Castle Kilbride National Historic Site


Castle Kilbride stands as a monument to our heritage and traditions, and the commitment that the people of Wilmot Township have made to preserve their heritage.

Castle Kilbride is a grand Victorian home that was built in 1877, for James Livingston, flax industrialist, politician and entrepreneur. It was named Castle Kilbride after Livingston’s birthplace in East Kilbride, Scotland. The house was designed in the Italianate style of architecture and capped with a belvedere lookout. The beautiful exterior, however, is overshadowed by its outstanding interior décor.

The magnificent Trompe l’oeil ceiling and wall murals provide an optical illusion of depth. Trompe l’oeil is a French term meaning “tricks of the eye.” Skillfully painted by German artist Henry Scharstein to appear three-dimensional, a closer inspection of the walls at Castle Kilbride reveals that it is painted on a flat surface with shadows and highlights to provide the illusion of depth.

Castle Kilbride served the Livingston family for three generations – spanning from 1877 to 1988, when the family made the heartbreaking decision to sell the home. In 1988 the furnishings were sold at a huge four-day auction and a development company purchased the home along with the 300 acres. However, development did not proceed and the property began to deteriorate.

Local heritage groups, proud of Wilmot Township’s designated heritage building, were concerned with the Castle’s deterioration. After many meetings with Township Council, the Township of Wilmot made the decision to purchase the property in 1993. Aided by federal, provincial and municipal financial support – along with active local fundraising by the Friends of Castle Kilbride – a program of detailed conservation and restoration began. In 1994, the Castle opened its doors to the public for the first time as a museum. In 1995, Castle Kilbride was designated a National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada.

Castle Kilbride is now completely furnished and has been restored to her former glory. To fully appreciate the artistry in the Castle, you will want to see for yourself its brilliance. A tour through this magnificent Castle is a step back into the lavish Victorian Era.