It seems that more and more people are interested in U of T’s history or, rather, its hauntings. The University of Toronto History Society’s (UTHS) ghost tours doubled in size this year; after its October 29 event sold out within a week, the Society added another tour on October 30.

Tickets were sold out, with over 200 people gathered each night to hear some of UTSG’s spookiest stories. These tours shed light on the 191-year history of the campus and, most importantly, the ghosts that haunt it.

Student interpreters led their groups while dressed in Victorian clothing and wearing ghostly makeup, making the experience even more immersive. It is unsurprising that between U of T’s oldest colleges and their surrounding buildings — University College (est. 1853), St. Michael’s College (est. 1852), Trinity College (est. 1851), and Victoria College (est. 1836) — there is no shortage of stories.

Here are some highlights for those who couldn’t snap up tickets to this popular event:

University College

Two stonemasons, Ivan Reznikoff and Paul Diabolos — both of whom have cafés named after them at UC — worked on the UC building in the mid-1800s. Conflict arose between the two men when the supposedly fitter and more handsome Diabolos pursued the fiancée of the heavier set and more disagreeable Reznikoff, eventually persuading her to elope with him.

Reznikoff discovered their plan and confronted Diabolos on the work site, axe in hand. The two men dueled, and Diabolos ran off to hide in the scaffolding. Knowing he was no match for Reznikoff’s stature and weapon, Diabolos armed himself with a small dagger and jumped out from his hiding place. He struck Reznikoff, killing him instantly, then throwing the corpse into the stairwell before encasing it in cement.

Reznikoff’s ghost is said to have haunted the campus until his body was discovered decades later after a fire at University College. Neither Diabolos nor Reznikoff’s ex-fiancée were heard from again.

Laidlaw Library

You may know that Laidlaw, the UC library, houses collections relating to UC’s humanities and social sciences programs. What you may not know, however, is that it is haunted. Legend says that an overnight watchman, Barry Breen, was studying in the library late at night, so late that his desk lamp was the only remaining source of light in the room.

A wave of drowsiness suddenly overcame him and he fell asleep, only to be awoken by a chill in the room. When he opened his eyes, he was shocked to see that all the desk lamps and ceiling lights were on. The student alerted campus police in a state of shock, but records showed no one had entered the library while he was asleep. Whoever turned the lights on might not even be a “who,” but a “what.”

Victoria College Chapel

A former president of Victoria College died in the 1950s, and the Victoria College chapel was used for his funeral. Because he was so well-known and well-liked, the service had to take place over two days: one day for the university community, including students and colleagues who knew him well, and the other for close friends and family.

The coffin containing the president’s body was left in the chapel after the first service, and the security guards began their rounds of the college that night. One guard patrolled his usual spots, checking the back of the building, the third floor, and making sure all the doors were locked. He swore he heard the chapel doors rattling, but they were securely locked. The guard patrolled the same area several hours later, and this time the chapel doors began to shake violently. The frightened guard unlocked the door and saw that the coffin, too, was shaking as though someone was trying to escape; thumping and groaning could be heard from within.

Terrified, the guard locked the chapel doors and ran, never returning to Victoria College ever again. The body was, of course, buried after the second service the following day, but no security guard has dared to go into Old Vic alone since that night. They always go in pairs, there’s always a light on, and sometimes, the doors still shake.

Is there a plausible explanation for this phenomenon? Or is it the former president, trapped forever in his coffin, trying to escape? You can decide for yourself next time you pass the chapel.

These are just small snippets of the stories that UTHS researched, wrote, and delivered during their tours. It’s unsurprising how quickly the event sold out, considering its concoction of history, lore, and ghosts.

Keep these stories in mind next time you find yourself alone on campus — especially at night.