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How Casa Loma's Fascinating History Makes It a Toronto Icon

November 1, 2022 By CityPASS

Nestled in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada, Casa Loma is one of North America's only genuine full-sized Gothic-style castles. Complete with hidden passages and stunning architecture, the mansion is visited by numerous tourists every year.

Because of the castle's unique architecture, Casa Loma is a popular location for movies and television. What was once home to a wealthy Canadian financier and his wife is now available to the public to enjoy as a historical museum and famous tourist attraction.

Let's briefly discuss the history behind the Casa Loma castle, its ghosts, other mysteries, and its role in becoming a beloved Toronto icon.

Understanding Casa Loma's History and Role as a Toronto Icon

A Canadian financier and soldier built Casa Loma. He made a great fortune by providing electricity to the city of Toronto. Eventually, the city of Toronto became the owner of the castle, and it has been one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city for many years.

It is now run by the Liberty Entertainment Group as a historical museum, filled with rich history and supernatural sightings. The castle is a famous place for hosting events such as weddings, Halloween events, and more.

In addition to touring the grand castle, visitors can take part in adventurous activities like seasonal ghost tours or the Casa Loma Escape Series. Exhibits at Casa Loma journey through time periods important in the castle’s history, like Prohibition and the Great Depression. Car afficionados will enjoy the classic car exhibit, and everyone should enjoy an elegant dining experience at the Blueblood Steakhouse, decorated with antiques and famous works of art.

Casa Loma is a museum of history, ghosts, and grand architecture in the heart of a lovely city. Let's look at how this historic attraction came to be and some of the other mysterious parts of the grand castle.

Breaking Ground With the Ambitious Sir Henry Pellatt

Sir Henry Mill Pellatt wanted a medieval castle on the hill for him and his wife, Mary, to enjoy. He hired a grand architect of his time, E.J. Lennox, to create his palace on the hill with city views of Toronto. He began by building the stables in 1911. In three years, it took over 300 men and around $3.5 million to complete.

The home features 98 rooms. The conservatory has a beautiful stained-glass ceiling. Outside are the stunning stables, five acres of beautiful gardens, and two towers with winding stairs.

As Pellatt’s parents were from Europe, he had a fascination with castles. Unfortunately, Sir Henry and his wife didn't get to live in the house very long. After nine years, they lost the majestic mansion because of financial issues.

A Prohibition Paradise for America's Wealthy

Casa Loma became a fancy Toronto hotel for a few years. At night, it was a nightclub. Rich Americans came to the lounge during Prohibition days looking for a place to drink alcohol where it was legal.

The city of Toronto took the property in 1924 for back taxes. The mansion sat empty for years until 1937 when the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto took over and began using the property as a tourist attraction.

Casa Loma in World War II

During World War II, Casa Loma's stables were a secret location where an early form of sonar detection was developed. The Germans were sinking supply ships, and Britain was working to develop sonar technology to detect the German’s boats. After the allied submarine detection investigation committee originally based in London was destroyed during the World War II German bombing known as the London Blitz, the research lab was secretly moved to Casa Loma, kept even from Toronto city officials. It wasn’t until ten years later that everyone was let in on the secret hiding behind "under construction" signs all that time.

The Ghosts and Secret Passages of Casa Loma

There is a long history of unexplained sounds and apparitions at Casa Loma. A "lady in white," thought to be either Lady Pellatt or a maid, is one of the most popular ghosts. People have also reported the sensation of someone brushing up against them. Even Sir Henry Pellatt is said to have been spotted around the place.

Casa Loma has an 800-foot tunnel about 18 feet beneath the ground. There have been reports of strange, eerie noises and voices in the tunnel. People have also reported someone grabbing their hair or reaching out to them while in the tunnel.

Paranormal researchers' ghost hunting technology has picked up some activity when visiting the mansion.

Casa Loma in Hollywood and Culture

Many Hollywood movies have used the castle as a set for filming. For example, the Casa Loma Conservatory was used during the filming of The Perfect Man for the beautiful wedding scene. Some other films that used Casa Loma include:

  • X-Men
  • Chicago
  • The Tuxedo
  • Scott-Pilgrim VS. the World
  • The Vow
  • Crimson Peak

The home has been the location of many more productions, including Billy Madison's mansion in the Adam Sandler film. In addition, when Disney made the 2017 version of Beauty and the Beast, the filming of the Beast's castle was done at Casa Loma.

Are You Ready To Experience Eccentric Casa Loma at a Fraction of the Price?

Suppose you plan a trip to Toronto, Canada, and want to see the exquisite, historic Casa Loma up close. In that case, you should check out CityPASS® tickets. Toronto CityPASS® tickets include admission to the top 5 attractions in Toronto, including Casa Loma, Toronto Zoo, CN Tower, and more.

With Toronto CityPASS® tickets, you can save off box office pricing on your next trip to Toronto. You'll have an amazing experience touring through Casa Loma and visiting the other famous Toronto attractions. And with the money you save on tickets, you can dine at the Blueblood Steakhouse while you're there.

Lodging in Toronto

To get the most out of your stay in Toronto, we recommend finding lodging near Toronto's top attractions like Casa Loma. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Header Image Courtesy of Casa Loma

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