Touring Ontario's Most Haunted Buildings

Apr 29, 2016
Every day, Canadians walk past and admire a number of the country’s century-old buildings. These structures, some even older than Canada itself, are rich with untold history and stories of past inhabitants. Some may even house a spirit or two.

Glen Shackleton, ghost expert and haunted-building enthusiast, has encountered at least one of these spirits. As the founder of the Haunted Walk, he has brought his knowledge and experience to three of Canada’s oldest cities: Kingston, Toronto and Ottawa. He and his team conduct regular evening walking tours and tell stories of ghosts, wandering spirits and inexplicable sightings.

Shackleton shares some of his favourite “haunted” buildings and the stories behind them.


The Prince George Hotel

The Haunted Walk guide in front of the Prince George Hotel.

Constructed in 1809, this hotel served as the starting point of the Original Haunted Walk of Kingston. The 207-year-old building was the site of a tragic love story about a girl named Lily who fell in love with a sailor in the Kingston port. At night she would light a lantern in her window to let her lover know she was there. One night, the lantern inexplicably fell from the window sill and engulfed the room in flames, while Lily was asleep inside. It is said that Lily’s ghost still roams the third floor, and visitors have reported floating and vanishing beds in some of the most haunted rooms.

Frontenac County Court House & Jail

The Frontenac County Courthouse at night.

The Frontenac County Court House was the site of numerous hangings, and bodies are still buried on the grounds today. Although the jail has since been replaced by a parking lot, it is said that the ghosts of the convicted criminals still roam the area.

Theresa Alleyway

The Haunted Walk tour at the Theresa Alley, Kingston.

Theresa Alleyway, near Rochleau Court, is a maze of alleyways and passages and the scene of Kingston's best-known ghost story. It is said that in 1868, Theresa Ignace Beam was killed by her lover John Napier in the alley and her undiscovered bones are believed to be buried underneath the passageways. Many people, from tour participants to unsuspecting citizens, have unexpectedly come upon a woman in the alley wearing old-fashion clothing who seems to vanish after turning a corner.


Bytown Museum

The Bytown Museum: Ottawa's oldest building.

The Bytown Museum, dating back to the construction of the Rideau Canal, is Ottawa's oldest building. It’s also one of its most haunted. It is believed that the ghost of Colonel John By, the builder of the Rideau Canal still haunts the property. Shackleton says his team has had its own unforgettable brush with the unexplained here. As the team was closing up the Museum for the evening, three team members say they heard footsteps going up and down the stairs and on the floor above them, and another said he witnessed a door violently and inexplicably shaking. The motion-detector alarm, meanwhile, could not pick up whoever (or whatever) was in the Bytown Museum!

Lisgar Collegiate

Lisgar Collegiate, "Ottawa's Haunted High School."

Lisgar Collegiate is one of Ottawa’s most prestigious schools. It also has the well-earned reputation for being "Ottawa's Haunted High School.” The attic has a small window overlooking the grounds, in which many students claim to have seen a young girl staring out at them. Students have routinely tried to sneak into the attic to get their own look at this mysterious figure.

Ottawa City Hall

The Mayor's Office at Ottawa City Hall is said to be haunted. Flickr photo by Carole Carey

Ottawa’s City Hall was originally used as one of the first teacher's colleges in the province. The Mayor’s office is believed to be one of the most haunted part of the building. To this day, staff and visitors alike report bizarre encounters and unsettling events. Security guards have quit in the middle in the night, refusing ever to return to the building again.


Hockey Hall of Fame

Toronto's Hockey Hall of Fame is home to a ghost named Dorothy.

The first stop on the Original Haunted Walk of Toronto is the Hockey Hall of Fame building. This former bank has been the scene of many paranormal phenomena including sightings of the ghost of a young woman. The ghost is believed to belong to a 19-year-old named Dorothy who shot herself in the bathroom after a romance with the bank’s branch manager went sour. Visitors of the building have reported numerous strange occurrences including seeing a female ghost looking down from the second-floor ceiling.

Mackenzie House

William Lyon Mackenzie lived and died at Mackenzie House.

Mackenzie House is also widely regarded as one of the most haunted sites in the city. Toronto’s first mayor and rebel leader, William Lyon Mackenzie, lived there briefly and died in the house. There have been sightings of a short, frock-coated man who looks very much like Mackenzie, in the house, as well as other poltergeist activity.

Winter Garden Theatre

The Winter Garden Theatre seats are known to fold down unexplicably.

The Winter Garden Theatre, paired with the Elgin theatre, was built in 1913. It is believed to be haunted by the lavender-scented ghost of a woman, known as the Lavender Lady, whose life came to a dreadful end there. Everyone from the theatre’s House Manager, to a young usher, to a woman working at the gift shop, have experienced paranormal activity in the century-old theatre. Hand-operated elevators are said to move without anyone operating them, theatre seats will fold down on their own and there have been sightings of a woman in Victorian garb in the lobby.

The Haunted Walk offers expert-guided tours to these locations so you can experience Canada’s dark history for yourself.

Travelzoo Haunted Walk deals here.

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