After visiting the Europe's most haunted Castle, it was a pleasant experience visiting Casa Loma, situated right in the middle of Toronto City, Canada. Who could expect that a castle in Toronto city would have secret passages, underground swimming pool, stables, bathrooms with massaging showers, wine cellar (this list can go on and on) built a hundred a years ago? Astonishingly, almost everything remains intact and is maintained well.
Below: Night View of Casa Loma
After checking out the CN Towers, we did not have much hopes about seeing anything exciting in Toronto. We drove through many small streets in the city of Toronto hoping to see a long private driveway before we could even take a glimpse at the castle. However, we saw this magnificent castle standing quietly and without any fanfare on Austin Terrace. Built by Sir Henry Pellatt in 1911, it was designed to be his residence. The entry fee for adults is $20.55 and children is $14.63. They have a nice covered parking area which is free.
Below: View of Casa Loma exterior during a bright sunny day
Upon paying the entry fee, each visitor is given an audio headset with switches that have numbers and the map below.
You will find this very convenient when you visit different areas of the Castle, you can press the number on the headset to hear about the details of that particular area. Casa Loma has 98 rooms and I won't bore you with the details of all of them. We 'll see the important rooms Floor wise.
The First Floor (aka Main Floor):
The Great Hall:
This is the first large room you step in. It is currently used as a place where they issue tickets and provide other front desk services.
Below: The Great Hall of Casa Loma
Below: The Casa Loma Library
The Casa Loma library is well built and can hold up to 10,000 books. The floor is made of herringbone oak and can create different shadings when viewed from different corners of the room. On the roof of this library, you can see Sir Henry's coat of arms and motto, "Devant si je puis" meaning "Foremost if I can".
The conservatory floor is made of superb looking Italian marble and the side panels are made of Ontario marble. Steam pipes are installed to keep the plants warm during winter season. If that is not enough to amaze you, the extraordinarily ornate glass dome roof will. This room is designed so that optimum amount of sunlight is let in for the plants.
Below: The glass roof of Casa Loma Conservatory
Sir Henry's Study Room:
This room won't interest you much until you discover the secret passages on the sides of the fireplace. Guess where the secret passages lead to? The wine cellar! Now you know what Sir Henry Pellatt liked to do "secretly". The secret passages are extremely well built (for an architect a century ago). The secret doors blend in with the walls and you won't recognize them unless you look for them.
Below: Secret Passageway from the Study Room to the Wine Cellar
The other main rooms in the first floor are Serving Room, Peacock Alley, Smoking Room, Billiards Room, Oak Room and the Dining Room.
The Second Floor:
Sir Henry's Suite
Below: Sir Henry Pellatt's Bedroom
This was Henry Pellatt's bedroom. Surprisingly the bed itself is not too big but has some great woodwork. The walls of this room are made mainly of walnut and mahogany. There is a secret storage space in this room where he stored important files. Later, When Casa Loma was used for Sonar research during World War II, this secret space was used to store top secret files.
Sir Henry's Bathroom
The bathroom was probably the most high-tech one when it was built. There are three levels of pipes are built around the walls so that it can spray from all directions. The spraying can be adjusted by six different taps. The walls of the shower room are made of rich white marble.
Below: The high-tech shower room built in 1911
Round Room: This room is built below the tower, and is designed in round shape. Interestingly the doors are curved to maintain the shape of the room.
The other rooms in this floor are Lady Pellatt's Suite, Lady Pellatt's Bathroom, Girl Guides Exhibit, Guest Suite and Windsor Room.
The third floor is not particularly interesting. It has The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum, The Austin Room, Servant's Room, The Garden Room, The Kiwanis Room and the stairs that go to the towers.
Below: The unfinished Swimming Pool of Casa Loma
What you see above is in fact the swimming pool which was never completed. The construction came to a grinding halt when the building expenses exceed more than 3.5 million dollars and the outbreak of World War I.
Below: The Wine Cellar of Casa Loma
This wine cellar can hold over 1800 bottles of liquor. The cellar is surrounded by pipes circulating salt water and ammonia to keep the liquor chilled. It is said that Sir Henry Pellatt once had the most exquisite collection of champagne and wine in this cellar.
This tunnel runs 800 feet and is located a foot and half below the ground level.
Below: The underground tunnel to the Stables and the Hunting Lodge
Gymnasium: There is a small cafe where you can buy beverages, snacks, sandwiches etc. This was originally designed as a gym.
Bowling Alley:Next to the cafe, you will see a Gift shop which sells souvenirs and other trinkets. This was originally designed to be a three lane bowling alley.
In addition to these, there is a Stables area
Below: The Stables of Casa Loma
Sir Henry Pellatt wished to collect the world's best horses and keep them here. The stalls are made of Mahogany and a gold plaque is located on each stall to display the horse's name.
The Stables area has many other different rooms. They are the Garage, Potting Shed, Carriage Room, Tack Rooms and the Hunting Lodge.
There is a boiler room which you cannot enter. It is fenced but you can see three huge boilers which hold the name "Polson Iron Works Limited". This was a leading Iron Works company in Toronto until they closed down in 1937.
Below: The Boiler Room which is a restricted area
Casa Loma also has a beautiful 5 acre garden surrounding the castle.
Interesting equipments in Casa Loma
An oven large enough to cook a whole cow.
A pipe organ that still works.
An elevator that still works.
A central vacuum.
An Electric Panel board that is worn out, but gives an idea about the electrical technology that existed century ago.
Other Fun Facts about Casa Loma and Sir Henry Pellatt:
1. Casa Loma means "House On the Hill" in Spanish.
2. There is a short film about Sir Henry Pellatt and the history of Casa Loma. This is screened every hour in Casa Loma for visitors. It is in fact very interesting and a little saddening to know that he died broke and only lived in the castle for less than a decade after it was built.
3. In case you are wondering why Sir Henry and his wife had separate bedrooms in the Castle, it is is a sign of wealth in olden days to have separate bedrooms.
4. Henry Pellatt was the first to bring Hydroelectricity to Canada.
5. He was knighted in 1905 and became Sir Henry Pellatt.
6. In his final years, he was so broke that he had to rent a room from one of his own Chauffeurs.
7. The original Castle had 30 bathrooms and 25 fireplaces.