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Toronto the haunted: Ghosts have stories to tell too

Last Updated Oct 30, 2015 at 11:27 am EST

The Christine Mansion at Wellesley Street and Queen’s Park Crescent East. Photo via regiscollege.ca.

Are you afraid of ghosts? Do you roll your eyes every time you hear a ghost story? Then stop reading now.

Toronto, like any other city, has many stories to tell, and some will make you keep the lights on at night. But if you just take these ghost stories for what they are – narratives that are woven into the fabric of the city’s history – the experience is much more enjoyable.

Still reading? Good. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.

There are several haunted spots in Toronto, too many to tell here, but here are the top six picks.


Christie Mansion

I’ve been on ghost tours and the one that scares me (or freaks me out) the most is this one.

When William Christie, founder Christie Brown and Company, died in 1900, the Victorian home located at Wellesley and Queen’s Park Crescent, was passed on to his son Robert. Robert lived with his wife at the family home, but also managed to secretly keep a mistress stashed away in a hidden windowless room.

The home on Wellesley Street and Queen's Park Crescent East was originally owned by the Christie family. This photo was taken in 1919. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1231, item 414)
The home on Wellesley Street and Queen’s Park Crescent East was originally owned by the Christie family. This photo was taken in 1919. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1231, item 414)

 

The imprisoned woman was not allowed to leave the chamber, with Robert and his servant being her only visitors. Pretty soon, even Robert visited less often. The loneliness and despair eventually drove her mad, and she hanged herself. Under the shadow of night, they apparently buried her in the Queen’s Park grounds.

When the house was turned into a female residence at the University of Toronto, some say there were haunted by the mistress’ spirit in the hidden room – room 29, according to the Toronto and Ontario Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society – which was converted into a study at one point. Reports say the door would slam shut and lock itself, trapping the student in for the rest of the night.

According to U of T Magazine, others say the room has a lonely presence mirroring what the mistress went through.

In case you were wondering: The residence was for students at St. Michael’s College, at the University of Toronto, run by the Sisters of St. Joseph. It is now called Regis College, home to the Jesuit School of Theology.

Mackenzie House

Former Toronto mayor William Lyon Mackenzie was also a rebel leader, so it’s only natural he would keep up his rebellious nature from beyond the grave. And it’s probably why the Georgian home, located at 82 Bond St., is said to be the most haunted house in Toronto and possibly in Canada, according to the Toronto and Ontario Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society.

The Mackenzie House on Bond Street in Toronto. CREATIVE COMMONS/SimonP.
The Mackenzie House on Bond Street in Toronto. CREATIVE COMMONS/SimonP.

 

The family lived at the home from 1859 until Mackenzie’s death in 1861. He died in his bed on the second floor following an apoplectic seizure. Some say they have seen apparitions of a short, wig-less man wearing a frock coat and a woman with long hair. The woman apparently also slapped the caretaker of the house. Footsteps can be heard on the stairs and the piano plays on its own. Even the printing press in the basement starts up on its own.

Breakfast Television’s Jennifer Valentyne spent the night at Mackenzie House on Thursday. She spoke with a tour guide about the ghostly experiences in the home. Watch the videos below.

 

Keg Mansion

As if its Gothic presence wasn’t a dead giveaway, the mansion at 515 Jarvis St. is viewed as one of the most haunted places in Toronto.

Built in 1867 by Arthur McMaster, the nephew of William McMaster, founder of McMaster University in Hamilton, the mansion was bought by Hart Massey in 1882, and named Euclid Hall by his daughter Lillian.

The Keg Mansion, formerly known as Euclid Hall, at 515 Jarvis Street in Toronto. CREATIVE COMMONS/BarberMA
The Keg Mansion, formerly known as Euclid Hall, at 515 Jarvis St. in Toronto. CREATIVE COMMONS/BarberMA

 

When Lillian died in 1915 due to poor health, the maid hanged herself by tying a noose to the vestibule above the main staircase, the Ghostwalks.com writes on its website. Some say she killed herself from grief, but the rumour is she was having an affair with one of the Massey men. The apparition can reportedly be seen hanging from a rope in that area.

Since 1976, the mansion has been home to The Keg restaurant, and some report hearing sounds of children’s footsteps, purportedly the Massey children, upstairs where their rooms used to be. But that is not all that scary when compared to this: the stall doors in the women’s bathroom reportedly unlock by themselves and some customers say they feel as though someone is watching them.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

Downtown Toronto is not the only hot spot for paranormal activity. Head over to the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the inner harbour of Centre Island and you may come face-to face with the lighthouse’s first keeper, John Paul Radelmüller (or J.P. Radan Muller), who supposedly haunts the grounds.

The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands taken in 2010. CREATIVE COMMONS/Andrew Rivett
The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands taken in 2010. CREATIVE COMMONS/Andrew Rivett

 

Muller died in 1815, around seven years after the lighthouse was built, but his death remains a mystery. As the story goes, Radelmüller brewed bootleg beer, and well, some Fort York soldiers wanted to quench their thirst. When he refused to give them more of his brew, seeing as they were already drunk, they allegedly killed him. They then dismembered his body and scattered his remains around the lighthouse.

The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands in 1909. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1231, Item 1015b)
The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on the Toronto Islands in 1909. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1231, Item 1015b)

 

In 1893, then-keeper James Durnan says he found bits of a coffin and the remains of a male jaw bone. Muller perhaps? Only the apparition knows for sure.

Once a lighthouse keeper, always a lighthouse keeper: Muller can be seen dashing up to light the beacon during dark and stormy nights, Torontoghosts.org writes on its website. He is also seen wandering the ground, perhaps looking for his lost limbs, while others have reported hearing moaning sounds.

Queen’s Park

If the Ontario Legislature is really haunted, as the stories suggest, then that would explain why some of our MPPs are losing their minds (figuratively speaking of course).

Built in 1892 on property that one housed the Auxiliary Female Asylum, the legislature building still houses some of the hospital’s former patients. Reports say there are at least six spirits that haunt the building, including three women who are believed to be former patients.

The Ontario Legislature buildings at Queen's Park, photo taken after 1900. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1568, Item 237)
The Ontario Legislature building at Queen’s Park, photo taken after 1900. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1568, Item 237)

 

As ghost enthusiast Richard Fiennes-Clinton, who runs MuddyYork Tours, explains in this video, there’s the ‘hanging lady’ who hung herself and now dangles from a hook in a hallway hidden under Queen’s Park; a ‘weeping maiden’ who weeps into her apron; and a grey lady – who, you guessed it, has grey hair and wears a grey tattered dress.

Some reports say the grey lady is actually a mournful ‘white lady’ who wanders the halls wearing a long white flowing robe. Visitors to the building have also heard screams and cries for help.

University of Toronto ghost legend

Take love, jealously, revenge, an axe, and generally men behaving badly, and what do you have? The ingredients for a legendary ghost story.

Stonemason Ivan Reznikoff and foreman Paul Diablos, who were working on building University College, located at 15 King’s College Circle, in the mid-19th century, were in love with the same woman. To add fuel to the fire, Diablos was not a very nice man. He used Reznikoff’s face – apparently more like a baboon than a man – as a model for one of the gargoyles, and one of himself laughing at the stone mason.

The gargoyles of Ivan Reznikoff and foreman Paul Diablos at University College. Photo via uc.utoronto.ca.
The gargoyles of Ivan Reznikoff and foreman Paul Diablos at University College. Photo via uc.utoronto.ca.

 

One night in 1856, Reznikoff apparently saw Susan in the arms of Diablos. Later that night or the next morning, he came after Diablos with an axe. He missed and hit the wooden door instead. Reznikoff ran after him but was outsmarted but Diablos who hid in an unfinished ventilation shaft. When the time came, Diablos stabbed him in the side with a knife, and then hid his body in the shaft.

How did this story get passed down, you ask? U of T Magazine writes that one night in 1889, a student was greeted by a tall man wearing black – believed to be the ghost of Reznikoff – who told him a story of how he died over a bottle of rum.

University College at King's College Circle, photo dates between 1885 and 1889, before the fire in 1890. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1478, Item 18)
University College at King’s College Circle, photo dates between 1885 and 1889, before the fire in 1890. CITY OF TORONTO ARCHIVES (Fonds 1478, Item 18)

 

Much of the college burned in a fire in 1890. Workers sifting through the rubble found a skeleton inside the ventilation shaft, wearing a belt buckle etched with the stonemason’s emblem. Until this day, some people still report hearing banging throughout the college.

More stories

Want to read more about Toronto’s ghosts or take a ghost walk tours? Consult the list below.