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PS8j - Royal Ontario Museum / Casa Loma

Ruth-Ann and her son Alex took me to the Royal Ontario Museum on a Monday, and we had a great look-around. There's all kinds of neat stuff in here, and it should certainly be one of your Toronto stops if you've already seen the Zoo and the Science Centre. =)

I like these old school museums, because even the ceilings are highly ornamental, and you also get the feeling that they genuinely wanted to educate people, as the dedication implies.

Before we got anywhere, Alex decided that he needed a bagel. =)

Can you believe that I got this 11-year-old boy into the Open Mike show? =)

Digression: Open Mike

The next night (tuesday), I went with Alex to see the Open Mike with Mike Bullard show, and the taping we attended aired that night. Of course, to actually be in the lower audience (where you get on camera), you can't have any under-14-year-olds in tow. I imagine this is because the show is rated 14+, and they might get into legal trouble otherwise. We did get to see the show from the balcony however (we were just two metres away from a mom and her two boys who ended up stealing the show - which was both exciting and frustrating at the same time, as you might imagine), and we had a good time. We got warmed up downstairs, then Mike told some good stories, the guests were good, and Orrin had us rockin' the whole way through; and I learned how much they really do fake everything for TV. So if you plan to be in Toronto, go see Open Mike - it's fun as heck, and also free. Call them a couple months ahead of time and tell them you want up front - I know I'll be doing that next time.

Toronto. Well.

This is Casa Loma - "North America's most famous castle." (how many castles are there in North America?!) The place was comissioned by a Lord Henry in the early 1900's, but was never really completed due to the Great Depression which kept a lot of benevolent aristrocrats from fulfilling their most eccentric dreams. =) The place is a real scream, especially when you remember when it was built - the feeling is akin to that of exploring a spaceship made of wood and concrete. It's in a clash all by itself.

Some of the finished areas of the castle are a wonder to behold. This area is called the conservatory, which is a handy place for music recitals, banquets, birthday parties, showing off your plants, etc..

I love the glass dome above the conservatory. It just shouted at me, "take my picture!"

This is the Lady's sitting room, not to be confused with her attached bedroom. As a room, its furnishings are reasonably typical.

Digression: The concept of a 'suite.'

The 'bedrooms' of the Lord and Lady of Casa Loma are a wonder to behold. First of all, each bedroom has the actual bedroom, which is incredibly huge. Then each bedroom has a sitting room / parlor like the Lady's pictured above. Then each bedroom has a bathroom which in itself is also bigger than most complete bedrooms. As Lord Henry, you'd have a lot of room to stretch out.

If you were fortunate enough to be the overnight guest of Lord Henry (who was known for his hospitality), you might find yourself staying in the guest suite. Yes, there is a guest bedroom, guest bathroom, and even a guest parlor! (What possible use there could be for that, I'm not sure.) Sure, the rooms are smaller and sized closer to what you or I would be used to, but the sheer scope of it all is still astounding. It's amazing that Lord Henry was able to start a project like this, and even more amazing that Nature waited so long to step in and prevent things from going overboard.

One of the many semi-hidden passages of Casa Loma.

Since there aren't any other buildings around, the castle doesn't seem as big as it ought to be, but when you look and start counting all the windows you do appreciate its immensity.

This is actually the 'swimming pool'. An indoor swimming pool before the 1930's. I don't believe it. I don't think it was finished, by the looks of things.

This long, very long tunnel leads to the garage and stables. I'd estimate that it's about half a kilometer long. So when Lord Henry came back from a outing in the coldest days of winter, he probably took the tunnel back to the castle proper.

Actually, no, his chauffeur probably just dropped him off at the front door.

The loft you walk through to get to the tower.

This is what things look like inside the towers. Right now I'm going up the lower, "open tower" to take some pictures. I'll have to watch my step.

As if I didn't need to say, "bring your own binoculars" ever again... =) At least the school children were smart enough not to feed the mounted binoculars any quarters.

Here you can see the tallest tower overlooking the gardens area. I would have visted the gardens, but they were closed this time of year.

From the top of the tower, I snapped this nice picture of the Toronto skyline. Lotsa tall buildings. Did you know that the tallest bulding on Prince Edward Island is the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown, and it is only ten stories tall? Amazing.

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