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How to create your own campus ghost tour

Robarts at night isn't U of T's only haunted spot
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U of T's History Society is offering campus ghost tours this October. MIN HO LEE/THE VARSITY
U of T's History Society is offering campus ghost tours this October. MIN HO LEE/THE VARSITY

UTSG is not only steeped in history, but it is also home to some spooky inhabitants who are all at their most active on Halloween.

Okay, maybe that isn’t a completely true historical fact, but there have been plenty of spooky events on campus over the past 190 years, many of which were documented.

The University of Toronto History Society has dug up some haunted historical stories from places all over campus and will be hosting its second annual student-led Haunted Campus Ghost Tours on Monday, October 30 and Tuesday, October 31 at 7:00 pm.

Here, we’ve shared some insider tips to create your own DIY spooky tour. Be sure to start your self-guided tour after dark, when the ghouls are most active.

Stop one: Begin at University College, which the famous Reznikoff ghost is rumoured to haunt.

In the 1800s, two stonemasons worked on this building: one was named Reznikoff, the other, Diabolus. Reznikoff was a heavyset, unpleasant-looking man, while Diabolus was lithe and quite handsome. Conflict between them arose when Diabolus persuaded Reznikoff’s fiancée to leave Reznikoff and elope with him instead, taking the dowry with them.

Reznikoff discovered this treacherous plan, and confronted Diabolus on the work site, armed with an axe. After a gruelling duel, Diabolus fled up the scaffolding to hide. He thought he was no match for the axeman, with his small physique and armed with only a short dagger.

But as he heard Reznikoff’s heavy footfalls steadily approaching, he lunged out from his hiding place and fatally struck his opponent, who was caught off guard. Diabolus threw Reznikoff’s corpse into the stairwell below, interring it in cement. Diabolus and Reznikoff’s former fiancée were never heard from again.

Stop two: Make your way to the Laidlaw Library, a quaint location just west of Soldier’s Tower. Legend has it that one evening, a student was studying here late at night with the only light in the entire room coming from his desk lamp. Exhausted, the student fell soundly asleep.

He was awoken by a chill in the room, and upon opening his eyes was shocked to see every single light in the entire library — desk lamps, ceiling lights — all turned on. The student alerted Campus Police, suspecting the worst, but the records showed that no one had entered the library after he’d fallen asleep.

Whatever made the lights come on — every single one — was not a person.

Stop three: As you walk north on campus, you’ll approach Trinity College, haunted by the ghost of its founder, Bishop John Strachan. Enter Trinity’s quad and find his bust on the west side. Strachan is said to return to the college to check in once a year, usually around the time of his death: November 1, 1867.

Stop four: If you venture into Trinity College proper, you’ll find the chapel, home to the Gray Lady, one of campus’ creepiest ghosts. She is said to inhabit the Lady Chapel and has been reported by many visitors as an apparition with a greyish complexion who sits in the pews or sometimes even waits outside the chapel doors as if preparing to attend service. She tends to vanish quickly, sometimes walking from the pews to the Lady Chapel and then disappearing.

Stop five: To continue your tour, walk across Queen’s Park to Victoria College’s Annesley Hall, the first female residence in Canada. Years ago, the building was ravaged by a fire, which left three women dead. When firefighters searched the house, they found that the source of the fire had been a small tearoom in the basement, where residents would often practice instruments and socialize.

The room was locked, and when the firefighters broke down the door, they found the corpses of three women scratching at it, one of them still clutching the violin she had been playing when the fire began. No one could deduce how the fire originated, or why the door was locked from the inside of the room.

Ever since this fateful event, some have sworn that the hall is haunted — they see women in white just out of the corner of their vision, and there have been reports of the haunting sound of a violin, sometimes accompanied by piano, coming from empty rooms. It seems the three women have never left the site of their gruesome deaths.

Stop six: If your bones haven’t been rattled enough by this point, finish your tour at Christie House, the old residence of William Christie, the cookie man. His son, Robert Christie, moved in here with his father, bringing along his secret mistress and stowing her away in a windowless room in the middle of the house so he could see her whenever was convenient for him.

As time wore on, Robert began to lose interest in his mistress, visiting her less and less. They say the loneliness and desperation drove her mad; she eventually hanged herself.

Since then, students living in the house have reported that when you go alone into Room 29, the door slams shut, the lock turns, and you can’t get out until someone hears your screams. If you enter at night, no one will hear, and like Christie’s mistress, you’ll be forced to wait in the dark, praying that someone will come for you.