Looking more at home in Europe than it does in Ontario, Canada, this faux medieval castle was a filming location for Chicago and X-Men. Built for an eccentric businessman between 1911 and 1914, Casa Loma (literally House on a Hill) features a pastiche of old-world styles that include turrets, Tudor-style chimneys, underground tunnels, and secret passages.
As one of Toronto’s most unusual buildings, Casa Loma draws its fair share of sightseers. Come here on a hop-on hop-off bus tour or as part of a city sightseeing tour that also stops at other well-known Toronto attractions, such as the CN Tower, St. Lawrence Market, and Dundas Square. Once inside the 98-room mansion, view a short documentary about the site’s original owner, Sir Henry Pellatt, and navigate your way around with the help of a complimentary audio guide. Helicopter tours of Toronto also buzz over this stately home.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear comfortable shoes, as exploring this mansion requires quite a lot of walking.
- Most exhibit rooms in the basement or on the first, second, and third floors are wheelchair accessible via a single staff-operated heritage elevator. However, the Scottish and Norman towers are not accessible to wheelchair users.
- If traveling with kids, be aware that you can’t take strollers beyond the first floor.
How to Get There
Casa Loma is situated on Austin Terrace in a neighborhood north of Downtown Toronto with which it shares its name. To get here, take the subway (Line 1) to Dupont. Once there, head north along Spadina Road, crossing Davenport Road before climbing the Baldwin Steps. The walk from the station should take less than 10 minutes.
When to Get There
Summer is the best time for strolls around the 5-acre (2.2-hectare) estate, though it can be stuffy inside the property, as not all rooms are air-conditioned. The castle is popular and can get busy, particularly on weekends. Arrive early to avoid the worst of the crowds, and allow two to three hours for exploration.
The Man Behind the Mansion
Sir Henry Pellatt, a businessman who made his fortune investing in rail and hydroelectric power, enlisted Toronto-based architect E. J. Lennox to design his dream home and spent millions of dollars on the project. Upon completion, it was the largest private residence in North America. Unfortunately, Pellatt didn’t get to live out his days in the castle as he had envisioned; he was forced out of Casa Loma in 1924 due his growing debts.