Monday, October 31, 2011
Although I love the warmth and freedom of summer - being close to nature as you swim in the lake and walk around barefoot - there is something about autumn that speaks to my soul. For two months we’ve been surrounded by glowing, ever-changing colours and the rich fragrance of fallen leaves that instantly conjures up memories of childhood fun. And autumn has the added thrill of Halloween, of allowing the imagination to roam into the eerie unknown, of relishing spine-tingling tales, and dressing up as witches and monks of old.
To add some seasonal spice this year, my family did a nighttime “ghost hunting tour” of Casa Loma, that fanciful baronial castle perched majestically above Toronto. With 98 rooms, it’s the largest private residence ever built in Canada, and helped to bankrupt its wealthy owner, Sir Henry Pellatt. Having spent $3.5 million already, he told his neighbour, Lady Flora Eaton, that he needed another million to finish it, which he never did. So Sir Henry and his wife didn’t have many years to enjoy their castle, and certainly didn’t die there, but they are apparently still there in spirit form. Other ghosts - servants, perhaps - scare people from top-floor rooms and prowl the long, creepy tunnel that connects the house with the stables. It was in that tunnel that something snarled menacingly in our ears - unheard by others around us.
When you gaze down the deep length of the darkened library toward the conservatory or climb up the narrow, twisting staircases to the top of the towers, or wander down shadowy passageways, it’s easy to believe that you are not alone. And reinforces for me that I never want to live in a castle. J
The Pellatts and Casa Loma are neighbours to some of my characters, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they attended a dinner or ball there, the Pellatts being renowned for entertaining regularly and lavishly. I get to join them in my imagination, and perhaps I should set it around Halloween.
For more info about Casa Loma, visit the official site.