365 Canadian Sights | Day 344: Universities Week – Royal Roads

| Image from Flickr/Jake Khuon via CC BY NC 2.0 |

Not all university campuses started out as a place of education, but any place can be adapted to fit them, essentially.

A coal baron’s castle is the centrepiece to one of the countries newest universities.

That’s just how it goes sometimes.

To be fair, you probably don’t recognize it from a post-secondary pamphlet. More likely it’s as a film set, like the home of Charles Xavier in some of the X-Men films (the Patrick Stewart era).

In actuality, James Dunsmuir, a former Lieutenant Governor for B.C. 110 years ago, built it. His family used it for a while, but it eventually fell into the government’s hands and it became a military academy for years.

At this point it’d be good to clarify the castle is on a large piece of property. Very large. I used to play soccer there, on two different fields, that you had to drive between. And they weren’t at the extreme ends.

Anywho, we’re focusing on the castle. In 1995 the grounds were turned into Royal Roads University (if you’re asking for directions, ask how to get to Royal Roads, the castle’s name isn’t as widely known as the university) and the castle became the centre of the campus. It’s used for a variety of things, from the aforementioned films to private parties to weddings to art shows.

Yes, I kinda already highlighted this, since it’s near the Esquimalt Lagoon, but this deserved an up-close look too. There’s even two angles to get photos from; either up the steps on the front side (away from the ocean) so you’re looking down on the castle with the ocean in the background or from the field side looking up at the castle and gardens.

Just outside of Victoria, this is one that’s easiest with a car, but cycling and transit are both options. Since it’s a university, there are a couple routes that go by, and one in. Meanwhile, the Galloping Goose passes right by, a cycle path on an old rail line which makes it easy to travel from the city to suburbs.

There’s no cost to the castle, but the attached Japanese Garden has required admission in the past, though that keeps changing. You’ll want to call ahead beforehand to make sure they haven’t changed their minds again, I don’t want to share bad advice.

Since it’s just outside of Victoria it’s included in Colwood for touristy things, where it’s a close second to the nearby Fisgard Lighthouste (but I think it’s much better looking). Both are worthwhile to check out if in Victoria for more than a day. It’s also a national historic site (that shouldn’t be a surprise). And, since it’s got lots of history in a place that loves local history, there’s of course two websites dedicated to it.

Photos • FeaturedGallery 1Gallery 2Gallery 3

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