Tuesday, 28 October 2014

THE SPECTACULAR SPECTRES OF TORONTO'S LANDMARKS


KATIE WILSON

Since Friday is Halloween, in lieu of an exhibit review I have decided to create a list of my “Top Five Haunted Places in Toronto.” Try to make it to the end of the post without getting too creeped out. 

Number Five: University College

University College haunted by stonemason Ivan Reznikoff
Chances are you walk past University College everyday, and while these building are some of the oldest and most beautiful ones on campus, UC it is also reportedly haunted by the ghost of Russian stonemason Ivan Reznikoff. Reznikoff was working on some of the buildings that make up University College when he disappeared without a trace. There is a great deal of speculation about Reznikoff's fate but the most popular story involves a feud between Reznikoff and another stonemason, Diablos. The fight between the two supposedly began when Reznikoff caught Daiblos in an amourous embrace with his fiancĂ©. He then attempted to kill Diablos with an axe (the axe mark can still be seen on a doorway) and he either lost is balance and fell to his death, or was stabbed by a knife-weilding Diablos.

The axe mark located on the door in an alcove on University Campus
Regardless, the story goes that to cover up his crime, Diablos buried the body under the stone steps of Hart House. After the fire of 1890 human remains were discovered in a ventilation shaft but were never confirmed as having belonged to Reznikoff. Students have since claimed to see Reznikoff's ghost and have heard strange echoes and footsteps in hallways. So next time you enjoy a coffee at CafĂ© Reznikoff, think of the ghost of the poor jilted stonemason haunting the grounds looking for his lost love.  

Number Four: Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse haunted by lighthouse keeper J.P Radam Muller. Taken from: http://www.blogto.com/city/2011/10/the_ghosts_of_toronto/
Built in 1808, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is one of the city’s earliest surviving buildings. It is also one of the city’s most haunted ones. In 1815 the first lighthouse keeper J.P Radam Muller was murdered and while no one was convicted, the typical story told is that it was soldiers from Fort York who murdered Muller after he refused to provide them with beer. The soldiers buried his body on the island to try and cover up their crime, and while they were arrested, no trial was ever held and the men were released.  The new lighthouse keeper George Durnan who uncovered part of a coffin and a jawbone found Muller’s body just west of the lighthouse. 

The Plaque at the Lighthouse that mentions its haunted reputation. Taken from : http://www.blogto.com/travel/2011/11/a_trip_to_the_gibraltar_point_lighthouse/
The story of a murdered lighthouse keeper holds a lot of appeal and to this day, many believe that his ghost haunts the lighthouse looking for a way to avenge his death. On the last ferry leaving the island you can reportedly hear his moaning and some claim to have seen Muller’s ghost wandering the grounds on misty nights.

Number Three: One Toronto Street

The office building at One Toronto Street
Located in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, the business tower at One Toronto Street is situated where the old courthouse and hanging ground used to be. Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews, two of William Lyon Mackenzie’s most loyal supporters during the Rebellion of 1837, were both hanged on this spot and their ghosts have been spotted wandering around the hallways of the building. 

Plaque Located on the corner of One Toronto Street
A number of people who work in the building (including my own father) claim to have witnessed some strange occurrences including sporadic banging and taps in the bathrooms going on and off spontaneously. 

Converted jail cells used for storage
Even more of a reason for women to go to the washroom in pairs
What was once the old courthouse on Adelaide Street is now Terroni restaurant and if you ever find yourself there for a meal, wander down to the basement where the structure of the jail cells are still completely preserved.

Number Two: The Keg Mansion

The Keg Mansion formerly known as Euclid Hall
The house at Wellesley and Jarvis that is now the Keg Mansion, used to be known as Euclid Hall and was owned by the Massey Family for a number of years. While not the site of the infamous Massey murder in 1915, the house has still seen its fair share of tragedy. After Lillian Massey, Hart Massey’s only daughter died, (also coincidentally in 1915), a servant took her own life in the house. (Although some claim she was did it because of a secret affair with one of the Massey men and felt her secret would get out) Since then, the building has been transformed into a Keg and patrons have reported seeing the apparition of a woman hanging in the main foyer and hearing phantom footsteps of children. The women’s washroom is supposed to be particularly haunted as doors have been reported to swing open without warning. The Keg mansion has drawn in people looking for a paranormal experience (as well as a steak) and a number of reviews on the establishment’s yelp.ca page mention the ghosts along with the food. (The restaurant also keeps a Ghost Log where visitors can jot down any sightings) You can read a woman’s encounter with 2 ghosts at the mansion here

Number One: Mackenzie House

Mackenzie House: Haunted or Publicity Stunt?
Last but not least is the building that some have claimed is the “most haunted building in Toronto,” and even possibly in Canada. Is Mackenzie House really as haunted as people claim it to be? While William Lyon Mackenzie, former mayor of Toronto and notorious rebel passed away in this house in 1861, paranormal activity was not reported until 1960, the same year that Mackenzie House was on the verge of closing. It appears as though a staff member “invented” a series of unexplained and paranormal events to spark interest in the house, and thus saved it from obsolescence. Regardless for over 50 years people have claimed that Mackenzie House is haunted and groups passionate about paranormal activity (such as Cold Spot Paranormal Research, The Toronto & Ontario Ghost and Hauntings Research Society, and ParaResearchers of Ontario) have attested to the validity of its “haunted-ness.” Toilets flush spontaneously, taps go on and off, the piano and printing press operate on their own and a number of ghosts have been seen including a male completely bald with side-whiskers and a female with “long hair that lands around her shoulders.” Mackenzie House still takes full advantage of its haunted reputation and staff members are always more than willing to answer questions about their own ghostly encounters in the house.  Additionally around this time of the year Mackenzie House offers two events: A Necropolis Cemetery Tour titled “City of the Dead,” and a Spirit Walk, both of which are not recommended for children under 8 years of age. It’s too late to take part this year, but keep a look out for the events of 2015.

Friday night is All Hallows Eve, the night when the spirits of the dead come out to play. Whether you buy into the stories and tales about ghosts and hauntings or not, it’s hard to completely discount the allure of a haunted house on Halloween. Has anyone met the spectre of Ivan Reznikoff or another one of Toronto’s ghostly inhabitants?  What are your favourite places in Toronto that have made your hair stand on end?  

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Sources







1 comment:

  1. Had dinner at Terroni and saw the basement - thought it was a bit creepy. Didn't know it was haunted. I won't go down there ever again!

    ReplyDelete