A little while ago while I was trying to think of fun places to work at I ended up applying to be a guide at The Haunted Walk of Toronto. Recently I received an e-mail from the company, offering me an audition in their group interview process, as well as a free spot on one of their walks. I decided to check it out (as well as take the opportunity to audition which I will be doing at the end of February) and I dragged Matt along with me. Tickets aren’t exactly cheap, coming out to about $25 dollars a person after tax but since we only had to buy one it wasn’t so bad.
I have now been on two different haunted walks; one on a high school trip to Montreal and one through the jail hostel in Ottawa. I don’t have any pictures from the Montreal one but it still remains the coolest of the three, mainly because they had actors playing the ghosts instead of just guides telling the story. That being said, I still remember the bruise I had on my leg for two weeks from hitting a concrete pillar while trying to jump away from one of these ghosts. It definitely wasn’t for the feint of heart!
As for the one in Ottawa, the tour was a free since we were staying within the jail hostel itself. Funnily enough, this is not the only time I’ve spent the night in prison… we stayed at a jail hostel in Switzerland too!
HI-Hostel in Ottawa is housed inside a former county jail. Old cells and administrative rooms have been renovated and turned into dormitories, private rooms, and various amenities. I’d never stayed in a hostel before and since it was just Keeragh and I travelling we decided to spring for the private room rather than try out dorm style sleeping arrangements and shared bathrooms. While I’m generally pretty skeptical about all things supernatural, I will admit it was hard to get to sleep that first night since sound travels from everywhere in this place.
As part of our stay we took a tour around the jail to see the parts that they have kept more authentic. A guide told stories about the jail itself while also sharing haunting experiences that guests and staff have had. It wasn’t really an official haunted walk but it was pretty eerie, especially when we returned to our room to find our keys no longer worked. We told the front desk and they sent someone up with a master key but it didn’t work either. They had to call a locksmith and even he was frazzled, he said it was like someone had locked the deadbolt… but of course, someone would have had to have been in the room to do that.
To make matters worse, we were staying in the McGee room which is named after Darcy McGee, a forefather of Canada who was murdered in Ottawa by one Patrick Whelan. At that time, we had just learned that Whelan had been hung at the very gallows we’d been standing in moments before we’d returned to our room. If ever there was a time I believed in ghosts, this was it.
As for last night’s activities, Matt and I headed back to the Distillery District (you can read about our last adventure to this area here) for the Ghosts and Spirits of the Distillery District tour. We arrived early to find that the Toronto Light Fest is much more lively on Saturday nights so we had to weasel our way through some crowds to join the tour. Shortly after 8 o’clock we were off on our adventure with our cape-wearing, lantern-yielding, guide.
There were only 7 of us on the tour which was nice because you could really huddle close in order to hear the stories, especially over the hustle and bustle of Light Fest. What I really liked about this tour is that it took you around the buildings and down alleyways that we hadn’t really gone down befre. There were at least ten stops on the tour where the guide provided a bit of the history of the area as well as a spooky tale. She talked about streaks of lights believed to be the spirits of the murdered resident cats, a ghost with some organization issues who liked to stack plates and chairs after they’d just been unstacked, and a friendly spirit who was just continuing his work checking on the molasses vats.
In the middle of the tour we were invited to stop in for a free beer sample at the Mill Street Brewery. I don’t drink beer much but a little dixie cup wasn’t going to kill me (hopefully) so we went in for a moment, had our samples, and chatted with the bartender before continuing onto the last leg of the tour.
One of the stories that our guide told involved the chandelier inside Balzac’s, a coffee shop inside one of the old distillery buildings. Staff at this shop don’t particularly care for opening the shop alone in the morning because there seems to be a presence there. In addition to that, one night they called security because the giant chandelier in the middle of the ceiling, which hardly sways even with the industrial fans on high, was swinging violently across the ceiling. This happened for ten minutes before it inexplicably stopped. When asked what could have caused it the old security guard replied “looks like someone pissed off the resident ghost.”
Overall, I really enjoyed the tour and I am definitely interested in checking out the other tours they give throughout the season (assuming I don’t end up giving them myself). It wasn’t quite as spooky as I expected but I think that had a lot to do with how crowded the area was. You definitely got a chill up your spine in some of the more remote stops. It was just scary enough to put you on edge but not too bad to leave you with too many nightmares.
Have you been on any haunted walks or had any experiences with ghosts and spirits? I am a skeptic, as I’ve said, but I always like hearing about these things, just to see if anything tests my beliefs.