Casa Loma: Toronto’s Own Castle on a Hill
Driving up the winding road through the residential Toronto neighbourhood, we were greeted at the end by the most magnificent castle we had ever seen. We simply couldn’t imagine living near this edifice, “yes my house is the two story colonial across the street from the castle.” The “casa” was the former estate of Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, a prominent Toronto financier, who always dreamed of building a medieval castle overlooking Toronto.
Construction begun on the grand estate in 1911 and took 300 workers and nearly three years to complete. Unfortunately, the cost of upkeep, high taxes owed, as well as risky financial investments caused Sir Pellatt to abandon his dream home.
The place remained vacant for many years, with a few investors attempting to step in and convert it into a hotel only to be halted by the economic hardships of the Depression. However, in 1933 the city took over the property assuming its $27,000 plus tax bill.
Much discussion was given to what the building should be used for. Some suggestions included turning the it into a high school, a museum, an art gallery, an even a permanent resident for the Dionne quintuplets. When no decision could be reached the City considered demolishing the structure.
The Kiwanis Club of West Toronto finally stepped in and proposed operating the Castle as a tourist attraction. The City of Toronto agreed and in 1937, after extensive refurbishment by The Kiwanis Club, Casa Loma opened its doors to the public.
The City of Toronto remains the sole owner of the site with couples flocking to the unique locale for their big day, the venue hosting over 50 weddings annually. Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to walk through the doors of Toronto’s legendary medieval estate.
Walking Through the Castle
At The Wedding Ring we are rarely speechless, but passing through the entrance and being greeted by the majestic lobby area, we were in awe. The venue had just been decorated for the holidays and the most beautiful Christmas tree was adorning the room of the Great Hall. We sat in front of the decorative fireplace and took in our surroundings. After a few moments we were greeted by the Director of Marketing, excited to give us a grand tour. The Library was the room we visited first. Located off of the long hallway its high ceilings, ornate woodwork and the Pellatt Coat of Arms fitted into the ceiling, made this room an ideal reception spot. (The walls were lined with built in bookshelves holding 10,000 books!)
Connected to The Library was the Conservatory with an Italian Marble floor and Ontario marble walls as well as heated flowerbeds, as Sir Pellatt wanted to be sure there were blooming flowers all year long. The stained glass dome breathtaking as Pellatt took steps to make sure it was always illuminated and included lighting in its arch to ensure it was “artfully backlit.” Outside was the stunning Garden Terrace which looked regal even on a cold winter day. A gazebo area off to the side of the patio, a popular spot for wedding ceremonies.
Walking you through it
The Banquet Manager will meet with couples once they have decided on Casa Loma and provide them with a list of recommended DJs, florists, officiants, etc. And while the Banquet Manager often acts as the couple’s unofficial wedding planner, for brides wanting even more hand-on service, a list of suggested wedding planners is also provided. Pegasus Catering is the onsite caterer and they are well versed in crafting the perfect meal for your day. They offer a wide selection of catering menu options with flexibility in menu design. They also handle the liquor license.
May through October are the busiest times for weddings at the venue, so it is advised that couples book at least one to two years in advance if possible. For a wedding reception with seating all in one room, the maximum capacity is 200 people. Many couples also opt for evening receptions where they have access to their venue from 6pm until 1am, a very generous amount of time.
For couples looking to have their photos taken at the castle but not reserving the venue for the ceremony or reception, a fee of around $300-450 is required for a two and a half hour shoot.
Did you know…
As Casa Loma is a museum guests are invited to take tours of the entire premises as they wait for the bridal party to have photos taken or during the cocktail hour. The historic site has been the location of many film and television shoots and parts of the movie XMEN were filmed there. And remember Richard Gere’s office in the movie Chicago? Well that too was filmed at Toronto’s famous castle. The launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows also took place at the castle. Canadians familiar with the hit show “Being Erica” will certainly recall that the main character, Erica Strange, works at Casa Loma!
Casa Loma is a far cry from the standard banquet halls and ballroom spaces. As the director stated, “it was a private home built 100 years ago and it was not intended to be an event venue, making it very unique. It feels very authentic. There is nothing fabricated about your experience here.” You will need to add very little in the way of decorations, as the architecture and lighting will provide more than enough grandeur. And for a few hours, you and your love can entertain your guests in a style true to a time when there truly were knights in shining armour.
Contacting Casa Loma
A Special Events Consultant at Casa Loma can be reached by email using the form directly below 🙂 You can also visit Casa Loma online at www.casaloma.ca.
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