The Casa Loma in Toronto epitomises the depth of love between a man and wife.
On a trip to Canada, my parents and I decided to vacation in the Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Montreal. It was autumn. The weather was perfect.
Our first stop in midtown Toronto was the Casa Loma — “House on the Hill” in Spanish. It was built by Sir Henry Pellatt, the stock market millionaire-cum industrialist, in fulfilment of a promise he had made to his wife, Lady Mary Pellatt, the first Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada. An ardent admirer of Norman, Gothic and Romanesque styles, Sir Henry hired architect E.J. Lennox to fashion the castle. It took 300 workers over a three-year-period (1911-1914) to build this three-storied mansion of 98 rooms. Sir Henry, not wanting to scrimp in any manner, in this lavish gift to his wife, spent $3 million. Although Maryhill Castle was the name originally chosen, Sir Henry changed it to Casa Loma — the name given by its previous land owner.
However, due to the depression that followed World War I, construction had to be suspended. Nevertheless, it was the largest private residence in Canada. Sir Henry and Lady Mary could live there only for less than 10 years. This was because of the taxes they owed the City of Toronto, and the financial difficulties they ran into. In fact, Sir Henry was forced to auction off $1.5 million from his art collection and $250,000 in furnishings.
Remarkable facilities include an elevator, an oven large enough to cook an ox, two vertical passages for pipe organs, and two secret passages in Sir Henry’s ground floor office.
The second floor houses Sir Henry and Lady Mary’s magnificent suites with attached bathrooms. Most of the third floor was left unfinished.
Dancing fountains, rare figurines and the brilliant colours of a Canadian garden, make it a sight to behold. The Casa Loma stands currently as a museum.