Updated Fall 2023
The spookiest time of year is almost upon us!
Toronto abounds with legends of the paranormal. Famously haunted sites like Mackenzie House and Casa Loma are sure to please fans of otherworldly mysteries. Bring a flashlight and steady nerves when visiting these haunted spaces.
Widely considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in Toronto, Mackenzie House is one of 10 historic museums operated by the city. The restored building is the former home of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor and leader of the Rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada to overthrow British rule. Mackenzie lived in the house from 1859 until his death in 1861, and died at the house in his bedroom on the second floor. His family lived in the house for another 10 years.
The house became a museum in the 1950s, and stories from the live-in caretakers built up its ghostly legend. One story by caretaker Mrs. Edmund made newspaper headlines in its day – Edmund describes how she was awoken by a soft touch on the shoulder and saw a lady bending over her. The lady vanished a few seconds later. A few weeks later, the lady appeared again – but this time, she slapped Mrs. Edmund in the face.
Tales of encounters of paranormal activity in the house are myriad, with reports of footsteps, creaking on the stairs and the sounds of the parlour’s piano being played when no one‘s there. Multiple accounts have a small, bald man in a wig and frock coat lurking around the home and the printing press in the basement — harking back to Mackenzie’s days as a journalist — has been known to operate on its own, late in the night.
When the house was donated to the city of Toronto in 1960, the list of artifacts included in the bequest included “one ghost.” Anglican Archdeacon John Frank was called in to perform a blessing that fans of supernatural phenomena say was, in fact, an exorcism. The museum, located just a few blocks from Pantages, is a great place to experience a spine-tingling piece of Toronto history.
Just in time for Halloween, Casa Loma becomes Toronto’s favourite haunted house, when the doors open to an annual promenade theatre event, a one-hour, two-kilometre self-guided walking tour through the castle’s vast gardens and winding tunnels. Theatrically designed sets in the gardens and chambers below the building set the scene for classic horror figures, like Count Dracula and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, who make appearances throughout the walk. A 3D projection on the exterior walls of the castle brings the building to life. Elaborate masks and costumes, and the occasional choreographed dance routine, make the Legends of Horror an unforgettable experience.
If you’re more into the party scene, you won’t want to miss sailing on the Black Pearl – Toronto’s Halloween party cruise! With live DJs and three levels of spooky season partying, it’s guaranteed to be a frightfully exciting evening. The ship sails on October 28th!
For other spooky experiences, tours like Toronto’s Original Haunted Walk provide an in-depth look at the city’s most haunted locations.