Known to some as the Camelot of Toronto, the Casa Loma castle is one of the city’s oldest and best-known cultural attractions. Casa Loma was the private residence of Sir Henry Pellatt, a well-known Canadian entrepreneur, military man, financier, and philanthropist. In its heyday, Casa Loma was the backdrop for high society events hosted by Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife. Built in a medieval style, the structure is complete with secret passageways and soaring battlements.
Pellatt commissioned prominent architect E. J. Lennox to design Casa Loma. The project broke ground in 1911 and was finished 3 years later. It is estimated that it cost 3,500,000 CAD to complete the building, however Pellatt only lived there for a decade before financial ruin forced him to retire to the countryside.
The main floor of Casa Loma showcases the many hobbies of Sir Henry Pellatt. Seen as the focal point of the entire building, the Great Hall has 60-foot-high ceilings and contains many beautiful sculptures. The ceiling of the library bears the family’s coat of arms, while the oak floor is decorated with a distinct herringbone pattern. Located next to the library, the dining room also makes use of premium wood as it is lined with Circassian walnut. The conservatory, a room typically used as a greenhouse in the early 20th century, features marble floors and side panels made from Italian and Canadian marble, respectively. Visitors can still see the steam pipes that would have kept the flower beds warm in the winter months. Used as a breakfast room, the serving room still contains furniture originally owned by the Pellatts. Finally, the billiard, smoking, and study rooms all offer insights into how Sir Henry Pellatt passed his leisure time at Casa Loma.
Offering a more intimate picture of the Pellatts’ daily lives, the second floor contains the private quarters of Sir Henry and his wife. Opting for separate bedrooms, as was the custom at the time, these rooms offer more interesting information about the couple’s aesthetic preferences. Lady Pellatt’s quarters are painted in Wedgwood blue, her favorite color. At the same time, Sir Henry Pellatt’s suite has walls of mahogany and walnut. Both of the Pellatts’ bathrooms were quite ahead of their time in terms of luxury and sophistication. Lady Pellatt’s bathroom contains a bidet, a rare feature then as it is now in Canadian homes. The patriarch’s bathroom is outfitted with six taps controlled by three levels of pipes, all of which would have created the surround sound equivalent of spray as he bathed. The second floor also has a curated exhibition showcasing Lady Pellatt’s contribution to the Girl Guides organization.
As Sir Henry Pellatt was an active military man who also achieved the rank of major general in the Queen’s Own Rifles regiment of the military, the third floor is dedicated to exploring this part of his career. One of his most notable achievements occurred in 1910, when he took the entire regiment, which consisted of 600 men, to England for military games at his own expense. The third floor is also where visitors get to see a typical example of the lodgings belonging to the staff employed by the Pellatts.
The Pellatts’ departure from Casa Loma was so sudden and unexpected that they were forced to put many of their plans for the expansion of their home on hold. The lower level reveals one of these unfinished projects: the swimming pool. Situated beneath the conservatory, the swimming pool was to be decorated with marble and gold swans as well as to be surrounded by cloisters. Now, however, the space has been transformed into a state of the art theatre, where visitors can view the Pellatt Newsreel, a movie about the family narrated by Colin Mochrie. The Gift Shop, located nearby, is yet another of Pellatt’s unfinished plans. It was originally planned to be a bowling alley adjacent to a shooting range. Visitors eager for a snack are invited to visit Liberty Café, which was Sir Henry Pellatt’s private exercise room. Much of the gym equipment in his possession is still on display here, allowing visitors to appreciate the development of the fitness industry from the turn of the century to the present day. Further along, visitors can view the wine cellar, which once contained over 1,800 bottles of wines and champagnes.
1 Austin Terrance, Toronto, Ontario M5R 1X8, Phone: 416-923-1171