Casa Loma and the Nano Castle   a video docu-tale about how we got Ontario Hydro, the world’s first publicly-owned utility.

by Schuster Gindin and Elizabeth Cinello
(11 minutes, no sound)

A little girl finds a tiny red slipper by Casa Loma. She embarks on a journey to find the matching little slipper. A fairytale-like walk between the city’s largest house and the city’s smallest home reveals a story about the builder of Casa Loma, who controlled the city’s electrical supply, and the working men and women who built the houses in our neighbourhood.

This modern fairytale is told like a cable news story. It was shown in September 2003, during Arts Week, on TV monitors in community centers, libraries, and shops.

To enhance your viewing experience, pick your favorite music and play it while you’re watching.

Casa Loma and the Nano Castle

The fairytale, box text

Along the ancient shoreline of a glacial sea,
Is the land of Ishapadenah, later known as Spadunk.

Overlooking a sea of condos and gridlock
Ishapadenah is a realm of castles grandiose and miniscule.

What dwells up on the hill,
Past the tollkeeper’s cottage,
up on the Davenport ridge?

Don’t be afraid.

A century ago,
a Toronto knight and financier built his dream home –
a castle with a central vacuuming system.
Unlike any other castle, his was wired for electricity.

He and his wife were the only ones who ever lived in the house of their dreams – a castle built for two.

This knight was a king-of-the-castle kind-of-guy.
He was one owner of the “Electrical Ring” – a group of 3 private companies companies created to control the land’s electrical power – power at the great thundering falls, Niagara.

Breaking News

A tiny wayward slipper is found near the castle.
Where could the matching slipper be?
Could it be in this castle brimming with electrical power?
This castle is much too big for this little slipper.
Too Big…Where must the little castle be
that fits this little slipper?

Too Big
Where can it be?

Where can it be?
Along bustling roads,
past impenetrable walls
a path of leading signs,
to curious intersections
underneath unbending giants,
over bridges, across the tracks,
to enter the neighbourhood of little houses,
guarded by a pride of brawny lions.

Here a man and a woman,
weary of paying rent,
could build their own dream.
With a small down payment
they purchased a plot of land.

Every night after work, some made bricks from the earth on their lot.
Some dug holes for the foundation of their home.
Lathing, tiling and plastering, with a few dollars at a time,
they purchased wood, nails, sheet-iron, weathered boards and tarpaper  … With their neighbours and coworkers, they built the walls and the roof.
When the house was done, they moved right in.

Where is the nano castle?

Unique home, must be seen
Which one is the nano castle?
Close to all amenities.
Plumbing up to date.
Cute as a button
Where is the nano castle?
1st time buyers’ dream.

News Update

The people smash the electrical ring.
Ontario Hydro, world’s first publicly owned utility created.
Electricity reaches the land of little castles.
The nano castle and the little slipper cannot be far behind.

Here is the nano castle and the
matching slipper.

Looks comfy
and cozy,
and just the right size.

Proud owners of the magical radiance of electrical power,
the people of Ishapadenah,
continue to live in their castles, enjoying the fruit of their labour,
tending their gardens, and wearing their comfy slippers
in their own sweet home.

The End.


Casa Loma and the Nano Castle

The documentary, crawl text at the bottom of the screen

Pundit claims castle is “a mixture of 17th century Scotland and 20th Century Fox”

How the knight adored the castles of yore. He ordered his architect to copy their style. 300 men worked nearly 3 years and the knight spent $3,500,000.00 to complete his dream home, which had 3 bowling alleys.

Then he spent $250,000.00 to build a wall around it. They say he personally hired each worker and handpicked each stone used in its construction.

Casa Loma: 98 rooms, 30 bathrooms with scented water faucets, 25 fireplaces, 5,000 light bulbs, 52 telephones…

maintenance costs…$100,000.00;   wages for servants…$22,000.00   725,000 kilograms of coal to heat the lofty house …$15,000.00;    property taxes…$12,000

Knight Rules Land From His Castle on the Hill

The knight controlled all of the electrical supply. His grip on the city below tightened as he plundered the city with his electrical ring and private streetcar company.

Through The Home Bank he lent himself money and formed alliances with over 100 companies. The profits from his electrical enterprises more than paid for his castle on the hill.

Nearby people were building other dream homes in the land of Ishapadenah.

People walked up to 6 kilometers to work. They walked past gurgling creeks, up and down hills and vales, through farms and orchards.

They walked around the swamp, down the dip, through the bush, over mud holes, and quicksand, past neighbourhood brickyards and sandpits.

In factories they built the smallest car in North America – the Willys-Overland Whippet…  bicycles (900 a week, 46,800 a year) … hundreds of thousands of ice skates.

They built pipes through which warm water flowed to heat homes. They molded soap and scented it with spices from India. With fine clay from China, they baked cast iron bathtubs, glittering and shiny.

They shaped iron and steel into giant electrical transformers and 6,000 horsepower generators. They built pianos (1000 a year) park benches and eaves troughs. There was nothing they couldn’t make.

Here they had no electricity, no plumbing or sewers, no sidewalks or paved roads and no public transportation.

The homes had 3 whole rooms, sometimes 6, an outdoor privy … Eaton’s Catalogue for toilet paper, cows, chickens, a garden, a well, marigolds, lilac bushes, cherry trees, pines and giant elms.

15,000 homes built

Some homes were no bigger than a big piano box. Some were moved from here to there. Some made of wood burnt down fast, some made of brick were built to last.

Some arrived by mail from Sears, a house kit, to be assembled, instructions and mortgage included in the box. Crafted by candlelight, hammering, sawing late into the night, each house looked like no other.

Labourer’s Wages $8 to $15 per week … Plot of land…$100.00;   construction costs… $2.00 here, $4.00 there; sand… 25¢ a load; sidewalk … $3.00;  total annual fuel and lighting … $200.00; property taxes … $296.00

For 30 years, the knight and his private companies gouged the people. Fed up with brown outs, black outs, and poor service at a high cost, the people smashed the Electrical Ring and replaced it with the world’s first and biggest publicly owned power system.

The people called it Ontario Hydro.

The castle on the hill began to crumble and is still crumbling today. Driven by the knight’s greed, The Home Bank went into bankruptcy. The knight refused to pay his taxes and was forced to give up the castle. Eventually, his chauffeur took him in.



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