William Lyon Mackenzie was elected Toronto’s first mayor in 1834, after the Toronto City Council was established – a role he held for just under a year. Mackenzie moved into the Bond Street home in 1859; after a failed rebellion in 1837 to overthrow British rule, Mackenzie was forced into exile in the US, where he lived until 1850. When he returned to Canada, he had no money or belongings to his name; in 1859, his friends and supporters came together to purchase Mackenzie House for William and his family. Mackenzie lived there until his death in 1861. His wife and daughters lived in the house for a further 10 years.
The ghost stories started back in the 1940s, when the house was being renovated to become a museum. Hearing footsteps creaking on the stairs, playing of the piano, and spirits standing over those who were sleeping are just a few of the tales. Although he was buried at Toronto Necropolis, many believe Mackenzie’s spirit returns to the house.
Bruce Beaton, a historical interpreter at Mackenzie House, adds that Mackenzie was also a journalist who owned and operated a newspaper called Colonial Advocate, and that the printing press has been known to start up by itself at night. He adds that in 1960, an Archdeacon was brought in to perform a blessing on the home in the hope of calming some of the restless energy. Beaton says the house was donated to the City of Toronto in 1960, and part of the bequest included a full inventory of everything in the house. At the bottom of the list were the words, “One ghost.”
Mackenzie House is open Tuesdays through Fridays between noon and 4pm, and noon to 5pm on weekends. To arrange a tour of this historic building, contact the Scotland Shop for available dates and times.
Have you visited the Mackenzie House? Did you have any unusual experiences while you were there? If so, drop us a line in the comments.