It is difficult to describe the campus at Royal Roads University which sits on Hatley Park’s National Historic Site, in any way that does it justice. The Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper, may have put it best when he said “There is surely no more beautiful campus in Canada than Lord Dunsmuir’s magnificent castle and the majestic forest and gardens of the Hatley Park National Historic Site. But beneath the Edwardian grandeur of Royal Roads lies a cutting-edge modern university”. Royal Roads University simply is a place in which a picture (or seeing it) is worth a thousand words. Another testament to this is that the campus itself inspired the Royal Roads bandmaster in the early eighties to entitle the quick march he composed for Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 1983 “Hatley Park”.
When looking at the campus itself, its “roads are royal”. Hatley Castle, the center and heart of the campus, was completed in 1908 by the Premier of British Columbia at the time: James Dunsmuir. He had built the castle for his own family, however given the outbreak of World War II, the family of King George VI were instead to reside there. This never occurred though as the idea of the Royal Family leaving the UK at the time of war was thought to be an idea that England would not be able to accept. Therefore James Dunmuir (now referred to as Lord Dunmuir) and his family were able to reside in the home they built after all.
After the death of Lord Dunmuir and his wife in 1940, the family sold the estate to the federal government of Canada. It was used by the military in training officers for service in World War II. In 1968 the institution was officially named Royal Roads Military College. RRU became a public university in 1995 — with degree granting status.
The beauty of the campus and castle has not escaped the eyes of Hollywood. It is of interest to note that both have been featured in a television series and a block buster film. The castle was the home of Lex Luthor in the TV series “Smallville”, which told the story of Superman’s youth. As well, the castle and campus were home to the X-Men series of movies. Hatley castle itself was transformed into Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
The campus of Royal Roads University sits beside the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by mountains, in the capital city of British Columbia on Vancouver Island: Victoria. There is no lovelier a city than Victoria, famous for its greenery and flowers, as well as its picturesque downtown. Victoria is also ideally located in that it is only a two hour trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, famous for being one of the top three places to live in the world and close to the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler. Victoria is also three hours away from Seattle, Washington, in the USA. Given all of this you can kayak, hike, sail, golf, ski/snow board, whale watch, dine and shop all year round surrounded by breathtaking beauty!
This theme continues right onto the campus of RRU. Each day, staff and students enjoy walking amongst the trees with views of the ocean. If we like, we can take a break on one of RRU’s many hiking trails through the woods. Or we also can simply sit in the castle grounds. Another thing that must be mentioned is the wildlife which roams free about the campus. Typically I see peacocks, geese, swans (in the summer and fall) and deer.
The Royal Roads University experience is royal indeed!
See a photo gallery of the Royal Roads University campus