University of Toronto’s Hart House | Dark History & Ghosts

Hart House Theatre entrance, University of Toronto
Hart House Theatre entrance, University of Toronto

Hart House Theatre Address – – Toronto, Ontario | 7 Hart House Circle – MAP

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The Hart House Theatre is Canada’s first “little theatre”.  Located on the University of Toronto Campus

Many talented Canadian actors performed on that stage, such as both Sutherlands, Donald and Keifer, and even the Oscar-nominated Raymond Massey.  Massey was a local and the grandson of Hart for whom the theatre is named.

Hart House Theatre, University of Toronto Campus - Donald Sutherland
Hart House Theatre, University of Toronto Campus (1956) – ‘The School for Wives’ w/Donald Sutherland (middle)

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Bert

One man dedicated to this building wasn’t an actor at all.

Bert was the caretaker in the 1950’s.  Known by everyone and seen around the building in his iconic blue overalls.

Streetcar Stop area where Bert would have stepped off - College Street, Toronto
Streetcar Stop area where Bert would have stepped off – College Street, Toronto

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One day Bert was coming to work.  Stepping off the streetcar, goes to the sidewalk, grabs his chest and falls to the ground.  His death so sudden and his dedication so strong… it’s said he still went to work.

Bert is the main ghost of the theatre know by many over the decades.  Which includes a manager named Paul who had a very stressful day.

Bert Saves the Day

Paul’s stressful day led to an early morning.  He set up a cot in his office, told security and turned in for the night.  Closes his door and goes to sleep.

Then a click.  Paul wakes up, rubbing his eyes and through the blur sees the door opening slowly towards him.  It hits the cot and he jumps awake.

A tall shadow standing in the doorway is surrounded by smoke.  Paul yells, “excuse me…” as the smoke seeps into the room and the shadow fades away.  Then he smells the burning.

Running into the hallway to see more smoke.  He pulls the alarm and runs around making sure everyone gets out of the building.  When he’s sure everyone is accounted for and safe, Paul walks around asking, “Okay, okay, who’s the hero?  Who woke me up?”

They were all confused.  Even the security guards had no idea what he meant.  Paul was the first one to notice the fire.

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Entrance & Inside the Hart House Theatre