I was recently invited to a gathering at 45 Spadina Rd, once known as the Spadina Gardens Apartments. This impressive building is one of a pair of Victorian apartment buildings, constructed in 1906 by Sir Henry Pellatt, wealthy entrepreneur and builder of Casa Loma. My hostess, when I told her what I did for a living, engaged me in the story of the history of the building as she knew it. Apparently, when Pellatt went bankrupt, lost Casa Loma, and had to sell its contents, (an interesting aside: I once found a detailed newspaper listing of the items sold at this bankruptcy sale, in which there was reference to the occupant of one of the houses that I was researching, purchasing a elaborate chandelier), he and his wife Mary Pellatt (nee Dodgson) went to live at 3 Spadina Gardens. My hostess further explained that it was her understanding that the Pellatt’s did not share the same apartment but rather, lived across the hall from one another. The story was that the death of Lady Pellatt in the apartment building in 1924 was in fact suicide.
Of course when I returned home from the gathering, my curiosity got the better of me. Did this poor woman really commit suicide while living in the beautiful building that I just visited? I set out to find out whether there was truth to this story. I found one reference to Lady Pellatt’s death written by Charles (Carlie) Oreskovich http://www.kingofcasaloma.com/ghosts.html in which the author indicated that Lady Pellatt may have “shot herself ‘accidently'”. However, there are other sources, for example, the death registration obtained from ancestry.ca, which list death to be a result of a heart attack brought on by long-term diabetes.
The Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail both also described Mary Pellatt’s death to be a result of a heart attack. The question then is whether or not the circumstances surrounding the death of Lady Mary Pellatt was the subject of urban myth or if in fact, there was what we would now term a “cover up”. Perhaps my meanderings will lead me to find the absolute truth or perhaps not. But that is the often the case with history, sometimes the absolute truth can be elusive. I think in this case I may carry on and try to find it.