Fifty Years at Casa Loma

Today marks exactly fifty years since our Regimental Museum opened at Casa Loma under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel William T. Barnard, ED, CD (Ret’d) and with City of Toronto Mayor William Dennison cutting the ribbon.

Also present were Mrs Reginald Pellatt, widow of former Commanding Officer and Honorary Colonel,  Colonel Reg Pellatt, VD; the Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel John G.B. Strathy, CD; and then Honorary Colonel, Colonel C. O. Dalton DSO, KStJ, ED.

As many of your will know, the museum was originally established in 1957 at the Regimental Depot in Calgary. The Depot Adjutant, Captain Joe Schmidt was the first Curator and the museum was authorized by the Regimental Executive Committee to help train new recruits in the regiments history.  It was officially opened by Major General Chris Vokes, General Officer Commanding Western Command.

Major General Chris Vokes, CB, CBE, DSO, CD – General Officer Commanding Western Command – signs the guest book while officially opening the new QOR Regimental Museum at the Depot in Calgary, 1957.

Original QOR Regimental Museum at the Depot in Calgary.

However in the late ’60s the Depot was closed and a new location was found for the museum in the historic Casa Loma, built by Toronto financier and the Queen’s Own’s longest serving Commanding Officer, Major General Sir Henry Pellatt,CVO, DCL, VD.  After the First World War, Sir Henry has lost Casa Loma to the City of Toronto for back taxes. It would sit vacant before serving as a short lived hotel, and eventually be taken over by the Kiwanis Club which ran it as one of Toronto’s most iconic tourist attractions for 80 years.

Arrangements were made with Kiwanis to occupy most of the third floor which needed considerable painting and plastering to make usable.  Museum objects were shipped from Calgary to Toronto, and new exhibits set up. And on June 7, 1970, the ribbon was cut and the museum officially opened.

Mayor Dennison cuts the ribbon at the foot of the stair case assisted by Lieutenant Colonel John Strathy.
Left to right: A future RSM and Major Harry McCabe (partially visible in WWII uniform), Honorary Colonel C.O. Dalton, his wife Helen, Mayor William Dennison, Mrs Reginald Pellatt, Lieutenant Colonel John Strathy, and Rifleman Johnny Bennett in period uniform at the present arms.
From left to right: Mayor Dennison, Mrs. Reginald Pellatt, LCol Barnard, and a young Sergeant Jerry Senetchko standing sharply to attention while the Curator tells about the Ensign McEachren Tunic.
Lieutenant Colonel John Strathy points out something of interest to his mother and father, retired Colonel of the Regiment J.G.K. Strathy.
Guest enjoying refreshments at the opening.

Of course a lot has changed since 1970. In 1988 LCol Barnard was succeeded as curator by his assistant, Captain Peter Simundson who would continue in the role for another 22 years.  On Peter’s retirement in 2012, Major John Stephens assumed the curator’s role.

LCol Barnard with then Colonel-in-Chief, HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent at a museum relaunch event in the 1980’s.

Changes of space allocations and upgrading exhibits, labels, and interpretive panels has continued over those past fifty years. In 2014 came a new operator as the Liberty Entertainment Group replaced the Kiwanis Club of Toronto, and a new relationship with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Trust that operates the museum on behalf of the Regiment.

Behind the scenes there was also continuous improvement in storage, cataloging and IT systems – and of course in more recent times, embracing the opportunities to reach a much wider audience through various social media platforms such as this website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Flickr.

Today we had hoped to host an event at the museum to celebrate this anniversary but of course the best laid plans “of mice and men” can be sabotaged by a viral pandemic. Despite that our museum team continues to work remotely as best we can on a variety of projects, and we look forward to celebrating this anniversary throughout the coming year when Casa Loma and our museum return in some fashion to a new normal.

For now though we want to thank all those in the Regimental family who have supported the museum over the past fifty years – through donations of objects, financial support, and their time and effort to get us where we are today!

And while you can’t visit the museum in person right now, we encourage you to browse through our online catalog – the random image option usually brings up some interesting objects!

QOR Regimental Museum Team 2020

In pace paratus!
Your museum team.

#casaloma #qormuseum #qorofc #fiftyyears #50years

6 thoughts on “Fifty Years at Casa Loma”

  1. John- Congratulations are the order of the day. Having had the opportunity to visit the Museum on several occasions, it is both touching and rewarding to see the time and care that has been put into ensuring the protection of our past is preserved for the future. Bravo to you and your crew for a job well done.

  2. Thanks to everyone who helps the Q.O.R. Museum. As a researcher and historian I fondly remember both Lt.-Col. Barnard and his museum curator successor Captain Peter Simundsen and their welcoming and practical aid to me when I was focused on researching the 19th century Canadian militia. I will definitely be donating to the museum and I encourage people to donate money, goods, services, artifacts, ephemera, time, and pass this in to others.
    Congratulations Q.O.R. and Museum.
    John Gilinsky
    Toronto

  3. I remember that day we’ll. I’m the guy in WW11 D Day battle dress just behind Col Dalton and, across from Johnny Bennett in the photo.

    1. Wow , the group works fast… auntie Helen’s name already added.
      Harry, here is question. I went to UCC and about 1968 Bob McCabe was the colonel of our UCC Cadet Corp. Which was affiliated with the QOR (St Paul’s Remembers Parade).
      Are you related, Bob was a great guy.
      Small world 🌎 !?
      Mark
      I was a captain in the Cadet Corp 1970, my brother Brett was CO 1972.

      1. Sorry although the the McCabe community is a relatively small one world wide…..he and I were not related. Too bad, I would liked to have known him. Harry

  4. John – the first picture ( also 5th picture ) it says the person beside Col Charles Dalton is ‘ unknown ‘.
    That is actually my Aunt Helen Dalton, my Uncle Charlie Dalton’s wife .
    Congratulations on a great historic mark , you and your gang have done great work
    Mark

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