government. When World War II broke out, contingency plans were made for the Royal Family to reside in Canada should the invading German forces reached the Midlands. The castle was purchased by the federal Crown-in-Council in 1940 for use as King George VI’s residence, but the plan was dropped as the Royal Family and the government decided against it.
From 1948 to 1995, the mansion was used as a naval training facility known as the Royal Roads Military College. After its closure, it opened as a public, degree-granting university Royal Roads University. The mansion continues to serve as its campus today.
But if the Castle looks vaguely familiar to you, it may likely be because of its frequent appearances in popular culture, especially movies and TV series based on comic books. For example, it was featured as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men franchise, including the Deadpool movies and the 1996 television movie Generation X. For fans of DC Comics, it has played the roles of Luthor Mansion and Queen Mansion, in Smallville and the Arrow franchise, respectively. Additionally, it has appeared in numerous other films and TV shows, often as a school or old mansion, and sometimes as the bad guy’s hideout.