No doubt Casa Loma has a really romantic as well as outrageous story lying behind its walls. Elegant and splendorous, it is a noble example of European elegance. It is the only full-sized castle in North America and Toronto’s premier historical attraction. Built by Sir Henry Pellatt, a Canadian financier and investor, the castle was built from 1911 to 1914 and cost the outrageous amount, at that time, of $ 3.5 million. Sir Pellatt made his fortune by investing in electricity supplies and railroads. He developed a love for the fine arts and architecture through his frequent trips to Europe. The place became an attraction to the people of Toronto after the man lost his fortune and, in total bankruptcy, had to sell his home to the city of Toronto in 1934. The amount he received for his castle was ridiculous compared to the original investment: $ 27,305.
Sir Pellatt built his castle as a home for him and his wife and included all the features of a classic medieval European castle; including secret passageways. Unfortunately for the man, many Toronto city officials seemed to despise his pretentious way of life and started many legal fights against him and his property. Sir Pellatt lost most of the battles and, after one of them, the city officials built a road through his property, so he had to make an 800-foot tunnel to gain access to his castle´s stables.
Today, the castle sits on Avenue Road Hill, a typical suburban street, in Old Toronto having its grounds converted into parking spaces. You can visit this fantastic castle and explore the secret passageways, see authentic period furnishings in the finely decorated rooms, and stroll around the five-acre garden that surrounds the place. From the tower, you can have a breathtaking view of Toronto. A fascinating automobile exhibit features cars from the early 1900s. It is presented in the carriage house of the castle.
For the visitors, there are self-guided multimedia tours in English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Italian, Mandarin, Korean, and American Sign Language. There are also descriptive audio tours for the blind both in English and French. This castle, with its beautiful and, at the same time, odd presence in the middle of a modern city, plus the stories of fights and final bankruptcy, is a real attraction for local people and visitors.
The story does not have a happy end, but neither has a sad one. After losing many battles against the city, and selling the castle for a relatively little amount, Sir Henry Pellatt said that his home “could not be put to better use,” He was referring to the fact that his castle had become a renowned tourist attraction.
This fascinating castle is open daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm. Admission tickets sell from CA$ 20 and include the multimedia audio guide and viewing of Sir Henry Pellatt documentary.
Liberty Café and Gift Shop are located on the lower section of the castle. There you can have some snacks and buy souvenirs that refer to the stories of the place.
Aside from Casa Loma in Toronto, you can also visit Matrix Toronto.
See also Rogers Centre – a multi-purpose stadium in Downtown Toronto.