One of the things I didn’t count on finding in Toronto was a ‘medieval’ castle. There it was, the majestic and imposing Casa Loma, perched atop a hill overlooking downtown Toronto.
Perhaps one of the most famous residences in the world, the castle has been once THE place to be seen; it was also the setting for recent flicks such as X-Men and Harry Potter. Yet, something tells me that Casa Loma was more about the man who built it rather than the mere building.
Sir Henry Pellatt (1859-1939) rose to fame as a champion runner, a generous military commander and if not Canada’s most influential financier of his time. Among his greatest achievements was bringing hydro-electricity into Toronto (why hello, Niagara Falls). A premiere example of dreaming big, he put into motion the construction of his $3.5 million Gothic-castle dream home, complete with a Great Hall, a gorgeous conservatory, stables and spiral staircases leading up to the viewing tower. It was said that Sir Henry longed to receive royalty into his home, so he spared no expense.
Lamentably, this was the age of the great world wars, and Sir Henry was hit with misfortune after misfortune. The greatest blow was when he had to auction off $1.5 M worth of hand-picked furniture and art for less than a quarter of their value. Unable to pay the taxes, Casa Loma was seized by the government, and Sir Henry was forced to retire in his chauffeur’s home in the suburbs. When he died at age 80, the thousands who flocked to the streets to witness his funeral procession was a testament that he was still well-loved. He died with full military honors.
It makes you think though — ending up almost penniless is a grievous affair, but will you still call it a failure if you were able to live larger than life than most men — going after your dream home, marrying your dream wife, pioneering landmark achievements for your country? Yup, you can have the whole day wandering around Casa Loma while you ponder on the thought.
For more Casa Loma pics, click here: Casa Loma Picasa album
Casa Loma admission is included in the Toronto Citypass – 59 CAD
Usual admission: CAD 20.55 (Adults), CAD 14.63 (Youth 14-17 and Seniors 60+), CAD 11.32 (Kids 4-13)