When I was a very little girl I thought it was a cardinal sin to wear a Halloween costume that did not have a scary theme. Superheroes, fairies, ballerinas – they were always second tier from my overly judgemental childhood perspective. I could wear a tutu or a cape any day of the week under the guise of “dress up,” however there was only one special night where I could proudly accessorize with blood, guts and death without being questioned extensively by Children’s Aid. Halloween allowed my inner ghoul to come alive and over the years I’ve successfully transformed into skeletons, witches, vampires, mummies and zombies!
Since the days of trick or treating, my fascination with all things spooky have managed to subtly disperse into my everyday life. Horror movies, thriller novels, real crime docs – I’m a sucker for those goosebumps and body chills.
This Fall, just weeks before Halloween I hopped on a haunted tour of Toronto with my husband Trevor. I had heard in passing about some of Toronto’s most popular haunts but I had never taken the time to track them down in person, let alone experience them at night with a knowledgeable guide. Our guide was friendly and knowledgable sharing both creepy stories and fun facts about Toronto’s history and architecture.
Here Are My Top 5 Creepy Toronto Hauntings:
Old City Hall
E.J Lennox designed Toronto’s Old City Hall which was completed in 1899. The grand building’s exterior is adorned with the ghoulish characteurs of some of his soured business associates. Within the bricked walls of Old City Hall there’s a more sinister story, the haunting of Robert Turpin and Arthur Lucas. Turpin and Lucas were the last men to be sentenced to hang in the courthouse and the story suggests that the two cause havoc in the halls and court room in which they were tried – slamming doors, footsteps, falling books etc. The story gains some clout with the apparent confirmation from multiple security guards admitting to consistent spooky experiences.
How do you like your steak? Rare with a side of terror? The Keg Mansion originally belonged to the McMaster family but was purchased by the Massey Family in 1880. The lady of the house at the time was Lillian Massey. She was a well educated lady and was much loved by her family and staff. Sadly she was also quite sickly. In the winter she would travel to the hospital for medical treatments through a private tunnel leading directly to the hospital. Shortly after her death in 1915 a servant committed suicide by hanging herself from a chandelier in the front foyer. Some say they can feel the servant’s presence, while others claim to have seen as vision of the apparition’s hanging corpse in the front hall.
St Michael’s Hospital
I don’t think it’s any surprise that there would be some ghostly activity in a hospital. Lots of scary things happen in hospitals – the smell of a waiting room alone is enough to make some people shiver with unease. What I liked about this particular story was the fact that this particualr ghost came under the guise of “friendly spirit”. From 1928 until 1956 Sister Vincenza worked at the hospital, providing care in the obstetrics unit (that’s baby and lady health). She was apparently very kind and loving and extremely dedicated to her role. The area that she worked in is now the Heart and Vascular Program. Patients and Medical staff have reported having a friendly woman in a nun’s habit visit their bedside, offering kind gestures and a general feeling of well being.
The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre
This particular story is possibly the creepiest. The theatre was extremely popular following its opening in 1913; Vaudeville was on trend at the time and the theatre could accommodate nearly 1000 guests. The story of “The Lavender Lady” suggests that a woman was attending a show and excused herself to use the restroom during the performance. While in the washroom she was stabbed to death. She tried to call for help but was only able to crawl to the nearby elevator. She rang for the attendant to bring the service elevator but just as she was doing so intermission broke out and the elevator was called to assist a multitude of patrons. Later, when the elevator finally reached her floor they found her lifeless body just outside of the door, blood streaking the call button. The theatre was boarded up and unused until the 1980s when the city put into motion an act to restore it. The theatre was reopened to the public, and there have been several sightings of “The Lavender Lady” as well as numerous reports that the elevator frequently requires servicing as it often travels to floors without official request.
This stop on the tour was interesting because it looked the most like a haunted house. When you visit the Mackenzie House you will instantly understand why rumours exist about the building being Toronto’s most haunted property. The building has been preserved to replicate its original state in 1859. The building’s original inhabitant was Toronto Mayor William Lyon Mackenzie. Mackenzie was a political rebel – following a very involved and controversial career the city presented him with the Mackenzie Home. He lived there for two years until his death in 1862. Mackenzie died from an apoplectic seizure at the age of 66 in his bedroom, located on the second floor. Apparently taps and doors frequently turn on on their own and Mackenzie’s ghost can be seen walking through the house at night.
By Erica Moore