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Posts Tagged ‘Great Depression’

The majestic Casa Loma suddenly appeared from behind the stone wall. We had traipsed up the long path from the station in the blazing sun and saw this grande dame nestling between the trees with her flags proudly flapping out her heritage. I had poured over the pictures in my guide book but this was her in the flesh, I had to pinch myself!

A piece of Scotland in Canada.

A piece of Scotland in Canada.

Sir Henry Pellatt began the building process in 1906 which included a team of 300 skilled artisans on the job for 3 years. What makes this whole building so amazing is some of the features and its sheer size. It has a typical castle vantage position perched on a ridge that looks out over the city of Toronto. I could see the CN Tower in the distance from the top turret window. We climbed this narrow staircase right to the top! Casa Loma lauds itself over any surrounding houses and even the condos cannot compete with its splendor! The Gothic revival style with the towers and turrets transports the observer back to a forgotten era when time was given to detail and this was reflected in the finishes which were spectacular. There was a free standing shower with 6 additional heads, overhead stained glass windows, wooden carved paneling, gleaming hard wood inlaid flooring to name but a few. A feeling of mystery had also been created with secret passages, hidden staircases and underground tunnels. I felt those chills when we ran through the narrow 800 foot slippery tunnel to get through to the stables. It was a gracious time and guests were taken between floors with an elevator and soothed with the sounds of an organ in the Great Hall.

Beautiful stained glass windows overhead.....

Beautiful stained glass windows overhead…..

 

Sir Henry was larger than life itself and although he had made his fortune in hydroelectric power, he lost his beloved castle after less than 10 years when the government seized it to pay for outstanding property taxes. The Great Depression left its mark on this gracious building and the years eroded away its splendor. The castle then had a chequered life for a while and was run as a hotel and then as a jazz night club. But this stately home was to redeem itself during World War 11, it served to conceal research that was being conducted on sonar. These sonar devices were built way down in the tunnels under the castle and were used to detect U-boats during World War 11. What a claim to fame that was!

But the best I have left for last, the 5 acres of garden with rolling green lawns, formal laid out terraces, sparkling fountains framed with majestic Elm trees. We ambled through the cascades of the soft blues,  purples and pinks  and enjoyed the irises, azaleas and roses. It was music to my soul!

 

The city of Toronto in the distance...

The city of Toronto in the distance…

The bells rang out their dreaded knell and it was time to make our way back. We looked over our shoulders and through the trees and caught a final glimpse of ‘The Hill House.’

It was a day to remember.

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