It’s not an imposing or scary-looking building from the outside, but Mackenzie House on Bond Street is considered by many to be the most haunted house in Toronto.
William Lyon Mackenzie was the first mayor of Toronto and in 1837 he led a rebellion to overthrow British rule.
Mackenzie moved into the Bond Street home in 1859 and he died in there in 1861. Mackenzie’s wife Isabel died 12 years later. Mackenzie’s body is buried at Toronto Necropolis, but some believe his spirit returns to his former home.
“By the 1940s, the house was on its way to becoming a museum and that’s when the ghost stories begin,” said Danielle Urquhart, a program officer at Mackenzie House.
In the 1950s, live-in caretakers worked and lived at Mackenzie House. It was a story by Mrs. Edmund that eventually made newspaper headlines.
“Mrs. Edmund one night claimed that she was awoken by a soft touch on the shoulder. When she opened her eyes, Mrs. Edmund said there was a lady there bending over her, looking into her face. But a few seconds later, the lady vanished,” said Urquhart.
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“A few weeks later, Mrs. Edmund claims it happened again… but this time, Mrs. Edmund said the lady drew back her hand and slapped her in the face before vanishing.”
Bruce Beaton, a historical interpreter at Mackenzie House, said that while he has never encountered paranormal activity himself, stories of hearing footsteps on the creaking stairs or the spontaneous playing of the piano in the parlour have lingered along with other ghostly accounts.
“Remember, William Lyon Mackenzie was a journalist. He had a newspaper called the Colonial Advocate. The printing press behind me, in the past, has been known to operate of it’s own volition late at night,” said Beaton while giving Global News a tour of the home.
But then in 1960, a type of exorcism takes place in the house and it’s recorded to air on television — making the museum an even bigger draw for fans of supernatural phenomena.
“In 1960, this house was donated to the City of Toronto. Part of this bequest was an inventory of all the artifacts that were in the house at that time and at the bottom of this list were the words, ‘One ghost,'” said Beaton.
“An Archdeacon was then brought in to perform a blessing on this house and perhaps calm the restlessness that was here then.”
Those who are curious can visit Mackenzie House any day except Mondays. It is open between 12 and 4 p.m. on weekdays. The house is open until 5 p.m. on weekends.