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.
In 2004, Warren Lee was a high-school teacher by day and a muay thai kick-boxing private trainer on the side. But demand for his private lessons grew, and eventually the one-man business blossomed into a full-time combat fitness business. Today, Lee runs Toronto Kickboxing & Muay Thai (TKMT) Academy at three locations, all of which provide friendly atmospheres for students to work up a sweat, shed stress, and learn self-defense. The staff credits its unintimidating and professional attitude with helping to draw an almost even split of male and female students—a rarity in martial-arts gyms.
All three locations feature pristine facilities and include men's and women's changing rooms and individual showers, as well as a boxing ring, grappling mats, thai pads, heavy bags, and an assortment of training equipment. The staff of committed instructors includes Ajahn Amnat Yodkwain, a former professional fighter and muay thai master who has trained in Thailand's combative arts since the age of 7. All of the academy's instructors possess CPR and first-aid certification and participate regularly in professional development. In order to join the team, they must also pass a series of rigorous tests designed to challenge their skills in muay thai, general fitness, and kicking cookie jars off the top shelf.
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.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
In support of her high-decibel new album, Rihanna kicks off her hotly anticipated LOUD tour with emphatic gusto and a sizzling roster of special guests. Like an art show at a sundae bar, the LOUD tour floods the senses, enchanting audiences with lavishly designed sets, myriad costume changes, move-busting dancers, and Rihanna's songbook of Grammy magnets. Crooner Cee Lo Green augments the songful offerings with his own vocal talents, and Roc Nation rapper and rhythm scientist J. Cole further helps resuscitate ear drums traumatized by the outside world's blaring car horns and shrill howler monkeys.