Dunsmuir & Hatley Park collection

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The Dunsmuir and Hatley Park archival collection at Royal Roads includes more than two thousand historic photographs and ephemera.

Many fonds were donated by descendants of the Dunsmuir family as well as descendants of staff and others connected with the family and Hatley Park site.

Access the collection

You can access the Dunsmuir and Hatley Park collection online.

Scroll down on this page to see highlights from the digitized collection.

About the Dunsmuirs

The Dunsmuir family, once the richest family on Canada's west coast, made their money through coal and railways. Family patriarch Robert Dunsmuir (1825–1889) established mines on Vancouver Island and built the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway. His son, James (1851–1920), worked alongside him and continued to amass the family fortune after Robert's death.

Both Robert and James held public offices, and James was Lieutenant Governor of BC from 1906 to 1909. James married Laura Surles (1858–1937) in 1876 and they had twelve children.

James's purchase of Hatley Park coincided with his retirement. The Dunsmuir family owned Hatley Park until 1940 and constructed many buildings on the site, including the castle, which was designed by Samuel Maclure. In addition to family and friends, more than 100 staff lived and worked on the estate.

Archival Dunsmuir family photo

Documentary about the Dunsmuirs at Hatley Park

View and download this thirty-minute documentary created by Royal Roads University in 2016.

Watch the documentary

Highlights from the Dunsmuir/Hatley Park digitized collection

Explore highlights from our digitized collection to learn more about the Dunsmuirs and Hatley Park.

Archival photo of two people in garden

K. McCann fonds

The K. McCann fonds consists of almost 1,500 photographs from various Dunsmuir family albums, from the late 1800s to the 1960s.


In the collection, you'll find historic photos of:

  • Hatley Castle, designed by Samuel Maclure
  • the Japanese Garden, Italian Garden and Rose Garden as well as surrounding grounds, designed by Brett and Hall, a Boston landscape architectural firm
  • buildings on the property including the stables, garage, tennis courts, barns and a greenhouse, designed by Lord and Burnham
  • Dunsmuir family members, friends and visitors to Hatley Park and other properties (the people and locations are not always identified)
  • Dunsmuir family trips to other destinations


The fonds also contains ephemera, including:

  • a digital copy of the Crimson Paradise film premiere program, with autographs from some of the cast
  • the 1939 Maynard auction catalogue, listing the contents of the Dunsmuirs' Hatley Park home
  • the visitor's book from the Dunsmuirs' yacht, Dolaura [Of note: A number of celebrity signatures can be found in the visitor's book, including Kaiser Wilhelm's from 1908. The book was used first on the yacht and, later, at the home of Dola (Dunsmuir) Cavendish (1903–1966), which was also named Dolaura.]
Archival photo of people in old vehicle

L. Catterall Ferguson fonds

The L. Catterall Ferguson fonds consists of 26 images from Laura Catterall Ferguson’s family album.

The images mostly concern the construction of Hatley Park from 1908 to 1910. Head contractor Thomas Catterall’s son, Harry, also worked on the project and lived on site with his wife Ada (Gladding) Catterall. The couple had three children; Laura was the youngest.

The photos in the fonds include pictures of family and friends as well as the construction Hatley Park.

Archival family photo

P. Luttmer fonds

The P. Luttmer fonds consists of 32 images scanned from the personal collection of Peter Luttmer, a great grandson of James and Laura Dunsmuir.

The images are mostly portrait photos of Dunsmuir family members, specifically, Laura (Surles) Dunsmuir (1858–1937), her daughter Kathleen Dunsmuir Humphreys (1891–1941) and husband Selden Humphreys (1880–1960), and their children James (1918–1999), Joan (1919–1996), Jill (1924–2010) and Judith (1927–1972) Humphreys.

Various formal and informal family photos are included.

Archival photo of person on horseback in front of stone building

J. H. Luttmer fonds

The J. H. Luttmer fonds consists of 23 images scanned from the personal collection of Joan Humphreys Luttmer, a granddaughter of James and Laura Dunsmuir.

The images are mostly portrait photos of Dunsmuir family members, specifically, Joan's grandmother Laura Dunsmuir (1858-1937); her mother, Kathleen Dunsmuir Humphreys (1891-1941); father, Selden Humphreys (1880-1960); and siblings, James (1918–1999), Jill (1919-1996) and Judith (1927–1972).

Various formal and informal family photos are included.

Archival photo of two children and a big fluffy dog

L. D. Mitchell fonds

The L. D. Mitchell fonds consists of 31 images of Dunsmuir family members at Hatley Park and other locations. Some formal portrait photos are included.

Laura Dunsmuir Mitchell is a granddaughter of James and Laura Dunsmuir.

Archival photo of group of people outside

B. Citerley fonds

The B. Citerley fonds consists of images of the family of Francis Philip Hayward, former gardener/florist at Hatley Park. The collection also includes newspaper clippings about Dunsmuir family members.

The images, taken between 1910 and 1920, were compiled in an album by Hayward’s daughter, Ella.

Barbara Citerley is Ella's daughter and the granddaughter of Francis Philip Hayward.

Archival photo of two children in front of building

N. Atchison fonds

The N. Atchison fonds consists of images from family albums showing the (Charles) Mann family at Hatley Park and later residences such as Fintry, BC.

Norm Atchison is the grandson of Frederick Charles Mann, former teamster and dairyman at Hatley Park.