Henry Pellatt

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Sir Henry Pellatt

Henry Pellatt.png
Portrait around 1936
Born(1859-01-06)January 6, 1859
DiedMarch 8, 1939(1939-03-08) (aged 80)
Mimico, Ontario, Canada
OccupationFinancier and soldier
Spouse(s)Mary Dodgson (m. 1882–1924)
Catharine Welland Merritt (m. 1927–1929)
ChildrenReginald Pellatt

Major-General Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, CVO (January 6, 1859 – March 8, 1939) was a Canadian financier and soldier.[1]

He is notable for his role in bringing hydro-electricity to Toronto, Ontario, for the first time, and also for his large château in Toronto, called Casa Loma, which was the biggest private residence ever constructed in Canada. Casa Loma would eventually become a well-known landmark of the city. His summer home and farm in King City later became Marylake Augustinian Monastery.

Pellatt was also a noted supporter of the Boy Scouts of Canada. His first wife, Mary, was the first Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada.

Early life and family[edit]

Pellatt was born in Kingston, Canada West (now Ontario), the son of Henry Pellatt (1830–1909), a Glasgow-born stockbroker in Toronto,[2] and Emma Mary Pellatt (née Holland). His great-grandfather was the famous glassmaker Apsley Pellatt.[3]

Pellatt had three sisters and two brothers, Fred Pellatt (grandfather of Toronto-based freelance writer John Pellatt) and Mill Pellatt (father of Mary Katherine Pellatt).[citation needed] The latter brother was paymaster of the Toronto Electric Light Company, a job obtained for him by Pellatt. His sisters were Mary Kate, Marian Maria and Emily Mountford Pellatt. One of his nieces, Beatrix Hamilton, was married to Canadian economist and humourist Stephen Leacock.

He was educated at Upper Canada College before leaving in 1876 to join his father's stock brokerage company, Pellatt and Osler, as a clerk. In 1882, Pellatt's father and Osler parted ways, and Pellatt completed his apprenticeship and became a full member of the stock exchange. In the following year, Pellatt's father set up a partnership with his son under the name Pellatt and Pellatt.

Pellatt married twice, first to Mary Dodgson in Toronto in 1882 and, after Mary's death in 1924, to Catharine Welland Merritt in Toronto in 1927 (which lasted until her death in 1929). With his first wife, he had one son, Reginald, who was born in 1885. Colonel Reginald Pellatt (1885–1967) married but had no children.[4]

Military service and honours[edit]

Pellatt was honoured by having a freighter named after him, in 1903.

Pellatt enlisted as a rifleman with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada on November 2, 1876.[5] He rose through the ranks and eventually became the Commanding Officer. In 1905, he was created a Knight Bachelor by King Edward VII for his service with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada.

In 1910, Pellatt took the entire 600-man regiment (including its horses) to England for military training at his expense, to mark the Regiment's 50th anniversary. The military exercises lasted from August 13 to October 3, 1910.

Pellatt later served as the regiment's Honorary Colonel and was promoted to the rank of Major-General upon his retirement from the regiment. In addition, he was made a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1910.

From 1911 to 1923, he was the Knight Principal of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor.

Later years[edit]

Pellatt's funeral at the Toronto Armouries.

Much of Pellatt's fortune was made through investments in the railway and hydro-electric industries in Canada, including the Toronto Electric Light Company. He also made significant investment in the Cobalt Lake Mining Company during the Cobalt silver rush of 1903. Later in around 1915, using riches from his Cobalt Lake Mining Company, he invested in the fledging McIntyre Mines in Timmins Ontario. However, legislator Adam Beck launched a campaign against the great industrialists of Canada, proclaiming that hydro power "should be as free as air". Through legislative process and by whipping up anti-rich sentiment, Beck was able to successfully appropriate Pellatt's life work and take his electric companies from him. Beck then led a populist revolt to raise Pellatt's taxes on his castle, Casa Loma, from $600 per year to $12,000. The strain of losing all of his income, coupled with the large increase in property taxes for his castle, led him to rely solely on his real estate investments, which were unsuccessful due to the beginning of World War I. After the province expropriated his electrical power generating business, and his aircraft manufacturing business was appropriated by Beck as part of the war effort during World War I, Pellatt was driven to near-bankruptcy, which forced him and Lady Pellatt to leave Casa Loma in 1923. They therefore moved to their farm at Marylake in King City.

Pellatt later built Bailey House in Mimico, at the bend in Lake Shore near Fleeceline, overlooking the commercial stretch on Lake Shore (the house later became a Legion Hall and was demolished to make way for a roadway). He subsequently moved in with his chauffeur, Thomas Ridgway, and it was in this house that Pellatt died.[6]

After he died on March 8, 1939, thousands of people lined Toronto streets to witness his funeral procession, and he was buried with full military honours.[7] He is interred at Forest Lawn Mausoleum, north of Toronto.

His life has been featured in the film The Pellatt Newsreel, which aired on the Biography Channel and was nominated for a 2009 Gemini for Best Biography Documentary.[8] The film, narrated by Colin Mochrie, is shown continuously in the theatre at Casa Loma, which is located where the swimming pool was planned to be.

Several biographies have been written about Pellatt. In particular, Carlie Oreskovich's The King of Casa Loma gives a detailed and thorough account. His first wife's great-grandniece, Trelawny Linda Howell, also curates a website dedicated to his memory, CasaLomaTrust.ca.[9]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Flint, David. Sir Henry Pellatt: the King of Casa Loma (book review), Canadian Historical Review, December 1983, pp. 573(2). Gale Document Number:A3033604. Retrieved 25 Sept. 2009.
  • Ford, Tom. "Canada's water power", Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, MB, April 28, 2008, pg.13, ISSN 0828-1785, Accession Number: 7BS7BS1111185262. Retrieved 25 Sept. 2009.
  • Freeman, Bill and Pietropaolo, Vincenzo. Toronto's Fairy-Tale Castle and Its Owner, Sir Henry Pellatt, James Lorimer, 1999, ISBN 1-55028-595-5, ISBN 978-1-55028-595-6.
  • Globe & Mail. "Fight Will Centre on M'naught Bill: Measure Gives Great Scope To Hydro-Electric Commission: Sir Henry Pellatt Asks That Legislative Inquiry Be Started", The Globe and Mail, Toronto, March 13, 1911, pp. 1,9. Retrieved 25 Sept. 2009.
  • Oreskovich, Carlie with foreword by Sinclair, Gordon. Sir Henry Pellatt, the King of Casa Loma, McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Toronto, 1982, ISBN 0-07-548456-0, ISBN 978-0-07-548456-1.
  • Report on Business Magazine. 75 years ago: Auction of Contents of Henry Pellatt's Casa Loma. Report on Business Magazine, Toronto, July 1999: pg.234. Gale Document Number: A30527643. Retrieved 25 September 2009.
  • Time magazine. Canada: Stable Sonics, Time magazine, October 28, 1946. An interesting account of the 4,800 ASDIC sonar devices secretly manufactured at Casa Loma during World War II. Retrieved 25 Sept. 2009.


  1. ^ Sir Henry Pellatt, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16.
  2. ^ Globe, "Mr. Henry Pellatt Dead", 26 July 1909, p. 7.
  3. ^ Visitation of England and Wales, vol. 9, 1901, ed. Joseph Jackson Howard and Frederick Arthur Crisp, pp. 161-167, Pellatt pedigree
  4. ^ Colonel Reginald Pellatt, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum.
  5. ^ Major General Sir Henry Pellatt, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum.
  6. ^ Toronto Sketches by Mike Filey, 1995
  7. ^ Casa Loma – Media Room – Press Releases at www.casaloma.org
  8. ^ The Pellatt Newsreel. Lush Entertainment.
  9. ^ Casa Loma Trust website

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sir Bargrave Deane
Knight Principal of the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor
Succeeded by
Sir William Bull, 1st Baronet