Visiting Toronto’s Past: The History of Casa Loma

May 12th, 2016

Wallace-Emerson/Bathurst-St.Clair. - 1975-1988Toronto’s cityscape is full of history – but most of you likely already knew that! Thanks to the good people at Heritage Toronto, preserving old buildings and landmarks throughout the city has become a priority here, which is awesome. One of the most famous landmarks in Toronto actually isn’t too far from our project, 1 Yorkville. If you feel like going on an adventure this summer and learning more about our city’s history, then we think a trip to Casa Loma is in order.

Did you know that Casa Loma is Spanish for “house on the hill”? This Gothic Revival-style house was first built starting in 1911 for Sir Henry Mill Pellatt. Pellatt was best known in Toronto at that time as being the guy responsible for bringing hydroelectricity to the city, and was a well known financier. The 64,000 square foot building was Canada’s largest private residence ever at the time, with 98 bedrooms, stunning suites, underground tunnels, secret passages, beautiful gardens, and more.

Sir Henry Pellatt views his own portrait at Casa Loma. - [ca. 1930]

Because the property tax was so high, Pellatt didn’t have the funds to continue living in Casa Loma and was forced to leave in 1923 – after only 9 years living there. Casa Loma then had a brief stint as a hotel, then a nightclub, before it sat empty for over a decade when the Depression hit the city. In the 1930s, the City of Toronto took over the property. The building was leased to the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto who quickly turned it into the tourist destination that it is still known as today – 80 years later!

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From 1937 to 2011, the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto continued to lease the space, until the Casa Loma Corporation was formed and took over. Three years later in 2014, the Liberty Entertainment Group leased the building and operate the space under an agreement with the City of Toronto, who remains the owner.

Now, over 350,000 people tour Casa Loma on a yearly basis and there are more than 250 private events held there annually. There have been countless movies and television shows filmed there, it’s a knock-out for photoshoots, and honestly just a great place to spend the afternoon. If you haven’t made a trip to Casa Loma yet, now’s the time! f1568_it0401View of Casa Loma from tower of stables. - [ca. 1920]

 

All images via City of Toronto Archives