Casa Loma

Casa Loma by Shahnoor Habib 1
Casa Loma by Shahnoor Habib

This romantic neighbourhood is nestled along Avenue Road Hill having many charming streets lining the large green areas of the ravine with its old trees. Walking through this neighbourhood will make you feel like you’ve entered an enchanted forest with many beautiful homes offering unparalleled privacy. The fairy tale atmosphere is emphasized by the striking silhouette of the medieval castle, Casa Loma that silently overlooks this area from the hilltop. Just a step away from the buzzing downtown, Casa Loma is among the most desirable neighbourhoods and is home to very expensive mansions with pristine landscaping. It continues to attract wealthy residents who enjoy the high-class urban lifestyle. St. Clair Avenue West runs through the neighbourhood and provides easy public transit and is a popular shopping destination.

Location and History

Casa Loma Neighbourhood Map
Casa Loma, located on Avenue Hill, is defined by its perfect rectangular shape in the heart of Toronto that is outlined by St. Clair Avenue West to the north, the busy Spadina Road to the East, Dupont Street to the south, and Bathurst Street to the west. The housing styles include an impressive mix of large Edwardian, Tudor, Georgian and English Cottage style homes nestled on immaculately landscaped grounds.

Every year, thousands of tourists and locals are attracted by the beauty of the magnificent castle Casa Loma , which is the most famous feature of the whole neighbourhood. Sir Henry Pellat (a prominent Canadian financier, industrialist, and military figure), who was responsible for the residential development of the area in today’s Casa Loma and Humewood, and who had a passion for Medieval architecture from his homeland and decided to build a castle of his own. It took 300 men nearly three years of work and the outrageous costs of $3.5 million to finally complete this breath-taking project in 1911. Unluckily, after World War 1, financial crisis struck hard and Sir Pellat had lost his large fortune, still heavily in debt from the expensive construction. Unable to pay the taxes, after less than ten years of enjoying life in his private castle, he was forced to hand over Casa Loma to the City of Toronto in 1933. After many proposals for its future use, including proposals of opening a high school or even demolition plans, in 1937 the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto came up with the idea to transform the castle into a tourist attraction instead of selling it as a private property.

Garden Party with Sir Henry Pellat from Toronto Archives
Garden Party with Sir Henry Pellat from Toronto Archives

The history of the neighbourhood revolves around its famous castle. Shortly after Sir Henry’s departure in the 1920s, the large castle grounds and green areas to the north were subdivided and new homes were built, shaping Casa Loma into the posh neighbourhood that it is today. Today’s Austin Terrace, Warren Road, Popular Plains, and Russel Hill are all original subdivisions of the castle grounds that display some of the most beautiful mansions in Toronto.

Green Areas at your reach

Casa Loma is bisected by the Beltline Trail in the Nordheimer Ravine, which presents the neighbourhood with some beautifully peaceful green areas filled with oak and maple trees. The green oasis offers some great picnic spots along the rustic footpath, which is ideal for romantic walks or a great day out.

Located at the south-east corner of Spadina Road and St. Clair Avenue, this park is a favoured sporting destination for many locals. Many gravel paths along the park offer a great jogging route and are always full of runners enjoying the surroundings while working their way through the almost 2 miles of their usual jogging route. Start your fitness program with a little cardio, running up the long stairs that create the park entrance just off Spadina Road.

The perfect spot for picnics, outdoor meetings, and celebrations, the park offers a playground for kids, a wading pool, a water fountain, and bathrooms. Its large grassy area is often full of dog walkers. Equipped with a number of picnic tables and benches, it provides the perfect place for enjoying a day out. The park is located just off the busy St. Clair Avenue.

More nearby parks:

  • Roycroft Park at 150 Boulton Drive
  • Relmar Gardens off Lonsdale Road
  • Suydam Park off Spadina Road
  • Cedarvale Park in Cedarvale
  • Humewood Park between Humewood Drive and Pinewood Avenue

Local Attractions

If youre in the neighbourhood, you should definitely visit this beautiful Medieval Castle that takes you back in time and allows you to wander dreamily around its corridors or peek into one of its 98 rooms. Casa Loma, which means “the house on the hill” in Spanish, is over a century old and continues to draw a large number of tourists every year. Its unmatched European elegance and splendour invite you to explore its secret passageways, 800-foot tunnel, breath-taking towers, grand staircase, and stunning interiors. The architect involved in its design was E.J. Lennox , who also worked on other famous buildings in Toronto, such as Toronto City Hall , th Toronto Athletic Club , and Maurice Cody Hall. Around the castle, the beautiful gardens spread out on for five acres (featuring a “Secret Garden” surrounded by a cedar hedge).

Round Room Casa Loma
Round Room Casa Loma by Wikimedia Commons

One of the main attractions outside the castle is its former stables. You will be surprised that the stables, renovated with the help of the Garden Club of Toronto , are constructed of mahogany and the floors are covered by Spanish tiles. The castle is a popular shooting location, and your eyes were not playing tricks on you when you thought you spotted it in many TV shows and Hollywood Blockbusters: X-men, Chicago, Extreme Measures, and many more. It is also occasionally used for social events. The only real, full-sized castle in North America with its Hogwarts-like appearance was the perfect choice for Toronto’s premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Often missed by tourists, the older and more humble cousin of Casa Loma sits quietly in the shadow of the magnificent castle and is among the oldest houses in the area. This Victorian home was built in 1866 by businessperson James Austin and was home to three generations of the Austin family. The lovely house that still holds most of its original furnishings was sold to the city by his granddaughter, Anna Kathleen Thompson, who lived in the house with her family from 1942 to 1982. It was opened as a historic house and city museum in 1984. The house is a lovely display of many styles from mid-Victorian to the Colonial revival of the 1930s. You can see the original items used in the house through the ages that embody the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, allowing you to step into the life of a family from the last century. The historic house is surrounded by six-acre gardens that include a beautiful orchard and a grape arbour and run up the hill leading you straight to the edge of the Davenport Escarpment. The tranquility and beauty of the gardens are often used for wedding photographs.

The second biggest Italian community in Toronto can be found along St. Clair West between Westmount Avenue and Lansdowne Avenue. You can hear a lot of Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese in this area, and people come from the across city to enjoy the numerous restaurants, cafes, gelaterias, bakeries, and food markets with a Latin twist. Each year, the streets come alive with music during the summer festival Corso Italia Toronto Fiesta in July.

Sports

Located at 46 Melgund Road (south of St. Clair and east of Bathurst), the club shows that lawn bowling is a fun activity that brings the community together for some recreation time. Open for 80 years now, the club no longer serves just high society but opens its doors to newbies as well as experienced players. Year-round membership costs only $70, which is a great price for access to endless days of playing. There is no dress code; all you need to bring along is the joy of playing the game!

The Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma is a non-profit organization that works together with the local community. Its volunteers organize numerous worthy causes in and around Toronto. The Kiwanis Music Festival attracts thousands of participants each year to win scholarships. They compete in many areas, such as orchestras, solo instruments, speech arts, and drama.

This non-profit organization serves as a great recreational centre for the local community, promoting interest in the game of tennis. You can find it at the south-east corner of Spadina Road and St. Clair Avenue West. To avoid standing in line with the rest, become a club member and enjoy all-week access to the courts. The tennis club holds an annual House League where you can challenge yourself to double play with other players.

Local Community Centres:

Eritrean Canadian Community Centre of Metropolitan Toronto, 579 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 658-8580
Hillcrest Community Centre, 1339 Bathurst Street, (416) 392-0746

Fitness:

Spynga Toronto Yoga&Spinning, 1415 Bathurst Street, (416) 588-7796
Shas Yoga&Pilates Studio, 329 Saint George Street, (647) 477-2374
Temagami Clearwater Expeditions, 71 Lyndhurst Avenue, (416) 926-9245

Arts and Entertainment

Tarragon Theatre

This theatre successfully maintains its important place in the cultural life of Toronto, having 40 long years of history filled with more than 170 plays that have been premiered on its grounds. Whether you like classical plays or are a fan of more contemporary pieces, you will find on these stages some of the finest dramatic performances with talents from all over the country. Annually, the Tarragon theatre takes part in the Toronto Spring Arts Festival , inviting you to dozens of free shows or readings.

Galleries:

Graphis, 78 Hilton Avenue, (416) 537-9777
Studio 8 Graphics, 1205 Bathurst Street, (416) 536-8089
Van der Veen Geert Fine Art Toronto, 97 Marlborough Avenue, (416) 921-3504
Toronto Free Gallery, 1277 Bloor Street West, (416) 913-0461

Shopping

Loblaws, 396 St Clair Avenue West, (416) 651-5166
Summerhill Nursery & Floral, 1 Macperson Avenue, (416) 922-6902
Playful Minds, 657 Saint Clair Avenue West, (416) 651-4028
Shoppers Drug Mart, 292 Dupont Street, (416) 972-0232
Angus and Company, 647 Dupont, (416) 537-4104
Eco Existence, 766 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 652-0808
Parpar Boutique, 649 St Clair Avenue, 416-657-3333
Titus and Louise Design, 677 Dupont, (416) 536-9177
Frangipane (Pastry Shop), 215 Madison Avenue, (416) 926-0303
Knitomatic (Knitting Supplies), 1378 Bathurst St, (416) 653-7849
Joe Fresh, 60 Carlton Street, (416) 596-7209
Special Moments Digital Portrait Studio, 1382 Bathurst Street, (416) 536-0173
Janson Piano Company (Musical Instruments), 2 Dartnell Avenue, (416) 536-4114
Cottage Industries (Interior Design), 140 Kendal Avenue, (416) 927-1502
Ballet Jorgen (Sporting Goods & Performing Arts), 160 Kendal Avenue, (416) 961-4725

Restaurants and Eateries

Corner House, 501 Davenport Road, (416) 923-2604
Scaramouche , 1 Benvenuto Place, (416) 961-8011
Druxy’s Famous Deli Sandwiches (Kosher), 1303 Yonge Street, (416) 928-2859
Evergreen Natural Foods , 513 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 536-2932
Sotto Restaurant, 425 Spadina Road, (416) 322-8818
Edoko, 431 Spadina Road, (416) 482-8973
Aroma Espresso Bar, 383 Spadina Road, (416) 901-5874
What a Bagel, 421 Spadina Road, (416) 480-9358
Dutch Dreams , 78 Vaughan Road, (416) 656-6959
Alberts Real Jamaican Food , 542 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 658-9445
Mashu Mashu Mediterranean Grill , 387 Spadina Road, (416) 840-0848
Sushi Lovers , 327 Lonsdale Road, (416) 482-8807
Presse Cafe , 95 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 960-2127
Rose and Sons (Comfort food), 176 Dupont Street, (647) 748-3287
Live Organic Food Bar (Raw&Organic), 264 Dupont Street, (416) 515-2002
Gonoe Sushi , 44 St. Clair Avenue, (416) 840-9622

After Dark

Casa Loma is just minutes away from downtown, so you can enjoy the city nightlife in one of the many clubs in the Annex or Forest Hill as well.

Pour House Irish Pub, 182 Dupont Street, (416) 967-7687
Playa Cabana Mexican Restaurant & Tequila Bar, 111 Dupont Street, (647) 977-6314
Fox and Fiddle , 1535 Yonge Street, (416) 967-3400
Scoreboard Sports Bar, 1430 Yonge Street, (416) 922-0612
Jester Pub and Grill, 1427 Yonge Street, (416) 323-3421

Education

Schools:

Hillcrest Jr. School , 44 Hilton Avenue, (416) 393-9700
Oakwood Collegiate Institute , 991 St. Clair Avenue West, (416) 393-1780
Forest Hill Collegiate Institute , 730 Eglinton Avenue West (416) 393-1860
Bishop Strachan Private School , 298 Lonsdale Road, (416) 484-4325
Upper Canada College (Private), 200-220 Lonsdale Road, (416) 484-4325
St. Michaels College , 1515 Bathurst Street, (416) 653-3180
De La Salle College , 131 Farnham Avenue, (416) 969-8771
George Brown College, Casa Loma Campus , 160 Kendal Avenue: (416) 415-4532
Waldorf Academy , 250 Madison Avenue, (416) 962-6447

Nearby Libraries:

Wychwood Public Library , 1431 Bathurst Street, (416) 393-7683
City of Toronto Archives , 255 Spadina Road, (416) 397-0778
Palmerston Library , 560 Palmerston Avenue, (416) 393-7680
Spadina Road Library , 10 Spadina Road, (416) 393-7666
Davenport Library , 1246 Shaw Street, (416) 393-7732
Yorkville Library , 22 Yorkville Avenue, (416) 393-7660

Transportation

By Car: Casa Loma is just a short drive away from the financial and commercial districts. The fast access to downtown is provided by Bathurst Street, Spadina Road, Avenue Road, and Yonge Street — with a quick connection to the 400 and 401 highway used by many commuters every day.

By Bus: There is a regular bus service on Bathurst Street

By Streetcar: Regular streetcar service on St. Clair Avenue West takes you conveniently to the subway..

By Subway: The nearby subway stations are Dupont Station, St. Clair West Station, Rosedale Station, and Summerhill Station.

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