Believe it or not, Toronto’s got a dark history of murder and mayhem. Last Halloween we took a deeper look into the ghosts that haunt our city’s historical sites. Have you had any ghost encounters? Please share them in the comments.
Read on if you dare.
THE KEG MANSION / EUCLID HALL
Maybe you’ve enjoyed a steak dinner here but did you know the Keg Mansion used to be home to one of Toronto’s wealthiest (and spookiest) families? Originally built in 1867 for Arthur McMaster, nephew to Lord William McMaster, founder of McMaster University. In 1880, Hart Massey (founder of the Massey Foundation) purchased the home for his family. Massey’s daughter Lillian eventually renamed the house to Euclid Hall, after their old street in Cleveland.
Lillian was a philanthropist and educator and was loved by her family and staff very much. So much so, that when she passed away due to years of declining health, one of her maids took her own life by hanging herself over the staircase. Diners and staff at the Keg have reported seeing her body disturbingly dangling over the stairs. There have also been countless sightings of children playing on those same stairs.
Ladies, if you needed an excuse to bring a friend to the washroom, this is it. The women’s washroom upstairs has been said to be haunted. Doors unlock and swing open, bags have been reported to move, and a common chilling feeling of someone watching you.
ELGIN/WINTER GARDEN THEATRE
In 1913 Loew’s Yonge Street Theatre opened its doors at Yonge and Queen. The Winter Garden (upper theatre) was closed and sealed off in 1928 while the Elgin (lower theatre) remained open to the public. The Ontario Heritage Association purchased both theatres in 1981 and started renovating.
There are a few ghost reports from the Elgin/Winter Garden Theatre. The most popular story is of the phantom elevator. A girl allegedly got stabbed in the Wintergarden washroom on the 5th floor, dragged herself out to the elevator but no one came (they are run by operators) and she died right there on the floor. Staff have reported that the elevator will travel up to the fifth floor, the doors open and there is no one around. Some of the staff will take her back down to the first floor and open the door out of respect.
Located in Toronto’s Riverdale neighbourhood, the Don Jail was in operation from 1864 until 1977. The jail had a bad rep for overcrowding and inhumane conditions, not to mention semi-public hangings. There were 34 people in total executed at the Don Jail.
A building that once housed troubled convicts now houses troubled spirits. One unfriendly ghost that has been said to linger is that of a blonde woman who committed suicide in the jail. Another legend is that of Ronald Turpin and Arthur Lucas. On December 11, 1962, Turpin and Lucas were hung side-by-side – Canada’s last executions before capital punishment was abolished. They are rumoured to haunt the site.
OLD CITY HALL
Turpin and Lucas who haunt the Don Jail are also said to have a presence at Old City Hall in Courtroom 33 where they were sentenced and charged for separate murders. Apparently two reporters attempted to spend an entire night in the haunted Courtroom 33 but had to call it quits by 4am from being so terrified. Judges have also reported feeling mysterious tugs on their robes while others have heard footsteps in the rear staircase.
One of Toronto’s most beloved concert venues opened in 1894 and was the city’s only major concert venue until Roy Thompson Hall opened its doors in 1982. Massey Hall’s construction was financed by none other than Hart Massey, a previous owner of the haunted Keg Mansion.
There are a few ghost sightings in Massey Hall. Apparently a man has been said to wander the backstage area, no one knows who he could be. Others have reported seeing an old ghostly lady sitting in the audience.
One security guard who had to work the overnight shift recalls seeing an old man and women dressed in old attire, walking through the entrance into the auditorium. They continued walking down the aisle and toward the door that leads to the kitchen and office, and then vanished. The security guard searched for them to no avail, and confirmed that all the doors had not only been locked, but chained shut.
HUMBER COLLEGE LAKESHORE CAMPUS (LAKESHORE PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL)
Maybe you’ve heard about the eerie past of Humber College Lakeshore. Before it was a place for young bright minds, it was the Mimico Insane Aslyum, then it was the Mimico Hospital for the Insane, then Ontario Hospital Mimico, Ontario Hospital New Toronto, and finally, Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital – you get the point. The hospital used a “cottage system” to classify patients with a series of tunnels connecting all the buildings.
There have been various reports of ghost sightings and unusual experiences on the site. A popular rumour is about the ghost of a nurse who hung herself on one of the apple trees and now roams the halls at night. Others recall smelling strong floral scents in the F building – where the morgue used to be.
HOCKEY HALL OF FAME
No, you won’t have an otherworldly encounter with Tim Horton, but The Hockey Hall of Fame building is well known for being haunted. The building at 30 Yonge Street was built in 1888 as the headquarters for the Bank of Montreal (The Hockey Hall of Fame took over in 1993). There have been numerous reports of strange happenings over the years like lights flickering, doors and windows opening and closing, screams and other scary sounds echoing through the building, random cold spots in the historic structure, and the sighting of a woman with long dark hair wearing a white dress.
As the story goes, a young teller named Dorothy was distraught after her boyfriend (possibly another teller or manager she was having an affair with) left her. She took the bank’s pistol and shot herself in the second floor women’s washroom. Some say they would see her walking the hall on the second floor near the vault and one boy was visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame and started screaming about a lady walking through the walls.
GILBRALTAR POINT LIGHTHOUSE
No roundup of Toronto’s haunted buildings would be complete without Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Island. This legend is so well-known that the plaque outside of the historic lighthouse even lists it as a haunted site.
The first lighthouse keeper at Gibraltar Point was John Paul Rademuller between 1808-1815. One night two drunken soldiers stumbled over from nearby Fort York to buy some of his home-brewed beer. When J.P. refused, the soldiers hit him over the head, killing him. To cover up their crime, they scattered his dismembered body around the grounds of the lighthouse. Rademuller is said to be seen climbing the tower and searching for his body parts around the grounds.