27.12.2011 - 27.12.2011 1 °C
Tuesday 27 Dec 2011
First order of the day was checking the weather forecast. Tuesday was sounding better than Wednesday for any trips roundabout so we opted to head into Toronto today to visit Casa Loma.
We had to feed the birds before we left – it’s an amazing sensation to have a little chickadee perch on the side of your hand for a few seconds before grabbing a sunflower seed and flitting back into the trees.
It was snowing in the Orton area when we left, however the snow had turned to rain by the time we arrived at our destination. Casa Loma is a castle that was built by Sir Henry Pellatt as a place where he and his wife could host Canadian society and visiting royalty in the style to which he thought they should be entertained. He had made millions as a visionary entrepreneur and business man in the early part of his life. However the building of Casa Loma ran way over budget (the budget blew out from about $250,000 to $3,500,000) and Sir Henry suffered financial misfortunes associated with the stock market crash of 1929, which meant he was unable to keep the place. His early life seemed to be blessed – he invested in the right things at the right time, and he was energetic, hard-working and generous. He married his childhood sweetheart and together they made a positive difference to Canada. He was instrumental in changing Toronto street lighting from gas to electric and in electrifying the street car system. His wife built up the Guides movement from a few hundreds to many thousands of participants. However, Casa Loma was their home for only ten years before financial misfortune began to overtake Sir Henry. The City of Toronto claimed Casa Loma as payment of back taxes, and in 1936 the Kiwanis took over running it as a tourist attraction, as it has been ever since.
The place is massive and must have been very beautiful when the Pellatt’s lived and entertained in it. The ceiling of the conservatory is very striking, and the shapes of the rooms at the other end of the house lend themselves to ornate decor. Visitors today can wander at will in certain parts of it, including the tunnel that connected the nearby stables, another lavish building, with the house. The tiling on the walls of the carriage room in the stables, and the accommodation for the horses, show how important this part of the estate was also.
We had to make a quick detour to Union Station on our way home so Robyn and I could exchange our vouchers for actual train tickets for the continuation of our Canadian adventure on Thursday.
On the way home we were soon in snow again – I’m glad I was not driving. The flakes just come at you in a different way from rain and the edges of the road disappear as the snow sticks and blurs the boundaries.
We ended up having another late night – sat up playing Euchre which I have not played for a long time, and was never any good at anyway. Same again – Colleen and I were soundly beaten by Robyn and Zoli, but it was a lot of fun.