Henry Pellatt

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Sir Henry Pellatt
Henry Pellatt.png
Portrait around 1936
Born (1859-01-06)January 6, 1859
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Died March 8, 1939(1939-03-08) (aged 80)
Mimico, Ontario, Canada
Occupation financier and soldier
Spouse(s) Mary Dodgson (m. 1882-1924)
Catharine Welland Merritt (m. 1927)

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

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 Mary Lake 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, Ontario, the son of Henry Pellatt (1830-1909), a Glasgow-born stockbroker in Toronto,[1] and Emma Mary Pellatt (née Holland). He was related to the famous glassmaker Apsley Pellatt (1763–1826).

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. With his first wife, he had one son, Reginald, who was born in 1885.

Military service and honours[edit]

Pellatt enlisted as a rifleman with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada on November 2, 1876. 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]

Much of Pellatt's fortune was made through investments in the railway and hydro-electric industries in Canada, including the Toronto Electric Light Company. However, the strain of maintaining his large castle led him to ill-advised real estate investments, which were unsuccessful. The Province expropriated his electrical power generating business, and his aircraft manufacturing business was later taken over as part of the war effort during World War I. Combined, these difficulties led to his near-bankruptcy and forced him and Lady Pellatt to leave Casa Loma in 1923. They therefore moved to their farm at Mary Lake 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. He moved in with his chauffeur, and it was in this house that Pellatt died.[2]

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.[3] He is interred at Forest Lawn Mausoleum in 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.[4]

Several biographies have been written about Pellatt. In particular, Carlie Oreskovich's "The King of Casa Loma" gives a detailed and thorough account.

His great-grandniece Trelawny Linda Howell also curates a website dedicated to his memory, CasaLomaTrust.ca.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Globe, "Mr. Henry Pellatt Dead", 26 July 1909, p. 7.
  2. ^ Toronto Sketches by Mike Filey, 1995
  3. ^ Casa Loma – Media Room – Press Releases at www.casaloma.org
  4. ^ The Pellatt Newsreel. Lush Entertainment.

External links[edit]

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