Home is where the heart is, but a castle is where you go to organize food fights too large for a common kitchen. Observe the splendour of noble life with today's Groupon: for $75, you get a one-year family membership for two adults and up to three children to Casa Loma, located on Davenport Hill (a $150 value).
Built between 1911 and 1914 as a private residence for industrialist Sir Henry Pellatt, Casa Loma's rooms and gardens are now fully accessible to the public, making it one of the city's major historical sites. The Edwardian era comes alive as guests explore decorated suites, furnished rooms, hidden passages, cloud-tickling towers, and an 800-foot tunnel extending to stables and a secret garage formerly reserved for band practice. Estate gardens surround the grounds in 5 acres of ornate fountains, gazebos, rose arbours, perennials, and annuals. Embark on self-guided audio and multimedia tours in the language and length of your choice, after viewing the Colin Mochrie–narrated documentary on the life of the castle's knighted tenant.
In addition to year-round access to all buildings and access to the Casa Loma Gardens from May to October, family membership entitles card-carrying kin gratis admission to March Break, Christmas, and Halloween programs. During two hours of free parking, members can peruse the Castle Keep Gift Shop while enjoying their 15 per cent discount, and a 10 per cent discount at Sir Henry's Café allows for longer discussions about appropriate broadsword etiquette. Membership also earns advance notice and priority purchasing for selected special events, such as Ghost Tracking, Elves in the Workshop, and Castles and Cupcakes.
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.
The History of Casa Loma
- 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
The Sights of Casa Loma
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-foot tunnel which runs 18 feet 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 1900s.
- Estate gardens: The 5 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.
The Pellatt Newsreel
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.