Q1. Which Toronto landmarks are connected to the Beaches' Chateau des Quatre Vents?? (P7)
Chateau des Quatre Vents - Hidden Jewel on Queen East
From little village, thriving town, to a part of Beaches heritageBy Beth Parker
At the far east end of Queen Street, there is a castle-themed cliff top home. Although the house isn't visible from Queen Street, the two rounded turrets carved in opposite shapes, one concave and one convex, can be seen hidden amongst the trees when looking towards the Lake. The home is at the end of the 100-ft. private pathway, Rockaway Crescent that leads toward the cliff edge.
Remarkable Landmarks to the Cliff Top Chateau The story of the Chateau on Queen East goes back to the age of Casa Loma, and it has close ties to Toronto's Old City Hall, King Edward Hotel and Sir Henry Pellatt, the dreamer behind Toronto's famous landmark, European style castle, Casa Loma.
The front of the home at 3025 Queen Street East was originally constructed in 1892 as a summer cottage. In 1910 the owner, William Murray, commissioned Toronto's most influential Canadian architect of that era, Edward Lennox to build a 2½-story addition. Lennox was the same architect that designed Toronto's landmarks of Casa Loma, Old City Hall and the King Edward hotel. Once completed, Mr. Murray named the house Chateau des Quatre Vents (Castle of the Four Winds).
Queen Anne Style, Victorian flavours and Medieval Influence, it's got it all!
On the outside you can clearly see similarities with Lennox's other buildings. Steeply pitched roofs with irregular features, elaborate gabled balconies and towers placed at the corner of the front facade – all characteristic of the Queen Anne style. There are also Victorian era turrets and medieval influenced gargoyles and high arches.
Inside, the house is beautifully preserved by the current owner who abought it in 1992 and restored it to its original grandeur from years of neglect as a set of rental apartments. There are large stainedglass windows in the living room, which has a ceiling criss-crossed with original oak beams. The dining room is circular, with oak wainscoting and gold painted crown moldings. Two of the bedrooms in the turrets are also decorated with gold painted crown moldings. A few modern amenities have been added, for example, the original building didn't have an indoor bathroom!
Sir Henry Pellatt, Beaches Landowner
There is another Beaches/Casa Loma connection. The owner of Chateau des Quatre Vents, Mr. Murray, originally bought the land for the house from Sir Henry Pellatt, the same romanticist and industrialist who commissioned Casa Loma. Besides purchasing the land on which he built Casa Loma, Sir Henry had a large piece of land on top of the cliff for his own summer estate. Part of that land he sold to William Murray. Sir Henry did build his own summer home on the rest of the property, but unfortunately this home burned to the ground in a fire in the early 1920s; this is about the same time when Sir Henry went bankrupt. Part of this land is where the R.C. Harris public utilities and water works is located.
Sir Henry Pellatt's Dream
Sir Henry Pellatt was the dreamer behind Toronto's famous landmark, Casa Loma. Born in Kingston, Ontario on January 6, 1859 to British parents, this ambitious youth left his studies at Upper Canada College at seventeen to work in the family commerce business. At the age of 23 he became a full partner in his father's brokerage firm, Pellatt and Pellatt. That was the same year he married Mary Dodgeson.
As many know, Sir Henry Pellatt built Casa Loma in Toronto to look and feel like a real castle, and the only castle in North America. By 1911, Sir Henry had amassed a fortune through business investments of about $17 million and turned his attention to building his "dream home". Sir Henry was a great philanthropist and part of his hope was that having such a grand castle in Toronto would attract more royalty to the city.
Casa Loma – House on the Hill
The land on which he planned to build had been given a name by its previous owner: "house on the hill" or Casa Loma.
Sir Henry and his architect, Edward Lennox, drew their inspiration from castles in Europe for Casa Loma's design and furnishings, borrowing from the most pleasing elements of Norman, Gothic and Romanesque styles. Casa Loma was completed in 1914. It had the most modern conveniences of the day: electricity, indoor plumbing, a central vacuum and its very own telephone exchange with fifty-nine telephones. The construction costs were $3.5 million and the furnishings another $1.5 million.
A Lasting Vision
Unfortunately, Sir Henry went further and further into debt building his castle, neither he nor his wife ever living in their castle home. After World War 1 the economy slumped, and Pellatt and his wife faced bankruptcy. Faced with an extraordinary tax bill, Sir Henry ended up signing over Casa Loma to the City of Toronto for unpaid taxes. The city has owned it ever since, but it has been operated by the Kiwanis Club since 1937.
A Lasting Vision Although Sir Henry died almost penniless, he was a man of great heart and great vision. Whenever he was able, he gave a great deal of his fortune to several philanthropic endeavors and his enlistment of Edward Lennox to build Casa Loma gave North America its only castle. It is worth a drive to see Lennox' larger masterpieces in our city – the Old City Hall and King Edward – but also the lovely summer residence of Chateau de Quatre Vents.
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