In honour of Halloween, a provincial association of masonry building experts has compiled its Top 5 list of the scariest brick, block and stone buildings in Ontario.
To narrow down their list, the judges exacted ghoulishly high standards that looked at such fright-inducing criteria as the frequency of ghostly sightings; the number of deaths and level of creepiness by which they occurred within the haunted building; and the intensity of eerie sensations such as bizarre smells, sounds and the feel of bone-chilling inside air.
“These buildings last so long they are bound to acquire spirits who don’t want to leave,” says Jack Prazeres, president of MasonryWorx, an association that represents the Ontario masonry trade. “And I can’t say that I blame them. These structures stand the test of time. They’re magnificent, ghosts or no ghosts.”
According to the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), you know spirits are trespassing your home if you see apparitions, hear strange sounds, smell weird odours, feel cold spots, notice objects that have been moved and see your pets behaving in an anxious manner. The list of five have experienced at least one but more likely a combination of the aforementioned peculiarities.
As we approach Halloween, let’s dare to take a closer look at those otherworldly Ontario buildings that are said to go bump in the night.
JUST HANGING AROUND
Known as the most haunted place in Canada, Fort Henry near Kingston, Ontario is a national historic site that was built as a colonial fortress and later used as an internment camp for political prisoners during World War I. The apparition of an American who was hanged for treason is still seen wandering the fort as is the gallows from which he hung, even though it was torn down a century ago.
HOSTILE IN THE HOSTEL
The Ottawa Jail Hostel, which was the site of the city’s main jail for over 100 years, met more than its share of death during its reign. When prisoners were killed or died of natural causes they were burned and then buried in a makeshift cemetery at the back of the property at 75 Nicholas St. Staff and visitors report that notorious criminals who were publicly hanged there still haunt death-row cells and appear at night at the end of guests’ beds.
YOU CAN CHECK OUT ANY TIME YOU LIKE / BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE
As one of Toronto’s most enduring landmarks, the Fairmont Royal York is said to be haunted by a former employee who hanged himself in a 19th-floor stairwell. Other peculiar paranormal activity include the sounds of music and conversations emanating from a now closed top-floor ballroom in which chandeliers are said to shake and where the elevator has been known to ascend to without anyone pushing a button. Guests and staff have complained of the noise of spirited children screaming as they run up and down the hallways. The children are heard and never seen. Finally, an elderly man wearing a maroon-coloured smoking jacket is said to haunt the eighth floor.
INCLUDED WITH YOUR ENTREE: MIXED GHOSTS
This beautiful Jarvis Street mansion, which was home to actor Raymond Massey and Governor-General Vincent Massey, and visited by King George IV and Queen Mary, is said to house a number of ghosts. Besides steak and scotch, The Keg Mansion is legendary for the sound of phantom children scampering and laughing in the kitchen and upper floors. In the main foyer, the spectre of a former maid dangling from the rope she used to kill herself has been known to materialize.
IS THAT YOU, J.P.?
The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Island has stood as a beacon for more than 150 years making it the city’s oldest landmark. It’s believed lighthouse keeper J.P. Radan Muller was murdered in 1815 by two or three soldiers in a fight that erupted over a keg of beer. Some islanders have reported the sound of moaning on foggy nights while others say they’ve seen an apparition believed to be Muller roaming the grounds of the lighthouse.
MasonryWorx is the trade association of brick, block and stone masonry industry professionals. Its membership includes product manufacturers, suppliers and skilled professionals from across Ontario, and the organization is committed to providing homebuyers, homeowners, architects, engineers, builders and government leaders with information about the use and benefits of brick, block and stone products.