I remember in Grade 5, when our class was in the deplorable portables, one day the lights in the hallway were turned off and we all ran about screaming and dancing and alleging the presence of a ghost outside our room. The most I ever saw of this ghost was a potential sneaker. It looked like and could have been the foot of another student in a well-placed hiding spot, save for the fact that she was standing behind us. Anyway. I hear U of T has a lot of ghosts. What better way to liven up the days before Halloween than by looking for ghosts?
Legends and ghost stories are one of the benefits of being at an old, crusty university like our own. October is a good month, with the autumn weather and Halloweeny atmosphere, to take in the antique feel of some of our older buildings. Of course, on Halloween night itself, you can drag your friends along to wander with you and do something with actual fright attached to it, if you bore of drunken revelry and playboy bunny costumes.
I have set out a mission for myself to discover the truth behind the following ghost allegations.
Two stone masons, Ivan Reznikoff and Paul Diablos (not a scary name at all), fight over a lady during UC’s construction, around 1856. Confrontation ensues upon Reznikoff’s learning of his girlfriend’s infidelity. Reznikoff was said to have vanished; years after the fire in 1890, workers discover the remains of an unidentified man in a ventilation shaft. Two possibilities: the men either wound up very high up UC’s unfinished tower and Reznikoff plummeted after attempting to hit Diablos with an axe, or Diablos managed to sneak up on Reznikoff and, conversely, stab him. Reznikoff’s body is supposedly hidden by Diablos. (U of T Magazine gives a riveting account.)
Investigate alleged axe mark left on door in UC’s southwest corner.
Investigate alleged ‘mocking gargoyle’ carvings, supposedly one of Reznikoff and other of Diablos snickering away.
Crawl into ventilation shaft (ha ha, no).
Take stroll through UC on Halloween night, before going to watch friends get drunk.
(I really like the upper floors of UC. They’re so empty and quiet. Getting lost in an old U of T building also always makes me feel like I’m lost in an atmospheric Legend of Zelda dungeon. Where’s the compass? Digression ends here.)
Angry Hogwarts Cosplayer trips on cloak, bumps head and now haunts Chapel, seducing any Daniel Radcliffe look-a-likes that come her way (ahem). Trinity buildings on Hoskin Avenue apparently harbour ghost of ‘benefactor’. Ghost allegedly stalks the halls on the anniversary of his death, November 1. Unfortunately cannot stay out this late.
No specific areas given, so scout most of, or remote rooms of this building, once again before going to party, hopefully with more cosplayers and drag queens.
Strange occurrences reported in building. Massey College’s first master, Robertson Davies, was purveyor of apparitious* anecdotes; eventually publishing his stories in collection entitled ‘High Spirits’. Suggested he would haunt the college himself one day. He passed away in 1995, making him a fairly young ghost in comparison to the rest of U of T’s spectres.
Stake out Massey College and be on toes for any random thuds, strange figures or suspiciously out of place objects. Seeing as how this ghost does not have murder or atrocious circumstances surrounding his death, this will not be as bowel-loosening to investigate. I hope.
Wander before being accosted by a make-up workshop zombie somewhere.
4. Christie Manor (maybe not)
The son of William Mellis Christie (who allegedly made good cookies), Robert, is said to have held a mistress captive in a room of the mansion. This was only known by Robert and the butler who brought her meals. Mistress was kept there for years, visited by Robert less and less; eventually went mad, committing suicide. Buried secretly. Robert Christie was consumed by guilt, depredating the family business, which was sold to Nabisco. The mansion was sold to U of T. Ghostly activity reported includes female students entering the room (‘secret’ room 29) late at night and being mysteriously locked in. Door is heavy. Exit not possible unless passerby… passes by.
Find room 29.
Find intestinal fortitude to enter room 29.
Leave room 29 as quickly as possible.
Mission: Knock on door and ask if Sir John A. wants to go drinking. Will be able to say first drinking buddy was also first prime minister.
Chickens, turkeys and the yellow-bellied can go on a guided tour of U of T’s phantom hang outs. The Halloween Schedule is listed as Fridays at 10 pm, Oct 10-31, but the tour is offered throughout the year. Sadly, it`s not free, but it looks as if students get a discount. But why pay when you can go by yourself and pee your pants in solitude? (Or not?) TorontoGhosts.org also has a comprehensive list of ghosts and ghostly activity all around Toronto. I find this one regarding Iroquois funeral rites and a subway tunnel to be particularly unnerving.
I’ll admit, I won’t be surprised if I don’t find anything, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try (and provide you with a bunch of Halloween-y events around campus and Toronto and stuff in the process). If anyone knows of any more ghost stories/locations, let me know!
*aware that this is not a word