Our Ontario Trip plus Communities in Bloom Symposium 2003

We originally were coming to Stratford for the Communities in Bloom Symposium (ICanGarden.com is one of the national media partners), but knowing that this was also prime time to visit some places we had never been to before, our little three day trip ended up from September 22nd to September 29th and there was still more we could have seen!

We arrived in Toronto to rain and decided to exchange our convertible for something else because it called for rainy weather the whole week. We ended up with a vehicle we hadn’t even heard of until we were sitting in it – a Toyota Sequoia. Well, I have to tell you we were impressed. For you who own one, I am sure you love it…you feel so safe and comfortable. The sun roof was an added bonus because when it did shine, we just opened it up to enjoy.

We started our trip by visiting Casa Loma. All the times I have been to Toronto, I had not visited this place. I am usually there just for Canada Blooms, then head off to either the Philadelphia Flower Show or the Boston Flower Show and really March is not a good time to visit the gardens anyway. Casa Loma was indeed a wonderful surprise.

‘As a partner in Pellatt and Pellatt, Sir Henry was a business visionary. In the same year that Thomas Edison developed steam-generated electricity, Sir Henry realized that supplying electricity could be extremely profitable. He founded the Toronto Electric Light Company in 1883. By the time he was thirty, the Toronto Electric Light Company enjoyed a monopoly on the supply of street lighting to the city.
In 1892 his father retired, enabling Sir Henry to invest with more risk. Despite vigorous discouragement from his friends he purchased stock in the Canadian Pacific Railroad and in the North West Land Company. As with steam-generated electricity, his intuition was right on target. A liberal immigration policy led to opening of the Canadian west which led to healthy profits from his investments in both the Canadian Pacific Railroad and in the North West Land Company.

By 1901, Sir Henry was chairman of 21 companies with interests in mining, insurance, land and electricity. In 1902, he and his partners won the rights to build the first Canadian hydro-generating plant at Niagara Falls. He was knighted in 1905 for his military service with the Queen's Own Rifles.

Pellatt's Midas touch continued through most of his business life. In 1911, armed with a fortune of $17 million, Pellatt drew up plans to build his dream castle with Canadian architect E. J. Lennox. The land on which he planned to build had been given a name by its previous owner: "house on the hill" or Casa Loma.

Casa Loma took three years and $3.5 million to build. Sir Henry filled Casa Loma with artwork from Canada and around the world. Casa Loma stood as a monument to its creator - it surpassed any other private home in North America. With its soaring battlements and secret passageways, it paid homage to the castles and knights of days gone by.’

We took quite a few pictures and Tom even went to the top to get some pictures of the view and the huge beams that were used – he put his pen leaning up against one to give you an idea of the size…and the shower was one of the first in Toronto…surround water!

Visit their site and read up on this wonderful Castle and Gardens. Thank you to Lou Seiler for providing us the opportunity of visiting this piece of Canadian history.

Since Spadina House was just across the street from Casa Loma, we decided to walk over there but since it was after 4 p.m. the house was closed but the gardens were still open to take a peek at. This grand Victorian home was built in 1866, by James Austin. His granddaughter, Anna, who lived in the house from 1942 until 1982, gave Spadina and its six-acre property to the city. It opened as a museum in 1984, complete with much of the Austin furnishings. It is maintained today by Heritage Toronto.
Pronounced "spa-dee-na," as the avenue should be but never is, this 1866 house is filled with arts and artifacts of the James Austin family, prominent in the natural gas, railroad, and banking businesses. Members of the family lived here from Victorian times until 1982, when it was turned over to public ownership. The 50-room house has been restored with period wallpaper, upholstery, and furniture, and crystal chandeliers burn softly with natural gas. Docents tend the magnificent gardens and the small orchard; they make jam in summer and bread in winter and give guided tours.

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row