keep running Casa Loma while castle's future being considered
(Posted Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2005)
A special committee contemplating
the future of Casa Loma will likely extend the Kiwanis Club's
contract to operate the castle for a few more years until it can
decide what is best for one of the city's biggest tourist
"The Kiwanis have been operating the castle
since the 1930s and they've done a very good service in managing it,
but now it's part of the evaluation" said Joe Mihevc, the city
councillor for the neighbourhood and a member of the committee.
"Kiwanis's contract is up in 2005. We will certainly advocate
extending it for another year or so until we finish our review."
The committee, made up of about 12 people ~ politicians,
residents and people from the private sector ~ has been meeting
regularly since the fall, talking about ways to make Casa Loma a
place for the entire neighbourhood rather than being merely a site
for visitors to explore.
The committee has even heard from
Trelawny Howell, the great-grandniece of Sir Henry Pellatt, the
financier who built Casa Loma in the early 20th century.
Howell, who is not a member of the committee, has spoken to
Mihevc several times about her opposition to the way the castle is
being run and recently wrote an article about her displeasure with
the castle's management in an issue of <I>Toronto Waterfront
Magazine,</I> where she accused the Kiwanis Club of failing to
promote and use the cultural resource treasure it is.
quick tour of the castle tells it all" she wrote. "A Druxy's Deli
in the basement where a five-star restaurant would be more fitting,
considering the castle's kitchen oven was built large enough to
roast a whole ox. Display cases block the view of what was once the
country's largest private wine cellar. Pieces of period furniture
here and there are long overdue for cleaning or disposal. Tucked
away on the third floor, tribute rooms lack recognition to Colonel
Pellatt's revered Queen's Own Rifles.
Over the years, the
Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma has chosen to promote family-based
activities. They held a day camp for kids and have run special
events such as Mother's Day brunches, fairs and holiday specials, as
well as renting it out to the community as a banquet hall for
"Hopefully, we can continue our
operations," said Richard Wozenilek, a spokesman and volunteer for
the Kiwanis Club. "We've had very good success there."
Wozenilek said he's heard the committee will want to extend
the contract until Dec. 31, 2008. Their current contract expires
The Kiwanis Club has extended its contract
every five years since it began looking after operations in 1936.
However, not one member of the charitable organization is on the
"We're disappointed Kiwanis was not given a seat
at the table," said Wozenilek, but added the group had been briefed
a few times. "We hope to continue to get these briefs."
far, the committee has come up with some ideas on how to maximize
the castle's use, but mostly it has looked at other castles around
North America to see how they have been run.
out different examples of how it could be run and how we could have
a lot better integration with the local neighbourhood," said Mihevc.
Some of the ideas that have emerged are for an evening
concert-series, an established heritage walk around the area from
Dupont St. to the castle and activity-based drop-in programs that
would be exclusively for people living in the area. Howell suggested
the castle be used for honouring visiting dignitaries and for
featuring top international cuisine.
comments from the general public are always appreciated, said
Mihevc, and each will be considered along with ideas from the
committee members. Mihevc said he hopes to approach city council by
late 2006 with a solid plan for the castle for them to approve.