Jarvis Street, the pinnacle of Victorian Toronto’s high society. Where families of the city’s rich escaped their busy lives among the blue-collared. Yet remain in the city they helped build.
Jarvis is lined with strong monuments. Unique stately mansions never copied… and none so impressive as the Keg Mansion.
The Keg Restaurant bought one of these houses in 1976. If you’re not from Canada, The Keg is a steakhouse known for re-purposing old buildings, including the mansion and an old factory in St. Catharines.
The House – –
This house was built in 1867 for Arthur McMaster. This last name should be familiar to locals as this is the same family to found a university. First at the head of Spadina in Toronto’s Chinatown, then in Hamilton for the space. Arthur was nephew to founder William McMaster.
In 1880, Hart Massey bought the house as a stylish way to return home. Hart was from Toronto, before moving briefly to Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Hart’s daughter Lillian would eventually take over the house and run family interests. A woman running the family was out of the ordinary at the time, but didn’t matter because Lillian demanded respect. She renamed the house Euclid Hall after their old street in Cleveland.
The Massey’s – –
The Massey’s are (arguably) the most prominent family in Toronto. Hart an industrialist who help found new buildings for the University of Toronto, and of course Massey Hall.
Grandson’s Vincent and Raymond also famous in very opposite ways. Vincent became the Governor General of Canada in 1952 and Raymond was an actor.
Raymond Massey was known for many great roles in Hollywood movies, and even got the Oscar nod in 1940 for playing Abe Lincoln in “Abe Lincoln in Illinois”. Americans were outraged a Canadian was allowed to play Lincoln, but were silenced by Massey’s great performance.
A fellow once said,
“Raymond wouldn’t feel his Lincoln impersonation is complete until getting assassinated”
Euclid Hall (Keg Mansion) was given to the Victoria College in 1915 as the first home of radio station CFRB (now Newstalk 1010), then an art gallery and a restaurant before The Keg Restaurant.
Lillian’s Loving Maid
Lillian was the only daughter of Hart. Educated at the ahead-of-its-time Wesleyan Woman’s College in Hamilton (where the Royal Connaught is today). She died in 1915, only 6 years after her husband.
So beloved by her staff inside the Keg Mansion, a maid took her mistress’s death too hard. After learning of Lillian’s passing, it’s said the woman walked to oval vestibule above the main staircase, fashioned a noose and was later found swinging above the foyer.
Most believe her death was out of grief. Others say it was related to a the maid’s secret affair with a Massey family member. That she felt the secret would be revealed after Lillian’s death.
Witnesses to the maid’s spirit include Keg staff locking up at night.
Walking to secure the front door and seeing movement from the stairs. Looking over they’d catch a glimpse of the woman swinging from her noose before she’s quickly gone.
She’s only seen hanging above by the stairs and never anywhere else in the mansion.
Footsteps quickly running down the stairs in an empty nighttime house. Little feet from excited kids start on the second floor and end as they turn the corner into the sight of a witness.
It’s well known that upstairs was the children’s quarters when the Massey’s lived in the Keg Mansion.
One active spirit of a boy is seen, noticed running up and down the main staircase as if playing. Has been seen by diners, as the boy stops and looks curiously into the room. It lends to the belief he’s a conscious ghost and not just residual energy.
The Woman’s Bathroom
A presence, to our knowledge has never been seen inside the second floor woman’s washroom. This ghost, whoever it may be, is a resident spirit often felt, including by a woman who was dining at the Keg Mansion.
She went upstairs to the washroom and immediately felt someone was there when walking through the door. Having to do more than a normal quick visit (so to speak), she looked under stall doors and confirmed she was alone.
In the stall, she felt uncomfortable, as if someone was peeking in through the slight opening.
Then a strange noise, she looked up to see the lock. It was slowly turning. Frozen and unsure what to do, she let it unlock and watch as the door swing open with no one was on the other side.
Ghost respects wine – –
Another woman referred simply as KLR told us about an experience in the woman’s washroom in the Keg Mansion.
After dinner, she ran to the washroom while her husband waited on the first floor. Walked in before realizing she was still holding the bag with a bottle of wine she purchased earlier.
She carefully hung the bag on the stall door hook. Was doing her business when hearing plastic rustled from above. She looked up to see the bag pushed out from the door and in mid-air. Instincts kicked in and she look down bracing for the crash.
It never happened. Opening her eyes, the bag was perfectly sitting on the floor by her feet. The wine bottle fully intact.
Two ghosts in one by Melanie Elaraby
“While at the Keg Mansion on a Friday evening, my husband and I encountered two different spirits.
“We arrived at about 5:45 pm for our first visit to the Keg Mansion. As soon as I entered a feeling of excitement mixed with anxiety, my heart fluttered in my chest. Maybe I was really excited because I knew the place was haunted, and was so happy to finally visit.
“My husband and I were alone in the India room. I soon felt a light coldness leading to goose-bumps on my arm. After our waitress took the orders, I needed to use the ladies room upstairs. Nothing happened (unfortunately), just continued anxiety.
“At our table the coldness and goose bumps returned, continuing through our meal. It escalated to a light wispy touch on my fingers, centered near my engagement ring. I thought maybe a fly, looked down to see nothing.
“I moved my hand off the table, and the feeling stopped. Back on the table and it returned. I told my husband, who was surprised but said he felt nothing odd. Later on I once again felt the touch, but this time on my neck.
“Then a flash across my mind of a woman. She was young, blonde hair with a wide face and blue eyes. She wore her hair swept up and wore a light colored blouse with a high neck, and a long light colored skirt.
“In the flash, she was standing behind me, as if shy around my husband.
“All during our evening the gentle, shy presence remained near me, except one moment. I went back to the woman’s washroom a second time, and again she was gone.
“Maybe my husband wasn’t the only one she feared.”
The Secret Tunnel
Like many Victorian houses of the time, the Keg Mansion has a secret tunnel buried underneath. Like Tuckett’s Tunnel in Hamilton’s Scottish Rite of Freemasonry connecting George to his factory, the Massey tunnel connected to the Wellesley Hospital building.
Hart used it to secretly bring his son in for treatment. Some believe the son talked about in this legend was Frederick Victor, who died when only 14. Especially tragic due to the death of his eldest son Charles only six years earlier.
Hart honoured them with the names of 2 city monuments; Massey Hall for Charles, and the Fred Victor Mission for Frederick.
The Children on the Stairs by Laura Dee
“I went upstairs to wait in the Keg Mansion bar for a table to open up. At the top I saw a dark haired boy playing on the stair. Strange because I knew kids are not allowed in there at night.
“Walked passed him towards the bar, looking back again to see the boy was gone.
“There again in 2014, I went up to the second floor bar with a friend. Talking, we both heard it at the same time… the sound of kids running down the stairs.
“We looked over without a word to see no children at all.”
The Maid by Mia T
“This was my first time inside the Keg Mansion. What an amazing place! I had a wonderful dinner with my fiancé.
“I knew about the woman in the washroom and kids on the stairs. Even knew about the hanging maid. We took an impromptu tour after dinner and ended up at the second floor ladies room.
“I was in there alone, but it felt like someone was with me the entire time.
“I came out and looked to the stairs. A woman dressed in a dark, beautiful old fashion dress looked at me. Assumed she was a Keg worker, maybe someone made to look old fashion. Sounds weird now, but made sense to me that night. I even said “Hi” to her when walking past and down the stairs.
“Felt weird about it, so I asked the host. He said it was only four male servers that night, no waitresses and definitely no one in an old fashion dress.”
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