Old City Hall, Toronto | Dark History & Ghost Stories

Old City Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Old City Hall, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Old City Hall Address – – Toronto, Ontario | 60 Queen Street West – MAP

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This impressive structure was built for a crazy amount of money in the late 1800’s.

Man who built Toronto - Architect EJ Lennox
Man who built Toronto – Architect EJ Lennox

One of many amazing designs from architect EJ Lennox.  His other buildings include the mysterious Bank of Toronto (currently abandoned on Yonge Street), Casa Loma and the mausoleum of Hart Massey.

Toronto justified the cost as it would stand as a symbol, its tallest structure (at the time) and 2 buildings in one.  City Hall was housed here until 1966.  The building remains a Courthouse to this day.

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Poor Building Decisions

Gargoyles hang out from the clock tower.  From street-level they seem like simple design choices, but look closer for a Gothic surprise.

Gargoyles of Old City Hall in Toronto
Gargoyles of Old City Hall in Toronto

Remains one of EJ Lennox’s poor decisions.  With the Canadian winters, he should have known these thin statues wouldn’t survive so high up.  Maybe he wasn’t thinking after facing numerous challenges from contractors and city officials.  Eventually the building was completed with gargoyles.

It lasted… until 1938 when a large piece broke off and fell to the street below.  Another came off and crashed through an upper floor ceiling.  They were removed.

The building remained gargoyle-free until 2003 when the much safer bronze replicas were successfully installed.

As a small revenge, Lennox had caricatures of all those who made life difficult during Old City Hall’s construction.  Fitting his face was snuck into the mix…

Faces carved into Toronto's Old City Hall
Faces carved into Toronto’s Old City Hall

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Almost Torn Down by Eatons

In 1965 Eatons wanted to expand their mall west.  The new City Hall is opened at Nathan Phillips Square and city business is moved.

Toronto officials consider it as the ancient structure would cost tax dollars for up-keep.  Enter the “Friends of Old City Hall”, a group dedicated to saving the building for future generations.

Their efforts worked.  In 1989 Old City Hall was declared a National Historic Site.

Interesting Fact :: It’s happening again!

Now we’re looking at 2021.  That’s the year all court business is moved from the building leaving it without a use.

Thankfully there’s no threat of demolition.  After all we’re living in the modern days of “history sells”.

There’s been talk of converting it to retail and office space.  However city officials are against that idea.  Toronto wants a museum!

The Tradition

20 years later and a tradition has formed.  Toronto reporters who want to spend Halloween night inside Courtroom 33.

A reporter and her sister sign up one Halloween.  They go in skeptical, not expecting much.  Then right from the start they’re plagued by noises from a dark and empty hallway.  Footsteps, they’d run out to see no one.  And door slamming from down the hall.

A couple hours later and the women are huddled in a corner unable to sleep.

Then, at 3am, the witching hour, what they described as “a cool fog” rolled into the courtroom.  Getting up, they found it hard to walk as if their feet were sticking to the floor.

That was enough.  The women went home to the safety of their own beds.

So much more to talk about at Old City Hall, but best do that in person with our Ghost Walks of Toronto!

Hear the entire story on the Ghost Walks of Toronto...

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