The Casa Loma Experience

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What does the word tourist really mean anyway? Often it’s used for an outside person visiting a country that’s not there home, but on this weekend I felt like a tourist in my own country. I have lived in Toronto for almost two decades and still there are attractions I had never seen. On this bright and beautiful Friday afternoon, my cousin and I got in our car and drove into the big city. Our first stop was the Casa loma, which stands for house on a hill.

Casa Loma was owned by a Canadian financier named, Sir Henry Pellatt. When Henry was only 23 he already made his first million, very ambitious for his age. Some considered him a dreamer. I assure you though, that his dreams did come true because he wanted to live in a castle and he had his opportunity to design his very own. He lived there with his wife for 10 years. Unfortunately he became bankrupt, but who’s judging, He had his chance to achieve his dreams.  What you notice though is that there are parts to this castle that wasn’t complete, our “tour guide” was an audio cellphone that we placed at our ear to listen to the history of casa loma. By simply pressing a number you are able to hear factual information. A little impersonal, but I’m used to that living in this era.

To begin our tour we walked through the tunnels and entered the stables. We learnt about Sir Henry’s horses. Later we saw his green house, and learnt about how much he loved plants. Upon climbing stairs to the main floor and then again to the second and third floors, our knees felt the aching pain. Living in a castle can’t be easy! There were secret passages, but one would have had to climb steep staircases as well. And the climb to the very top of the towers was even more excruciating. Once we were at the top and had an overview of the city though, it made up for the aches. One thing we noticed which was most odd was that both Sir Henry and his wife had separate bedrooms. Both were equally large, maybe his wife’s room was a bit larger as she had an extra space to entertain her visitors. She was really big into the girl guides of Canada so she used a lot of her time to volunteer with them. I suppose the fact that they only had one child is understandable. According to the audio tour guide, having separate rooms would have been normal in their day especially with the fact that they were millionaires and could afford it.

We spent over an hour in touring the castle but did not get to see every room. I learnt that there were 13 bedrooms all together. We did see the servant’s quarters. Seem like every mansion has these. Interestingly, these were located on the third floor (if I’m not mistaken). In other mansions I’ve seen, these quarters were located on the lowest levels. With only fifteen minutes before closing, we were eager to visit the garden located at the back of the castle. It was a beautiful patio with iron tables and chairs laid out in case you wanted to sit and enjoy the view. We saw a bridal party taking pictures when we were looking out of the windows on the third floor. The sun was beaming down on us and it just left a sparkle in our moods. A beautiful day to be a tourist in our own backyard!

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