Visiting a castle is one of the things to do in Canada that may not necessarily be at the top of your list. But did you know that across Canada, there’s a collection of glorious turrets and intricate stonework at some of the most impressive Canadian castles and forts? These forts and castles in Canada vividly punctuate the stunning Canadian landscape like props in a fairytale.
Visiting or staying in a fort or castle is a great way to experience how the rich and famous – and the mighty mavericks in the businesses of fur and soldiering – slept, dined and entertained. So, soak up the glamour of Canada’s early days and live like royalty in one of these Canadian castles and visit these Canadian forts. All are Canadian landmarks that are worth visiting.
- Castles In Canada
- Castles In Ontario
- Castles in Quebec
- Castles In Alberta
- Castles In British Columbia
- Forts in Canada
Castles In Canada
Castles In Ontario
1- Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa
Ever since first opening this historic gem in the heart of Canada’s capital has rolled out the red carpet to world leaders, tycoons, and renowned artists.
Many celebs and noted politicians also have claimed 1 Rideau Street as their address.
For instance, acclaimed photographer, Yousuf Karsh along with his wife lived in this Canadian castle on the glamorous sixth floor for 18 years.
The fully furnished apartment studio appears as if Karsh just stepped out for a moment. The living quarters are beautifully preserved and restored and are available for hotel reservations.
Prime Minister Trudeau (Justin’s dad) used to swim laps regularly in the art deco pool at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier.
For the grand fete tuck inside Zoe’s Lounge for the famous Afternoon Tea or relax at the alfresco La Terrasse with beautiful views of the Parliament Buildings and the Rideau Canal.
The countdown to Canada’s 150th year of Confederation has started and Ottawa is the place to be.
Fairmont Chateau Laurier is at 1 Rideau St, Ottawa, ON K1N 8S7, Canada.
2- Casa Loma in Toronto
Yes, wealthy entrepreneurs both past and present have put their architectural stamp on lavish landmarks in the Province of Ontario’s capital.
You know the famous quote, “Your home is your castle.”
Look no further than the Casa Loma.
This Canadian castle is a medieval fantasy with an eclectic patchwork of architectural styles.
Built atop an escarpment, Casa Loma is a potpourri of castledom.
At the time of its completion in 1911, it was Canada’s largest house.
The original owner, Sir Henry Pellatt (1859 to 1939), was a multimillionaire industrialist whose fortune went awry leaving him penniless.
Over the years, a non-profit organisation became the custodian of Casa Loma but recently new owners have glammed up the 98-room stone building.
It’s now popular for meetings, events and wedding photography. Tours are also available.
Casa Loma is at 1 Austin Terrace, Toronto, ON M5R 1X8, Canada.
3- Dundurn Castle
Dundurn Castle is a 40-room Italianate-style 1830s villa that was the home of railway magnate and Premier of the Province of Canada (1854 to 1856), Sir Allan Napier MacNab.
Explore the historic kitchen garden, where staff dressed in period clothing use tools from the 19th century to grow over 200 varieties of flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs.
Pick up a handmade craft from the shop in the former 1870’s Coach House.
The Hamilton Military Museum has fascinating displays of various wars and battles, such as the War of 1812, the Boer War and World War I.
Dundurn Castle is open from May to October, with free garden tours offered in July and August. The admission ticket to the castle includes a guided tour and free access to the museum.
Dundurn National Historic Site is at 610 York Blvd, Hamilton, Ontario L8R 3H1.
4- Castle Kilbride
Industrialist and politician James Livingston built Castle Kilbride in 1877 and named it after his birthplace in Scotland’s East Kilbride.
The grand Victorian home is Italianate in style and has an impressive interior with a Trompe l’oeil ceiling and three-dimensional murals painted by German artist Henry Scharstein.
The castle was home to three generations of the Livingston family between 1877 and 1988.
The castle is a museum and a National Historic Site of Canada.
Castle Kilbride is at 60 Snyder’s Road West, Baden, Ontario, N3A 1A1.
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Castles in Quebec
5- Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello in Quebec
Where do you think the world’s first largest cedar log cabin was made? Try in the forest-rich, countryside east of Ottawa in the province of Quebec.
Planners and builders were on a mission to construct a log palace to open for Canada Day.
It was to be one of the grandest Canadian castles in Quebec.
Except it was the height of The Great Depression in 1930 when money was tight.
Even so, the need to be frugal did not deter the main stakeholders (railroad barons and banking presidents) who wanted this magnificent building for a private club.
According to the records of Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello, an army of 3500 labourers ensured the project was completed in four months. The club opened on July 1, 1930.
Today, hotel guests and day-trippers can enjoy the forested grounds, the Olympic-sized pool (it’s also the country’s largest indoor hotel pool) and relax in nature.
Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is at 392 Rue Notre Dame, Montebello, QC J0V 1L0, Canada.
6- Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City
As the capital of the province of Quebec, nothing screams “Canadian castle” more than having a fabulous palace overlooking the romantic city along the storied St. Lawrence River.
This world-renowned luxury hotel was built in 1893 and is located on a historic site.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is located near the Citadel and the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux, which served as the seat of the colony’s executive power for nearly 200 years.
Recently, a team of archaeologists discovered ruins of the Saint-Louis Forts including the first fort built by Champlain in 1620 by the famous Chateau. So, be sure to get a glimpse of them by the Dufferin Terrace.
For cocktails, luxurious spa treatments and indulging in fine French cuisine, you can’t go past the Chateau Frontenac.
It’s all about pampering and glorious joie de vivre here.
Hitchcock movie fans will recognise the iconic Canadian castle building in the 1953 Hitchcock class, I Confess.
Click here to compare the latest hotel prices for the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac and live like royalty or join a guided tour to learn all about the fascinating history of Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is at 1 Rue des Carrières, Québec, QC G1R 4P5, Canada.
Castles In Alberta
7- Fairmont Banff Springs
Mention the “Castle in the Rockies” to a Canadian and they’ll instantly know you’re talking about the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.
Nestled in the heart of Banff National Park by hectares of forests where wildlife viewing is supreme, this is where Canadian railroad baron William Cornelius Van Horne (general manager of CP Railways) erected his dream vacation spot.
The heritage property first opened in 1888 and is a majestic place that has the ambience for a royal getaway.
The reason for the lavish hotel’s existence is simple: Mr Van Horne wanted to bring tourism to the region so he created a place for his railroad guests to stay and enjoy the Rockies.
It’s one of the most iconic Canadian castles you’ll find.
The grand landmark wears its exquisite Scottish Baronial style with dignity and charm.
Back then, the tourism lure was to come and soak in the area’s natural hot springs.
People flocked to convalesce and breathe fresh air. And of course, they took the mighty train to get there.
Learn the secrets of the Castle in the Rockies while you dine like royalty on this culinary adventure you won’t forget. The experience includes a seafood banquet, wine pairing and a peek behind the scenes.
Fairmont Banff Springs is at 405 Spray Avenue, Banff – Alberta T1L1J4, Canada.
Castles In British Columbia
8- Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria
Visit Victoria, the province of British Columbia’s capital, and you know you have arrived in the land of Victoriana.
There’s a huge Brit love affair apparent in street names and architecture. And the real treasure is this historic property by the sparkling Inner Harbour.
The Fairmont Empress Hotel opened as a hotel, like so many other historic Canadian castles.
This location was also owned by the Canadian Pacific Railways as a terminus for the company’s steamship line. High Tea Afternoon is a definite bucket list activity.
The Fairmont Empress Hotel website declares, “During the summer months, The Fairmont Empress in Victoria, British Columbia, serves Afternoon Tea to more guests than most hotels in London, England.”
Fairmont Empress Hotel is at 721 Government St, Victoria, BC V8W 1W5, Canada. The hop-on hop-off bus is an easy way to see the Fairmont Empress Hotel and 15 other sites.
9- Craigdarroch Castle
Craigdarroch Castle is a massive Victorian house completed in 1890 and the former home of industrial age entrepreneur Robert Dunsmuir.
Dunsmuir was a Scottish immigrant who became one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Western Canada by making his fortune from mining coal on Vancouver Island.
Craigdarroch Castle sits on a hill with views of Victoria.
The castle displays architectural features known as Richardsonian Romanesque style, incorporating 11th and 12th-century designs similar to southern French, Spanish and Italian Romanesque styles.
The four-storey castle has lavish Victorian furnishings, beautiful stained-glass windows and fine woodwork.
The castle now belongs to the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society. Tours are available from Friday to Sunday, and there’s a visitor’s centre, gift shop and tea house. You can also visit Craigdarroch Castle on this hop-on hop-off bus tour of Victoria.
Craigdarroch Castle is at 1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC V8S 3L5.
10- Hatley Castle
Built by James Dunsmuir, the son of Robert Dunsmuir, Hatley Castle was a lavish family home with teak floors, oak panelling and custom-made furnishings.
It became a Royal Roads Military College dormitory and mess hall and is now the administrative centre of Royal Roads University.
Hatley Park Museum (admission is free) is in the basement of Hatley Park Castle and displays original items from is heyday when it was the luxurious home of James Dunsmuir and his wife Laura.
Hatley Castle is at 2005 Sooke Road, Victoria, BC V9B 5Y2.
Forts in Canada
12- Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Before Canada became the nation it is today, there were battles and rebellions.
The Fortress of Louisbourg juts out from Cape Breton Island into the Atlantic Ocean and has a strong significance in Canadian history.
Originally a French fort in New France built in 1713, during its heydays, it was considered the jewel of France’s holdings in the New World. Louisbourg was a place of dreams.
It was France’s rêve imperial. To boot, it was one of the busiest 18th-century seaports in North America.
Plenty of trade with shiploads of raw materials and codfish were shipped back to France coupled with a steadily growing population of settlers. Fortress of Louisbourg paid a bloody price, though.
The Brits seized the settlement twice and completely destroyed the fortress.
For years the grass-covered ruin was a playground for local kids. But, in a huge monumental undertaking in 1961, then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, in a national works project, had the fort recreated as a make-work project for the unemployed Cape Breton coal miners.
The recreated Fortress of Louisbourg was to open in 1967 for Canada’s Centennial. It sadly did not but did partially open in 1969.
To this date, it is considered North America’s largest reconstruction project.
A Parks Canada operated National Historic Site, this bucket list experience along with Parks Canada’s other parks and sites will have free admission in 2017. Now you need to visit to see what the next chapter holds.
13- Halifax Citadel, Nova Scotia
For nearly 250 years this hilltop walled fortress has been seen by all who arrive in the capital of Nova Scotia, even if they decide not to venture inside.
But trust us you will want to.
Guidebook publisher Fodor’s pegs this heritage landmark as Canada’s most visited National Historic Site.
We like to think so too.
The best part is to head inside to see the barracks, guardroom, and powder magazine and to watch the parade of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Royal Artillery and the 78th Highland Regiment Pipe Band (this is their home base). See the kilts and tall feather bonnets and watch the Noon Guns fire daily.
To get a real feel of Canadian history why not don a full uniform and enrol in the “Soldier for a Day” program?
Next year you’ll be beating a happy drum too as this National Historic Site run by Parks Canada will have free admission.
14- Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario
Location, location, location. This 19th-century British military fortress with its imposing features looms high atop a natural cliffside and gives a strong message: don’t mess with us.
So why is it here?
Originally it was set up to defend the Rideau Canal and the Naval Dockyard but it was mainly used to defend the city of Kingston and the busy harbour.
Originally built in 1832, the fort was added to over the years. The strangest discovery of Fort Henry is its purpose. While it was built for military action, it never saw any.
Instead, the grand complex was a prison. Fort Henry held prisoners from the Rebellions of 1837 and both World Wars.
15- Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario
Go see only the largest reconstructed fur trading post in the world.
Dial back the clock to 1850 and feel like you’ve stepped back into the past.
See recreated buildings in this old company town which stood as the headquarters of that other fur trading company, the North West Company.
Fort William’s heydays hailed during the great fur-trading expeditions from the 1770s to the 1820s when beaver fur was considered high fashion.
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