Toronto’s Queen’s Park | Dark History & Ghost Stories

Queen's Park (Ontario Legislative Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Queen's Park (Ontario Legislative Building), Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Queen’s Park Address – – Toronto, Ontario | 111 Wellesley St WestMAP

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Queen’s Park land doesn’t belong to the government.  It’s belongs to the University of Toronto.  The former site of Toronto’s oldest school, King’s College in the early 1800’s.

King's College - once Toronto's first college, stood on the site of today's Queen's Park
King’s College – once Toronto’s first college, stood on the site of today’s Queen’s Park

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Higher learning too early for the small city, as the College fails and the building becomes abandoned.

Re-purposed a few years later in 1856.  They put up wires over windows and the musty building unlocked for something more related to the government activities of today… an Insane Asylum.

80 women moved in with, and I quote, “female troubles”.  This is actually true.  The men who ran the asylum committed women for problems such as childbirth, lactation and menstrual disorders, or as they put it “the cause of insanity in women”

Asylum Map - Queen's Park Toronto
Asylum Map – Queen’s Park Toronto

Thank goodness it didn’t last long.  Years later the land is leased to the City of Toronto.  Cost, $1/year on a 1,000 year term.

10.5 million bricks!  Each and every one created by Canadian prison inmates went into the construction of Queen’s Park.  Put together by architect Richard Waite who was criticized for making the building look “too American”.

Queen's Park Legislative Building going up, Toronto
Queen’s Park Legislative Building going up, Toronto

In the end no one cared, and it opened in 1893.

Two Types of Ghost Stories

There are two types of ghost stories.

  1. Over the top and hard to believe like a horror movie
  2. Then there’s more legit, subtle experiences.  Believable with proof and real people.

This building has both.

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Over the Top :: Women of the Asylum

The basement walls and stone date back to the Woman’s Asylum.  Two women remain.  They’re believed to be tortured spirits haunting the rooms and halls.

The first, seen in a sheer long white dress.  She’s desperate, running up to you and reaching out.  To stop you as if she wants out of the asylum and thinks you can help.  When up right up to your face she disappears.

Another woman in the basement halls wearing a checkered dress and white apron.  But this one is shy.  Pulling her apron up over her face and turning away before disappearing.

Hard to believe?  We agree, but what about this one…

Easy to Believe :: Charles

At Halloween a tradition is for staff to bring family and friends in for ghost tours.  Walking around the building for spirited stories wrapped in history.

Even the most serious politician in Queen’s Park believes there are ghosts.

On one Halloween a small group was stopped outside an empty council chamber room.  The guide telling history when a man in the back yells over the group, “I saw someone in the chamber.  I think I heard the name Charles.”

The group was scared, but none so scared at the tour guide.  He recognized the name because there is a ghost in that chamber room named Charles…. Charles Rutherford.

Charles Rutherford, former Sergeant of Arms loved this building
Charles Rutherford, former Sergeant of Arms loved this building

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A military man and the Sergeant-at-Arms for Ontario in the 1930’s.  He was respected by all inside Queen’s Park for some legendary stories from World War I.

He fought at Somme (pronounced “saw-m”), then badly injured in another battle before rushing his healing in time to fight at Vimy Ridge.  So respected, he became a Canadian legend.

Taking Down a German Camp

While on patrol in France late at night, Charles stumbled into a German camp.

45 men surround him, nervous with guns pointed.  Charles thought quick, summoned up his courage, and yelled out in German, “You are my prisoners!  Drop your guns.  My men have you surrounded.”

And they believed him!  They put down the guns.  Charles kicked them away and with just his one gun led all the Germans back to the Canadian camp.

Charles Rutherford was a proud Canadian and most enjoyed his time at Queen’s Park.  Believed to still serve Canada today.

Bonus Story :: Statue of King Edward

The most impressive statue of Queen’s Park.

King Edward Statue, most impressive of Queen's Park Toronto
King Edward Statue, most impressive of Queen’s Park Toronto

This depiction of King Edward upon his steed used to stand in India.  Then Gandhi happened.

All English statues were set to be destroyed.  Thankfully a Toronto collector saved this one and had it shipped over.

Originally offered to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), but they declined.  Was then given space in the park.  And since stands as a proud symbol to our English roots… and my goal here… make sure you never see it that way again!

For some knew Edward more for his weakness than accomplishments.  For lack of a better term, “his sexual desires”.

Nellie Clifden, King Edward's childhood lady
Nellie Clifden, King Edward’s childhood lady

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Started right from a young age and his affair with a famous older English actress named Nellie Clifden.  His parents, Albert and Queen Victoria were against it.

This led to a father-son talk as they walked through a garden in the rain.  But Edward didn’t listen to his father even after Albert got sick.  His Dad would die from pneumonia.

The Queen believed stress of this tryst with Nellie and the rain caused his death.  She never fully forgave her son.

But it didn’t slow his “desire”.  Even after Edward was married he’d cheat on his wife.

Lady Churchill, American mother of Winston Churchill
Lady Churchill, American mother of Winston Churchill

Some women of note include Lady Churchill, the American mother of Winston.  And Alice Keppel.  You might not recognize her name but Hamilton-ians would recognize her mother.  Sophia MacNab was the daughter of Allan MacNab and raised in Hamilton’s Dundurn Castle… or maybe you’d recognize her great granddaughter Camilla Bowles, the current wife of Sir Charles.

Alice Keppel, King Edward's mistress with a proud husband
Alice Keppel, King Edward’s mistress with a proud husband

It’s said Alice’s husband knew of the affair.  He made sure to leave the house when the King wanted a special visit.

Try not thinking of that next time you walk passed this statue.

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Inside Queen’s Park Legislative Building