Casa Loma (Spanish for Hill House) is a museum and landmark in uptown Toronto, constructed as a neo-romantic castle. It was originally a residence for financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. Casa Loma was constructed over a three-year period from 1911-1914. The architect of the mansion was E. J. Lennox, who was responsible for the designs of several other city landmarks.
In 1905 Sir Henry Pellatt purchased a private golf course from his neighbour, Albert Austin. Sir Henry commissioned Canadian architect E.J. Lennox to design Casa Loma with construction beginning in 1911, starting with the massive stables, potting shed and Hunting Lodge (a.k.a. coach-house) a few hundred feet north of the main building. The Hunting Lodge is a two storey 7,500 square feet house with servant's quarters. As soon as the stable complex was completed, sir Henry sold his summer house in Scarborough to his son and moved to the Hunting Lodge. The stables were used as a construction site for the castle (also served as the quarters for the men servants), with some of the machinery still remaining in the rooms under the stables. The house cost approximately $3.5 million and took a team of 300 workers three years to build from start to finish. Unfortunately, due to the start of World War 1, the castles construction was halted, thus never finishing the job. At 98 rooms, it was the largest private residence in Canada. Notable amenities included an elevator, an oven large enough to cook an ox, two vertical passages for pipe organs, central vacuum, two secret passages in Sir Henry's ground-floor office and three bowling alleys (never completed).
Most of the third floor was left unfinished, and today serve as the Regimental Museum for The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada. Pellatt joined the Regiment as a Rifleman and rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the Commanding Officer. He was knighted for his dedication to the Regiment. Later, Pellatt served as the Honorary Colonel and was promoted to Major-General upon retirement.
During the Depression, Toronto increased Casa Loma's annual property taxes from $400 to $1,200, and Pellatt-already experiencing financial difficulties-was forced to auction off $1.5-million in art and furnishings for only $250,000 during bankruptcy hearings. Sir Henry was able to enjoy life in the castle for less then ten years, leaving in 1923. It was later operated for a short time as a luxury hotel. During the late 1920s Casa Loma was also a popular nightspot. The Orange Blossoms, later known as Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, played there for eight months in 1927-1928. Shortly thereafter, they went on tour of North America and became a major swing era dance band.
The city seized Casa Loma in 1933 for $27,303 in back taxes.
During this time, children often broke into the castle and played games such as hide and seek. It was also used as a shelter for homeless people.
The castle was extremely run down and the city was motioning for the castle to be demolished. In 1937 however, it was leased by the Kiwanis Club of Toronto (currently known as the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma) for $1 and a promise to restore the castle to its former condition. (Construction is still ongoing today.)
Contrary to popular belief, Casa Loma has never been an official residence of either the city or the Province of Ontario. In 1937 it was opened to the public for the first time as a tourist attraction operated by the Kiwanis Club of Toronto. Coincidentally, this is the same year that Chorley Park, the Government House of Ontario was closed by the provincial government.
During World War II, Casa Loma was used to conceal research on sonar, and for construction of sonar devices for U-boat detection. The chateau is still operated by the Kiwanis Club. Today it is one of Toronto's most popular tourist attractions.
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S C H O O L S
(P) Hillcrest Jr. School, 44 Hilton Ave., (416) 393-9700
(PH) Oakwood Collegiate Institute, 991 St. Clair Ave. West, (416) 393-1780
(PH) Forest Hill Collegiate Institute, 730 Eglinton Ave. West (416) 393-1860
(PR) Bishop Strachan School, 298 Lonsdale Rd., (416) 484-4325
(PR) Upper Canada College, 200-220 Lonsdale Road, (416) 484-4325
(C) St. Michaels College, 1515 Bathurst St., (416) 653-3180
Casa Loma and Forest Hill Community Links:
Soak in the Spas, Cafes, and Shops
Doing Jewish in Toronto
Bikram Yoga Forest Hill
Mansions in Forest Hill and St. Clair West - You Tube
Profiles for the Casa Loma neighbourhood (2006):
Profiles for the Casa Loma neighbourhood (2001):
Casa Loma (neighbourhood)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Casa Loma is a neighbourhood in the city of Toronto and is named after the famous castle. It is bounded on the north by St. Clair Avenue West, on the east by Spadina Road, on the south by the CP railway tracks, and on the west by Bathurst Street. Transit access is provided by the TTC's St. Clair West station and 512 St. Clair streetcar route.
The image of a castle atop the Avenue Hill road, surrounded by ravines, large old trees, joggers and BMWs is an eclectic mix, considering the neighbourhood is located close to downtown Toronto.
Casa Loma was constructed in the early 1900s for over three million dollars and was given to the city by its heavily debt-laden owner only a decade after it was put up.
The prominence of the castle led to a huge boom in the area, with many wealthy residents setting up shop and defining the present neighbourhood.