13 haunted places you can visit in Toronto

by Jeff Cottrill

The last census reported that Toronto has a population of more than 2.7 million ... if you count only the living. But any big city worth its history has its share of reputed ghosts too, and Toronto has amassed a tradition of its own legends and tales of spooks and spirits. The old Victorian houses in the residential areas alone are a ghostly goldmine, but you can’t visit them, because they’re private homes. Still, there are many public places where you might be able to glimpse a phantom if you’re lucky. So, this Halloween, grab your PKE meter and head to one of these (allegedly) haunted buildings. [Photo credit: iStock]

13 haunted places you can visit in Toronto

Mackenzie House
Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie, lived in this Georgian house for the last two years of his life – and some say he never moved out. Visitors have seen him wandering around the third floor, as well as a mysterious long-haired woman on the upper floors and a young girl on the second. In the basement, a printing press has been known to activate itself, and a rocking chair has been seen rocking with nobody in it. A woman who resided there even claimed that a ghost had slapped her face!

  • Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 12 pm to 4 pm, weekends: 12 pm to 5 pm
  • Admission: $6.19 adults; $3.54 seniors and teens; $2.65 kids aged 5 to 12; free for kids under 5
  • Upcoming events
  • More information

University College
Probably Toronto’s most enduring paranormal legend: during construction of this spooky U of T building in the 1850s, a mason named Paul Diabolos murdered fellow worker Ivan Reznikoff after seducing the latter’s lover, and buried him under an unfinished stairwell. Since then, Reznikoff has been spotted by students and faculty, and poltergeist activity has been reported. A large dent in the door by Croft Chapter House is believed to have been caused by Reznikoff’s axe during his last fight with Diabolos.

  • Hours: Monday to Thursday: 9 am to 9 pm, Fridays: 9 am to 5 pm, Saturdays: 1 pm to 5 pm, Sundays: 1 pm to 9 pm
  • Admission: Free
  • Upcoming events
  • More information

Old City Hall
Toronto’s former municipal headquarters is now home to the Ontario Court of Justice – and, they say, to as many as fifty spirits. Courtroom 125 (formerly 33) may be haunted by the last two men sentenced to death in Canada; two reporters once tried to spend the night there, but gave up by 4 am after strange sounds and fog freaked them out. Disturbing moans have been heard from the cellar, which once held prisoners, and the northwest attic and rear staircase are known for cold spots or poltergeist activity.

Hockey Hall of Fame
Hockey heroes may not be the only ones from the past who live at this former Bank of Montreal branch. In 1953, a young bank employee named Dorothy Mae Elliott was so upset over a love affair that she shot herself on the upstairs floor. Since then, stories have circulated about cold spots, flickering lights, doors and windows opening themselves and moaning or screaming noises. Some have even reported seeing a ghostly woman in a long dress wandering near the former bank vaults.

  • Hours: Weekdays: 10 am to 5 pm, Saturdays: 9:30 am to 6 pm, Sundays: 10:30 am to 5 pm
  • Admission: $19 general; $15 seniors; $13 kids aged 4 to 13; free for kids 3 and under
  • Upcoming events
  • More information

Royal Ontario Museum
The ROM is known for its mummies and dinosaur skeletons, but sometimes the dead can walk there as well. Specifically, Charles Trick Currelly, the museum’s original director, who has been spotted in the East Asiatic section. A former co-op worker claimed that someone had put a hand on his shoulder while he was working in one of the offices ... and nobody else had been around.

  • Hours: Daily: 10 am to 5:30 pm
  • Admission: $20 adults; $17 seniors; $15.50 students and teens; $14 kids aged 4 to 14; free for kids 3 and under
  • Upcoming events
  • More information

Ontario Legislature
The legislative building at Queen’s Park occupies the former grounds of the University Hospital for the Insane, which stood from 1842 until its demolition before the Legislature was completed in 1893. Today, in addition to your riding’s MPP, you may also run into a ghostly lady in a long white robe, a maiden who hides her face with an apron, an angry soldier on the Grand Staircase or, down in the basement tunnel, a woman dangling gruesomely from a hook.

  • Hours: Tours available weekdays: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm
  • Admission: Free
  • More information

Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre
Every big theatre deserves at least one resident phantom, and this pair of stages has a handful. There’s the Lavender Lady, a woman in Edwardian clothes and with a lavender scent, who loiters and disappears around the Elgin lobby; there’s also Sam, a trombone player in the Winter Garden from a century ago, who has been known to play faint encores around the stage area. In the 1980s, a worker even reported an invisible “audience” that folded down rows of seats when there was no show on.

The Keg Mansion
Today, it’s a casual steak restaurant with a fancy dining room. But, this mansion was once the home of the esteemed Massey family, including Governor General Vincent Massey and actor Raymond Massey. It was also where a maid committed suicide in the main foyer after Lillian Massey’s death, and her hanging spirit has been spotted. Mysterious sounds of children running around upstairs have been reported too, and one visitor said she’d felt a strong presence in the upstairs women’s washroom.

  • Hours: Sunday to Thursday: 4 pm to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays: 4 pm to 1 pm, lounge stays open later
  • Admission: Free with a reservation, but the dinner selections can be pricey
  • More information

The Grange
Another esteemed Toronto mansion from the nineteenth century, the Grange celebrated its two hundredth anniversary this year. It was initially the residence of lawyer and merchant D’Arcy Boulton, Jr. and, later, of historian and writer Goldwin Smith. Today, it’s allegedly the residence of two ghostly ladies, one in black and one in white, and a man in a yellow coat. The latter tends to walk through walls in the Conservatory in spots where doors had once been.

  • Hours: Tuesday and Thursday to Sunday: 11 am to 5:30 pm, Wednesdays: 11 am to 8:30 pm
  • Admission: $19.50 adults, $16 seniors, $11 students and youths, free for kids 5 and under
  • More information

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
The oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes is the site of a notorious unsolved murder: in 1815, two soldiers came looking for bootleg beer and supposedly killed and dismembered the keeper, John Rademuller. Bones were found near Gibraltar Point in 1893, but Rademuller may not have rested in peace – he’s been spotted going up to light the beacon or wandering around looking for his severed limbs. The haunting legend has enough life that even the historical plaque on the building refers to it.

Ryerson School of Performance
Another theatrical venue with a ghostly reputation – this time, the theatre school at Ryerson University. Many stories abound: a big cold spot in a corner of McAllister Studio, unnerving feelings of being watched, a white female spectre in the halls, unexpected gusts of wind, muffled voices, sounds of a piano playing by itself and creepiest of all, a rumour that you can hear a voice whispering or calling your name if you’re in McAllister Studio alone.

High Park
Strolling through the city’s largest park is relaxing in the daytime, but it can get creepy after dark – especially at the south end, near Grenadier Pond and Colborne Lodge. People have reported seeing men in soldiers’ uniforms lurking in the bushes before vanishing, or running along the paths – possible War of 1812 vets who are still unaware of the ceasefire. American forces did land their troops south of the park area in April 1813, so fighting or some other calamity might have occurred here.

St. Michael’s Hospital
If, heaven forbid, you get admitted to the seventh floor of St. Mike’s with a heart problem, you may get a visit from Sister Vincenza, or “Vinnie,” who may give you a blanket or turn off the light. The spooky part: Vinnie has been dead since 1956. She has been described by witnesses as a nun in white, with a black chasm where her face should be. Another former hospital employee who refuses to retire even after death is Joe, a morgue attendant from decades ago, now haunting the fracture clinic.

Lower Bay Station
Technically not a public place per se, but this empty subway station below Bay is occasionally accessible via train diversions, Doors Open Toronto or film shoots. Workers in the station claim to have witnessed a mysterious, legless lady in a red dress floating along the tracks every so often before vanishing. *Please note, access is only available during official events.

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