20 Forts and Castles in Canada Worth Exploring

Canada’s vast and diverse landscape is dotted with remarkable forts and castles that speak of a rich and storied past. From the charming Victorian elegance of British Columbia to the imposing fortresses set in the heart of Alberta’s natural grandeur, the Castles in Canada are architectural marvels that offer a glimpse into Canada’s history, culture and unparalleled scenic beauty.

This guide will take you on a journey through 20 must-see forts and castles, each uniquely woven into the fabric of the country. These treasures promise an unforgettable experience, so get exploring Canada’s forts and castles!

Castles in Ontario

Casa Loma

“House on the Hill” or Casa Loma, the fairytale castle of Toronto, is everything you’d hope for and more. Completed in 1914, this majestic castle in Canada was the residence of financier Sir Henry Pellatt, who poured his heart and wealth into making it one of Canada’s architectural marvels. The castle boasts over 90 rooms, secret passages, lush gardens, and stunning views of Toronto, making it a must-see destination.

Casa Loma, Ontario
Casa Loma, Ontario | Copyright: Tripadvisor

But remember, it’s not just about the visual treat. Casa Loma’s history is as captivating as its architecture, marked by high ambitions, dramatic turns, and, eventually, a glorious revival as one of Canada’s most cherished landmarks.

Dundurn Castle

Hamilton’s historic gem, the Dundurn Castle, is more of a stately mansion than an actual castle. But don’t let that fool you! Dundurn, built in the 1830s, is every bit as impressive as you’d imagine a castle to be.

Dundurn Castle, Ontario
Dundurn Castle, Ontario | Copyright: Trip.com

Once home to Sir Allan Napier MacNab, a former Premier of the Province of Canada, this 72-room estate offers a peek into the aristocratic life of the 19th century. Furnished to reflect the period, Dundurn stands as a testament to Hamilton’s past, a time when the city was gaining prominence in the country. So, if you’re ever in Hamilton, a visit to Dundurn is nothing short of a historical journey!

Chateau Laurier

Welcome to Ottawa’s famous Chateau Laurier, a grand hotel that’s as good as any castle! This imposing château-style hotel, opened in 1912, echoes the architectural style of French Renaissance castles.

With its elegant turrets and copper roof, the Chateau Laurier mirrors the grandeur of nearby Parliament buildings, making it a significant part of Ottawa’s skyline. A stay here isn’t just about luxury; it’s about relishing the charm of a bygone era, where the old-world elegance meets modern comforts.

Chateau Laurier, Ontario
Chateau Laurier, Ontario | Copyright: Wikipedia

Chateau Laurier isn’t just a hotel; it’s a historical landmark, a piece of Ottawa’s identity, making it a must-visit when you’re in the capital.

Boldt Castle

Sitting pretty in the heart of the Thousand Islands region is the heartbreaking love story of the Boldt Castle. This grand edifice was a testament of love from George Boldt, a wealthy hotelier, for his beloved wife, Louise. He planned this six-story, 120-room castle to be the finest in all of North America, sparing no expense in the construction.

Sadly, Louise passed away unexpectedly in 1904, and a devastated George halted all construction, leaving the castle unoccupied for over 70 years.

Boldt Castle, Ontario
Boldt Castle, Ontario | Copyright: Pixabay

Today, restored by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, the castle is open to the public. Visitors can explore its beautiful grounds, Italian gardens, and marvel at the opulence of the rooms.

There’s also the Alster Tower, intended to be a playhouse with a bowling alley, billiard room, and a theater! Exploring the Boldt Castle is like stepping into a real-life fairy tale, albeit one tinged with a touch of tragedy.

Willistead Manor

In the charming city of Windsor, Ontario, you’ll find the elegant Willistead Manor. The manor was constructed in 1906 for Edward Chandler Walker, the second son of the famous whiskey distiller, Hiram Walker. The Manor’s design is an eclectic mix of Tudor and Georgian styles, resulting in an eye-catching architectural masterpiece.

Willistead Manor, Ontario
Willistead Manor, Ontario | Copyright: Pixabay

Today, Willistead Manor serves as a cultural hub, hosting art exhibits and special events. The 36-room manor house is a testament to the Walkers’ contribution to the city, mirroring the elegance and sophistication of the era.

It’s not just a visit; it’s a walk down memory lane into Windsor’s rich heritage.

Fort Henry (Kingston)

While it’s not technically a castle, Fort Henry in Kingston, Ontario, packs in as much history and grandeur as any castle would. Built during the War of 1812, the fort stands tall on Point Henry, overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It’s been meticulously preserved, allowing visitors to experience military life in the 19th century.

Fort Henry (Kingston), Ontario
Fort Henry (Kingston), Ontario | Copyright: Pinterest

Here, history is not just remembered; it’s relived. The Fort Henry Guard, a group of trained students, conducts drills, fires the rifles and cannon, and even stages a full-scale military tattoo!

So, it’s not just about exploring a historic fort; it’s about experiencing a slice of Canada’s military history firsthand. A visit to Fort Henry is both educational and entertaining, and if you’re lucky, you might even witness a stunning sunset from the ramparts!

Castles in British Columbia

Hatley Castle

Welcome to the magic of Hatley Castle in Victoria, the epitome of Edwardian era splendor. This beauty was built in 1908 for James Dunsmuir, a coal and railway tycoon. With its 40 rooms designed in a tasteful blend of Tudor revival and Scottish Baronial architecture, Hatley Castle stands out with its verdant surroundings.

Hatley Castle, British Columbia
Hatley Castle, British Columbia | Copyright: Google

Its gardens are a treat for sore eyes – the Japanese, Rose, and Italian gardens are nature’s masterpieces. Interestingly, the castle doubles as a movie star, having been featured in films and TV series, including X-Men and Smallville. But there’s more! Today, it houses Royal Roads University, proving that it’s not just about looks, but brains too!

So, next time you’re in Victoria, why not walk through the corridors of Hatley and soak in the blend of academia and antiquity?

Craigdarroch Castle

Did we forget to mention that Victoria, British Columbia, is home to not one but two enchanting castles? That’s right! The Craigdarroch Castle is another feather in Victoria’s cap.

Craigdarroch Castle, British Columbia
Craigdarroch Castle, British Columbia | Copyright: Expedia

Built by Robert Dunsmuir in the 1890s, this mansion-castle takes you back to the Victorian era with its lavish furnishings, impressive woodwork, and 87-stair climb to the tower. The view from the top us just spectacular!

Victoria’s neighborhoods, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and even the Olympic mountains on clear days, make the climb worth it! And yes, each room you pass en route unravels a story about the Dunsmuir family and Victoria’s past.

Empress Hotel

Continuing our journey through British Columbia, we stumble upon the majestic Empress Hotel. This magnificent château-style building sits regally on Victoria’s Inner Harbour since 1908. It’s not just a hotel; it’s a symbol of Victoria’s elegance.

Architect Francis Rattenbury’s work shines through the red brick facade, Edwardian chandeliers, and a lobby that’s grand enough to make royal hearts flutter.

Fancy a traditional British tea experience? The Empress is your go-to destination, with its world-famous Afternoon Tea that’s steeped in sophistication.

Empress Hotel, British Columbia
Empress Hotel, British Columbia | Copyright: Booking

The hotel is an unforgettable sight at night with its illuminations, beckoning visitors to soak in its royal ambiance. Don’t miss it!

Hycroft Manor

We conclude our British Columbia tour with Vancouver’s beautiful Hycroft Manor. This Edwardian mansion, built in 1911 for General Alexander Duncan McRae, offers a slice of Vancouver’s historic charm amid the city’s urban landscape.

Hycroft Manor, British Columbia
Hycroft Manor, British Columbia | Copyright: Sowedding.ca

With 30 rooms, including a ballroom, lounges, and a drawing-room, Hycroft is a testimony to the grandeur of the past. Its sunken garden and two-story pillars add a regal touch to the manor. Today, it houses the University Women’s Club of Vancouver, hosting cultural events that uphold the city’s vibrant spirit.

Drop by for a visit, and you’ll find yourself in awe of Hycroft’s charm!

Castles in Alberta

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Who said castles can’t be hotels? The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta is a spectacular “Castle in the Rockies,” a symbol of Banff’s timeless elegance. This hotel-castle built in 1888 by Canadian Pacific Railway as one of Canada’s grand railway hotels, is an architectural marvel set amidst the breathtaking backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, Alberta | Copyright: Elitejetsetter.com

Each room in the hotel tells a story, a story of the visitors who have come to bask in the beauty of Banff. What’s more, the hotel offers an array of activities for its guests, including golfing, spa facilities, and skiing.

Chateau Lake Louise

Last but certainly not least, meet the Chateau Lake Louise. Located in the heart of Banff National Park, this hotel-castle serves as a window to Alberta’s natural grandeur. The Canadian Pacific Railway initially built it as a simple log cabin in 1890.

Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta
Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta | Copyright: Thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

But over the years, it has grown into a luxury resort, offering its guests an unparalleled view of the stunning Lake Louise and surrounding mountains. The chateau is not just about spectacular sights; it’s about immersing in the adventures that Lake Louise offers, including hiking, canoeing, and horseback riding.

So, make sure Chateau Lake Louise is on your Alberta checklist!

Castles in Quebec

Place Viger

Welcome to Montreal, where we’re greeted by the grandeur of Place Viger. Built between 1895 and 1897, this château-style building used to be a grand hotel and train station. Designed by Bruce Price, the architect behind New York’s famed Chateau Frontenac, Place Viger is a symbol of Montreal’s ambitious past.

Place Viger, Quebec
Place Viger, Quebec | Copyright: 123RF

In its heyday, it was a bustling hub of activity, serving as a central meeting place for Montreal’s high society. However, as the years passed, the building fell into disuse, but, not one to be forgotten, it was given a new life as an upscale shopping center.

Today, Place Viger stands proudly as a testament to the city’s history, a beautiful piece of architecture that embodies the spirit of the city’s golden era.

Le Chateau Frontenac

We stay in Quebec, but we move to the city’s historic heart, where the iconic Le Chateau Frontenac proudly stands. This isn’t your traditional castle, but it’s a castle nonetheless. A symbol of Quebec City, the Frontenac is arguably one of the most photographed hotels in the world, and trust me, it’s well worth the shot!

Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec
Le Chateau Frontenac, Quebec | Copyright: Google

Opening its doors in 1893, this grand château-style hotel was a part of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s series of luxury hotels designed to encourage luxury tourism. Its distinct copper roofs and majestic towers, overlooking the St. Lawrence River, make it a sight to behold.

However, it’s not just about the visual splendor. The Chateau Frontenac’s charm lies in its rich history and cultural significance, having been a witness to many important events and hosting notable guests throughout the years.

Castles in Ravenscrag

Our next stop takes us back to Montreal to visit the Ravenscrag, a historic mansion that served as the city’s symbol of wealth during the 19th century. Built by Sir Hugh Allan, a successful shipping magnate, this opulent estate once stood as the largest and most extravagant residence in Canada.

Ravenscrag, Quebec
Ravenscrag, Quebec | Copyright: Wikipedia

Ravenscrag wasn’t just a residence, but a reflection of Allan’s wealth and ambition. Its grandeur was on par with European castles, making it a striking sight in the cityscape. Today, it serves as the Allan Memorial Institute, a psychiatric facility of McGill University.

Despite the changes, Ravenscrag retains its old-world charm and grandeur. Though not a castle in the strictest sense, its place in Montreal’s history and its architectural beauty make it worth a visit.

Castles in Nova Scotia

Digby Pines (Digby)

Let’s change the scene and venture to the east coast, to the beautiful province of Nova Scotia. Here in the charming town of Digby, the Digby Pines awaits. While not a traditional castle, this Norman-style chateau, complete with a stately tower, doesn’t lack in charm or history.

Digby Pines, Nova Scotia
Digby Pines, Nova Scotia | Copyright: Tripadvisor

Built in the early 20th century, the Digby Pines was part of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s initiative to promote tourism in the area. With its stunning views of the Annapolis Basin and the Bay of Fundy, the hotel quickly became a beloved retreat.

Today, Digby Pines continues to charm visitors with its elegant architecture, comfortable accommodations, and breathtaking surroundings.

Castles in Saskatchewan

Stone Hall Castle

In the heart of Regina, Saskatchewan, lies an authentic European medieval castle – the Stone Hall Castle. The brainchild of Jason Hall, this elaborate castle took a decade to complete. The interiors are adorned with antique furnishings and medieval tapestries, all of which Hall personally collected from Europe.

Even the walls were built with stone shipped from an ancient French abbey, lending an air of authenticity to the entire structure.

Each room in the Stone Hall Castle tells a tale, from the royal suite with its Tudor-style bed to the enchanting Merlin room adorned with mystical symbols. The castle also boasts a medieval dungeon that’s sure to give you a slight chill.

Stone Hall Castle, Saskatchewan
Stone Hall Castle, Saskatchewan | Copyright: Gorving.ca

A tour of the Stone Hall Castle is nothing short of a time-travel experience, where you’re momentarily transported to the grandeur of medieval Europe, right in the heart of Canada!

Government House – Regina

Finally, we’re off to the prairies, where the Government House in Regina, Saskatchewan, welcomes us. Built in 1891, this beautiful Victorian-era building served as the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of the North-West Territories.

Government House in Regina, Saskatchewan
Government House in Regina, Saskatchewan | Copyright: Expedia

In its early years, the Government House was the center of social and political life, hosting numerous official events and dignitaries. However, by 1945, it was deemed unsuitable for official functions and was repurposed as an adult education center and later as a center for veterans.

In 1980, it was restored to its original Victorian grandeur and now serves as a museum. If you’re in Regina, take the time to visit the Government House. The architecture, the history, and the well-maintained gardens make it a must-visit destination.

Santiago
Santiagohttps://itineranthorizons.com/
I'm Santiago, a devoted traveler, husband to Karol and father of two beautiful children. As co-founder and writer of Itinerant Horizons, I share what I've learned from my adventures with other explorers. Let's embark together on an exciting journey to discover captivating destinations!
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