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Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma Carries on Philanthropic Vision of Original Owner
Casa Loma saved by efforts of Kiwanis Club

Visitors to Toronto’s magnificent Casa Loma might be surprised to learn that the legendary “house on the hill” was not always kept in such enviable condition. Its original owner, Sir Henry Pellatt, was forced to auction off the contents of Casa Loma in the 1920s; only ten years after it was built. Casa Loma then stood unused for more than a decade.

Various schemes to make use of the property failed. For a time the castle was used as a hotel but, this was not a successful venture. Other uses such as a convent or a home for war veterans were suggested, but, none of the ideas became a reality so the once-grand home fell into a state of disrepair. In 1936, Bill Bothwell, vice-president of the Kiwanis Club of West Toronto, sprang into action after he heard a broadcast criticizing the city’s plans to demolish Casa Loma. He conceived the notion of operating the Castle as a tourist attraction, thereby saving it from the wrecker’s ball.

The Kiwanis Club convinced the city to lease the landmark to the Club for fund-raising purposes. Before it could be opened to the public, Casa Loma had to be restored to its former glory. This enormous undertaking involved such tasks as: replacing over 200 panes of glass and literally shoveling garbage out of the basement.

Human and financial resources of the Club were stretched to the limit but the job was finally done. Today, Casa Loma is one of Toronto’s major tourist attractions. Popular also for social functions and movie shoots, the Castle remains under the vigilant care of the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma.

Many needs – many projects
Sir Henry Pellatt and Lady Pellatt were as well known for their philanthropy as they were for their great wealth. Groups such as The Girl Guides of Canada, the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the National Chorus benefited from the Pellatts’ generosity.

The Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma has continued this long and rich history of serving the community of West Toronto. In addition to the responsibility of operating Casa Loma, the members are involved in numerous projects meeting the needs of both the local and larger community.

The Club also makes use of the Castle for some of its local service programs. Members host an annual Christmas party for patients of the Queen Street Mental Health Centre as part of the White Cross Committee Program. Each May, the Castle is thrown open for a special Kids’ Day Event for foster care and disabled children.

Proceeds from the operation of Casa Loma support a wide range of the Kiwanis Club’s charitable works. Over the past ten years the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma has contributed close to $2.8 million to numerous charitable projects. The Club is involved in youth programs, seniors’ outreach projects, scholarship assistance and the Kiwanis Music Festival – to name a few.

Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma part of global picture

Kiwanis is a worldwide nonprofit service organization for men and women desiring personal involvement in the improvement of their communities.

Kiwanis was founded in Detroit, Michigan on January 21, 1915. The organization extended into Canada a year later. It remained a North American group until 1962, when Kiwanis clubs were organized in other countries. Now there is over 8,000 Kiwanis clubs with over 300,000 members in over 80 nations. The Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma is one of 297 clubs in Canada and the Caribbean with a total membership of more than 11,700.

What and Who are We?

The Kiwanis club of Casa Loma was founded on July 16, 1921. The club attracts members from across the Greater Toronto Area. Kiwanis offers its members friendship and personal growth through service and teamwork.

The Casa Loma Club membership includes a wide range of occupations and age groups. Kiwanis offers new members an opportunity to become personally acquainted with people in many career areas with varied backgrounds and experiences.

The Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma has operated Casa Loma, a not for profit business, under a licence agreement with the owner, the City of Toronto, since 1937. Net proceeds from this historic tourist site, are used by the Club for community and charitable projects.


Attendance at weekly meetings is expected of all active members when professional responsibilities permit. As a service organization, not just a social club- Kiwanis depends on member participation. Successful service projects and fund-raisers require the fullest possible support of all members. However, opportunities are provided for “making up” absences by participating in club projects, attending Board of Director meetings and through interclub visitations.

Each member serves on at least one of the established standing committees. It is these committees that originate and plan the Club’s service projects. Volunteering is an expectation of all members.

What has Casa Loma Kiwanis done lately?

? Provides (5) five $2000 university and college scholarships, Music and Service Awards to the west end high schools annually
? Initiated 3 millennium services projects in 2000 involving: The Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement, The High Park Nature Centre and the Hillcrest Community School Playscape 2000
? Sponsors a Kiwanis Key Club for students at Parkdale Collegiate
? Holds annual Citizenship Court and Kids’ Day for foster care children at Casa Loma
? Founder and supporter of the Greater Toronto Kiwanis Music Festival
? Sponsor of the University Settlement House Children’s Programs
? Organizes the annual Queen Street Mental Health Centre Summer Picnic, Christmas Party and Harbour Cruise
? Provides funding for Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW), Ontario Special Olympics and CNIB Summer Camp
? Provides funding to the World Service Project Iodine Deficiency Disorders affecting over 750 Million Children

Lou Seiler, Director of Marketing
Casa Loma
(416) 923-1171 ext. 212