Casa Loma

contact February 6th, 2014

casa loma
It might interest you to know that Toronto has the only real castle in all of North America.

“Casa Loma” means “home on a hill” (I would want to call it CASTLE Loma, but anyway). Casa Loma, which was the former home of financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt , is not at all short of amazing vista views of both the downtown area as well as the beautiful skyline of Toronto and of Great Lake Ontario.

About Casa Loma
Sir Henry commissioned Canadian architect. E.J. Lennox to design Casa Loma with construction beginning in 1911, starting with the massive stables a few hundred feet north of the main building. The stables were used as a construction site for the castle, 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. Upon completion in 1914, at 98 rooms, it was the largest private residence in Canada. Notable amenities included an elevator, an oven large enough to cook a steer, two vertical passages for pipe organs, central vacuum, two secret passages in Sir Henry’s ground-floor office and three bowling alleys (never completed).

Many of the rooms were 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 only ten years, taking up residence in 1923. Pellatt also operated the building 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.
Intended as Sir Henry’s drawing room, the French oak panels took artisans three years to carve.
Intended as Sir Henry’s drawing room, the French oak panels took artisans three years to carve.

The city seized Casa Loma in 1933 for $27,303 in back taxes.

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. Today it is regarded as one of Toronto’s premier tourist attractions, still operated by the Kiwanis Club.

Casa Loma Trivia
* Parts of the movie X-Men were shot at Casa Loma, which stood in for Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

* A few scenes in episode 12 of Pure Pwnage was shot in Casa Loma.

* Casa Loma was featured as “Elsinore Castle” in the McKenzie Brothers movie Strange Brew, both as an escargo and on the packaging for a case of fictional Elsinore beer.

* The castle featured as the setting for a battle in the second of the Scott Pilgrim series, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, a graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley.

* Other films which include scenes filmed at Casa Loma include Chicago, The Tuxedo, and The Pacifier. Cocktail and a few others were also filmed in Casa Loma. This can be seen in the basement where there are movie posters of those films.

* The film Twitches 2 recently finished filming at Casa Loma. An Upcoming Disney film is currently being filmed at Casa Loma.

* The castle was also the setting for Canadian children’s author Eric Wilson’s murder mystery, The Lost Treasure of Casa Loma.

[photo and info courtesy of wikipedia]

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