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Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario: A Step Back in Time

Updated: Feb 7

Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario, is not a castle in the medieval sense but a grand 19th-century villa that once belonged to Sir Allan Napier MacNab, a prominent lawyer, politician, and Premier of the United Canadas from 1854 to 1856. Today, it stands as a magnificent example of the neoclassical architecture that dominated the era and offers visitors a glimpse into the lives of the Canadian elite during the Victorian period. Join me on a detailed journey through the history and halls of this fascinating historical site.

Location: 610 York Blvd, Hamilton, ON L8R 3E7

Dundurn Castle at Dundurn Park, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Dundurn Castle at Dundurn Park, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Introduction to Dundurn Castle

Nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario, Dundurn Castle offers a panoramic view that captivates visitors even before they step inside. Completed in 1835, the castle features over 40 rooms across its 18,000-square-foot floor plan and has been meticulously restored to reflect the opulence of the period.

Historical Significance

The castle not only served as MacNab's family home but also as a social center of the region, hosting dignitaries such as Sir John A. Macdonald and King Edward VII. The site has been recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada, ensuring its preservation and continued educational role.

Preparing for the Tour

Before you embark on your tour, it's recommended to check the Dundurn Castle website for any seasonal hours, ticket prices, or special event information. It's also advisable to wear comfortable shoes as you'll be exploring multiple floors of the estate.

Arrival and Amenities

Upon arrival at Dundurn Castle, you'll find ample parking. The coach house nearby serves as a visitor center where you can purchase tickets and explore the small gift shop. Restrooms are available here, so it's best to use them before starting your tour.

Dundurn Castle (back, facing Burlington Bay)
Dundurn Castle (back, facing Burlington Bay)

The Tour Experience

The guided tour of Dundurn Castle begins at the front entrance, where a costumed guide welcomes you into the grand foyer. From here, the tour takes you through a series of sumptuously furnished rooms, each telling a part of the MacNab family story and the broader tale of Hamilton's development.

The Main Floor

The main floor of Dundurn Castle boasts several impressive rooms:

  • The Front Hall: The entrance sets the tone with its grand staircase and portraits of the MacNab family.

  • The Drawing Room: Here, you'll discover luxurious furnishings and learn about Victorian social customs.

  • The Dining Room: This room features an impressive dining table set for a lavish meal, showcasing the wealth and status of the MacNab family.

  • The Study: Sir Allan MacNab's study is filled with artifacts from his political career and personal life, providing insight into his influential role in Canadian history.

The folly in Dundurn Park
The folly in Dundurn Park

The Upper Floor

Ascending the staircase to the upper floor, visitors encounter the private quarters: