Thank you for booking your school visit to Casa Loma. The Teachers Guide has been specifically designed for younger children, ages 10 and under. The regular self-guided audio cassettes are recommended for students 11 years and older. It is our hope that this resource will be both educational and fun and will assist your while touring the castle.
Use this guide as you lead your students through the castle. The guide includes maps of the building for you to follow, brief historical points of interest for each room, suggested activities and questions for you to ask the children.
The maps, located at the back of the guide, are alphabetized to specifically coincide with this guide. However, you will notice that the rooms in the building are marked numerically; this is for the regular audio tour users and does not apply to the teachers guide you are using.
More detailed information on the history of Casa Loma and the man who built it, Sir Henry Pellatt, can be found in the pamphlet included in this package.
Enjoy your tour of Torontos Majestic Castle!
ATTENTION: Please ensure that copies of this teachers guide are duplicated for your supervisors prior to your visit to Casa Loma.
General Suggested Activity: As you explore Casa Loma, have the children find the fireplaces in the building. You might want to explain that, though Casa Loma had radiators, there were 25 fireplaces throughout the building to help keep the Pellatts and their guests warm in the winter months. Each room containing a fireplace is marked with * to assist you in identifying their location. (Answer: On the tour, children will be able to identify 19 fireplaces in total).
Your tour starts in the Great Hall;
A: GREAT HALL *
- With its 60 high oak beamed ceiling, this room is a focal point of the castle.
- Activity: Have the children count the following: Gargoyles (look on the pillars)=(Answer: 8); Flags (look up!)=(Answer: 6); Miniature Suits of Armour (check the fireplace!)=(Answer: 2)
- Activity: Identify the different flags (Answer: starting from the Canadian flag and going toward the organ pipes: 1. Canadian Flag 2. First Canadian Flag (Other than Union Jack) 3. Ontario Flag
- Starting from the blue flag and going towards the yellow flag: 1. Toronto Flag 2. Union Jack 3. Flag of Scotland
- Activity: Identify the portraits of Sir Henry and Lady Mary Pellatt (found to the right of the Wurlitzer Organ). Ask the children if they can identify the woman in the portrait to the right of the fireplace (Queen Elizabeth II) and the man in the portrait to the left of the fireplace (Sir Henry again).
Exit the Great Hall through the door to the right of the fireplace.
- The Pellatt coat of arms can be found in the plaster ceiling: "Devant si je puis" means "Foremost if I can"
- The oak floor in the Library is done in a herringbone style so that when you look across it, you see stripes in the floor and when you look straight down at it, the wood is all one colour.
- Activity: Have the children do their own experiment by having them look at the floor from both perspectives.
- Activity: Ask the children to guess how many books the shelves in the Library would hold (Answer: 10,000 volumes).
Continue to the end of the Library, just past the brown pillars.
B (i): DINING ROOM
- The Dining Room used to be separated from the Library by a wall which stood where you now see the three pillars. The wall was torn down in 1928 when Casa Loma became a luxury hotel (this venture lasted until 1929, only).
B (ii): DINING NOOK *
- This was the more intimate dining area for the Pellatt Family.
- Activity: Ask the children how many people could have sat for a meal here (count the chairs).
- Activity: What is the time on the clock?
Continue to Conservatory through the Bronze Doors off the Dining Room.
- This room was originally called the Palm Room. Steam pipes buried in the flower beds ensure that the temperature of the soil is correct for exotic plants year-round. The Pellatts loved their gardens and entertaining their guests in the Conservatory.
- Activity: Have the children look up at the stained glass dome. What kind of fruit do they see there? (Answer: Grapes). The dome was lit by 600 bulbs so that it could be appreciated at all times.
- Activity: What is the floor made of? (Answer: marble).
- Activity: Ask the children to identify any flowers or plants they may recognize.
Exit the Conservatory through the second set of doors, those on the right, and proceed down Peacock Alley to the first room on the right, the Serving Room.
D: SERVING ROOM
- This room was also used as a breakfast room. The furniture you see is original.
- Activity: Have the children point out the following: grandfather clock, silver tea set, turkey, telephone.
- Casa Loma had 59 telephones, which meant that the castles switchboard operator handled more calls than did the entire City of Toronto!
- Activity: Another thing to keep an eye out for as you tour are the telephones and telephone stands throughout the building.
At this point you may want to mention that the original kitchens are located behind the Serving Room. The original oven was large enough to roast an ox. The kitchen is not on tour as it is used for the private evening functions held at the castle.
As you walk along Peacock Alley, you might want to point out the Otis I elevator, the first electric elevator of its kind in North America. Located just past the Serving Room, on the right.
Continue along Peacock Alley to the Study, located on the right.
E: STUDY *
- It is this room that Sir Henry conducted his business dealings.
- Point out the typewriter on the desk. You might want to explain that this was what was used back then whereas today we use computers.
- Sir Henry had two secret passageways built in his study, the one to the right of the fireplace leads to the Wine Cellar. (You will visit the wine cellar a little later on the tour). The second passageway you see to the left leads to the second floor.
Take the passage to the left of the fireplace up to the Second Floor. As you exit the secret passageway turn to the right and enter Sir Henrys Suite, the first door on the left.
F: SIR HENRYS BEDROOM *
- The walls in this room are mahogany and walnut. A secret storage area to the left of the fireplace was used to store confidential documents.
- The phoenix-shaped lamp next to Sir Henrys bed is one of his original belongings.
- Activity: Open the secret panel yourself and have the children look inside. If they had a secret panel like this in their bedroom, what would they keep in it?
- Activity: Look over the balcony. Do the children recognize the room they see from there? (Great Hall). Now they can get a good look at the flags that they identified earlier as well as the pipes for the organ and the oak beamed ceiling of that room.
F (i): SIR HENRYS BATHROOM
- Casa Loma had 30 bathrooms at the time that it was built. All of the fixtures were plated in gold, as was the interesting shower. The shower was built to surround the body with spray, manipulated by using 6 taps, controlling 3 levels of pipes. All the walls are outfitted with Carrera marble.
- Move into Sir Henrys Wardrobe. Note, the St. Johns Ambulance Display on the right. Sir Henry organized the first St. Johns Ambulance Brigade in Canada.
- Activity: Have the children discuss what this organization does? Has anyone taken St. Johns Ambulance training?
Continue out of the wardrobe area and turn right into Lady Marys Suite.
G: LADY MARYS SUITE ***
- The suite was redecorated by Ritins Studios, Inc., in 1994. They painted the walls using techniques such as marbling, gilding and antiquing. In 1995, the same company refinished the furniture in the suite. Wedgewood Blue was Lady Marys favourite colour.
- Lady Mary was a semi-invalid, who had to use a wheelchair. This is the reason for the elevator and the size of her suite (she spent most of her time here).
- You will come across a Girl Guide Display in the Suite. This display was placed in the castle as a tribute to support Lady Pellatt provided to the Guides. Lady Mary was the First Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada. She was presented with the Girl Guides highest award, the Silver Fish. It is on display can you find it?
- Activity: Ask the children if they are involved in an organization like Girl Guides or Boy Scouts. What colour does their group wear? What badges do they have?
Cross the hallway to the Guest Suite.
H: GUEST SUITE **
- Guests of the Pellatts would stay in these quarters.
Exit the Guest Suite, turn right, and take the stairs to the Third Floor.
The Third Floor was never completed during Sir Henrys time, and was used mainly for storage purposes.
I: THE QUEENS OWN RIFLES MUSEUM ****
- Sir Henry was a dedicated supporter of the Queens Own Rifles, achieving the rank of Major-General. The regiments band was often engaged to entertain guests at the castle. In 1910, Sir Henry took the entire 600 man regiment to England for military games at his own expense.
- There are several rooms, each dedicated to a different time period:
- Formation: 1860-1900
- World War I: 1914-1918
- World War II: 1939-1945
- Pellatt Room: dedicated to Sir Henrys work within the regiment.
Continue along the Third Floor Corridor to the entrance to the Towers, located on the left. Climb up, if you like. Please note, the spiralling stairs to the towers are steep. Children and their charges should proceed with care. For the safety of all, please ensure the children walk, NOT run in this area.
- From May through October, both towers are open. The Norman Tower is open May through October only, as it is open-aired. The Scottish Tower is open year-round, as it has an enclosed roof.
- Each tower was named for its unique architectural design.
Return to the Third Floor Corridor, turn left and continue along the corridor to the Austin Room and Pellatt Boardroom, located on the right.
K: AUSTIN ROOM
- The third floor was used primarily for storage by Sir Henry.
- Today, this large room may be rented for daytime functions, corporate meetings, seminars or social functions.
L: PELLATT BOARDROOM *
- This room, featuring an oak antique table and chairs, may also be rented for smaller functions.
Cross the hallway and follow the corridor to the Kiwanis Room, located on the right.
M: KIWANIS ROOM *
- The Kiwanis Club of West Toronto took on the huge task of restoring Casa Loma and opening it as a tourist attraction in 1937. They are now known as the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma and they continue to maintain and upgrade the castle and its grounds. The property is actually owned by the City of Toronto but has been operated by the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma since 1937. The Club uses its share of the proceeds for a wide variety of charitable projects.
Upon exiting the room, turn right and continue down the hall to the Garden Room, located on the left.
N: GARDEN ROOM
- The Casa Loma Gardens were renovated between 1986 and 1990 by The Garden Club of Toronto. Over $1.5 million was invested in renovating the gardens to their present breathtaking beauty. The photographs on display in the room depict the renovation in progress.
- The gardens are open from May through October. Depending upon the season, perhaps the children would enjoy exploring the gardens, after their tour.
O: WURLITZER ORGAN PIPES
- These original pipes are connected to the Wurlitzer organ in the Great Hall and when someone plays the organ you can actually see the pipes move! (More pipes can be seen on the Second Floor.)
- For further information on the organ itself please read the sign located on the door.
Take the Third Floor Corridor to the Main Staircase, located on your left. Take the first, short staircase to the Servants Room.
P: SERVANTS ROOM
- After a failed attempt to convert and operate Casa Loma as a hotel, it was left to fall to ruin. The weather took its toll as well as vandals who broke into the building and stripped it of anything of value (gold plating, woodwork, etc). Many of the rooms were destroyed. If you look up the staircase in this room, you will see a mirror that reflects the upper level. Note, the graffiti. This room serves as an example of the disrepair that the castle fell into prior to the Kiwanis Clubs restoration in 1936.
Continue down the Main Staircase to the Second Floor. Turn right to reach the Windsor Room, located at the end of the hall, on the right.
Q: WINDSOR ROOM *
- This room holds some of the original Casa Loma furnishings, note the Settee and chairs.
- Sir Henry intended this room to be used by visiting Royalty (thus the name "Windsor Room"). Unfortunately, this room never hosted anyone of Royal stature.
- This room was redecorated by Ritins Studios, Inc. in 1995
- Activity: What royal family has the last name of "Windsor" (Queen Elizabeth II)
Cross the hallway and proceed down the corridor to the Round Room, located on the right.
R: ROUND ROOM *
- This room is really round!! It is unique because it doesnt just have round walls, but doors and windows too! Everything was custom made to fit the curvature of the Norman Tower.
- The four elbow chairs and the three-fold screen are original pieces of furniture.
Return to the Second Floor corridor, and take the main stairs down to the Great Hall. Turn right, and enter the Smoking Room, located on the right.
S: SMOKING ROOM *
- Quiet games of chess or cards were played here.
- The fireplace is easy to spot here! Have the children try to identify the two animals on the mantelpiece (Answer: Stag, Pheasant). There are also two gargoyles on this mantle.
T: BILLIARD ROOM
- This is where Sir Henry came to relax with friends. They played a game called Billiards.
- Activity: Explain how the game is played. Perhaps the children can discuss the types of games they play today with their friends.
Cross the hallway to the Oak Room.
U: OAK ROOM *
Note: the molded plaster ceiling and elaborate wood carvings. The walls are made of solid French oak panels which took three years to carve. Casa Loma also had a central vacuuming system; the vents can be seen along the floorboards.
- Sir Henry built the first hydro electric generating station in Niagara Falls, which was instrumental in bringing electricity to Toronto. Note, the ceiling in this room; it featured indirect lighting.
Take the stairs from the Great Hall to the Lower Level. Turn left at the bottom of the stairs, and go to the Wine Cellar, located on the left.
V: WINE CELLAR
-The Pellatt wine cellar was the largest in North America at the time. Ammonia and brine-filled pipes kept the collection of nearly 1,800 bottles of wine and champagne chilled.
Return to the corridor, turn left and proceed to the end of the hall to the Swimming Pool.
V (I) SWIMMING POOL
- The Swimming Pool was never completed but the plans called for the pool to be surrounded by cloisters, marble arches and gold swans around the edge.
Take the hallway back the way you came, to the other end of the hall and take the tunnel to the Stables.
W: THE TUNNEL
- Have the children line up in twos and walk together though the tunnel.
- You are now in a tunnel which is 800 feet long and lies 18 feet under the ground. Sir Henry did not originally intend to build this tunnel, but was forced to make this underground connection when the City refused to re-route Spadina Avenue for him.
- As you travel through the tunnel, you will pass the furnaces on your left. These huge furnaces provided the heat for the castle and took 800 tons of coal a year to do so!
Proceed through the tunnel until you come to a staircase, located to your left. Take the staircase up and turn left, following sign to Potting Shed.
X: POTTING SHED
- The Potting Shed was built between 1906-1909, before Casa Loma was built.
- There were five greenhouses which ran east from this room but were torn down in the 1930s.
- This large room was the central working area for the greenhouse gardens. The gardeners transplanted and potted a variety of plant materials for the gardens and prepared floral displays for use in Casa Loma.
- Activity: Have the children describe what the gardeners at Casa Loma might have done. (Answer: the very name of the room provides a hint as they would pot plants; they also planted seeds; grew flowers and maintained the gardens).
- Activity: Have the children identify where the original doors were that lead to the greenhouses? (Answer: As you enter the room, the east wall on the left, contains 5 wooden door coverings)
- Activity: Have the children look at the walls (eye level) to see if they can find the original stenciling (Answer: Look for purple vine-like leaves)
Exit through the door you entered and follow the sign at the top of the staircase to the Garage.
- Sir Henry had the first electric car in Toronto.
- Note, the old gas pump in the photographs of early automobiles.
- Activity: Ask the children to identify how cars have changed over the years.
To continue to the Stables, go back down the stairs to the tunnel, turn left and continue to another staircase that leads to the Stables.
Z: CARRIAGE ROOM
- Straight ahead you will see a display of carriages.
- Activity: Ask the children to identify the different types of vehicles (Answer: car, sleigh).
Continue into the stables, located to the left of the Carriage Room.
Z (I): STABLES
- The first thing you will notice is the Spanish tiling on the floor. This pattern kept the horses from slipping.
- Sir Henrys favourite horse was Prince.
- Activity: How many horses did Sir Henry have? (Answer: 6)
- Activity: What were the horses names? (Answer: written in gold above the stalls)
Retrace your steps to the main building through the tunnel.
The Gardens are open May through October, if weather permits, the children may wish to explore the gardens. Due to the delicate nature of the plant material, please ensure the children remain on the paths.
Renovated by the Garden Club of Toronto, the six acres surrounding the castle feature formal perennial borders, unusual sculpture and sparkling fountains. The wooded hillside showcases wild flowers and ferns plus dramatic rhododendrons and decorative grasses.
-Activity: Have the children identify flowers that they are familiar with. For example, roses, lilies.
Then have the children look at the plant labels and identify two flowers or plants that they may not be too familiar with. Back at school, the children can go to the library and research the two flowers they identified.
-Activity: Included in the Teachers Guide is a picture of Casa Loma and the Gardens. Please feel free to photocopy the picture for the children to colour, once back at school.
We trust you enjoyed the tour of Casa Loma, one of Torontos premier historic landmarks. We look forward to hosting you and your students again in the near future. If you require further information, or if we can assist you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact our Group Department at (416) 923-1171.