Built in the 1830s, Dundurn Castle is a national historic site featuring 40 rooms, a garden, a shop and event spaces. Enjoy guided tours by costumed interpreters that make you feel like you are in the 19th century! Once occupied by the affluent Sir Allan Napier MacNab, the castle tells the story of his wealthy family and their support staff, including a beloved gardener that worked at the property.
The castle is open to individual visitors, group tours, student tours and hosts educational events and experiences. The property holds other functions throughout the year, including the famous Victorian Christmas event with festive decor and evening tours. You can also rent some of the castle’s indoor and outdoor spaces for weddings, social gatherings or corporate retreats.
You’ll find Dundurn Castle on York Boulevard in West Hamilton. Overlooking Burlington Bay, the castle sits in the Dundurn Park neighbourhood just 3 km from Hamilton’s city centre and about 65 km west of Toronto.
For up-to-date information and details about Dundurn Castle, we recommend visiting their website. For more information about the property and other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
More about Dundurn Castle
Dundurn Castle is part of the Dundurn National Historic Site and features a neoclassical, Italianate-style 1,600 square metre villa completed in 1835. The city of Hamilton restored the mansion’s 40 rooms to match its historic interior when the wealthy Sir Allan Napier MacNab lived there in the mid-19th century. He was an important figure, holding roles such as a railway magnate, a lawyer and the United Canadas’ Premier from 1854-1856. Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall Camilla (the wife of Prince Charles) is the museum’s official patron because she is the great, great, great-granddaughter of Sir Allan MacNab.
Today, the castle operates more like a museum, depicting what daily life for the MacNab family was like at that time. It also offers insights into 19th-century life in Hamilton and throughout Ontario. Interpreters and hosts dressed in costume will guide you through the castle’s rooms and grounds, divulging the story of the MacNab family and its crew of trusty servants.
One of the family’s most beloved attendants was William Reid, the MacNabs’ gardener who served the family for over 25 years. You can walk the restored gardens’ grounds, which still grow over 200 types of heirloom fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. Although the castle is open year-round, the garden is only available for visits from May to October. In the summer months (July and August), you can enjoy free tours of the garden.
Dundurn Castle’s coach house was completed in the 1870s and is now home to The Castle Shop. You’ll find handmade souvenirs, crafts and gifts from Canadian makers. For those looking for a unique event space, the castle rents out the former hayloft on its shop’s upper level. This space can accommodate up to 120 guests.
Other rent spaces include the entire coach house, the former stables, the cellar and the woodshed. These spaces highlight exceptional stonework and create a romantic and historic ambience for gatherings and weddings. There are also plenty of outdoor spaces, including large green spaces, gardens and enclosed picnic areas. The castle can host various events, such as corporate retreats, birthday parties, family reunions, field trips and more.
Dundurn Castle also entertains groups with workshops and immersive learning experiences. One of the most popular events is the MacNab’s Kitchen Workshop. Here you’ll make traditional recipes in the castle’s historic kitchen while using local ingredients (some grown right on the grounds in the garden). Another favourite experience is The Heights Tour, which dives deep into the War of 1812.
You’ll also find green spaces for walking and the Hamilton Military Museum on the Dundurn Castle grounds. Educational displays depict scenes and artifacts from several battles, including the War of 1812, the Rebellions of 1837, the Boer War, World War I and World War II. The museum also focuses on the role of women in the Canadian military.
Because Dundurn Castle is near Hamilton’s centre, you may want to enjoy some of the city’s other sites. Many castle visitors opt to combine their time with a stroll through Harvey Park to enjoy views over Burlington Bay. You’ll find a waterfront trail that takes you to a lookout point at the historic Thomas B. McQuesten High Level Bridge, built in 1932.
Just across Highway 403 is the RBG Cootes Paradise Sanctuary, an impressive outdoor preserve where you can enjoy walking, hiking, birding, boating and plenty of other activities in nature. The green space is part of the Royal Botanical Gardens of Hamilton, the largest of its kind in Canada. You’ll find five separate garden areas featuring 27 km of nature trails across over 2,400 acres of land. There are more than 180,000 plants to enjoy, which come from over 2,300 different species.
The city of Hamilton is known for its large number of waterfalls. The nearest cascades to Dundurn Castle are Chedoke Falls and Cliffview Falls. Another local favourite is Albion Falls, and you can even drive to the famous Niagara Falls in just about one hour.
King Street and Main Street intersect Hamilton's downtown core. Here’s where you’ll find plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars and boutique shopping. At Jackson Square, there’s a large indoor shopping centre. Across the way are the city’s cultural venues, including the Hamilton Convention Centre, FirstOntario Concert Hall and the expansive Art Gallery of Hamilton. A stroll up James Street offers views of historic buildings and locally owned businesses. Or escape the bustling streets and head to the smaller nearby community of Dundas with its gardens and charming buildings.