Casa Loma in Toronto: Hollywood’s sweetheart

What do X-Men, Chicago, The Skulls, Maximum Risk, The Tuxedo, Extreme measures and Cocktail have in common? The answer is Casa Loma… The medieval inspired castle in Toronto served as a set for all of these movies – and many others. This is where Richard Gere had an office, Hilary Duff had a wedding, Tom Cruise had a drink, Jean-Claude van Damme had a fight, Keanu Reeves had an epiphany, Patrick Stewart had a stroll and Jackie Chan had a party… With its majestic rooms, appealing story, grand decors and secret passageways, Casa Loma is open to public and a great place for a short but enchanting visit.


Casa Loma is said to be Toronto’s second most popular tourist attraction, but somehow it still manages to very secretly sneak up on you while you’re exploring the city. Like a hidden treasure that you accidentally stumble upon while looking for other things… It unexpectedly colors the Toronto skyline with its stately orange rooftop towers, its majestic balconies, its luscious gardens, its uncountable elegant windows and its fairytale curves, alluringly suggesting a grand interior with glorious ballrooms and perhaps even more glorious suites. We were so drawn by its visual appeal, an entire architectural bauble waiting to be discovered, that we tacitly agreed to have a closer look. Even though people from Toronto call Casa Loma a ‘tourist trap’, it doesn’t disappoint. Eye candy from start to finish! No wonder Hollywood used it as a movie set so many times.

The sad, sappy story

The castle – it’s really just a very big house but with all the features of a proper castle – took 300 men, 3.5 million dollars and three years to build (from 1911 to 1914). It’s set in 5 acres of land in downtown Toronto and was the grand mansion of one of the richest men in the city, Sir Henry Mill Pellat. The military officer slash industrialist (he was the first to bring electricity to the streets and homes of Toronto by building a power generating station at Niagara Falls) was known for living extravagantly, but also for making risky investments. Eventually, he lost close to all of his money. He could no longer pay his taxes and was forced to sign ownership of the castle over to the city after only nine years. The home was abandoned for years and years, until the Kiwanis club restored it and transformed it into a tourist attraction, event venue and military museum. Since then, several movies, television series and commercials were filmed here. There’s a general self-guided tour that takes you through the castle, or, to stick with the movie theme, you can go with the ‘Hollywood Tour’ that highlights the castle locations used in over 20 major motion pictures, revealing glimpses behind the scenes.

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Casa Loma (home on a hill in Spanish) by architect E.J. Lennox, who designed over 70 other buildings in Toronto.
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The grand hall. There are 98 rooms in total…
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Piano in the ballroom. It’s featured (along with the castle Hallway and exterior) in The Tuxedo with Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt.
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The library, with oak floors. There were about forty servants walking around in Casa Loma…
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The Conservatory – marble floors this time! It’s used in a movie with Hillary Duff (The perfect man) as a wedding venue. There’s also a shot where Hillary runs through the hallway of Casa Loma. It’s also used as a classroom in X-Men. Another shot in the movie shows Logan and Professor X take a stroll around Casa Loma.
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The Round Room on the second floor, beneath the castle’s tower. This is Richard Gere’s office in the movie Chicago!
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Lady Mary’s shower. It may look old now, but back then it was a very ambitious model. A forerunner of a wellness and rain shower…
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Lady Mary’s room. It appeared in the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail! Small downside of Casa Loma: not a lot of the furniture and decorations are from the time Sir Henry and his wife lived here: the couple was forced to auction a great deal of their belongings after a few bad investments and financial losses.
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Dozing off in the hallway – probably after trying in vain to find one of the secret passageways that goes from Sir Henry’s office to the hallway! You’ll also see the hallway and other parts of Casa Loma flashing by in the movie Johnny Mnemonic with Keanu Reeves.
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Windows in one of the rooms on the second floor. The Skulls, with Joshua Jackson, used of one these great rooms as a movie set. There’s also an outside shot of Casa Loma.
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The stairway to the towers
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The view from the towers. Hello Toronto!
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Casa Loma from the back.It was temporarily transformed into Hogwarts for the release of Harry Potter & the deathly Hallows
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The main balcony. If you’ve seen the Love Guru – my deepest sympathy if you have! – you’ll recognize the exterior.
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The stables. To reach them, you first have to go through a 800 feet long tunnel, which goes from Casa Loma & under the street. This is where scenes of X-Men and Maximum Risk with Jean-Claude van Damme were shot.
Most of the third floor was left unfinished, and was transformed into a museum for the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, a military unit based in Toronto. Here’s a few interesting shots from things hanging on the walls.
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A Canadian Telegram to Mrs. Eva May Bean: “Minister of National defense wishes to inform you that lieutenant Harvey George Willmott Bean previously reported wounded in action. Nature of wounds now reported bullet wound left leg and back stop. If any further information becomes available it will be forwarded as soon as received.”
I googled his name: turns out he died in the war on February 14th, 1945, only months before the war was over.
www.casaloma.org & an interesting website about the movies that where shot in Toronto (including Casa Loma): www.torontist.com 
  • Stijn

    Knappe post! Leuke filmweetjes 🙂

  • Gorgeous building! I’ve visited Toronto a few times and can’t believe I didn’t know about Casa Loma 🙁
    Thanks for the information and photos. Enjoyed this virtual tour 🙂

    • Weird isn’t it,all the Canadians say it’s no longer fun to go to Casa Loma because of the tourists, but all the tourists that visit Casa Loma discover it completely by chance, without having heard of it beforehand 🙂

  • Paul

    You forgot Scott Pilgrim vs the World — Casa Loma was the site of the movie shoot where Scott met one of the awful Exes.

    • True! It’s the only movie I haven’t seen (yet) so I wasn’t sure if it would be a good reference… It is any good?

  • Thanks for the mention – you can find out more about the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum at our website: http://qormuseum.org/

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  • I think the Arrow tv series is using this as their set too