Embark on a bone-chilling journey through Ontario’s 10 most haunted places, where dark histories intertwine with ghostly encounters, revealing unsettling tales about Ontario’s rich history.
Ontario is woven with tales of the paranormal, as its historic landscapes bear witness to ghostly encounters and chilling mysteries, from the opulent rooms in Fairmont Royal York Hotel to the damp, musty jail cells in Kingston Penitentiary.
Brace yourself for a haunting exploration of the province’s eerie past and the spectral encounters that continue to captivate and unsettle.
1. Ottawa Jail Hostel, Ottawa
The Ottawa Jail Hostel, opened in 1862 as a county jail, now stands as one of Canada’s most haunted places, having witnessed a dark history of suffering. Before its closure in 1972, this building housed inmates in deplorable conditions, even including entire families imprisoned for debt.
Known previously as the Nicholas Street Goal, it was designed for torment, with holes in walls serving as windows, causing prisoners to freeze, gallows for public hangings, and floor-welded handcuffs to restrain inmates face-down to the floor.
Inmates faced death from hanging, malnourishment, or disease, leaving angry lingering spirits within the hostel.
The ghostly presence of Patrick Whelan, hanged for a diplomat’s murder he swore he didn’t commit, roams the halls near the gallows. Despite his request to be buried in Montréal, he was buried at the prison, adding to the hostel’s angry energy.
Visitors report feelings of despair in the isolation cell and gallows. The lounge, once holding women and children prisoners, echoes with ghostly sounds of crying and screaming, perhaps the ghosts trying to escape.
The building has now been restored to serve as a hostel, with rooms in the traditional hostel style starting at $33 per person and private rooms in authentic jail cells starting at $95. They also offer free tours of the building.
2. Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto
Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto opened in 1929 as Canada’s most luxurious and tallest building of its time. For almost 100 years, the Royal York has offered luxury accommodations to everyone from royalty, heads of state, celebrities, and some guests who never leave.
Throughout its life, the hotel has become home to a number of paranormal entities, with many regarding it as one of Canada’s most haunted hotels. A full-bodied apparition is seen on the eighth floor, the spirit of an older gentleman with grey hair and a maroon/purple jacket. There are also stories of a former employee who hung himself on the 19th floor and visitors often see his apparition in one of the stairwells near the roof.
The building’s immaculate Crystal Ballroom has been closed for years, but hotel guests will tell you otherwise, as guests renting rooms below the ballroom often complain of loud music, laughter, and footsteps above their heads. Guests even complain of sounds of children running through the halls but open their doors to eerie silence.
To this day, the Fairmont Royal York Hotel remains an icon of both historical significance and splendor, and while it’s no longer the tallest building, it is still the largest hotel in all of Canada.
This hotel has 1,343 rooms with in-room business and entertainment amenities. The room reservations start at $419 per night. They also offer historical tours that touch on their haunted past at $350 with tour groups of up to 20 people.
3. Chateau Laurier, Ottawa
Canada’s most lavish and elegant hotel, the Chateau Laurier, opened in 1912 in Ottawa. The hotel is famous for multiple things, including its extravagance, its prominent clientele, the movies that have been filmed there, and the ghosts that wander the halls.
Related: The Most Haunted Hotels in Ontario
Behind the original Tiffany stained-glass windows and limestone walls, the Chateau Laurier has been home to strange and unexplained occurrences for over 100 years.
The hotel was commissioned by Charles Melville Hays, who was the General Manager of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway of Canada. Unfortunately, Hays never got to see the hotel take its first guest because days before opening, as he was on his way back from England, he made a fateful decision that would end in his untimely death – he boarded the Titanic.
To this day, many people believe it is his ghost that walks the hallways of the Chateau Laurier. The hotel has also allegedly been the site of several deaths, including some suicides of people that have jumped from the upper floors. Guests also report sightings of a ghostly child roaming the halls, though to this day the child remains unnamed.
One of Ottawa’s most iconic landmarks, reservations at this hotel include the feeling of being watched, the feeling of uneasiness, hearing disembodied singing, and objects moving on their own.
The Chateau boasts that even their regular guest rooms offer all the comforts you need with extravagance to boot, with rooms starting at $497 per night.
4. Kingston Penitentiary, Kingston
Over its 178 years as a maximum security prison, Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario has been home to some of Canada’s worst criminals. After opening its doors in 1835, untold misery thrived in this castle of horrors.
Along with the heinous criminals, the Kingston Pen was also once home to women and children, although they were held separately. The women and children suffered horrible abuse at the hands of the guards, being lashed, flogged, submerged in ice water, and had their heads shaved just to humiliate them.
Along with these abuses, poor conditions led to three riots, one of which resulted in two inmate deaths. Kingston Pen was labeled as a “dumping ground for bad guards”. An investigation led to the eventual firing of seven guards, two of which committed suicide.
Common occurrences of unexplained phenomena include the sound of jingling keys, disembodied moans, and ghostly visions of deceased prisoner George Hewell. Hewell and a security guard came to blows, leaving Hewell swearing his vengeance with his last breath.
In 2013, Canada’s oldest and most notorious prison shuttered its doors. Throughout its nightmarish reign, inmates weren’t allowed to speak and now, with no more guards, the spirits of the inmates are free to make all the noise they wish.
Closed in 2013 and designated as a National Historic Site, Kingston Pen is now a museum offering 3 types of tours starting at $26 and operating from April to November. Tours are offered in both English and French.
5. Rockwood Asylum, Kingston
Construction of Rockwood Asylum in Kingston Ontario began in 1859 to house Kingston Penitentiary’s criminally insane and it was actually the criminals who built it. It was completed in 1870 but patients lived in the certain completed portions starting in 1862 and women lived in horse stables until the women’s wing was complete.
The first superintendent of Rockwood was also the only physician there at the time and his treatment plan was to calm, not to cure. He was said to rely heavily on alcohol and sedatives to calm the patients and provided treatment plans involving restraints, blistering, leeching, enemas, and blood-letting. He also practiced lobotomies on patients to reduce agitation.
Eventually it was discovered he was a con-man who didn’t have the proper credentials and new superintendents were brought in. They changed the way patients were treated, bringing in proper care and medicine, and they stopped treating the criminally insane.
Rockwood closed in 2000 and remains vacant. It’s rumored to be haunted by ghosts of its former patients and doctors. While Rockwood Asylum soon became the face of modern and healthy treatments, its beginnings were mostly barbaric with patients suffering and dying at the hands of doctors who didn’t care or know how to properly treat them.
Lingering footsteps and sounds echoing through the halls are often heard in this 4-story monument of time. Sealed off and watched by patrols now, we can only guess at the secrets held within.
6. Fort Henry, Kingston
Now a museum, Fort Henry in Kingston Ontario has been the site of accidents, hangings, and was even a Prisoner of War camp.
The beginning of this fort dates back to The War of 1812 when a smaller fort was built on this land to defend the naval dockyard nearby but the fort was replaced with a stronger, larger one in 1836.
Then during World War I, Fort Henry was used as an internment camp for political prisoners, and during World War II, the fort became a Prisoner of War camp.
The fort harbors its fair share of otherworldly happenings. One infamous ghost is that of Nils von Schoultz who led the Battle of the Windmill during the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1838. He and his men surrendered and were held at Fort Henry until their trial.
During the trial, von Schoultz won over many people in the community, who tried to get him pardoned but to no avail, and he was hanged at the fort in 1838. Today, many people say his ghost still roams the fort, often spotted sitting outside Commanders Room 3.
Another common sighting is John Smith who was killed when his gun misfired. He fell into the ditch encircling the fort and visitors today see him lying in the ditch, screaming for help.
And yet another accident leading to another permanent resident of the fort, the story of the artillery brigadier who’s life came to an abrupt end when he reloaded a still-hot battery with gunpowder and blew himself up.
People see a full bodied apparition walking the grounds of the fort and wonder if it could be him, in a permanent wartime, still patrolling the fort.
Fort Henry offers tours to adults and children, with adult tickets priced at $20 and children tickets priced at $13, with kids under 4 getting in for free. The tours run daily from May through October.
7. Keg Mansion, Toronto
The Keg Mansion, as it’s now known, is a prominent downtown Toronto heritage building and former residence that is presently being used as a restaurant known as the The Keg Steakhouse + Bar. This building has a long and varied history, becoming home to many things in the community before it was a restaurant.
Originally, the Keg Mansion was a home built in 1867 for Arthur McMaster, who lived there until his death. The mansion was then sold to the Massey family. After Hart Massey’s death, his daughter Lillian Massey took over the residence and she named the home Euclid Hall.
When Lillian passed away, the mansion was entrusted to the University of Toronto. The University repurposed the mansion which then served as a veteran’s hospital, an art gallery, and even a radio station.
In its over 150 year history, Keg Mansion has had its hand in tragedy. When Lillian Massey passed away in the residence in 1915, it’s said one of her maids took the death extremely hard, so hard that she hanged herself in the house.
It is also reported that a young boy who was visiting the home fell down the stairs and died outside the home. The ghosts of these 3 people have been spotted throughout the mansion’s tenure as a community building.
Many guests feel a female presence in the women’s bathroom and complain of stall doors unlocking and toilets flushing by themselves. Guests also report seeing a young boy playing on the staircase and hearing children’s laughter.
And Lillian Massey herself has been seen roaming the halls, protecting her family home.
The Keg Mansion is open daily from 4pm-12am if you wanted a little spooky dinner. They offer reservations and takeout. They have an online menu available and have a range of items to satisfy any guest.
8. Century Manor Asylum, Hamilton
The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane, known as Ontario Hospital and later the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, was built in 1876 and was initially intended to be an asylum for alcoholics.
The only part of the original asylum network still standing is Century Manor, built in 1884, originally called East House. Century Manor was originally opened as a reception hospital but soon the need arose for a place to house the criminally insane, so the asylum and Century Manor became home to some of the worst and most violent criminals in the province.
In the early days, community members came to the asylum grounds to watch patients as a form of entertainment; they would throw things and taunt the patients to “perform” tricks for them.
Not only did patients endure this embarrassment, but treatment facilities at this point in history experimented on patients who unfortunately paid the ultimate price for advances in mental health treatment.
Most “treatments” consisted of abuse and torture, and Century Manor Asylum was no differemt. Methods of treatments consisted of morphine injections, salt rub simulation (this meant rubbing patient’s extremities vigorously with a rag spread with salt), pub therapy (large doses of alcohol to calm patients), electro-shock, lobotomies, and the use of the Utica Crib, a coffin-like “restraint” to confine patients to calm them.
No doubt countless deaths and even suicides occurred at this facility, leaving pained spirits to roam the land and building. Apparitions and orbs are often seen and people are said to hear voices and cries.
Century Manor Asylum is accessible via the public road, but limited to outdoor viewing only. No inside access exists and security patrols the area.
9. Olde Angel Inn, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Built in 1789, the Olde Angel Inn is Ontario’s oldest operating pub and one of the oldest buildings in all of Canada. Initially named The Harmonious Coach House, it suffered significant fire damage during the War of 1812 but was reconstructed by John Ross who named it the Angel Inn after his wife.
Today, visitors can admire the original hand-hewn beams and wood floors from the 1815 rebuild. It has changed hands a few times since then but one thing remains – the spirit who resides here.
The accounts of this legend date back to the 1820’s. It’s said that a Canadian militia officer, by the name of Captain Colin Swayze, was on his way to join the British retreat but stopped at the Inn to see a young woman, perhaps his true love.
American soldiers in the area during the American Invasion had been sent to search the inn and Captain Swayze hid in an empty barrel, only to be stabbed by their bayonets as they searched. The stab proved fatal and it seems he never left.
Many employees and guests see the Captain roaming the inn, maybe forever waiting on his love. Employees speak of noise coming from the empty dining room, rearranged place settings on tables, objects moving over 10 feet, doors opening, and whistling.
The Inn’s security cameras have even caught a sighting of Captain Swayze roaming the halls of the Inn and even setting off their motion sensors.
Olde Angel Inn offers a british pub experience with live music and guest rooms and cottages. They are open daily from 11am-1am. They offer dine in and take out options and have a large enough menu to please any guest. They also offer branded merch in their gift shop.
10. London Asylum, London
When you hear the words “insane asylum” you have to assume the facility is old and the treatment was mostly experimental. This can be said about the London Asylum in Ontario, which opened in 1870.
Many buildings were built on the hundreds of acres of land, and as more people were sent to this facility, the original asylum was demolished and new and larger buildings were built in its place.
Some of the original structures still stand to this day, including the church, the horse stables, and the infirmary. The London Asylum is no stranger to pain.
The main physician and superintendent of the asylum at the time thought organs were the cause of certain mental illnesses, and his treatment included horrifying practices of unnecessarily removing patients’ organs.
Eventually, a new treatment plan was introduced, called “moral treatments” and they reduced the amount of alcohol, drugs, and restraints used and moved on to talking, exercising, work, and a healthy diet to try to treat the illnesses.
While the treatment progressed, any place that was home to untold sufferings creates a hotspot for paranormal activity.
Unexplained noises and screaming, sightings of patients, and a feeling of doom and uneasiness have been reported in the old buildings.
In 2014, the hospital closed its doors for good, ending a 144-year long reign of treatment (or torture) as patients were moved to a different facility. But some still linger, lost in their mind waiting to be cured.
The property still has active buildings in use. The older buildings still standing are past the active buildings, in the middle of the property. Entry is not allowed and security cameras are in use. Police have been known to remove trespassers.