By Lauren LaFrance
It may come as a surprise to some, but PEI is home to a multitude of castles. Woodleigh Replicas was a collection of replica castles from the United Kingdom, found in Burlington, Prince Edward Island. This tourist attraction was built by Colonel Ernest Johnstone, veteran of World War I and II and his son, former senator Archibald Johnstone, veteran of World War II. It opened in 1957, and in it’s prime was the most successful tourist attraction on P.E.I. After passing ownership a few times, and a decline in interest, Woodleigh replicas closed down in 2008.
After being for sale for several years, the property was bought in 2021 by Bruce Richardson, a retired broadcaster from Ontario, and his fiancée.
Upon arriving to Burlington and exploring the property, they knew that they were destined to own Woodleigh Replicas. One of the replicas at Woodleigh, Dunvegan Castle, is where his fiancées ancestors lived, and another castle found on site is where Richardson’s ancestors lived. As well, there is a statue at Woodleigh of Admiral Nelson, who was the leader of the British Navy at one time and was greatly admired by Richardson’s father. To top it all off, this specific statue was also filled with honeybees, and Richardson and his fiancée are beekeepers. They knew that it was meant to be.
The plot of Woodleigh that Richardson and his fiancée bought has two large castles and a few smaller ones. Dunvegan Castle, one of the larger replicas, they plan to convert into a home, and the other, a replica of the Tower of London, they are thinking of turning into a guesthouse for visiting friends and family. As for the smaller replicas, they have a friend stone mason who has agreed to restore them. Although they are not planning on reopening the property to the public, Richardson expressed interest in holding two or three public events a year, such as Victorian Fairs. Their first big event to be held on the property will be their wedding, which they plan to hold in July of next year.
Johnstone, Arthur. History of Long River, Prince Edward Island. 2003, pp. 173-174.