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Discover the History Behind Toronto’s Haunted Houses

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Discover the History Behind Toronto’s Haunted Houses


It’s a common scene in countless scary movies: the camera pans along a tree-lined street, past Victorian gingerbread houses, as wind chimes and children’s voices mingle in an uneasy cadence, and then we see it — the haunted house.

It’s an old house, built sometime during the 19th or early 20th centuries. At least two stories high, it has turrets or an arched veranda or ivy climbing its ageing stone walls. It is beautiful in the way historic homes always are, and yet something sinister seems to lurk within its walls...

Old Toronto Houses by Tom Cruikshank with photography by John de Visser is filled with examples of houses that could fill in for a haunted house in any horror film. In its pages are the oldest homes in Toronto as well as the most architecturally interesting houses still standing.

There aren’t any ghostly tales included in Cruickshank’s history of the city’s historic homes, so we’ve done some supernatural research ourselves to get you in a Halloween mood. Haunted or not, these amazing houses have incredible stories to tell about the city Firefly Books calls home.

Here are some of the most famous (possibly haunted) old houses in Toronto.


The Grange, built 1817

The Grange is one of the oldest buildings in Toronto. This Georgian-style house is a perfect example of how the wealthy lived during the 19th century and was built by D’Arcy Boulton Jr. and his wife Sarah Anne Robinson, a couple with connections to Toronto’s most elite families. Now part of the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Grange is apparently home to a ghost in a yellow velvet waistcoat that can walk through walls.


Stong House, built 1832

Black Creek Pioneer Village, a museum about life in Ontario during the early 19th century, is home to over 40 historic buildings. Stong House is one of them, built by German settlers as a homestead beside Black Creek. Though there aren’t any stories about Stong House itself, Black Creek Pioneer Village is a hot spot for ghostspotting and has its own haunted tour during the Halloween season.


Colborne Lodge, built 1836

The architect John Howard and his wife Jemima built this Regency-style cottage atop a promontory overlooking two ravines in what is now High Park, a green oasis of land that Howard donated to the city in 1873. The Lodge is open to the public, and there have been sightings of Mrs. Howard’s ghost in the grounds.


Mackenzie House, built 1857

Toronto’s first mayor William Lyon Mackenzie spent almost thirteen years in exile in New York after leading the infamous rebellion in 1837 against Upper Canada’s (Ontario’s) oligarchical government. Mackenzie House was his retirement home from 1859, and he died in the building in 1861. Apparently Mackenzie’s ghost plays the piano at night, and a rocking chair has been seen rocking itself.


Ashbridge House, built 1854

The Ashbridge family has a long and dramatic history in Toronto. Sarah Ashbridge came to the city in 1793 as a widowed mother of five, fleeing a plague in Philadelphia. In 1796 her sons were granted a title to the land of the Ashbridge Estate where this historic house was built in 1854. Though the house itself isn’t known to be haunted, many homes on land that used to be part of the estate have reported ghostly happenings.


Euclid Hall, built 1868

Toronto dry goods magnate Arthur McMaster built this Gothic fantasy castle for his family, but it didn’t get its name until 1882 when the house was purchased by Hart Massey, patriarch of the farm implements company Massey-Harris Ltd. Now a restaurant, the hall is said to be haunted by a maid who hung herself in the foyer among other spooky spectres.


Spadina House, built 1835 and remodelled 1866

The original Spadina House was built in 1817 by W.W. Baldwin, a physician, politician, and lawyer, on an escarpment three miles above the bustling town of “York”. After the original house burned down in 1835, a new Regency-style cottage was built on its foundations. Then, when the house changed hands in 1866, the new owner James Austin demolished virtually the entire second house and constructed the grand Victorian home that stands today. It is rumoured that spirits possess a taxidermy wolf inside the house.


Casa Loma, built 1911

Sir Henry Pellatt’s Casa Loma, Spanish for “house on the hill”, is possibly the most audacious house in Toronto. Pellatt, one of the wealthiest men in the city, hired the architect of City Hall and the King Edward Hotel, E.J. Lennox, to construct his fantasy castle for a reported cost of $3.5 million. Pellatt lost his fortune in 1923 and house became the property of the city. Several ghosts have been spotted at Casa Loma, including Sir Henry and another ghost known as The White Lady.


Glendon Hall, built 1925

As the landmark of Glendon College, part of Toronto's York University, the elegant and understated Glendon Hall is surrounded by rose gardens and manicured lawns. Built by E.R. Wood, one of Canada’s leading financiers, and his wife Euphemia, Glendon Hall was a country escape from their home in the bustling Queen’s Park neighbourhood of Toronto. The College has been the site of many supernatural occurrences including a mysterious woman in the rose garden and disembodied voices in the basement.



Massey Hall, opened 1894

The owner of Euclid Hall, Hart Massey, commissioned Toronto’s beloved concert venue in the late 19th century. The hall has seen countless important figures from history on its stage including Winston Churchill (1900 & 1901), the London Symphony Orchestra (1912), and Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie (1953). Some of the supernatural guests that have been spotted include a man in old-fashioned clothing wandering around backstage and an elderly couple in the aisles after dark.


Get the books:

 Old Toronto Houses

 Unforgettable Ontario

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