Casa Loma, Toronto

Our Casa Loma tour in Toronto was nothing short of an experience. The one that brimmed with stories of joy, sorrow, and tragedy.

Casa Loma is a Gothic Revival style mansion, now a historic house museum. It was Sir Henry Mill Pellatt’s early 20th century chateau, the biggest private residence ever constructed in Canada, sitting at an elevation of 460 ft above sea level.

Pellatt brought hydro-electricity to Ontario, and through which he made his fortune. His was the first company that harnessed the generating power of Niagara Falls; the electricity that powered the province. He became Commanding Officer of The Queen’s Own Rifles, and his leadership of this regiment earned him a knighthood.

But legislators launched a campaign proclaiming hydro power should be as free as air, and they took his electric company from him through a legislative process.

His empire was rapidly disintegrating with heavy debts to the bank, and his money tied up in real estate developments stalled due to the Great Depression. He was unceremoniously forced out of his 98-room palace with just three van loads of belongings. Later, he auctioned off his luxury items to cover his debts.

Lady Mary Pellatt died of a heart attack in April 1924. The City of Toronto seized Casa Loma for backed taxes. Pellatt died in 1939.

Sir Henry and Mary Pellatt in 1910. Courtesy: Spacing Magazine.
As we approached the entrance gate…
The flags and the lights in the entrance lobby

The dining rooms

The baths of the castle times. These are two of the thirty.

Inside Casa Loma, there’s a tunnel, 800 feet long, which was once a secret passage between the castle and horse stables.
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Legend has it that the tunnel is haunted. People have seen a lady in white, heard spooky voices.
Potting shed – Pellatt was fond of flowers.

Oak Rooms – the French oak panels

The 10,000-book library
Stained glass ceiling in the Conservatory
Pellatt’s study contained a replica of Napoleon’s desk
Some of the movies shot in the castle

The suite-style bedrooms

The quiet sitting rooms

Blueberry-carved ceiling
Pellatt’s son – the one on the wall
The way to the Scottish Tower
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This spiral staircase will lead you to the highest point in the tower. The staircase is narrow, may become congested, is the only way up and down.
The highest point in the tower.
View from the tower (CN Tower is seen)

Window To Man’s Soul

There’s something about windows. In the words of Quentin Blake: You see, I don’t draw from life at all, but I do look out of my window a lot.

A window is alluring as it gives us a view. What we access through it may have varied overtones: a life away from life, the blossomings beyond our reach, frightening us as much, the high altitudes.

Here, I captured the little dragons through the window of their Taekwondo class.

 

Racing upwards at 14 miles per hour in a glass-fronted elevator, it took us 59 seconds to reach the observation deck (116th floor) of the CN Tower. For more CN Tower posts, visit CN Tower defies gravity and CN Tower in Toronto.

 

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From atop the CN Tower, and as the sun peeked through the clouds, Billy Bishop Toronto city airport (center-right) looked abandoned.

 

I’ve said this several times, and am saying it again, that we are lucky to be living in this apartment. For almost a decade now. What you see here: Freedom Tower in downtown Manhattan, the Hudson River, Brooklyn, Marina yacht club in Jersey City. -It was early morning Sunday. The Norwegian Cruise Line ship was returning to Manhattan from the Bahamas. We’d taken this ship for our Bahamas and Florida tour some years prior. See Life on board the Norwegian Gem and Great Stirrup Cay in Bahamas.

 

The window that gave us the utmost happiness also worsened our fears during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The effects were severe in NJ and NY: businesses lost billions of dollars, half a million homes were destroyed, around 50 people were killed. I took this picture around 9 pm. Storm surge/strong wind pounded Newport, flooding the walkway up to ten feet. Sustained wind speed: 75 mph. We’d taken this advisory from our building management seriously: “…all windows in the apartment are maintained closed, locked and the blinds in the lowered position…that the wind is not permitted any opening, which if allowed, can potentially result in the further opening of window or, worse yet, ripping out the entire window.” Though we’d lost electricity and the fire alarm beeped all night, we survived unhurt.   -Strange that I remember what Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said: Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide?

 

We had fun riding this tramway that spanned the East River and connected the Upper East Side to Roosevelt Island. Midway to the island and at the tram’s highest elevation of 250 feet, we saw another tramway journey back to Manhattan. The window overlooked East River, the Queensboro Bridge and Roosevelt Island.

 

As we approached the Toronto-Pearson International airport in Canada, the pilot’s reminder that we fasten our seat belts matched these bumpy clouds we saw through the window.

 

At Mount-Pleasant station in Brampton, Ontario, the windows of this moving bus reflected the not-so-clear activities behind me. Billy Wilder had said: An actor entering through the door, you’ve got nothing. But if he enters through the window, you’ve got a situation.

 

Mail trucks do not use window doors in summer. Here I see the driver’s seat and its blurry ambiguity.

Windows to a soul (Photo Challenge). Witty with attitude (Daily Prompt).

CN Tower Defies Gravity

My legs shivered. I feared that the glass would break.

But a note that was written on the wall in bold letters THIS GLASS FLOOR CAN WITHSTAND THE WEIGHT OF 14 LARGE HIPPOS redbulled my limbs. A dozen-plus hippos might not be heavy after all, and tragedy could happen – went the thought in my head. My moist palms.

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It was sunny that morning, but Toronto trembled in the December chill. The observation deck of CN Tower with this straight down view could terrify even those without acrophobia. The glass floor was 1,122 feet above the ground.

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I walked baby steps, but some children ran the length of the floor. I stepped on to a side, and squatted, placing my hand on the glass. My sweaty palm left cold trails on the glass.

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You are safe: 256 square feet of solid glass – five times stronger than the standard required weight – should be the only thought in your head.

The Spirit House At Royal Ontario

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I captured this image of the Spirit House, which was a hall of intrigue with myriad story possibilities, at Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

Daniel Libeskind, the architect of the Freedom Tower in New York City, designed Lee-Chin Crystal; also designing some of the chairs in the Spirit House.

The stainless steel chairs synced well with the crystalline surrounding. From the center of the house, one could see in the arch above an interwoven pattern of concrete, which linked exhibit spaces with elevators, speaking of conflicts in stories.

Drama At Balzac’s

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This nighttime picture of Balzac’s, which is a sought-after coffeehouse in the Distillery District in Toronto, shows faded brick walls, a stylish chandelier, high ceilings, and a lit window. But what transpires below on the first level among a crowd of people, who’re chin-wagging and tittle-tattling while sipping the in-house roasted coffee, may be hard like the brick, classy like the chandelier, empty like the ceiling, and bright like the window.

You, a bitter reflection of your past acts, now realize how your egotism scared your friends away; how you were unsurprisingly certain that one day, you’d sit here to sip alone with no one to talk to. The lonely you glances up, hoping that someday things might change.

CN Tower In Toronto

It was a day of fun at CN Tower. The view from the Observation Deck was spectacular.

Your Majesty!

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One of the tallest freestanding structures in the world740301_10151422660890625_871648377_o

In a high-speed glass-fronted elevator. Racing upwards at 22 kilometers per hour.343434

This glass floor (1122 feet up) can withstand the weight of 14 large hippos.741157_10151422661485625_1799800368_o

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View from the Observation Deck (116th floor). Billy Bishop city airport (center-right).736008_10151422662130625_1191204972_o

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The night view

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