GREATER TORONTO – With Halloween just days away, Ontario residents are once again steeling themselves for tricks, treats, and – for those with a sense of adventure – maybe even an authentically spooky experience right here in the GTA.
Here at GTA Real Estate News, we believe that a Halloween fright is especially worthwhile if it imparts a tale about the Toronto area’s colourful history. With that in mind, we decided to follow last Halloween’s Haunted House Guide with a look at even more of the region’s spookiest heritage buildings.
82 Bond Street, Toronto
Located just steps from Toronto’s vibrant Nathan Phillips Square, this historic row home was gifted in 1859 to William Lyon Mackenzie – one of the key figures in Toronto’s incorporation as a city – on the occasion of his retirement. Mackenzie lived in the house until his death in 1861, and his family continued to occupy the home until 1871.
According to Torontoist, the Mackenzie House is such a popular spot for ghosts that the Toronto Historical Board (who took over its control in 1960) “brought an Anglican priest to go from room to room and pray that any spirits find rest.” Reports of ghostly activity include an apparition of Mr. Mackenzie’s wife, and “strange sounds” heard by visitors.
These days, the House is operated as a public museum by the City of Toronto, currently open from 12 PM to 4 PM Tuesday to Friday, and 12 PM to 5 PM on weekends. Check out the museum’s Plan Your Visit page for seasonal opening hours, admission rates, and more.
100 Wellesley Street (Queen’s Park), Toronto
A well-preserved relic of the Late Victorian architectural style and current home of the University of Toronto’s Regis College, Christie Mansion was the original home of 19th-century industrialist William M. Christie. While Christie made contributions to charity and played a key role in bringing steam manufacturing to modern-day Ontario – Christie Street is named after him – most Canadians associate the name with the hugely successful baked goods empire he founded and later passed onto his son, Robert.
Legend has it that when Robert Christie inherited the mansion, a darkly bizarre plot unfolded. According to Spacing’s David Bunch, the patriarch is rumoured to have kept his mistress in a back room of the mansion, where she eventually perished and was secretly buried nearby. Over the years, students using the facility have reported a “foreboding presence” in the room where the mistress was kept.
While the mansion is owned by the university and not open to the public, we do recommend dropping by to take a look at the gorgeous period architecture of the building’s exterior. To help make your experience worth the trip, pair it with a stroll through the nearby Royal Ontario Museum.
The Guild Inn
201 Guildwood Parkway, Scarborough
Situated on a scenic lakeside perch atop the Scarborough Bluffs, the Guild Inn was originally constructed in 1914 as a vacation home for the wealthy Bickford family. The Bickfords also kept polo horses and a car collection on the sprawling property surrounding the building. Over the course of the century that followed, it has served as a hotel, a naval training centre, and most recently, a studio and rehearsal space for local artists.
Paranormal investigators are rumoured to have discovered various ghostly presences within the facility, including repeated appearances of a small child, noises in the hallways, and disturbances in the former hotel’s walk-in freezer.
While the Guild Inn building is currently unused and strictly off-limits to the public, ghost enthusiasts may not have to rule out the possibility of a future visit, as plans for a future restaurant and banquet hall at the site were recently approved by the City of Toronto.
“There are a number of historical features like a grand staircase that will go back to the original house,” local councillor Paul Ainslie told the Toronto Star in August. “I think getting this rebuilt; it’s just getting the crown jewel back on the grounds.”
Before heading out to explore these haunted sites, remember to bring layers in order to stay warm! Boots with sturdy soles are also recommended if you plan to make your way over to the Scarborough Bluffs. Happy Halloween!