Monday, May 19, 2014

A Visit To Casa Loma.

Happy Victoria Day everyone! This long weekend, I decided to spend it visiting Casa Loma. I have lived in Canada for over 16 years now, and have never been to the castle. I thought I owe it to myself to get acquainted with the history and exquisite architecture of Casa Loma. 

A little bit of history:

Casa Loma, (Spanish for Hill house) is a gothic revival-style house that used to belong to Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife Mary Pellatt, or better known as Lady Pellatt. Henry was Toronto's financier, industrialist and military man. The house belonged to them for about ten years before financial misfortune led him to abandon his castle home. Now of course, it is a house turned museum that you can walk through and learn about the living standards of Henry and his wife. 



There are four floors in Casa Loma, and each floor contains several rooms. When visiting, make sure to get an audio device that can guide you through each room. (The audio device is free.) The castle can be very overwhelming, however the audio device is very helpful and tells you about each room, and the history behind it. 

Main Floor:

  1. Great Hall: With a 60' high ceiling, this room is a focal point of Casa Loma. Note the sculpted figures adorning the pillars.
  2. Library: The herringbone oak floor pattern creates different shadings from each end of the room. On the ceiling is Sir Pellatt's Coat of Arms.
  3. Dining Room: Lined with circassian walnut, the Dining Room was originally separated from The Library by unique panelling.
  4. The Conservatory: The floor marble is Italian but the side panels are Ontario marble. Steam pipes kept the flower beds warm in the winter.
  5. Serving Room: Also used as a breakfast room, this room contains original Pellatt furniture.
  6. Peacock Alley: Modelled after a passageway in Windsor Castle the walls are oak and the floor was teakwood.
  7. Sir Henry Pellat's Study: The mahogany panels conceal a secret door on either side of the fireplace.
  8. Smoking Room: Quiet games of chess or cards were enjoyed here.
  9. Billiard Room: Sir Henry and E.J. Lennox, the architect of Casa Loma, recorded a long running game of billiards in this room.

The Great Hall - used for exquisite dining. 


The beautiful library, that was filled with thousands of books.


 
The celling of the library - Sir Pellatt's Coat of Arms.




The Conservatory Room - Lined with plants and flowers. Sir Henry loved planting. 


The gorgeous stain glass celling in the Conservatory Room. Henry had built another layer around the outside of this celling and added "daylight" lamps, so that no matter rain, or shine, you always get the natural light feeling when you're in this room. 


If you're wondering who Sir Henry Pellatt is...

...this is him. 



Second Floor:

  1. Sir Henry Pellatt's Suite: The walls are mahogany and walnut. A secret storage area beside the fireplace was used to store confidential documents.
  2. Sir Henry Pellatt's Bathroom: The shower was structured to completely surround the body with spray by using 6 taps that controlled 3 levels of pipes. All the walls are outfitted with white carrara marble.
  3. Lady Pellatt's Suite: The walls of Lady Pellatt's bedroom are painted in her favourite colour: Wedgwood blue.
  4. Girl Guide Exhibit: Placed in the castle as a tribute to the support Lady Pellatt provided to the Girl Guides of Canada.
  5. Lady Pellatt's Bathroom: Smaller than Sir Pellatt's, it had a bidet, a rare feature in Canadian homes at the time.
  6. Guest Suite: One of several such elegant rooms.
  7. Windsor Room: Sir Henry Pellatt hoped to have the Royal Family as guests in this room.
  8. Round Room: Designed to fit the space below the tower, this Adams-style room has custom shaped doors to fit the curved walls.

Guest Suite - Sir Henry loved to entertain guests, and always had a spare room for those who wanted to stay the night. 

The Guest Room was decorated in Chinoiserie, which reflects Chinese artistic influences. 



Some of Lady Pellatt's things: Gloves, tea set, etc. 


Lady Pellatt's Sitting Room 


Lady Pellatt's bedroom. In this day and age it was not common to sleep in the same room as your husband. They both had separate rooms. 



Henry's Room - Made fully with wood and brass trimmings. 


Third Floor:

  1. Queen's Own Rifles Museum: Sir Henry Pellatt was a dedicated supporter of the Queen's Own Rifles achieving the rank of Major General. The regiment's band was often engaged to entertain guests at Casa Loma. In 1910, Sir Henry Pellatt took the entire 600 man regiment to England for military games at his expense. http://www.qormuseum.org
  2. Stairs to Towers
  3. Servant's Room: Up a few steps from the landing is a typical servant's room.

There were lots of staircases leading up to the main tower. 


And of course, it was a beautiful view once you finally got up there. 



Lower Level:

  1. Gift Shop: The three arches in this room were laneways for Sir Henry Pellatt's proposed bowling alley. The other side of the wall was a proposed shooting range but was never completed.
  2. Liberty Caffe: Originally designed to be Sir Henry Pellatt's private exercise room, filled with the latest turn-of-the-century equipment. Now open seven days a week, from 10am - 4pm.
  3. Swimming Pool: The pool beneath The Conservatory was never properly finished. The original plans called for the pool to be surrounded by cloisters, marble arches and gold swans around the edge.
  4. Wine Cellar: Ammonia and brine-filled pipes chilled the collection of nearly 1800 bottles of wine and champagne.
  5. Tunnel to Stables: The Stables are connected to Casa Loma by an 800-ft. tunnel which runs 18' below Austin Terrace.
A long tunnel leads you to the car exhibit and greenhouse.


Once again, Henry loved planting, so he did maintain a pretty large greenhouse. 

Other stuff...

There is a beautiful outdoor patio area serving food and drinks. Take advantage of this area on a beautiful day like today!


The boyfriend and I enjoying a lovely walk outside the castle. 


Well, this was a shot I had to take... 


Some tips to know when visiting Casa Loma:

- Wear comfy shoes, there is a lot of walking around.
- Give yourself at least 1.5 hours to see everything. We were there for about 2 hours!
- Make sure to get the audio device. Super duper helpful! Available in many languages, and it's FREE!
- Go through all the secret passageways.
- Get up on all those staircases even though it might seem like a pain to do so. The view is very nice from up top!


A special thanks to Casa Loma for hosting us!


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