Step lively on your midtown ghost walk

Brian Baker/Town Crier A GHOSTLY TREK: Restless and adventurous souls can find lots to intrigue in midtown Toronto as Halloween approaches. Persons still with bodies can explore on foot places said to be inhabited by those without, or at least home to puzzling tales.
Brian Baker/Town Crier
A GHOSTLY TREK: Restless and adventurous souls can find lots to intrigue in midtown Toronto as Halloween approaches. Persons still with bodies can explore on foot places said to be inhabited by those without, or at least home to puzzling tales.

Those who have had the opportunity to peruse Canadian story collector John Robert Colombo’s Haunted Toronto already know you will find a wealth of spooky tales coming out of the neighbourhoods of Casa Loma, South Hill, Yorkville, Rosedale, Mount Pleasant Village East and Leaside.

Following a trail blazed by information from Colombo’s book, the Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society and Michelle Desrochers of Canada’s Most Haunted, here’s an ad hoc path you can travel to creep yourself out in the days leading up to All Hallow’s Eve.

We start the trek at Casa Loma, one of Toronto’s most famous landmarks, built by Sir Henry Pellatt. Not all places are haunted. Included are interesting historical facts on some not-so-haunted houses that have been players in the Canadian paranormal scene.

Keep in mind, this is merely a walk, and we don’t want you to be arrested for trespassing, or worse.

Casa Loma: Built between 1911 and 1914, the home of former electric company czar Sir Henry Pellatt is said to no spectral inhabitants, according to Colombo. However, Michelle Desrochers begs to differ. According to the castle’s resident paranormal investigator, the Pellatts still keep watch over their former home, and they are accompanied by a lady in white, several children and an unidentified man in the stables who has answered to the name of Fred, or Charles. Since the building’s construction
was never completed, perhaps Sir Henry and Lady Mary are overseeing that work gets done?

Spadina House: Just a hop away from Casa Loma, and hidden behind a high fence, is the Spadina (pronounced spa-dee-na) House. The current building, erected in 1913, was built by Albert Austin, son of Consumers Gas founder James Austin. According
to the Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society, this third residence occupying the foundation that was constructed in 1866 does have a benign entity sauntering through the bedrooms of the second floor.

121 Walmer Road: According to Colombo, a man and his cocker spaniel are reticent to leave the home. Back in the 1960s, record exec Ronald Secker, who managed Hallmark Studios, said he saw a spectre of a man stab himself, with the dog running around him.

The Toronto Theosophical Society: Not really a haunting, but a place where one can research the bizarre. Founded in New York City in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the movement attempted to establish a Toronto chapter in 1891. They convened at 109 Dupont Street. Give their website, torontotheosophy.org, a look-see to read up on the occult.

The Royal Ontario Museum: To start with, the ROM was established the same day the Titanic sank — April 14, 1912. If that doesn’t creep you out, the original director, Charles Trick Currelly, is said to hang out in the East Asiatic Collection area. He’s not the only reported spectre, as a young girl has been reportedly sighted in the McLaughlin Planetarium.

The Mynah Bird Cafe: It was once reported by renowned paranormal investigator Hans Holzer that several of the ladies who worked the former strip club at 144 Yorkville Ave. were reporting strange events. Disembodied voices, moving furniture and public séances have all taken place at the 1960s bar before it was demolished.

35 Bishop Street: In 1995, author Andrea Reynolds shared her personal haunting tale with John Robert Colombo on Shelley
Klinck’s late-night radio talk show Sex, Lives and Audiotape on 640 AM Radio. When she lived at 35 Bishop Street in 1985, Reynolds said, she would hear someone running up the stairs of the house in the wee hours of the morning. According to Reynolds’ account, collected by Colombo, opera singer Riki Turofsky suffered the loss of her 19-year-old daughter while she
lived there.

Ben McPeek Recording Studio
: Composer Ben McPeek’s former studio at 131 Hazelton Lane in Yorkville had been reportedly haunted by an elderly woman in a “long, flowing dress.” After an episode of poltergeist activity, reported by McPeek’s sons Ben Jr. and Jerome, the house was renovated in 1982. No new reports of hauntings have been mentioned.

Judy Welch Modelling Agency
: In the rich neighbourhood of Rosedale, 21 Roxborough St. West was home to hauntings that occurred during the 1970s and ’80s. Colombo cited an article by the Toronto Star that said businesswoman Welch reported poltergeist activity after she bought the house in 1974. She allegedly held a séance, through which it was discovered two ghosts were haunting the building.

Willan Residence
: Actror-writer Mary Mason in 1994 told Colombo of her experiences at the former home of Healey Willan, a composer and choirmaster at St. Mary Magdalene Church. The three-storey home, situated at 139 Inglewood Dr. in Rosedale, was host to phantom footsteps and other psychical phenomenon. Candidly, she also mentioned her mother and father telling her to hush up, saying, “Don’t tell anyone. We want to sell the house.”

Former home of R.S. Lambert: Author and CBC broadcaster Richard S. Lambert was known as one of the driving forces behind popularizing the paranormal in Canada. Though his former residence at 210 Douglas Dr. in Rosedale is far from haunted, he helped spark interest in the supernatural with his book Exploring the Supernatural, the first of its kind in Canada.

Mount Pleasant Cemetery: Hardly a haunt, it’s still a good place to walk through for a ghost walk. If you want to saunter off the beaten path, some notable headstones to look for are WWI flying ace Billy Barker, longest-serving prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, co-discoverer of insulin Sir Frederick Banting, musician Glenn Gould, and hockey greats Charlie Conacher, George (Punch) Imlach and Dick Irvin.

Former home of James Randi: Another non-haunted locale, 27 Rumsey Rd. in Leaside holds a special place in the hearts of many a skeptic. The Amazing Randi is known for his legerdemain and challenging of paranormal claims. If there was ever something to debunk, the man with the snowy white beard would be there.

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