Casa Loma – Toronto
Note: This week’s post is in two parts with the second written by everyone’s blog buddy Joanne Sisco over at My Life Lived Full
While we were in Toronto a few weeks ago we were finally able to meet up with Joanne for a doorscursion.
I say “finally”, because Joanne and I have known each other through WordPress for about four years and despite the fact that we both have traveled, or made plans to travel to each other’s cities a number of times, something has always prevented us from meeting.
This time the stars aligned. No one was injured or sick so our plans to meet at Casa-Loma in mid-town Toronto actually came through.
Added bonus: As I expected we all got along swimmingly and contrary to what they say about people you meet on the internet, it turns out that neither one of us is an ax-murderer…yet 😉
After checking out the main house, you can hop on over to see Joanne’s post which takes you across the street via an 800 foot (250 meter) underground tunnel for a closer look at Casa Loma’s stables.
Now a museum owned and operated by the city Casa Loma, or House on the Hill, was built by mega-wealthy Toronto financier Sir Henry Mill Pellat.
Pellat’s wealth was amassed through his investments, primarily his stake in the Toronto Electric Light Company which first brought hydro-electric power from Niagara Falls and included a very lucrative monopoly to provide street lighting for the entire city.
Costing roughly $3.5 million in 1911 dollars it took 300+ workers a little over three years to build the 103-room 65,000 square foot (6,040 square meter) Gothic Revival mansion.
Casa Loma is still to this day the largest personal residence ever built in Canada.
My first impression when walking into the great room just inside the entrance was of another famously over-the-top rich guy residence we visited a few years ago in California, Hearst Castle built by American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.
My second impression as I said to the ladies was that of the building saying to the world on behalf of its owner, “F*ck you – I’m filthy rich and you’re not!”
Seriously; as much as the place is impressive, such ostentatious displays of wealth and power are usually reserved for the Catholic Church 😉
It would take a few thousand words to describe all the impressive features in this place. Since I’ve already used way more words and photos than normal for this post if you’re interested in learning more, the link above takes you to the museum’s official website.
In the meantime let’s look at some of the doors and other details!
If you’ve ever visited any of the grand old buildings of this world you know that we’re meant to be impressed by the scale of things, but what truly makes these places so impressive is the craftsmanship and the quality of the materials used in all of the fine details.
Be it carvings, paintings, tapestries, marble, ceramics, furniture, rugs, or any of the thousands of fine furnishings and accessories that go into places like this, it becomes immediately apparent that someone was paying very close attention to all of these little details here.
There were a number of different curved rooms that followed the shape of the towers they were built into.
Moldings, paneling, and even the doors were all hand-made to follow the same curve.
Of course if there are towers involved curious folk will try to go up those towers.
We made it to the top just fine and the payoff was an awesome view of the surrounding area as well as architectural features that were not so obvious from the ground.
We took in the view for a few minutes before heading back down.
During the latter stages of WWI Pellatt’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. Anti-industrialist populist sentiments were stirred up by certain politicians of the day, leading the province of Ontario to expropriate Pellatt’s electric company to form what would become the publicly-owned Ontario Hydro.
Then stripped of his main source of revenue, city legislators raised Pellatt’s property taxes on Casa Loma from $600 a year to $1000 per month, making it virtually impossible for him to keep up.
All tolled, after selling many of his real-estate holdings and having to auction off over $1.75 million worth of art and furnishings for a fraction of what they were worth Pellatt could no longer afford his beloved Casa Loma.
After living there less than 10 years he was forced to abandon the property to the city in 1923.
The property has undergone a number of restorations over the years and despite having come fairly close to meeting the wrecking ball, today it’s a popular tourist attraction and a sought-after location for film shoots and special events.
Now don’t forget after adding your link to this week’s link-up list, head on over to Joanne’s post to check out the stables.
As always, I thank you for reading 🙂
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