Casa Loma

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Possessions, Priorities

The city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is home to a castle: Casa Loma – a gothic revival castle-style mansion and garden in the middle of the city, built by the renowned Henry Pellatt.

Born in 1930, Henry Pellatt, was an important figure in Canadian history. A decorated military man, He is also well known for his role in bringing hydro-electricity to Toronto for the first time. He made his fortune through investments in the railway and in mining, which was especially lucrative during the Cobalt silver rush of 1903, and he was also noted for his investment in the hydro-electric industries in Canada, including the Toronto Electric Light Company. In addition, he owned an aircraft manufacturing business.

In 1903 Henry purchased 25 lots and commissioned an architect, E. J. Lennox, to design Casa Loma. Construction began in 1911, employing 399 workers and taking 3 years to complete. The house cost about $3.5 million to build, an amount that would be equivalent to about $110 million today. Construction was actually halted before the third floor was ever completed due to the onset of WWI. By the time construction was halted, the mansion consisted of 98 rooms and covered 6,011 square metres. It was the largest private residence in all of Canada. It boasted one of the first private elevators in Toronto, as well as a dining room that seated 100 people.

Henry and his wife moved into the castle in 1914. Unfortunately, they were only able to enjoy their mansion for a few short years.

As is the case for many rich people, Henry had his enemies. A member of Canadian legislature, Adam Beck, launched a campaign against him. He was able to whip up anti-rich sentiment, and he successfully led a populist revolt to raise Pellatt’s taxes on Casa Loma from $600 per year to $12,000. Beck then succeeded in taking Pellatt’s electric companies as well as his aircraft manufacturing business from him, proclaiming them “necessary for the war effort”. This would drive Henry to near-bankruptcy, and force him and his wife to leave Casa Loma in 1923, just 9 years after completion. Henry died 16 years later, in 1939, penniless and living in the home of his former chauffeur.

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV). I believe it is fair to say that Henry Pellatt experienced this firsthand. By storing up earthly treasures, the “moths and vermin” – namely Adam Beck and his anti-rich followers — broke in and stole what was his, leaving him with nothing.

Now I do not know anything about Mr. Pellatt’s spiritual wealth. Perhaps he had storied up treasures in Heaven! I pray this is the case. However, the story of his mansion, Casa Loma, stands as a stark reminder of what can happen to Earthly wealth.

Where have you put your treasure? Perhaps you are rich. If so, there’s nothing wrong with being rich. The point is simply that our riches and earthly possessions can’t become the foundation of our lives. We must remember that everything we have is on loan to us and can be taken away at any time. If blessed with wealth, why not invest it to help those who aren’t so fortunate? Why not use it for good, for the furthering of the gospel and for helping the hurting ones on Earth? For when we do, we are “storing up our treasures in Heaven”, where the “Mr. Adam Becks” of the world can’t touch them!

Perhaps you aren’t rich, and there’s nothing wrong with this either. However, earthly possession can still become the foundation of our lives, even if it’s just the blanket we sleep under. Even that blanket is on loan and can be taken away. Our best bet is to spend time working on our relationship with God, on helping those in need, on spreading God’s love, and leaving our material needs in the hand of the One who: “… will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19:NIV), the One who: “… upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry… sets prisoners free, … gives sight to the blind, … lifts up those who are bowed down, … loves the righteous. … watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but … frustrates the ways of the wicked.” (Psalms 149:7-9 NIV)

And what happened to Casa Loma? It was taken over by the City of Toronto when Henry left. It served as a hotel for a number of years, it was used in the war effort during WWII, and it is now a major tourist attraction for the city of Toronto. So even though its builder never really got a chance to enjoy it, the castle has served an important role for the city of Toronto through the years.

Inspired by Rob Chaffart
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries


Casa Loma