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With its soaring battlements, secret passageways, and underground tunnel,
Casa Loma pays homage to the castles and knights of days gone by.
Take a step back in time and explore the former estate of Sir Henry Pellatt, who was a prominent Toronto financier, industrialist and military man. Sir Henry’s travels through Europe as a young man spurred an interest in fine art and architecture, and would later lead to his vision of his “house on a hill”, Casa Loma. In 1911, with an amassed fortune of $17 million, the unabashed romantic Sir Henry hired the noted architect, E.J. Lennox to help him realize his life-long dream. Sir Henry’s vision of a “medieval” castle overlooking Toronto took 300 men nearly 3 years to complete at a cost of $3.5 million. Coincidently, the land on which Sir Henry purchased to build his dream home had been given a name by its previous owner: "house on the hill" or Casa Loma.
Artwork from Canada and around the world filled Casa Loma, and stood as a monument to its creator. With its soaring battlements and secret passageways, Casa Loma paid homage to the castles and knights of days gone by. With a total of 98 rooms, Sir Henry was pleased that it surpassed any other private home in North America.
Sir Henry did not sense the effects of World War I would have on the economy and his business, “Pellatt and Pellatt” fell into bankruptcy. Heartbroken, Sir Henry had no choice but to auction off his prized possessions for a fraction of their worth, and to abandon his dream. Sir Henry enjoyed Casa Loma for less than ten years.
Vacant while proposals were considered for its future use, architect William Sparling put forward a proposal to convert the house to a luxury hotel. In 1925, a long term lease was granted, and work began by completing the Great Hall and the Billiard Room,areas that Sir Henry had never finished. Sparling planned to add two large wings to the main building, one to the east and one to the west, each wing containing 96 full suites and 56 rooms. At an estimated cost of $1 million for each wing, they were never built. In 1928, a New York syndicate offered to purchase Casa Loma, but the deal fell through, and the hotel failed in 1929.
In 1933, the City seized the property for over $27,000.00 in back taxes. The city considered numerous suggestions for the future of the building, some of which are listed below;
The city deemed none of the recommendations as feasible, and considered demolishing the Castle.
In 1936, The Kiwanis Club of West Toronto made a proposal to the city that they open the Castle as a tourist attraction. Fortunately, the City of Toronto agreed and in 1937 Casa Loma opened to the public after extensive refurbishment by the Kiwanis Club.
This very special part of Canadian history is open daily to tourists from all over the world. Self-guided tours of the castle allow visitors to experience the castle, with the aid of pre-recorded audio cassettes and tour brochures, which are available in eight languages: English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Italian and Spanish.
A must see are Casa Loma’s gardens, which are open May through October.
As Referenced from Casa Loma’s Website
For further information, click on a link below;