In a Chapagne Casa Loma

Trip Start Jul 31, 2009
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Trip End Jul 31, 2009


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hello all.

As usual, I don't know how much time I have on this computer (a guaranteed 20 minutes, mind) and as such I'll be writing the blog before uploading the pictures (it's taken me 10 minutes just to persuade the library computer to take the pics off the camera...). I also have mince defrosting at home for lasagna tonight, so I'm gonna have to toddle off for that at some point.

Today I decided that I'd do something tourist-y. I have footy tomorrow and am picking up my first and last paycheck the day after, so I wanted to do something interesting today. I was not disappointed.

I walked up Spadina road for 20 minutes or so and came to Canada's largest stately home with over 90 rooms (apparently. I'm not convinced, meself.) called Casa Loma or "castle on the hill". The reason for such a name is not merely to make it appear bigger than it is. It was built by Toronto's resident nutball Harold Pellatt in 1911 and made to look like a European castle. The result is something of an insane mish-mash of Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian and Canadian architecture and decoration. The great hall is about 70 feet tall with wood panelling, oak floorboards, flags from the Empire and colonies (such as Scotland), complimented by a crazy early 20th century organ. When I got there they were filming something-or-other so I couldn't get far into the library, but still, it was fairly epic.

After meandering around the rooms reading the script (I refused point blank to take an audioguide - awkward things and there were too many tourists there to hear myself think) for a while I was told to go to the second floor. I thought, "hang about... I'm in his study, how do I do that?" Oh ye of little faith. In the corner stands a neat sign saying "please take the secret passage upstairs" with a little slid-back panel beside his fireplace. The guy was a nutball.

With some crazy "I-feel-like-a-tourist-and-paid-18-bucks-to-get-in-here-let's-take-loads-of-pictures" action going on, I was relieved when I got the top of one of the towers - the Scottish tower which was named after the fact that it's windy, smelly and small (probably) but it did offer some spectacular views of Toronto. Seeing the CN tower from the window of a castle turret was somewhat startling. I asked downstairs about the other tower - the Norman tower, which was open to the elements and, therefore, some better pictures, but it was shut for repair work. (They say you can move in in 2012, Dad...)

Turns out Lady Pellett was rather chummy with the wife of a certain Mr. Baden Powell and became the head of the Canadian girl guides. There was a mini-museum of girl-guide memorabilia. It was quite amusing to see everyone more interested in the fact that they had boxes of real girl guide cookies than in the rest of the house.

The guy's eccentricities were not limited to the house however. No, apparently walking above ground was just too good for this guy, and he deigned to create an 800' tunnel underground to his stables. This tunnel is the subject of the first video I've uploaded here (or will upload, if it's not there already - I don't think I have long on this computer!) and includes the crazy fact that the building took 800 tonnes of coal a year to heat. Yeesh. It's perhaps no wonder that he went bankrupt and had to sell off everything before it was bought back around 1930 by the society which preserves it today. Funny anecdote about that - when it was being re-done, one of the relief carvings on the mantelpiece (of Britannia, I believe) which had been stolen 20 years earlier was returned with an anonymous but very apologetic note.

There's more info on this oh-so-touristy experience on the photographs themselves, so have a looksie if you get a chance. It was great fun, and definitely reminded me of our times in France (but without any life-size trebuchets...) looking around similar castles.

Hope to put the pictures up soon, but until then take care of yourselves, you crazy people.

James

p.s. David - stop being so cynical. After all, if it wasn't for LARP, these people would have to take out a lifetime of aggression, fuelled by bullying and pop-culture ridicule, on society. Whoever invented LARP realised that by setting it BEFORE the age of high explosives, and insisting weapons be made of foam, we don't have a spate of high-technology destructive shenanigans... It's a shame nobody advertises it to the postal workers, really.
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Comments

misskirsty
misskirsty on

i want one
I'm asking daddy to build one immediately.

It looks hilarious. I want to go see it!

Although perhaps I've watched too many bad horror movies in the past week but you would not catch me down those tunnels!

mamathome
mamathome on

loved pics
Hi James
Great to see some photos and hearing your voice and pleased you have managed to get out and about a bit Have you managed to change your flight home?
It was dads birhtday yesterday and ended up going for a pint in the Cramond Inn with Chris and Ara. Off down to see your grandma and grandad at the weekend. Keep in touch..
much love mamx

doon_toon_dad
doon_toon_dad on

If you only click..........
......one more URL during your Aventure Canadienne, clickez ici......

...http://www.sunderlandecho.com/sport/Man-Utd-boss-Fergie-Real.5502244.jp

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