Alex very helpfully uploaded some photos from our visit to Casa Loma on the 23rd. There was a special program there for kids. We got there fairly soon after it opened at 10 a.m. and discovered the room where Santa was before anyone else came in. Emily's animation and rowdiness fell away the moment she spotted him, and she very slowly and tentatively approached the great man. They had a very earnest discussion about her age, what she hoped to get for Christmas, and some other things I didn't quite catch. But before she left, he explained to her how the reindeer prefer their carrots with some green left on them (you know, the leafy bits); and asked if she could leave some of those out along with the cookies (she brought up the fact that we would be making him cookies and hot chocolate). Luckily, we did have some carrots "au naturale" in the fridge.
Casa Loma, built in 1911 (I think? You can look it up later.) is pretty interesting. Within the first half-hour of our exploring the house, we were greeted by Mr. Tom Board (not sure of the spelling), who was described by a lady in the gift shop as a "fixture" in Casa Loma. He is the former (now retired) superintendent of Casa Loma, and still comes and hangs out there most days. His wife was the head tour guide there. Both were apparently very devoted to the place. He told me some fascinating things about it - for example, the central vac system; and he and the plumber's discovery of the remains of Lady Pellatt's fabled perfumed shower. There was a lot about it that reminded me of Biltmore, although, there is obviously much less money to care for its upkeep than is enjoyed by the Biltmore estates. I vaguely remember having Casa Loma pointed out to me on streetcar trips when I was small; but I don't believe I've ever been to it before. I find the story of how Sir Henry Pellatt lost his fortune (mainly due to the kleptocratic actions of the Canadian government) and eventually Casa Loma very compelling.
Anyway, we really enjoyed our visit to Casa Loma, as well as exploring the underground passageways to the garage, potting "shed" (with a square footage approaching many of our own homes), and stables. Once the weather turns warm, I'll want to go back and explore the gardens.