Casa Loma – Toronto’s own Camelot

As I mentioned in my last post about our visit to CN Tower , Ontario Lake and Royal Ontario Museum (ROM); My next point in the City pass booklet was CASA LOMA.

Casa Loma is Canada’s Majestic Castle and it is  step back in time to a period of European elegance and splendor. It is the  former home of Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt. Canada’s foremost castle is complete with decorated suites, secret passages, an 800-foot tunnel, towers, stables, and beautiful 5-acre estate gardens.

As Casa Loma was our next point in City pass booklet , we decided to go to Casa Loma next day after our visit to ROM. The validity of City Pass was now troubling us as it was freezing cold  and windy next day but we had to cover these points. Hence we all had protected ourselves  in 5 layers of cloth and started from our Subway station “NorthYork”. For visiting Casa Loma one can take YUS (Yonge University Spadina) subway and can get down at “Dupont “  subway station.It is located near corner of Davenport Rd and Spadina Avenue. From Subway station it is approx. 15 minutes walk to reach Castle.

CASA LOMA
Address: 1, Austin Terrace, Toronto, Ontario , Canada    M5R 1X8
Telephone : 416-923-1171
Email ID: info@casaloma.org
Website : www.casaloma.org
Timings : 0930 am – 0500pm (last admission 0400 pm) open daily except on Christmas eve and Christmas

On our way to Casa Loma

On our way to Casa Loma


We reached Casa Loma sharp at 0940 hrs so that we will be able to cover full castle in our pace in a day.When we entered Castle there was no one in the premises, not even the Security Guards, but there were many cars park at the parking.We were not sure whether parking is Casa loma’s parking or some other area parking.It seems to us as it Castle has not yet opened either or it is closed today. We were looking for someone  who can tell us when it will open  but we couldn’t find anyone.

 

May be because of Freezing cold weather no one turned up.We then decided  to stand near the entrance door and wait till 1000 hrs in case timings have changed.We went and stood near entry and was just checking the door and we pushed the door and to our surprise it was open.We entered inside and saw almost 8-10 persons standing  the ticket Queue.OH, that means we were not the first to reach here , there were already visitors.To maintain the beauty of Castle ticket window and Information centre are housed inside the castle and we will not be able to find out that it is general tourist point.We skipped the Ticket queue as we had City pass booklet.

The general admission ticket  (inclusive of HST) for Casa Loma if taken separately is CAD $ 20.55 for adults and CAD$ 11.32   for children aged (4 – 13). Thus City Pass booklet is far far cheaper and highly recommended. The ticket includes Entrance to Sir Henry Pallette documentary and use of multimedia audio guide.

At the next entry point we showed our Citypass booklet and the person took the ticket from booklet and handed us  Castle brochure and guided us to go to basement to take Audio Guide. ”Audio Guide” , I was hearing the word for the first time. Then I thought may be as a promotion of Castle they must be distributing any Audio CD to all visitors.We went to Basement. Basement has Gift shops, Cafeteria, Washrooms  and Signage displaying  “ Way to Tunnel”. We had collected Audio Guide from Basement Gift shop.

brief history of casa loma  :

 Casa Loma the former estate of Sir Henry Pellatt , a prominent Toronto Financier, Industrialist and military man.Sir has a life long dream of creating a  ‘medieval’ castle on the brow of a hill overlooking Toronto.

Sir Henry Pellatt, the dreamer behind Toronto’s famous landmark Casa Loma, was born to British parents in Kingston, Ontario on January 6, 1859.  Ambitious from his youth, Sir Henry Pellatt left his studies at Upper Canada College when he was seventeen to pursue a career in commerce in the family business. By the age of 23, he became a full partner in his father’s stock brokerage firm Pellatt and Pellatt. That year also marked his marriage to Mary Dodgeson whom he met when he was twenty.

Sir Pellatt was a Businessman ahead of his time.As a partner in Pellatt and Pellatt, Sir Henry Pellatt was a business visionary. In the same year that Thomas Edison developed steam-generated electricity, Sir Henry Pellatt realized that supplying electricity could be extremely profitable. He founded the Toronto Electric Light Company in 1883. By the time he was 30, the Toronto Electric Light Company enjoyed a monopoly on the supply of street lighting to the city of Toronto.. Despite vigorous discouragement from his friends, he purchased stock in the Canadian Pacific Railroad and in the North West Land Company.

As with steam-generated electricity, his intuition was right on target. A liberal immigration policy led to opening of the Canadian West which led to healthy profits from his investments in both the Canadian Pacific Railroad and in the North West Land Company.By 1901, Sir Henry Pellatt was chairman of 21 companies with interests in mining, insurance, land and electricity. In 1902, he and his partners won the rights to build the first Canadian hydro-generating plant at Niagara Falls. He was knighted in 1905 for his military service with the Queen’s Own Rifles.

Casa Loma took three years and $3.5 million at that time to build. Sir Henry Pellatt filled Casa Loma with artwork from Canada and around the world. Casa Loma stood as a monument to its creator – it surpassed any private home in North America. With soaring battlements and secret passageways, it paid homage to the castles and knights of days gone by.

Unfortunately, Sir Henry Pellatt’s fortunes could not sustain the magic that was Casa Loma. To finance expansion, Pellatt and Pellatt went further and further into debt. The one sure source of income from the monopoly of electrical power vanished when political decisions allowed for public ownership of electricity. In a futile attempt to restore his wealth, Sir Henry Pellatt turned to land speculation. He was convinced that well-to-do Torontonians would rush to build homes around Casa Loma.However, in this case his entrepreneurial sense did not take into account the effects of World War I. During the war, Canadians put their money into war bonds, not homes. After the war the economy slumped, tilting Pellatt and Pellatt into bankruptcy. The company owed the Home Bank of Canada $1.7 million – or in today’s terms $20 million. With his stock worthless and his business debts out of control, Sir Henry Pellatt was faced with a heartbreaking decision – a decision which he would always claim was made for him by the City’s immovable tax assessors. Faced with an extraordinary tax bill, Sir Henry Pellatt had no choice but to auction off his prized possessions for a fraction of their worth and to abandon his dream of a noble castle.

The Pellatts moved to their farm in King township in 1924. Lady Pellatt passed away later that year at the age of sixty-seven.Though he lost a great fortune, Sir Henry Pellatt never lost his spirit of philanthropy, a character trait for which he was honoured late in life. His service of fifty years with the Queen’s Own Rifles was celebrated on June 27, 1926 with a march past 500 men complete with the circling overhead of three military planes. When Sir Henry Pellatt died on March 8, 1939, thousands lined Toronto streets to witness his funeral procession. He was buried with full military honours befitting a soldier who had given so much to his country.

Sir Pellatt and his wife Lady Pellatt enjoyed Casa Loma for less than ten years before financial misfortune forced him to abandon his castle home.

Castle First and Second floor map

Castle First and Second floor map

Third and Lower Floors map

Third and Lower Floors map

Audio Guide – The audio guide is the best way of describing in details about the Castle. It is like a big mobile phone with small screen and number keys. In the Castle each area/ room/ artifacts etc is designated by numbers. In Audio Guide you have to type the number and Audio Guide will give each and every details of the room including Comment from present  renowned Architect about Castle.The description includes its history , its technical details etc. Being a Civil Engineer I really liked the each and every technical details they had described in the Audio Guide. For e.g It was mentioned which room has which type of veneer /wall covering, Arrangement of Veneer grains so to form a particular design etc .

Audio Guide

Audio Guide

We took the Audio guide and decided to start our tour from Main Level.

MAIN LEVEL :
Great Hall : We reached Main level and started with the Great Hall. It is at the centre of Casa Loma . As soon as you enter in the Casa Loma from main entrance the first area to be seen in Great Hall. It is 60 feet high hall with big Pictures of Sir Henry Pellatt , Fireplace , Piano area etc

Great Hall

Great Hall

Oak Room

Oak Room

Oak Room

Oak Room

On the right side of Great Hall there was Billiard Room and Smoking room.In the Billard room Management of Casa Loma has arranged a small documentary about Casa Loma which is included in the ticket.It is very nice documentary and give all the tourist idea about Sir Henry Pellatt and his life’s up and downs.After watching documentary  I realized one thing “Samay kisi ka nahi hota” or you can say all that has happened in his life was “Grahon ka khel”. Richest company   turns into Bankruptcy. I was so sad after seeing the documentary. Sir Pellatt himself has to  abandoned his dream of Castle for a fraction of worth during bad time.Then we went to next room Sir Pellatt’study room

Study Room : This is another beautiful room with nice wall paneling , beautiful artistic work around fire place.This room has a mahogany panel which conceals the secret  door on either side of the fireplace that leads to staircase leading to First floor.

Study Room

Study Room

Secret Stairway

Secret Stairway

Then at the main level itself we saw other beautiful rooms like Library , Dinning room , The conservatory , serving room and Peacock alley. Library has a beautiful oak floor pattern which creates different shading from each end of the room.The Conservatory has Italian floor marble where as Wall marble are Ontario Marble.In the Conseratory there is a provision of steam pipe to keep flower beds warm during winter.The Conseratory has beautiful flowers and plants.

Library

Library

Library Ceiling

Library Ceiling

Conservatory

Conservatory

Conservatory

Conservatory

This finishes the Main floor. When we were doing the tour of Castle we went from Study room to Secret stairway to second and third floor.And we climbed down then we went and see the main floor, lower level and ground level.

Second Floor: It has Sir Pellatt’s suite and bathroom ,  Lady Pellatt’s suite and bathroom , guest room , Windsor room , Round room and Girl Guide Exhibit. Sir Pellatt suite has mahogany and walnut wall paneling. This room also had a secret storage place behind fireplace for storing confidential document.

Sir Pellatt's suite

Sir Pellatt’s suite

Sir Pellat's Suite Bathroom

Sir Pellat’s Suite Bathroom

Lady Pellatt's Suite

Lady Pellatt’s Suite

Round Room

Round Room

After this we climbed to third floor .Third floor rooms are mostly rooms with exhibits of World war etc.Third floor comprises of Board room, Austin Room , World war room I and II, Queens’s own Rifles Museum, formation room and Servant room. Sir Henry Pellatt was a dedicated supporter of the Queen’s Own Rifles achieving the rank of Major General. The regiment’s band was often engaged to entertain guests at Casa Loma. In 1910, Sir Henry Pellatt took the entire 600 man regiment to England for military games at his expense.It is also said that Sir Pellatt and Lady Pellatt has even put their efforts to give their servant safe and comfortable environment. At that time of period even Servant room has heating arrangement.

World War Room

World War Room

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World War Room

Then we proceeded to lower level. At the lower level there is Gift shop , Café , swimming pool area which was never finished , wine cellar and tunnel to stable. This tunnel is 800 ft long and is 18 feet below main street level and is connected to Stable at ground level .It is also said that for servant it is really difficult to go to Stable and other areas in Ground level during winter, this tunnel was proposed and constructed.

800 ft Tunnel

800 ft Tunnel

We then proceed towards Tunnel. It was a long tunnel that reaches to Stable.Stable area also has garage , potting shed , carriage room, foyer and Tack room.Thus finished our Casa Loma tour. Casa Loma Garden is also another feature in Castle. The Estate Gardens of Casa Loma was renovated by the Garden Club of Toronto, the 5 acres surrounding Casa Loma feature formal perennial borders, sculptures and fountains. The wooded hillside showcases wild flowers and ferns plus dramatic rhododendrons and decorative grasses. There is Secret Garden also in Casa Loma. The Secret Garden gets its name from the perimeter fieldstone walls and cedar hedge that surround it. The area has a cottage garden feel due to the mixed plantings of shrubs and perennials and lush roses cascading down from the Arbour.

As we went in Winter Gardens were not open to Public.It is generally open in the month of May to October.

Stable

Stable

Potting Shed

Potting Shed

Casa Loma

Casa Loma

Sir Henry Mill Pellatt details

Sir Henry Mill Pellatt details

This finishes our tour to Casa Loma.The clock was ticking 1500 hrs and we were hungry.We went straight to Henry Cafe and ordered French Fries.This is the best French Fries I had in my life.So fresh and Quantity was just too much for each person. While coming out I was just thinking of Sir Henry Pellatt and his stars.Being a learning Astrologer I noted his date of Birth and studied his horoscope after returning home…:)

PS: Historic details taken from www.casaloma.org

16 Comments

  • ashok sharma says:

    simply great.this beautifully carved out casa loma is majestic.The photograph of the castle is equally beautiful.

  • Sandeep Gupta says:

    Well researched; Painstakingly conceived; Good continuity; much needed info for travelers such as Contact details, Timings, Tickets and Misc Tips for tourists.
    You have dovetailed the Historical background with factuals and backed it with some priceless Historical Documents/ Photographs and of-course the photos of Casa Loma thus making it a compelling reading.
    Impressive to say the least.
    My Complements and regards.
    Sandeep.

    • Abhee K says:

      Thanks Sandeep ji for all the nice words.I am really happy to read your comment.

      BTW , once I commented on your Niagara fall post that I wanted to go there.GOD has fulfilled my dream and I got the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls as well as to experience Maid of Mist.

      Thanks again

  • Nandan Jha says:

    I echo Sandeep’s words, Abhee.

    The factual details are indeed very helpful, though the description around life and times of Henry can get a bit boring, at times. I have used Audio Guides but I have never seen one with a screen. Even in India, there are many places where Audio Guides are available. It is a very neat concept and we should adopt it more.

    So did the Astro-chart matches with what really happened ? :-)

  • Abhee K says:

    Thanks NJ.
    when you said Historical details are bit boring, I went back to post to check what exactly I have written. Yes you are true sometimes all these details are quite boring.But this actually happens with me as I visited the place and write post on it I find everything interested.I think when I was writing these details my main aim is to show people an example of what it really means which we call “Arsh se Farsh par aana”Thanks for letting me know.I will take care of it in future post.
    Yes , Audio Guide is really a very helpful tool especially for all visitors who really wanted to corelate what they are seeing and getting information about it at that particular instance.
    Honestly speaking now a days I am so much engrossed in Astrology that I analyse each and every aspect of my life with stars position.I was really feeling sad about Sir Henry Pellatte that why this has happened in his life.Yes, Periods/subperiods (Mahadasha/antardasha) was actually giving me very good hint of what had happened. :)
    Thanks again for going through the post

  • SilentSoul says:

    Thanks Abhi for this new place. I wait for some story on Canadian wilderness and Niagra falls etc

  • abheeruchi says:

    Thanks SS ji.
    I had been to Niagara just last week.I will surely write on it.I am planning to take train tour package for canadian wilderness but all these are still in thoughts….waiting for money and time for this trip…:)(hope my hudband is reading …)

  • Abhee,

    I know am coming here late.. But I am wondering what took me so much time to read such a good post!
    I really like the detailing in this post.. The pictures truly support the content.

    It is a well scripted post Abhee and I see watermarking too this time :) well done!

    Cheers.

  • AUROJIT says:

    Hi AbheeK,

    thanks for this nice series, which presents Canadian spots from our very own perspective.

    Your eye for relevant details obviously renders it so very informative.

    It is a valuable addition to Ghumakkar – for readers as well as prospective travellers.

    Thanks

  • Abheeruchi says:

    Thanks Archana for liking the post and appreciation.Your comment always brings smile on my face.

    Thanks again for being my Mentor and helping me at each and every stage (NJ – It is for you as well)

  • Abheeruchi says:

    Thanks Aurojit for going through post and for giving such a nice comment.I hope I will be able to give more posts on various spot at Toronto / Canada (Although there are 4 more posts for sure in pipeline).

    Thanks again

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Abhee,

    I was just going to say that such audio guides are available in India at several places. It is like a digital walkman with no screen. Last time we rented them was in the Wodeyar Palace in Bangalore and then I saw the last photo of Casa Loma and I am like except for the stone colour they both are almost similar.

    Enjoyed the nice account of Sir Henry Pellatt’s life along with the photos.

    You are making full use of the city pass booklet – good for you.

    Best fries are McCain Fries!

  • Abheeruchi says:

    Hi Nirdesh,

    I think you are talking of Mysore Palace.We had been there but reached late thus I am not aware of audio guide available there.Here in Casa Loma we had used Audio guide with screen.

    Thanks for liking the post.

    I can’t just go Citypass booklet in waste for two reasons viz …If GOD is giving me opportunity for Ghumakkari then I should make full use of it.Secondly I am recently shifted to Canada so I still convert money I spend here.So buying Citypass for CAD 69.50 per person which means approx. Rs.3800/ per person.I have to use every penny of it :)

    McCain are best fries , no doubt but in frozen collection.

    Thanks again.

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    People do not know about this but this palace is in the heart of Bangalore. I am sharing the link –

    http://www.karnataka.com/bangalore/bangalore-palace/

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Again a very nice post with great information and brilliant photographs..

    will wait for the post of niagra fall & canadian wilderness.

    Thanks for sharing.

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