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Flashback | Rétrospective

Hatley Castle

Things go bump in the night in Hatley Castle

A team from the B.C. Society of Paranormal Investigation and Research into the Supernatural (B.C. SPIRITS) came to Royal Roads University in 2006 to investigate widely told stories of paranormal activity in and around Hatley Castle, once the home of James Dunsmuir and Royal Roads Military College between 1940 and 1995. B.C. SPIRITS uncovered video evidence of what they described as a grey cloud moving quickly up a staircase and several still shots of a shadow behind one of their people and a floating face in the main foyer of the castle.


Blue Indian peafowl (males are called peacocks, females are peahens) live free outside outside Millward Building near Hatley Castle. Albert, the white peacock – a resident since the days of the Royal Roads Military College – died tragically in early January 2003 when he ran into the side of Millward building while fleeing from an unleashed dog. Peacocks were first donated to the Royal Roads Military College in the 1960s by a family in the Okanagan – no one seems to know why Al was not a true albino – he didn’t have red eyes and he was able to sire progeny to carry on his line. However, white
peacocks are considered very rare. No other peacocks have been killed on campus – at least in recent history. Al liked to roost atop the sculpture outside Millward stepped right in front of her family as they posed for a photo with out-of-town visitors.


  • Cdr Darren Rich

    December 5, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    As Third and Fourth Year Cadets at RRMC we were required to stand College Officer of the Day in Hatley Castle with our duty office being the Commissionaire’s office located on the landing on the main stairwell between the first floor and what was the College Orderly Room floor (location of the College PA system – did it work? who knows, and the key press for the campus). At night we slept in the change room for the kitchen staff from the Castle Dining Room on the first floor in the east wing of the castle. We had to be up and out by 0600 (no shower facilities available though) so that the morning staff could get dressed in their uniforms.

    At night we had to patrol the castle and this included walking up the stairs to check the door leading into the Band Room on the fourth deck. It was a lonely, dark stairwell and we had all heard the story of the ghost of Mrs. Dunsmuir and several of us had watched the filming of “The Changling” starring George C. Scott, which used the Castle for several scenes, including the famous empty wooden wheelchair rolling(?) down those same Band Room stairs. Personally I left EVERY light on while I did my rounds and turned the lights off at the last minute as I left the various wings of the building.

    The Commissionaires would also patrol the building, letting themselves in via the basement doors and taking great delight in trying to sneak up on us (so it seemed). One of my class of 83, who shall remain nameless, carried a fire axe with him in the evenings while on rounds. One night he came face-to-face with a Commissionaire and why the elderly gentleman did not die of a heart attack on the spot we’ll never know. One of our seniors from the Class of either 80 or 81, once came upon a patient who had escaped from a local psychiatric facility and had wandered into the Castle.

    Personally, I never experienced a ghostly apparation but woke in the middle of the night once and was startled by what I thought was a figure floating at the end of the bed. When my mind cleared away the fog of sleep, I remembered that it was a green sweater belonging to one of the female kitchen staff that had been left draped over a chair in the room. After that I remembered to put away any clothing that had been left out by the staff before retiring for the night.

    As for the peacocks, I once witnessed a male peacock attempt to vanquish a foe but end up on the short end of the scrap. He attempted to beat up his reflection in the side of a black van that had just been freshly washed and waxed. It belonged to one of the UTP[NC]Ms and the scratches in the paint and chrome were nothing to laugh at! They also used to go into heat during the April exam routine and would wail at all hours of the day and night. There is an urban legend of one Cadet, before 1978, who apparently lopped the head off of a peacock with one swing of a tennis racket (by accident?).

    Ah, yes, life at Royal Roads was never dull…

  • 5611 Gerry Stowe

    December 5, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    I’m sure the Commissionaires thought the place was haunted, when the Ship’s Bell would ring in the middle of the night, and nobody could be seen running from the scene. It was only one of us in the Nixon Block pulling on a very long string attached to the bell rope. Perhaps the shadowy cloud was the ghost of one of our waitresses from the early 60s; several of them used to terrorize us with shaky hands and slopping bowls of hot soup.