Canadian financier, industrialist, and business visionary Sir Henry Pellatt modeled the Casa Loma castle on the style of art and architecture he came to admire when touring similar castles throughout Europe. Today, the structure endures mainly as a testament to the culture and lifestyle of the Toronto elite during early 20th Century. Visitors can tour the grounds on their own or with a group while learning about the family, the Edwardian heritage, and?most importantly?the architecture and history of the landmark castle atop the hill.
1859: Henry Pellatt was born in Kingston, Ontario
1882?1902: Pellatt became a millionaire by investing in various mining, insurance, land, and electricity prospects
1905: Pellatt was knighted for his military service by the Queen's Own Rifles
1911: Working with Canadian architect E.J. Lennox, Pellatt helped design his dream home?a Medieval-inspired castle
1914?1924: Economic hardships eventually forced Sir Henry and Lady Mary Pellatt to sell Casa Loma
2014: After failed attempts to transform the residence into a hotel, a school, a museum, and an art gallery over the years, Liberty Entertainment Group chose to preserve the historic structure
Self-guided tours of Casa Loma and the surrounding area are available throughout the year. Here are some highlights worth seeing:
Great hall on the main floor: This room serves as a focal point within the castle, complete with 60-foot ceilings and sculpted figures adorning the pillars.
Sir Henry Pellatt's master suite on the second floor: Mahogany and walnut walls keep with the home's luxuriant spirit. This room also features a hidden compartment beside the fireplace where Sir Henry Pellatt would conceal secret documents.
Carriage House and Stables: Connected to Casa Loma by an 800-ft. tunnel which runs 18ft below Austin Terrace. The tunnel features an exhibit of Toronto?s Dark Side, which tells the story in archival photographs of Prohibition, The Depression, The Plague, The Great Toronto Fire, and Toronto?s first plane crash. The carriage house features an Automotive Exhibit featuring vintage automobiles from the early 1900?s.
Estate gardens: The five acres of lush flora surrounding Casa Loma showcase ornate sculptures and fountains as well as meticulously tended displays of perennials and a wooded hillside filled with wildflowers, ferns, rhododendrons, and decorative grasses.
To deliver more insight into the Pellatt family's optimistic construction and tragic loss of Casa Loma, the castle screens a 22-minute docudrama on the rise and fall of the estate. Narrated by Colin Mochrie, this docudrama adopts the tone of a 1939 newsreel as it tracks Sir Henry's resounding business successes, followed by his gradual financial undoing.
Toronto Dance Salsa's roster of instructors and more than 70 dance volunteers spin, twirl, and dip more than 5,000 students each year, from both its 1,600-square-foot main studio atop the North York Civic Centre subway and three other area locations. During lessons, instructors concentrate on teaching pairs and singles leading-following skills, as well as basic body movement and styling. While all instructors have their speciality, they all share a passion for dance that kicked-started their careers, and—for many of them—led to performing as well as teaching. An even male-female ratio is emphasized during classes, with experienced volunteers able to jump in and exude a level of comfort and knowledge usually reserved for sweatsuit-clad professors.
To complement the artistic side of the studio, Toronto Dance Salsa also features a full roster of strengthening, conditioning, calorie-burning fitness classes. With a flexible schedule that includes morning, lunchtime, and evening classes, the DayFit program grants students of any schedule with energizing workouts. Power yoga and hatha yoga classes boost flexibility while centering the mind, and Core Fusion melds the ancient art of yoga with the core benefits of Pilates. True to its dance roots, the studio also offers Zumba, a Latin-dance infused class designed to burn calories through invigorating music.
The Kajama's white masts billow in the wind as its sharp prow cleaves the waters of Lake Ontario. The three-masted, gaff-rigged 164-foot schooner casts the same striking silhouette as it did 80 years ago during its first incarnation as a trade ship that sailed from Spain to Norway. Today, Great Lakes Schooner Company has restored the German-built schooner to its maiden-voyage splendour. Though they've preserved the boat's 1930s charm, they also retrofitted the Kajama for its daily tours with such amenities as a licensed bar and galley where cooks bring selections from their menu of pub fare to life.
Though it serves as the crown jewel of the fleet, the Kajama is flanked by four other large and small ships. Panoramic lake views and a retractable top-deck roof characterize the Obsession III, whereas the Challenge boasts two LCD TVs and a full-service bar. Tall Ship Cruises Toronto rents out their fleet for corporate cruises, charter tours, weddings, and pirate-school reunions, all of which launch from the scenic downtown harbourfront.
How does an old glass factory become a must-book venue in Toronto Life's annual wedding guide? 99 Sudbury’s owners would say, give it a makeover. They swapped the factory’s noisy machines for elegant furnishings, repurposed three sections of the building, and turned the straggling ghosts into coat checkers. The three sections they repurposed include a baroque lounge area, an art gallery with 17-foot ceilings, and a plush loft space aptly named the Glass Factory.
With the leftover space, they added a health-and-wellness centre and a 30,000-square-foot fitness club that has three weight rooms, two exercise studios, and a spinning loft. It even has a cross-training room with monster-truck tires, fire-truck hoses, kettlebells, punching bags, and TRX-suspension-training gear. The idea behind all of these additions was to create a hip atmosphere where people could socialize and have fun while statistically increasing their ability to lift up their cars when they drop keys under them. The effort helped 99 Sudbury catch the eye of various press outlets, and the Food Network even held its 10th anniversary at the spot.
The setting sun paints streaks of warm colours across the sky and the CN Tower looms over the harbour as a group of kayakers paddle toward a secluded island. This juxtaposition of city and nature sets the tone for Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre's expeditions into Lake Ontario. During tours, their guides transport groups from the urban jungle of Canada's largest city to the natural environs of 13 Toronto Islands. Whether by kayak or stand up paddleboard, the tour leaders blaze a watery path toward lagoons and sanctuaries teeming with wildlife, such as egrets, turtles, and turtles doing egret impressions. Tours also pass by historic man-made sights such as The Gibraltar Lighthouse built in 1808.
In addition to guided excursions, Harbourfront Canoe and Kayak Centre's experts schedule both private and group lessons for each of their watercraft types. They can help students obtain certification, or learn invaluable skills such as kayak rescue. The instructors also lead sessions at a pool, which lets students hone their skills regardless of weather conditions.
Heat seems to emanate from Fireflow Yoga’s cozy confines. It could be the soft lighting or the warm tones of the hardwood floors, but the studio’s teachers swear it’s the energy flowing through the students in their signature Ashtanga classes. Here, yogis of all levels rehearse poses that summon sweat while they stretch and strengthen muscles throughout their bodies. The instructors, each of whom possesses at least three years of teaching experience, also lead classes for specific populations such as athletes and moms-to-be. The staff keeps its routines up to date by regularly welcoming renowned master yogis to the studio to share their sage knowledge of body-mind alignment and what sound a tree in the forest makes when performing downward dog.
After class, students can peruse the studio’s boutique, which teems with sporty, stretchy fashions created by indie designers. Though most classes are designed for adults, the studio hosts kid-friendly activities such as yoga-themed birthday parties and play sessions filled with animal-inspired poses.