Content warning: Mention of assault.
Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, UTSG is definitely one of the places in Toronto where one might expect to encounter a spectre or two. If you’ve ever studied late into the night or found yourself wandering in an old building, you’ve probably felt a little chill on the back of your neck. In the spirit of the season, here is your guide to meeting some of the ghosts that roam the streets and halls of your university!
Trinity College has a beautiful chapel, which can be a great place for reflection and prayer when you need some peace and quiet. However, this sacred space is not immune to the supernatural activity at Trinity College. Behind the main chapel, there is a second, smaller chapel known as the Lady Chapel, and these two areas seem to have a concentrated amount of paranormal activity.
In the main chapel, the U of T History Society tour tells of a student who reportedly saw a being of some sort sneaking and crawling around when they were playing the organ late at night. They even called campus police, who found no evidence of anyone having been in the chapel. In the Lady Chapel, there is a spectre known as the Gray Lady who allegedly waits in or outside of the Lady Chapel as though expecting the service to start. As far as we know, she is quite harmless, though prone to disappearing at random times.
Hart House is famously a cultural centre, hosting reputable student organizations and boasting beautiful architecture. It also has a theatre known as the Hart House Theatre, home to a ghostly caretaker known as “Bert.” He apparently died in the 1950s but continued to show up to work for years after. Though he is now not seen quite as commonly, he once saved the life of former Hart House Theatre director Paul Templin.
One night, while working late, Templin fell asleep in his office. Templin has reported that if not for his door that had opened and slammed closed, waking him, he would have died in an electrical fire that was spreading through Hart House. He claims to have seen a figure in the frosted glass of his door, and because nobody ever took credit for saving his life, Templin assumed that his mysterious saviour was none other than Bert.
Trinity College tunnels
While the other Trinity ghosts seem to be without malice, the stories about the steam tunnels connecting Trinity College and St. Hilda’s College are more than a little chilling. Allegedly, a woman student was assaulted down in the tunnels many years ago, and her ghost now wanders the tunnels acting as a protector.
In addition to this, there is also a male spirit that is confined to the tunnels who has much more alarming intentions. According to this legend, he is stuck behind a wall in the tunnels but occasionally finds his way out and kidnaps students who are passing through. Every time he manages to steal a student, he gets closer to escaping his brick jail.
Even if you did feel the need to pay this malicious spirit a visit, however, the tunnels are no longer open for wandering visitors.
An article about U of T’s ghost stories would not be complete without the story of Diablos and Reznikoff. Paul Diablos and Ivan Reznikoff were two of the workers who built University College (UC) in the 1850s.
They had a tumultuous feud between them, as Diablos persuaded the woman that Reznikoff was going to marry to run off with him. One night, Reznikoff attacked Diablos with an axe; they scuffled, until Diablos ran off, carrying only a dagger. He hid until Reznikoff came running after him, then attacked him. Surprising Reznikoff gave him an advantage. When he was finished, Diablos threw the body over a stairwell, over which was built a staircase leading to the roof of the building.
Reznikoff’s body allegedly stayed there until the UC building was ravaged by a fire in 1890. Reznikoff had haunted the college for years — but apparently, when his bones were found after the fire and buried under a tree in the UC quad, he found peace.
So there you have it, folks; U of T is haunted, and not just by weeping exam-takers. Hopefully, now you know where to go for some late-night excitement!