When I was 11, my family went on a road trip that included a stop in Toronto. The part of that trip that sticks out the most in my memory was visiting Casa Loma, so when I decided to visit Toronto again, I knew that if I was to do one touristy thing, it would be to revisit Casa Loma.
This time around, it felt much more crowded, as they no longer do organized tours. Instead, they hand out a headset with an audio tour loaded on it and cut everyone loose.
The main thing I remember from my childhood visit is that it was a HUGE (98 room, 180,000 square feet) house that looked like a castle, and I decided that someday when I became rich, I’d live in something on a similar scale.
Fast forward 19 years…I’m homeless, and paying for a tour is the only way for me to get into a house of this size…so much for those plans I made as an 11 year old.
The whole story about the financial rise and fall of Sir Henry Pellatt, who built it, was really interesting. He made the majority of his fortune investing in and running various businesses, and at one point, the companies he was in control of made up 25% of the Canadian economy.
When starting Casa Loma, he planned to spend $250,000 on construction (the average home price in Toronto was $2,500) but when construction ended prematurely (he never finished the swimming pool and bowling alley, among other things), he was in for over $3.5 million. Construction ended when he lost his fortune through a series of bad investments. He died at 80, broke and living in the house of his former chauffeur.
Check out this crazy Canadian, Dustin, that I met at the hostel in Toronto. He’s riding his bike (and yes, thats a road bike) across Canada.
Here’s a link to his blog if anyone wants some inspiration and/or insight on how to become a badass.
Just to be clear, if I ever take a trip of that length on a bicycle, my sole purpose for it would be to get to eat endless amounts of food.
Tonight, I leave for Scotland, and will arrive there tomorrow morning. My bike is on the same flight that I’m taking, so I should be able to ride it straight from the airport once I arrive. Clearing it through customs is supposed to take 2-3 hours, so if all goes smoothly, I should be hitting the road by about noon tomorrow, and eating haggis for lunch!
Maybe I should look for an umbrella before I leave Toronto.