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The ghosts of Toronto

Posted by Lauren Souch / October 21, 2011

Ghosts TorontoThe ghosts of Toronto aren't too hard to find if you believe in that sort of thing. While many Toronto landmarks have an intriguing history and beautiful architecture, there's also quite a bit of murder, mayhem, and gruesome stories attached to them, which, of course, leads to legends of ghosts and hauntings. Here, you'll find a list of some of the most "ghost-friendly" places in Toronto. Those feeling exceptionally brave, may want to consider paying a few of them a visit this Halloween.

The Old Don Jail
Don JailThis well-known former lock up opened in 1864, and housed criminals until its closure in 1977. The conditions at the jail were inhumane, and quasi-public hangings were common place in the yard before they were later moved inside. In all, 34 people were executed at the jail, and, in 2007 human remains were found on-site during an archeological survey.

Given this information, it comes as no surprise that the jail that once housed convicts now allegedly houses the tormented spirit of a female prisoner who committed suicide. The story claims a blonde-haired woman hanged herself in one of the microscopic cells in 1890, and her rather unfriendly ghost haunts the building to this day. The last two men to be sentenced to capital punishment in Toronto — Robert Turpin and Arthur Lucas — also are rumored to haunt the site.

Old City Hall
Old City HallAccording to other reports (which perhaps draw into question this whole ghostly enterprise), those same two ghosts also haunt Courtroom 33 in Old City Hall, where they were charged and sentenced to hang. This courtroom is considered to be one of the most haunted areas in the city. In the book Haunted Toronto there's a story of two reporters who attempted to spend the night in Courtroom 33 but, terrified, threw in the towel at 4 a.m.

Turpin and Lucas aren't the only two whose spirits are still lingering around, however: the rear staircase is known for eerie footsteps when no one is approaching and invisible hands tugging at judges robes. The cellars used to be a holding cell for prisoners, and some people claim them can still hear their moans echoing and reverberating through the building.

Queen's Park
Queen's ParkHere's another highly haunted political building and not just by the sometimes ghoulish politicians that work here. The Ontario Legislature Building has been on this site for over 100 years, but previously the land housed a lunatic asylum, and the ghosts reported here are reminiscent of that time.

Perhaps the most famous ghosts at this location are a trio of women: a sad spirit dressed in a long, white, flowing robe who wanders the halls; a women in a checked dress tossed over her face, concealing her features; and, the most gruesome, a women who is rumored to have hung herself and is to be seen (if you're lucky!) dangling from a hook in the long tunnel in the basement. Their moans are also said to have been heard echoing through the hallways.

A military man dressed in red has also been spotted gliding down the main staircase; and in a separate incident, a man in red, perhaps the same ghostly apparition, was spotted within the Lieutenant Governor's suite.

Lower Bay Station
Lower Bay StationThe TTC's ghost station, which was closed in 1966, is rumored to have a ghost of its own. There's been numerous reports of a "Lady in Red" haunting the tunnels of Lower Bay. The subway was only used for six months, and I've never heard of any mysterious deaths associated with it, but nonetheless workers have reported seeing a distraught lady in a red dress gliding towards them.

Disturbingly, it's said she has no feet or eyes. There are also reports of people hearing a woman's voice singing at night. Though no one can quite make out the song, I like to pretend it's a rendition of Chris de Burgh's "Lady in Red".

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Gibraltar Point Light HouseThe lighthouse on the Toronto Island is an unusual haunted location. What makes it stand out from other so-called haunted buildings in Toronto is the plaque outside directly acknowledging the legends and ghostly presence. The plaque acknowledges mystery surrounding the death of Gibraltar Point's first lighthouse keeper, John Paul Rademuller, who died in 1815 and whose remains were discovered scattered around the lighthouse in 1893.

Rademuller was not only a lighthouse keeper, but was moonlighting as a brewer of bootlegged beer. The story goes that he refused to serve two drunken soldiers his illicit brew, prompting them to hit him over the head, killing him. Panicked, they covered up their crime by dismembering his body and scattering the remains across the ground... and setting the scene for a spooky ghost story. People have seen the ghostly figure of Rademuller clambering up to light the beacon on dark, stormy nights to guide the ships into harbour. In other stories, it's said his ghostly apparition can be spotted searching the ground for his missing limbs. That must suck.

The Keg Mansion / Euclid Hall
20111020-Ghosts-The Keg Mansion.jpgThe Keg Mansion or, as it used to be known, Euclid Hall, is touted as one of the most-haunted places in Toronto, and has even witnessed expert ghost hunters investigate the premise.

During a time when the building was owned by the Massey Family, Lillian Massey died after years of declining health. A maid took her own life upon hearing of Lillian's death — speculation says either because of grief or an illicit affair with one of the Massey men — hanging herself above the main staircase. Some nights, it's said that you can still see her disturbingly dangling in the air. A young boy has also been spotted playing on that same staircase, running up and down the stairs and even stopping to watch guests dine. If you get the feeling you're being watched while chowing down on your dinner — it just might be that are.

And finally, if there was ever a reason for woman to go to the bathroom in pairs - the ladies room at the Keg Mansion would be it. Doors have been known to unlock and swing open by themselves, bags have been moved, and people feel creeped out as if someone — or something — is watching.

Gooderham & Worts Distillery
Distillery DistrictThe Gooderham & Worts Distillery is well known in the city for its boozy past, but a less known story about the area involves the tragic death of one of the founders, James Worts. In 1834, Worts drowned in a well on the mill's property - and, as rumor has it, many believe this was suicide, as he was stricken with grief following the death of his wife while giving birth.

Incidences of doors opening and closing by themselves, lights turning on and off, heavy, boot-clad footsteps (with no apparent source), and a strange hammering noise late at night have haunted visitors and staff alike. Many claim to have felt a chilling presence in the building, even in the summer heat.

University of Toronto
U of TThe number of ghost stories surrounding U of T could likely encompass an entire post alone, but the most famous legend is the tale of two stonemasons, Ivan Reznikoff and Paul Diablos who were competitors for the same woman. Reznikoff was engaged to the young lady, but Diablos, also taken by her beauty, convinced her to elope out west with him.

Their affair was discovered and Diablos was confronted by an angry, ax wielding Reznikoff before the two could make their escape. A brutal argument and chase ended in the University College tower with Reznikoff's death. This is where the stories diverge - in one version, Diablos stabs Reznikoff to death with a concealed dagger. In another, Reznikoff swings the ax, loses his balance, and plumets to his death. Regardless of how he died, Reznikoff's body was hidden on the campus by Diablos in an attempt to cover the crime.

For years following Reznikoff's disappearance, people saw ghostly apparitions around University College and Chapter House. Well after the fire in 1890, human remains were discovered in a ventilation shaft, and though reports of apparitions have died down since then, there are still stories of unexplained, spooky sightings trickling in.

Was it Reznikoff's body that was discovered, or someone else's? No one is quite sure - but even today, people still hear inexplicable banging echoing throughout the college.

Do you have a ghost story or legend about a Toronto landmark we missed? Add it in the comments below!

The Don Jail by smlg in the blogTO Flickr pool and the Toronto Archives, Old City Hall by jamecl99 on Flickr, Queen's Park by ronnieyip in the blogTO Flickr pool, Lower Bay Station by blogTO's Roger Cullman, Gibraltar Point Lighthouse by chetan_kulkarni on Flickr, The Keg Mansion by midnight_stardust on Flickr, Gooderham & Worts Distillery by Benson Kua in the blogTO Flickr Pool, and University College by George Y on Flickr.



Craig / October 21, 2011 at 10:21 am
How could you overlook the former Mimico Lunatic Asylum (now currently Humber College Lakeshore)? Not only are some of the buildings still abandoned and still legitimately creepy.. there are miles of service tunnels connecting the buildings which have a long history of 'ghoulish' fun.
Anne / October 21, 2011 at 10:27 am
Spooooooooooky article!
Craig replying to a comment from Craig / October 21, 2011 at 10:32 am
1994 experimental movie shot in the tunnels of the old Mimico Lunatic Asylum really "fleshes" out the ghastly-ness of the location :
Adrian Seeley (@adrianseeley) / October 21, 2011 at 10:36 am
Also ghosts: Sick Kids, Elgin Theatre, Maple Leaf Gardens, Mackenzie House, St. Michael's Hospital
:( / October 21, 2011 at 11:07 am
its closure
i t s
Derek replying to a comment from :( / October 21, 2011 at 11:24 am
Word to the wise: make sure you're in command of the grammar you purport to correct.
Derek replying to a comment from Craig / October 21, 2011 at 11:29 am
The main reason why we left that one off the list is that we've already written about it at length. See this post:
Craig replying to a comment from Derek / October 21, 2011 at 11:31 am
Very cool!
Z replying to a comment from Craig / October 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm
Haunted or not, only one building remains unrenovated at this time and it's completely boarded up. Buildings I & K were completed in late 2009, if I recall.

While I'm sure there are ghosts and stories there, it's really not all that creepy any more, I'm afraid.

Additionally, re: Lower Bay. they never really report track level deaths, so it's not entirely impossible something happened and no one reported it.
stopitman / October 21, 2011 at 05:53 pm
What about the Hockey Hall of Fame? That one is one of more "famous" hauntings in the city and heavily visited by locals and tourists alike.

Great list, though, some interesting stories and locations!
Krazy / October 22, 2011 at 07:25 pm
About the old Don Jail, it was Ronald Turpin, not Robert.
jatb / October 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm
Sick Kids for sure. Use to work there, and I know from first hand experience, it is haunted.
Alexandra / October 22, 2012 at 05:04 pm
how could you leave out Glendon College?!
The residences each have a room with suspicious happenings but the 1920s Manor from the Wood family estate is the real gem.You can see a female figure in the rose garden (sadly neglected by the school and no longer the cause of envy as it once was) by the library and also hear voices in the basement. There was apparantly a suicide of their son there - possibly an honour or mercy killing since he was apparantly disabled. you can also "sense" a hanging body from the staircase - a bevreaved maid who could not go on without her master
John / December 23, 2012 at 12:05 am
The Royal York Hotel has one floor (15th floor?) which is apparently haunted. There is also parts of the Skydome (Rogers Centre) that has haunted areas which has been noted by friends who work as a security for the place.
Jim / August 5, 2013 at 12:24 pm
i did the haunted walking tour that starts at Gooderham & Worts in the distillery district. Great fun and wonderful stories. check it out. Reaaly good.
James Biss / March 26, 2014 at 09:36 am
There is a least one entity that seems to favour the North East corner of College and Spadina. This is just around the corner from the old El Mocombo.

As I understand it, a presence has troubled businesses and patrons in that block. Apparently a young writer committed suicide in a walk-up apartment on the College side in 1977. She has never left it seems.
Olivia Grace / April 1, 2014 at 05:17 pm
I think you mean the old "Garden Theatre Ghost". There was a young bartender in the pool room above who can still he heard knocking balls and clinking glasses. There's a hardware store below and a bar upstairs now, as there was after 1950.
Jamie / May 18, 2014 at 01:33 pm
The "Garden City Ghost" in the old Garden City Theatre building on College, just West of Spadina, is full of activity. It's a bit hard to find, but if you come upstairs before they open to the club goers, they'll let you look around. Including where Tara Moore took her own life in the flat by the old Pool Hall bar. She has apparently haunted the place since the late 70's and is especially active when certain people are there.
We're trying to organize a group of professionals to go in on a Sunday to do some proper testing. But there are regular events there too.
Jennifer / October 4, 2014 at 03:53 pm
Lawrence heights community center I worked nights there and the unblievable and unexplained things that would happen there is very spooky .. All kinds of sounds such has chairs falling over big bangs flickering lights doors slamming shadow people whispers in your ears the feeling of being followed and watched..
legion coleke / October 31, 2014 at 07:46 pm
Sing happy birthday on Old Finch Bridge and dead girl will appear. True.
AJG / November 8, 2014 at 11:58 am
WOW!!! I am a wanna be ghost hunter. I've always found ghost interesting and i'm not afraid. I need a hotspot to start out with in the north york area.

AJG replying to a comment from jatb / November 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm
I didn't know sickkids wsa haunted my mum works there
David / October 30, 2015 at 01:11 am
My son worked at the McDonald's near Gerrard and Pape in the late 1980s. He spotted employees in the Crew Room playing with a Ouija Board one night, walked up when he claimed the board began shaking then spinning. Far fetched? I grew up in the area - in 1971, a tragic fire in the apartment building formerly occupying the site killed five children. He said staff reported some creepy goings-on around there at the time.
Lina / October 30, 2015 at 03:10 pm
What about Casa Loma? Mom and I went there last year and were greeting by heavy breathing sounds when we went downstairs to the ladies bathroom. No one else was there except us.
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