Is Toronto haunted? Are ghosts lurking in certain areas—in the Distillery District, for example? Maybe yes. Maybe no.
Did I go on a ‘haunted tour’ to see for myself? Not exactly. Mine was free and impromptu and a bit ChickyBus-esque since it was so random.
How It Began…
I spotted a man resting on a bed. On the street. In the Distillery District. Just as I was passing by and in need of information, he stood up.
“Is there a visitor center or a museum here?” I inquired. “No,” he said, “but come into my store and I’ll share some local history and a few stories.”
Hästens Bed Shop, Toronto—Pricey Beds and Trippy Tales
Something in his soulful eyes intrigued me. Curious, I followed the man—Nicholas—inside Hästens, the high-end bed store he manages. It’s a place where I would only shop if I won a mega lottery. The beds, hand-crafted in Sweden, range in price from $5000 to $100,000. (Note: the bed on the street was on sale for ‘just’ $4000.)
“I lived in a 200-year-old stone house that had been built on a Native American burial ground in New Jersey,” I told him as he led me to the corner of the room to view an old wall, part of the original distillery.
“When my parents made major renovations to the house, especially the downstairs, some odd stuff happened,” I continued. I gave him some examples, including the times we smelled tobacco and heard singing. “We thought it was haunted.”
Nicholas looked directly at me, his attention undivided, nodding his head in agreement. I could see that he believed me…
‘I See the Blurs…of the Cat Spirits’
“This place is haunted,” he said, without blinking or skipping a beat. As if he talked about this every day.
“Really?” I replied, not entirely surprised. “By whom?”
“I see the blurs. Black, white and gray. They pass by quickly. I know it’s them,” he tells me.
“The second owner of the building hated cats. When he took over, he wanted them gone. People warned him. They said that without cats, the mice would eat the grain and there would be no whiskey.”
A Well of Doom
“So what did he do?”
“He decided to the kill the cats. He threw them into a well and let them drown.”
“No way!” My heart skipped a beat as I imagined the poor cats suffering such a senseless and horrible death.
“Yes. And know what? The mice ate the grain and there was no whiskey for Yorktown that year.”
I felt a slight chill. I didn’t see any of the blurs, however. Perhaps the feline spirits made an appearance in the evening…
“How often do the cats, um, visit?” I asked.
“Just sometimes—and they usually show up near the counter, up front.”
“I see. Any other stories?”
“Yes, and this one happened before the one I just told you,” he said. “The distillery business was started here in the 1830s by two brothers-in-law. They named it Worts and Gooderham, after themselves. Sadly, James Wart’s wife died in childbirth and the baby was a stillborn.”
“He was completely devastated and committed suicide by drowning himself in a well.”
“The same well the cats were thrown in later?”
“No, a different one. They covered it after the incident. This happened long before the cats died,” he continued. “And now, Mr. Worts haunts this complex.”
“Have you seen him?”
“No, but I’ve seen another spirit here–of a different man. I’m not sure who he is.”
At this point, I felt a slight chill. I almost wanted to leave.
But not before trying out a very expensive bed.
Lightening the Mood…By Resting in a $100,000 Bed
“So where’s the most expensive bed in the store—and how much is it?”
“It’s in that room,” he said. “It costs $100, 000.”
“Really? Holy crap. That’s some serious money.”
“It’s hand-crafted in Sweden. It takes 160 hours to make. Want to check it out? ”
We walked over and entered what was labeled the “Snuggle Room.” I took off my shoes, put my bag down and got in.
“Wow, ” I said. “This is comfortable, but so darn expensive. Have anything in the $15,000 range?”
“As a matter of fact, yes.”
Nicholas led me to that bed and I got comfy in it. And just as Goldilocks, I knew it was ‘just right.’ The pillow cushion over the firm mattress was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Time for Ice Cream
Although I’d been having fun, I knew it was time to move on. And get some ice cream nearby. I’d satisfied my curiosity. Now it was time to satisfy my sweet tooth…
Stepping out of Hästens, after saying goodby to Nicholas, I saw more aspects of the past and present merging. Rusty brewing machines juxtaposed with futuristic sculptures. Old buildings. Modern stores.
And somewhere in there, in another dimension perhaps, I detected a hint of unfinished business from an era gone by…
I walked away from the store and glanced back once, feeling the slightest chill and wondering if I’d seen a blur out of the corner of my eye–or if I’d simply imagined it.
Have you visited Toronto’s Distillery District? If so, did you take any of the ‘haunted tours’ offered there? Did you see or feel anything unusual?
Do you believe in the possibility of spirits lingering after death–especially when someone (or something) has died unjustly or under horrific circumstances? If so, have you had any experience with these types of energy? Or maybe you don’t believe in this at all. And if so, that’s cool, too.
One last thing…if you were super wealthy, what is the most you’d spend on a bed? I personally liked the $15,000 model. No need to overspend, now is there?
Like This Post? Then Check Out My Book!
If you enjoy reading about random encounters with the locals, then check out my recently published book, ‘Magic Carpet Seduction.’ There are many stories about going off the beaten path, being in the moment and going with the flow—and the cool stuff that happens when you do.
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Thanks to all the photographers who made their work available via Creative Commons. Click on their name to see their profile page.