“Once this front door shuts, you’re in Europe 400 years ago,” we’re warned as we try our hardest to throw open the antique castle double doors he purchased at an auction years earlier.
Stone Hall Castle is truly a time-warp, and kind of a brain bender if you look out the window.
The building was constructed by Francis Darke in 1926. Darke’s wife, Annie, was badly shaken by the 1912 tornado that devastated most of downtown Regina. She asked her husband if he would build her a home that could withstand a tornado, a fortress of sorts.
“So on the outside, what you see is what Mr. Darke built in 1926. On the inside, you see what I did over 13 years,” explained the building’s current owner, Jason Hall. “We’ve gutted the inside and we’ve created essentially a medieval castle.”
Creating Saskatchewan’s only castle is a passion project he’s taking very seriously. You’d be hard-pressed to find a decoration that wasn’t at least 300 years old. And, the coolest part, is interacting with history. Tour-goers put their noses up-close to the paintings, they sit on the antique bear-skin rug while fanning the flames with medieval fire place bellows, and sprawl on the 300-year-old bed covered with furs.
“The furniture really lends to the experience of the castle and the tour because not only do you get to tour an unbelievable medieval castle, but you get to experience furniture from a time when we didn’t experience it in Canada,” said Hall.
It feels like a museum, but with fewer rules; kind of like a library with no hushing.
“I think that’s what the tour is all about. You come in for $25, and you will not spend a better $25 anywhere in Canada and be more entertained than you are for this hour or two hours or however long it takes. There has not been one customer that hasn’t been absolutely thrilled.”
Hall also calls the castle home. It adds another interesting layer of the tour. While you’re sitting on that antique bear-skin rug, you’re wondering what it would be like to live what he calls “the castle life”.
“The backdrop of my everyday life is in a castle. That’s probably the part I enjoy most about it. It’s awesome,” said Hall.
When he decided he was going to take up residence there, he had to make some medieval adjustments. He’s installed in-floor heating, because one of the reasons we don’t live in castles anymore is because of the stone cold floors. Electricity, running water, and plumbing are all included in this castle.
“One of the things that i’m also proud about with the project is it’s very functional here,” he said. “You’ve got high end appliances, high end taps that kind of thing, but it blends in. I could have easily said no electricity, no running water, here’s a pot that you pee in, but you want it to be five-star. So you blend it in and you say ok, what can we do that still visually looks like it’s old.”
It sure makes it a more marketable experience, especially when you’re charging $1500 per night to stay in a castle suite. He just opened the servant’s quarters for guests.
While it’s not a price everyone would be willing to pay, Hall says it’s an experience you’ll never forget.
“Look at how much fun you’re having in the castle,” Hall said to me while we chatted in antique chairs by the candlelobra. “This is the common theme though. People come in, and it’s so unusual that we all become kids again right? We walk into a castle and even people in their 80’s and 90’s walk in and go, ‘Wow, this is something I haven’t seen before!’”