A castle fit for a wedding: P.E.I. replicas finding new life

·3 min read
Bruce Richardson and Joanne Crokett are planning to get married in a small caslte on Prince Edward Island. (Joanne Crockett - image credit)
Bruce Richardson and Joanne Crokett are planning to get married in a small caslte on Prince Edward Island. (Joanne Crockett - image credit)

Two replica castles in rural Prince Edward Island that once served as a popular tourist attraction are being restored by a couple to host events.

The first event? Their own wedding.

Bruce Richardson grew up in Nova Scotia. At the moment, he owns a bee rescue farm in Ontario with his soon-to-be wife Joanne Crockett, but now he is coming back to the East Coast to live in a castle.

Earlier this summer, the stone castles — part of the former Woodleigh Replicas site in Burlington, P.E.I. — were put up for sale for $119,900.

"A friend of ours posted these castles on Facebook," Richardson recalled about how he came to know about the unusual listing.

While he was visiting the East Coast earlier this year, he decided to check into the property and called the real estate agent.

"I was the first guy to call him in the morning," he said. "I think it was by noon we were done."

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

The castles are replicas of Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye off the west coast of Scotland and of the Tower of London in England.

They were originally built as a hobby by a former owner of the property, Lt.-Col. Ernest Johnstone, and his son, Sen. Archibald Johnstone. The replicas drew a lot of interest from locals and the Woodleigh Replicas Park was officially opened to the public in 1957.

In its heyday, the attraction employed 80 people each season and would see 4,000 visitors a day. The site closed in 2008.

Richardson said they are going to turn one of the castles on the property into a house.

"The Dunvegan Castle is actually like a four bedroom house," he said.

The other castle they plan to rent out for events, beginning with their own wedding.

However, Richardson said once the project is complete, the venue will have to be booked — there won't be free access for the public.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

Crockett said she is excited to get married in a castle — especially since she has a family connection.

"We started looking into different clans with us being Scottish ... and my clan actually did live in the original Dunvegan in Scotland," Crockett said.

Over the past 10 days, Richardson and Crockett have been working to clean up the property while living out of a camper van, clearing debris and chopping up large trees that were knocked down by Hurricane Dorian.

"We don't want to change things. We just want to get it back to its original state and improve things with newer technology," said Richardson.

He said there is a lot of work to do with delicate stones and making sure the electrical and plumbing is working properly, but he hopes to have the castles fully renovated by the time his wedding comes around in July 2022.

Richardson said his father was a big fan of English sea captain Admiral Nelson and there is a large statue of Nelson on the property that bees have turned into a home.

Richardson plans on housing bees in one of the buildings on the property, taking a bit of his business in Ontario to P.E.I.

"I think its more than coincidence," said Richardson of the bees on the property, adding that he thought of it as a sign from the universe to invest in the property.

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