Casa Loma (South Hill) Properties and Neighbourhood Guide

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Casa Loma (South Hill) Properties and Neighbourhood Guide

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Casa Loma (South Hill) Neighbourhood Guide

Welcome to Casa Loma (South Hill):

Exquisite storybook homes surround Toronto’s magnificent Casa Loma, a rambling Gothic Revival castle that lends the neighbourhood its name and an aura of grandeur unrivalled by any other community in the city. Wealthy families find their forever homes here in this prestigious enclave, with its impressive century homes, gracious lots and sumptuous gardens. Take your pick from some of the best private schools in Canada, enjoy the expansive parks along the Nordheimer Ravine, and add in excellent shopping and a quick commute to downtown – this neighbourhood leaves nothing to be desired.

Highlight:

Casa Loma, the rambling 20th century castle at the centre of this community, draws tourists from all over the world and is a delight to visit on a quiet afternoon.

What you'll fall in love with:

While there is much to love about the Casa Loma castle, what you’ll really fall in love with here are the parks. Much of the land in the neighbourhood is given over to green spaces, from the expansive Sir Winston Churchill Park atop the St. Clair Reservoir to the pretty Wells Hill Park and the canopied paths of the Nordheimer Ravine lands. In the south-west corner of the community, there are many small parkettes, which open up the streetscape and infuse the community with green in summertime. All this green space makes the neighbourhood feel like a real retreat from the hubbub of the city.

Neighbours:

This cozy midtown community reaches from St. Clair Avenue in the north to the CP Rail Line in the south, and from Bathurst Street in the west across to Avenue Road in the east. There are lots of locals under 30 living here, but adults of all ages call this community home. Most couples here don’t have children, despite the great parks and nearby schools. Average after-tax income is nearly $128,000, well above the city average.

House Style:

The south-eastern part of the community near George Brown college features more modest housing, including midcentury homes and duplexes and the occasional Annex-style home. Most move here for the homes in the northern reaches, which are stately Georgians with manicured lawns, sitting on leafy, wide streets.

Prices:

The average price of a single-family detached home is $1.8 million, while condominiums range from $327,000 to $2.65 million, averaging about $1.2 million.

Local Schools:

There are two excellent elementary schools in the Casa Loma community. The Hillcrest Community School in the north-west corner of the neighbourhood received an 8.3/10 in the Fraser Institute’s 2015-16 review of Canadian schools, up from 6.9 in 2012. Brown Junior Public, which sits in the north-east corner of the neighbourhood, received an 8.4/10 in the 2015-16 review, down from 8.8 in 2014. Parents may also choose from many of the country’s top private schools, including De La Salle College, The Linden School, Branksome Hall, Upper Canada College, Bishop Strachan and many others, for children of all ages.

The commute:

Casa Loma is close to downtown – it will only take you 20 minutes to drive or take the TTC to Union Station, and you can make the trip by bike in 25 minutes. You might even make the walk on a nice summer day, as it takes just over an hour. Yonge and Bloor is right around the corner, just 10 minutes by car or bike, 20 minutes on transit and a half an hour on foot.

Life Style:

Certainly you’ll want to visit Casa Loma, the extraordinary early 20th century castle built by wealthy financier Henry Pellatt, who brought electricity to Toronto and at one time personally controlled 25 per cent of the Canadian economy. Pellatt built Casa Loma over three years in the early 1900s, the largest personal residence ever constructed in Canada. Today it is a major tourist attraction, featuring some of the most intricate craftsmanship you will ever see. Living in the shadow of this incredible building can feel like living in a fairytale. The community has a near-perfect location, secreted away in the heart of Toronto’s midtown, just north of the bustling Annex, west of tony Summerville and within walking distance to Yorkville. The south-western corner of the community is home to George Brown College, a publicly funded applied arts and technology school that draws many young people to the neighbourhood. There’s a youthful energy in this corner of Casa Loma, along with modest mid-century homes and duplexes that makes the area feel more like the Annex. It is the northern part of the neighbourhood that draws wealthy Torontonians looking for canopied streets and prestigious estates – the homes you’ll find here consist of unique, high-quality new builds and the stately brick Georgians of a bygone era, akin to those found in the neighbouring communities of Summerville and Rosedale. The shopping in Casa Loma is excellent. Yorkville is steps away, where you’ll find the famous “mink mile” and just about all of the most prestigious retailers in the world, including Porche, Hermes and Chanel. All of the midtown neighbourhoods around Casa Loma are affluent, and so even the grocery shopping in the neighbourhood is high-end; you’ll have to head over to Yonge Street to find it, however, as the major arteries around Casa Loma are mainly residential. Practically speaking, most locals do their shopping on St. Clair West, at the Loblaws near Bathurst Street. There’s no shortage of fantastic restaurants in the neighbourhood, owing to the daily influx of tourists and affluent folks who live here. Try the Flor De Sal for romantic Mediterranean fare or Scaramouche for sophisticated French haute cuisine. Just south of the tracks, along Dupont Street, pop into the Pour House Pub and Kitchen for a beer, or try the Playa Cabana for a taste of Mexico to get you through the long, cold Toronto winter.

A little bit of history:

The remarkable rise and fall of Sir Henry Pellatt could well be the stuff of fiction. Born into a wealthy Kingston family in 1859, he was an ambitious young man who dropped out of Upper Canada College to join his father as a stockbroker. At 23 he founded the Toronto Electric Light Company and also bet heavily on the new Canadian Pacific Railway, incorporated in 1881, when he was just 22. These investments and others made him extraordinarily wealthy, and in 1905 he embarked on the construction of Casa Loma – which means “castle on a hill” in Spanish.

Pellatt spared no expense. The stables, among the first buildings to be constructed, featured mahogany stalls and the names of each of his horses displayed in letters made of eighteen carat gold. The residence was to be 180,000 square feet, designed by preeminent architect E.J. Lennox. It was fully electric with an elevator and a central vacuum system, along with three bowling alleys, a swimming pool and its own telephone exchange with no less than 53 phones. The ovens were said to be so large they could roast an ox whole, and there was space for two pipe organs and several secret passageways. After he and his wife, Mary, took up residence in 1914, it became the site of the most glamouros high-society parties of the era.

Pellatt’s fall from the pinnacle of Toronto society was precipitous and swift. The Second World War, a growing debt load, poor real estate investments and, later, the Great Depression, all combined to decimate his finances. The city seized the castle for back taxes and he was forced to move out in 1924 carrying just three truckloads of personal belongings – the rest was sold for a pittance. Mary died a year later, Pellatt re-married and his new wife passed away shortly after. He spent the rest of his life living in near-poverty, and died in 1939 with not even $200 to his name.

Casa Loma (South Hill) on a map