Castle Kilbride, a lavish, nineteenth-century home of one of Canada’s great entrepreneurs, is a National Historic Site and a must-see attraction. For anyone traveling in Niagara or the Greater Toronto Area, a trip to Kitchener and beyond is well worth a wander through this 1877 home, furnished with historic pieces from the original owners. The Victorian style has been masterfully preserved to showcase the intricate interiors and the detailed exteriors that the original owners designed. Previously home to parliament member and entrepreneur James Livingston, Castle Kilbride was a family home for 100 years. When the township council took ownership in the 1990s, the original trompe l’oeil ceilings and wall murals were restored, bringing the castle back to its former glory. The in-house museum hosts exhibits about the Livingston family and the area of Baden, but also transforms for fun events throughout the year, like the Halloween ghost walks and Christmastime decorations.
Located in the town of Baden, about 20 km west of Kitchener and 80 km from the city of Hamilton, Castle Kilbride is well worth the short drive into the countryside. Via Highway 401 — stop by historic Guelph and Kitchener along the way. Take the 4 bus from Kitchener, transferring to the 77 at Boardwalk Station, and get off at Snyders/Mill to reach Castle Kilbride by public transit. When you’re in Baden, make sure to check out the Prime Ministers Path next door, which hosts bronze statues of Canada’s Prime Ministers throughout history.
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More about Castle Kilbride
Although a walk through Castle Kilbride — named after James Livingston’s Scotland birthplace, Kilbride — is a jaw-dropping experience today, the castle wasn’t always this pristinely preserved. When the Livingston family gave up the home in 1988, the building sat vacant for several years. With Italian-inspired wall murals, colourful paint and delicate intricacies throughout the castle, vacancy meant rapid deterioration of the lavish home. Luckily, the township saw an opportunity to preserve an important part of Ontario history and purchased the home in 1993. However, the furnishings and housewares had been auctioned off at a 1988 estate sale, meaning the original interiors would have to be recreated from replacements. In a testament to Canadians’ kindness and commitment to their culture, several people at the auction donated their treasures back to the castle, so much of what you see there is, in fact, the original decor.
One year after the castle reopened as a museum in 1994, it was designated a National Historic Site, as it represents an important period of entrepreneurship and family values in Canadian history. The interior of the building is decorated with Italian Renaissance style murals, including trompe l’oeil paintings, which give the impression of three dimensions although they are simply two dimensional paintings. Outside, beautiful gardens give way to the gorgeous view. Take a tour around the castle to learn all about the history of the Livingston family and their beautiful home.
Castle Kilbride is an important site for anyone wanting to learn more about Canada’s rich history. As one of Ontario’s many restored and preserved historic homes, Castle Kilbride is a perfect addition to your historical tour of the region.