We were very fortunate to be one of the group signed up for the tour of the Hatley Castle and Gardens. We were met at the assigned time by Bob Vance and Marcel Mercier, both of whom went out of their way to make sure everyone was welcomed as they arrived.
The tour started out with a walk about the property and an excellent explanation by Bob on the many variations of the trees planted over the years. Most of the trees were from eastern Canada or U.S. and while I took as many notes as possible, I clearly was out of my element. Bob went from one tree to another detailing all the names of same, their different features and his guess of ages. Even with my notes, I was very happy there was no test at the end of the tree tour.
Next we moved on to the Garden tour, hosted by the resident guide Jennifer. She first took us through the Italian garden, on to the croquet court and finally the Japanese garden. All were beautiful and worthy of a return visit as we ran out of time for this segment of the tour.
On to the main event. Jennifer provided an explanation of the origin of the castle, how it started out as a farm only to be purchased by James Dunsmere for his retirement home site. $50,000 bought a lot of land back in the early 1900’s. The Castle itself was built in 1908 and is 44000 sq feet. It is a beautiful structure outside and even more impressive inside. Our guide was able to take us through the main floor with each room we viewed covered with a different type of wood. The craftsmanship was incredible. It was so hard to believe this beautiful structure was built in only 18 months.
Thanks to the Special Events committee for organizing this tour.
Submitted by Doug Fluker