Its been months since we’ve had a weekend free of commitments and Garrett and I were both in need of a little bit of fun, so we headed into the city for a lovely Saturday afternoon date at one of Toronto’s greatest landmarks…
…Casa Loma! Built from 1911-1914, this castle is now a famous museum with 98 rooms, amazing Gothic Revival architecture and even secret passageways.
At one point in the 1930s it was even used as a swinging dance hall, and I can just picture how amazing it would have been to come here to party.
Here is the Great Hall, which was all decorated for Christmas. Years ago I came here at Christmastime as a little girl and somewhere my mother has a video tape of me being a “tour guide” to my dad, while prancing around in a tartan skirt.
This is a view from the second floor balcony looking across the Great Hall to the three storey organ on the opposite wall. There is also a real armor statue just below that.
This is the original homeowner himself, Sir Henry Pellatt, one of the men who helped harness the Niagara Falls to power much of Southern Ontario in the early 1900s.
I was in love with this giant Christmas tree. Just imagine how many lights are on that thing!
As we left the Great Hall, we headed down this long corridor, which was all decked out with giant festive wreaths.
The entire room is filled with exotic plants that are cultivated in the potting sheds adjacent to the castle.
Every room of the castle was decorated for the holidays, with giant poinsettias and festive table settings, like in this small dining room.
This was Sir Henry’s study, which is full of detailed carvings and amazing antique furniture.
When I went through my photos last night, I noticed that I had a real thing for all the mantles.
One of Garrett’s favourite parts of the castle was this hidden passageway beside a fireplace. Its tucked behind a small panel that could be closed if they didn’t want people to know they could get up to the second floor from there.
Upstairs you can see the living quarters of Sir Henry’s wife Lady Mary Pellatt, who was the first Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada.
How shabby chic is her (giant) bathroom…aside from the fact that its covered in exquisite marble.
This hydrangea chandelier is amazing. I wish I could have got a better picture of the fine details in it.
Here are the very masculine living quarters of Sir Henry. This is the room with the balcony overlooking the Great Hall.
His bathroom has an 8 spout shower (unheard of at that time), which could be individually controlled with several knobs. It even has a rain spout on the top!
To get an even better view of the city, we climbed up to the third floor to reach the tower’s stairs.
After what felt like 1000 steps we reached the top of the chilly tower and looked out at the city through frosted window panes.
Then it was all the way down to the basement to go through the secret tunnel that leads down the road to the stables, garage and potting shed.
The giant stable doors were amazingly detailed and complimented the gorgeous white subway tiles. Back in World War II, the stables were used as the secret location for the development of ASDIC, which stands for Anti-Submarine Detection investigation Committee, an early sonar apparatus. No one knew it was there, not even the city of Toronto!
The stables themselves are beautifully kept, with giant tiled floors and detailed carvings in the stalls. The name plagues of the original six horses of Casa Loma still remain carved on the wall.
Next to the stables is the Potting Shed, which houses all the exotic and domestic plants that grow through out the house and in the gardens outside.
Half the shed was filled with giant hibiscus trees that were full of these wonderful yellow blooms.
Here is a map that shows how extensive the gardens of the main house are. Its a beautiful sight to see in the summer months.
Santa was taking visitors and seemed to be spreading festive cheer throughout the castle. Every little kid was lined up to see him.
It was a wonderful afternoon spent in one of Canada’s greatest architectural treasures and I hope we get to go back there again in the summer and see the gardens in full bloom!