Stunning castles exist all over the world, although not many people expect to find one in the middle of Toronto. This dense city has plenty to offer prospective tourists and for anyone visiting, Casa Loma should be on the itinerary. This castle has a pretty wild history behind it and the interchanging exhibits, alone, are worth the trip.
If that doesn't convince travelers to add this stonefaced stop to their list, then perhaps the fact that it's the most prestigious venue in Toronto might. Still not convinced? In that case, there are a few more things to know about this grand castle that might be worth the detour.
Centuries-Old, Or Just Looking Like It?
From the outside, this castle looks as though it dates back to the 18th century, at least. The gothic-revival period started around 1740 and while Casa Loma is represented in that style, it wasn't built until two centuries later. The first stone was laid in 1914 and was the brainchild of a man named Sir Henry Pellatt. Pellatt left university to work with his father in the family brokerage business, becoming a full partner of the firm by the age of only twenty-three. Ambition was clearly no stranger in the Pellatt family as their motto was 'Devant Si Je Puis,' which means 'Foremost if I can.'
At only the tender age of twenty, Pellatt had met his soon-to-be wife, Mary Dodgeson, who also became his wife three years later. By the time they were married, Pellatt had already traveled Europe and became entranced by the beautiful architecture that was found throughout each historic city. This is what inspired the castle found in Toronto's Midtown, Casa Loma - 'House on the Hill' - along with his involvement with the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada.
What It's Like To Visit The Castle Today
Casa Loma has been voted the best castle in Toronto year after year, and it's easy to see why. Nothing was held back in its construction, from the materials used to each individual detail both inside and outside the structure itself. Simply being in the presence of such a monolith is quite the experience, and it's hard to believe it was only built just over one century ago rather than three.
Each year, the castle sees roughly 650,000 visitors, as well as weddings and various other events. Casa Loma has been the setting for various film and photo shoots, so if it looks familiar, that's probably because it's been featured prominently in a movie or TV show. Now, the castle is owned by the City of Toronto and is open for visitors to tour on a regular basis.
What Guests Will See On Their Tour
The exhibits are all part of what makes Casa Loma such an incredible experience. There are several different parts of the museum that can be explored, each with unique artefacts that are original to the castle as well as the time period. One of the most enchanting exhibits in the castle is The Rooms. On this tour, guests will be able to explore the estate in full as they wander around the rooms where the Pellatt family spent much of their lives. Each room has been decorated and adorned with the finest Edwardian designs, making for a surreal 18th century-like experience.
The second exhibit is The Dark Side Tunnel, which takes visitors through the underground passageways of the castle to the stables and carriage house. Throughout their tunnel journey, visitors have the chance to read about Toronto's Dark Side, which details the dark days of Toronto's history, including sections about the Plague, Depression, Great Toronto Fire, and the city's first plane crash.
At the garage and carriage house, guests have the chance to see vintage car displays that are accurate of the time period. The models date back to the early 1900s and include brief histories of the car makes and models.
On the third floor of Casa Loma, guests will find the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Museum. This is dedicated to the longest-serving infantry regiment under the Queen and details its history from 1866 all the way up to today. During his time serving as commander of the Queen's Own Rifles, Pellatt was incredibly generous in his support of them, a history which is also found in this museum.
The final two exhibits are the Hollywood Film Gallery, which details the cinematic history of Casa Loma spanning over the last 30 years or so. The Group of Seven Collection is a collection of artwork that has been procured by Casa Loma from 1920 to 1933. Those responsible for the artwork were known as the Group of Seven, and they believed in true art through nature, specifically landscape paintings.
- General Admission: $30 for adults, $25 for seniors (65+), $25 for youth (14-17), & $20 for children (4-13)
- Hours of Operation: Wednesday - Sunday, 9:30 AM - 5 PM; last admission is at 4:30 PM
- Entrance documentary viewing & audio guide is included in the tour price
- Library café and the Gift Shop are open, but the Terrace Grill is seasonal