Casa Loma is the home of luxurious residences, sheltering tree-lined streets, a thriving arts scene and of course the historic Toronto, Ontario landmark from which the neighborhood takes its name. Homes in this area are among the most prestigious addresses in Toronto, and the neighborhood functions simultaneously as a tourist attraction and a quiet residential refuge.
This gem of a neighborhood is hidden in plain sight. While it is located smack in the middle of Toronto itself, it somehow feels miles away from the hectic pace of downtown. When you step onto one of the peaceful residential streets, the air grows quiet and a feeling of seclusion settles in. The reality, though, is that the rest of the city is only minutes away.
Casa Loma is a small neighborhood in mid-town Toronto. The east-west boundaries of the neighborhood are marked by Bathurst Street and Avenue Road. The south edge of the neighborhood lies just north of Dupont street. On the north edge, St. Clair and Lonsdale mark the boundaries. The dominant feature of the region is Casa Loma, Toronto’s most famous house. When you’re in this part of town, it is impossible to miss the landmark that is its namesake. Casa Loma is a castle in every sense of the word. This attraction was built as a private residence in 1911 by Sir Henry Pellatt. Unfortunately, tax difficulties forced Sir Pellatt to sell his castle to the city less than 15 years after he built it. It first became a hotel, then a nightclub and finally, a tourist destination owned by the city.
Casa Loma seems distinctly different and separated from the rest of the city in some respects. The community is tight-knit, evidenced by the couples nodding at each other as they take their dogs for walks in the morning. People in Casa Loma know their neighbors and love their neighborhood. Sir Winston Churchill ParkSir Winston Churchill Park The hill where one of Toronto’s most popular attractions sits bustles with a combination of tourists and Torontonians enjoying the scenic views. Yet once you turn the corner and the castle fades out of site, the quiet immediately returns. Ravines running through the area provide some green space for runners and dog-owners. The community has plenty of both.
Casa Loma is filled with foot traffic as the residents tend to walk everywhere to fulfill their daily shopping needs. However, the upscale nature of this part of town means that you’ll see the streets and driveways filled with BMWs, Mercedes and Audis.
Local entertainment options are plentiful and exceptional. If you’re a theatre enthusiast, Tarragon Theatre is one of Toronto’s best live theaters. Tarragon has a long history of debuting Canadian plays and of creating challenging, critically acclaimed work. Local dining options include a variety of well-regarded restaurants. Dos Amigos on Bathurst is a neighborhood secret that makes some of the best mexican food in the city. For an elegant night out, Scaramouche, just off Avenue Rd. has been consistently ranked #1 or #2 on the Joanne Kates’ Top 100 Guide to Toronto’s Best Restaurants. Just south of the boundary of the neighborhood along Dupont Street,. are many other great dining options. In addition, coffee lovers will find plenty of fantastic java along St. Clair, and on Spadina Road. Most of the restaurants and coffee shops are smaller, locally owned establishments, and they tend to attract more locals than tourists.
Many of the homes in the Casa Loma neighborhood are very old, ornate homes. A walk through the area reveals many residences that can only be called mansions. Brick homes surrounded by old-growth trees with ivy climbing on the facades are a common sight. The neighborhood is dominated by large, single-family residences. North of St. Clair and closer to Avenue Road, there are more modest home options and a greater variety of condominiums and apartments. Closer to Bathurst and Casa Loma itself, homes tend to start at one million dollars and climb from there.
As with much of Toronto, a slight haze is visible in the skies on many summer days when you look south. However, the air quality in Casa Loma is much better than in many parts of the city due to the amount of green space that is maintained. Noise is very minimal on the side streets, but there is a significant amount of traffic noise on the primary thoroughfares. The streetcar line and heavier traffic on St. Clair results in a noticeably nosier street. However, the noise all but vanishes once you’re a block away.
The crime rate in the Casa Loma area is in line with Toronto averages. Many of the crimes in the area are theft related, with breaking and entering being the most common type of reported crime. As a busy tourist attraction, Casa Loma itself is sometimes the site of minor thefts such as pickpocketing and purse snatching. According to the 2011 CBC Crime map, Casa Loma rated among the lowest neighborhoods for assault. There were 33 assault occurrences in Casa Loma 2011, resulting in a rank of 124th out of 140 neighborhoods for that crime. Anyone walking down the streets at night should feel perfectly safe.
George Brown College is located in the Casa Loma district. This school offers a number of programs in the arts, community and health services, business, hospitality and more. This area tends towards couples without children rather than families, so there are a few less schools in this neighborhood than some, but there are still options for nearby education. Casa Loma is home to the Hillcrest Community School and Brown Junior Public school. Both are public, K-6 schools. There are also a handful of private schools within Casa Loma. Bishop Strachan is a day and boarding school for girls (K-12). Mabin provides private education from K-6, and the Waldorf Academy has a program running from preschool to Grade 8.
Public transportation is easily accessible throughout Casa Loma. The neighborhood is bordered by two TTC subway stops on the University-Spadina line, with St. Clair West station to the north, and Dupont station to the south. There is also a streetcar that runs down St. Clair. This line runs from Yonge to beyond Keele Street. With plenty of bus stops also providing regular service, there are few neighborhoods with better public transit access.
Casa Loma is a safe and beautiful neighborhood to raise a family in. However, the cost of raising a family combined with the cost of living in this locale may provide a barrier to entry for some families. There are many more people without children at home living in the neighborhood than those with families. The city of Toronto’s neighborhood profile suggests that in 2011, 1,360 couples without children lived in the neighborhood, compared to only 850 with children. A single-person household is the most common living arrangement in Casa Loma.