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Posts Tagged ‘heritage’

Toronto in the distance

 

 

The ‘silver city skies’ glisten as I gaze across at the city of Toronto in the morning light. The towering buildings quiver in the sun as they stretch upwards. The pulse of the city is tangible even at this distance and reverberates across the calm waters. It beckons me and ‘is asking for the taking’ as I conjure up another visit of exploration. Maybe this time it will be the antique shops or another graceful old heritage home. An aeroplane takes off from the Island and leaves its plume across the sky. I cast my eyes back along the shore and watch the water lap at my feet as if to transfer this energy straight from the source.

It is hard to imagine that this lake has a shoreline of over 1000 kilometres.  It is like a huge stretch of sea! Today it even smells like one and I gather up the small mussel shells in the sand of this manmade beach. Rounded pebbles that have been smoothed away over time knock up against the rocks. I pick one up and skim it across the mirrored lake; it ripples and sinks down….. far down. In some places it may be as deep as 244 metres.  Josh peers over the edge for the proverbial fish. He has taken a shine to the sport as he has no African Hyrax to taunt anymore. He gazes into the mirrored water and leaps at his innocent victims. His lack of success keeps his interest fired and continues to chase up and down peering into the depths from all angles. This determination will surely pay dividends and allow him to land one soon!

The stillness is suddenly interrupted by the sound of progress. Another condominium is going up nearby and a bulldozer is gnarling away at the earth. As it piles the broken ground into a waiting truck, a new basement is being formed. This will park more cars, house more people and create the opportunity for more eyes to enjoy this vista of the city.
I know that I have to ‘run with the new.’

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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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