The history of castles dates back as far as medieval Europe when grand fortresses were built as a way of protection and as a symbol of nobility. The honourable status of these impressive structures not only sustained throughout the years but also travelled overseas. In the 1800s, Ontario (or the Province of Canada) began to see the construction of castle-like homes that mimicked those found across the ocean.
Ontario’s castles are breathtaking in their own right, with brilliant architecture and extravagant gardens that surround their estates. A step inside and you are taken back in time to the grandeur and elegance of the Victorian era.
This summer, visit some of Ontario’s most prestigious castles:
Dundurn National Historic Site, built in the 1830s in Hamilton, is a 40-room Italianate-style villa once home to Sir Allan Napier MacNab, railway magnate, lawyer and Premier of the United Canadas (1854-1856) and his family. Today Dundurn Castle tells the story of the family who lived above stairs and the servants who lived and worked below stairs to support their affluent lifestyle.
Casa Loma found atop the hill of an affluent Toronto neighbourhood was built in the late 1800s and surpassed any private home in North America with soaring battlements and secret passageways. This 98-room structure was the home of Sir Henry Pellatt and is complete with decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables, and beautiful 5-acre estate gardens.
Southwestern Ontario’s Castle Kilbride is a grand Victorian home that was built in 1877, for James Livingston, flax industrialist, politician and entrepreneur. 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 Thousand Islands is famous for two distinct castles: Boldt and Singer. In the early 20th century, the islands become widely known as the summer capital for the rich and famous; luxurious homes, mansions and even castles began to pop up on the private islands. Boldt Castle located on Heart Island is a 120-room, six-story structure designed by George Boldt, the heir of the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. Singer Castle is the only castle in the Thousand Islands to be completed, fully furnished and lived in by the Bourne family until the 1960’s. See these castles on a tour with 1000 Islands & Seaway Cruises Brockville, 1000 Islands Helicopter Tour, Rockport Cruises, and Gananoque Boat Line. Don’t forget to bring your passport, these castles are actually located in United States!
Ontario is full of history and culture. A quick tour discovering our province’s magnificent castle collection will leave you awe-inspired and proud of our rich heritage.
Visit attractionsontario.ca to learn more about these fantastic structures.