Casa Loma: How much is too much?

I visited Casa Loma  which is a castle in Toronto built by Canadian businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and soldier, Sir Henry Pellatt (1859 – 1939). He was friends with Thomas Edison and it was in large part due to his innovation that electricity was harnessed from Niagara Falls and was put to use in Canada.

Casa Loma is a 100 room castle built on a hill. Sir Henry intended it to be a place that people enjoyed during his life and a military museum after this death. He had a fascination with Hercules which showed itself in the décor throughout Casa Loma and with British royalty. He hoped to one day entertain the Queen at Casa Loma. You can read more about Sir Henry Pellatt.

Sir Henry and his wife, Lady Mary moved in before the construction was completed and often entertained. They liked to throw lavish parties at Casa Loma. Sadly, due to various factors such as WWI and the Great Depression Casa Loma was not completed and Sir Henry lost all of his money and had to move out. It stood empty for many years until the Kiwanis club took it over and made it a tourist destination. Sir Henry who had a good heart came to the re-opening and expressed to everyone that Casa Loma was meant to be a place where people enjoyed themselves and he was very happy to see it reopen.

Sir Henry had great plans for Casa Loma but he wasn’t even finished building it when he had to move out. He was a savvy businessman and very forward thinking. In fact some of the ideas that didn’t work out during his lifetime did eventually pan out, such as the idea that beet sugar could be a significant sweetener to use instead of cane sugar (doing a quick internet search I came across this explanation of the differences between beet and cane sugar). However, due to outside factors such as the war and the depression,  Sir Henry and his wife Lady Mary could not afford to remain in Casa Loma and had to move out. After that they kept moving from house to house and Lady Mary died two years later. Sir Henry remarried not too long after but his second wife did not live very long either. Sir Henry ended his days living with his former chauffer.

I keep wondering if Sir Henry have been better off not throwing such lavish parties and finishing his home? Or was he being true to himself, enjoying what he had while he had it and taking risks?

Photos of Casa Loma

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