castle

Toronto's Own “Hill House"

A popular tourist destination and notable landmark for the city of Toronto, Casa Loma is a maze of elegant corridors, grandiose chambers, and secret passages.

An architectural marvel of its time, Casa Loma had electricity, the latest in kitchenware, and even its own telephone system connecting to other areas of the castle. The 800-foot-long tunnel connecting the stable to the main structures is still a prominent feature to this day. The planning and construction of Casa Loma even took technological progression into consideration, and room was made within the castle’s foundations for any future upgrades it would potentially receive.

Photo courtesy of Atomazul via Adobe Stock.

Photo courtesy of Atomazul via Adobe Stock.

Casa Loma was the dream household of Sir Henry Pellatt, a wealthy financier known for bringing hydro-electricity to the people of Toronto. He hired architect E.J. Lennox to aid in his ambition, and construction started in 1911. It took three years for a team of 300 men to build.

Unfortunately, the dream didn’t last long. Sir Pellatt and his wife were forced to leave Casa Loma in 1924—only ten years after its completion—due to financial misfortune. Unable to pay the costs of castle-living, they had no choice but to move out. Since then, the castle has changed ownership numerous times.

Should you decide to visit Casa Loma, you may have a different experience than you’re anticipating.

Photo courtesy of Alan Bell via Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Alan Bell via Flickr.

The hosting grounds for an elaborate and annual Halloween haunted house could actually be haunted. Guests have not only been greeted by staff on their visits, but have had encounters with the original owners as well. The apparitions of Sir and Lady Pellatt have both been spotted around the castle grounds, and it is widely believed that the only reason they haunt their former homestead is that their dream was so short-lived. They may have moved out, but it seems that they refused to move on.

While Lady Pellatt tends to have a more obscure presence, the most popular sighting of Sir Pellatt comes from a young boy who spotted a stern-looking man in a second-story window during an event held in the gardens. Staff were confused: the second floor had been locked up the entire day, and therefore was inaccessible to anyone without the key. When asked, the boy provided a  physical description that matched Sir Pellatt’s.

Another commonly seen apparition is a lady dressed all in white, said to have been a maid who used to work at Casa Loma. No one remembers her name; she is simply called The White Lady.

A mischievous spirit lurks in the underground tunnel, grabbing at the hands, hair, and sometimes clothes of passersby. Even when tourists aren’t being poked at, many claim the tunnel exudes a creepy aura and skim the sights for a quick exit.

What I find particularly interesting, however, are not the spooks and sourceless sounds.  It’s that Casa Loma once housed a secret military base in its stables during World War II.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo Zappala via Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo Zappala via Flickr.

Canadian engineer William Corman was tasked with finding the perfect location to produce ASDIC (Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee) devices. These devices—which were an early form of sonar—were used to detect German U-boats, and not even Toronto’s politicians knew of its existence. For the duration of the base’s operation, a section of the stables had been closed off with just a mere sign:

“Construction in progress— sorry for the inconvenience".

Perhaps—for this period of time at least—the strange noises and occurrences guests of Casa Loma experienced were the byproducts of running a secret operation a hands-breadth away from the public eye. Without any knowledge of the truth or explanation otherwise, imaginations had been locked and loaded.

But what about now? While there is no official date, the sighting in the second-story window was a fairly recent incident. And while any perceived supernatural occurrences in the stables could be blamed on the hidden base, what about the happenings in the main castle? Perhaps we should go see for ourselves.


Planning a trip to Casa Loma? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments or on social media!


MICHELLE BONGA

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.