William Lyon Mackenzie has been remembered as a lot of things: a Scottish man, a journalist, a politician, a literary fighter, and most importantly- a haunter. As the first mayor of Toronto, Mackenzie left an impact on the city that can still be felt today, especially if you are to step foot into the house in which he drew his last breaths. Which is why, to this day over 150 years after his death, Toronto’s Mackenzie House has been classified as one of the most haunted places in the city.
When Mackenzie emigrated to Scotland in 1820, his life was not set for the political path. Instead, he became a general merchant. Yet, throughout his life, he started to experience the discontent that was worming its way into Upper Canada. In 1824 Mackenzie used his passion of writing to take a political stand in Canada, founding a newspaper called the Colonial Advocate in which he criticized the current government before forming a more radical paper, the Constitution where he led a literary rebellion in attempts to overthrow the British rule.
In 1834 Mackenzie became the very first mayor of Toronto, which sadly wasn’t his greatest accomplishment. He didn’t manage to deal with the cites excessive debt or public work. Instead, he focused solely on ridding the city of the Tory officials.
Later in his life, Mackenzie moved to his Bond Street home, which would soon be classified as one of the most haunted sites in the city. He died in the house in 1861 following an apoplectic seizure.
However, it wasn’t until nearly 100 years later, in the 1940s when visitors started to report the building as haunted. It was during this time that the house was on its way to becoming a museum and that’s really when the ghost stories started to kick off.
According to the Toronto & Ontario Ghost and Haunting Research Society both Mackenzie and his wife, who also died in the house twelve years after the mayor, still haunt the premise today. One of the most common sightings occurs in the third-floor bedroom, where both workers and guests claim to spot a small bad man in a wig and frock coat.
Another common haunting that guests often witness are cold spots throughout the house, as well as the sound of footsteps when no one is on the floor above. The printing press, which Mackenzie used for his papers, can also be heard starting up in the basement, even though no one is near it.
Of course, Mackenzie’s children are also said to haunt the residence and some guests recall seeing a teenage girl in the upper rooms. One witness even told the Haunting Research Society that “as I was going up to the second floor, I had a weird sensation come over me..I looked to the second room and I saw a young girl (early teens) standing by the dresser..I was convinced that It was his daughter and the name Elizabeth kept popping into my head.”
Although Toronto’s Mackenzie House is one of the most haunted places in the city, there are a variety of other locations throughout the city that also have ghosts wandering down the halls.
To hear more Toronto ghost stories, make sure to listen to our latest podcast: Spooky 6ixers: Toronto Ghost Stories