Toronto's 'Haunted' Theatre Has A Spine-Tingling Backstory & You Can Explore It After Dark

"We have had guests see full-on apparitions."

The Elgin theatre in Toronto. Right: The Winter Garden Theatre.

The Elgin theatre in Toronto. Right: The Winter Garden Theatre.

Ready to get spooked? You can visit a historic theatre in Toronto that is said to house multiple ghosts.

The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto is a more than 100-year-old theatre with a haunting history. Built in 1913, the Winter Garden part of the theatre was closed in 1928, according to the Ontario Heritage Trust.

The Elgin theatre (the lower half), remained open for a while longer, continuing to operate as a movie house. In 1981, the theatre was purchased by the Ontario Heritage Trust and was designated a national historic site.

The theatre is famous for its haunting tales of spooky spirits and playful phantoms that are said to lurk there in the dark.

Now, you have the chance to explore the theatre's eerie corridors and hunt for spectres and spirits for yourself.

In partnership with The Haunted Walk Toronto, you can embark on a paranormal adventure at the theatre after dark.

The experience gives visitors exclusive access to investigate the empty theatres and ornate lobbies of the building, search for ghosts, and even experiment with different methods of contacting the dead.

Margo MacDonald, a veteran storyteller and tour guide at The Haunted Walk, says visitors have had plenty of paranormal occurrences at the theatre.

"We have had guests see full-on apparitions," she told Narcity in an interview. "I was with a group [...] and we all, at the same time, thought that we saw this dark, shadowy human-shaped figure that had kind of a glowing light in it."

She says their tours regularly see paranormal activity.

"We've definitely had noises. We've had good responses in some of the communication experiments where we're getting answers to the questions that we're asking."

One of the most famous ghosts at the theatre, she told us, is known as the Lavender Lady. She's so well known that in 2016, she was featured on a Canada Post commemorative stamp, according to the Ontario Heritage Trust.

There are different theories about who the Lavender Lady was — some believe she was a rival actress of a jealous castmate, while others say she was the "jilted wife of an admirer of a Vaudeville showgirl."

Those that encounter the Lavender Lady most often find her on the grand staircase and in elevators. When she's around, the temperature is said to drop and "it feels like a cool breeze moving through you."

It's also said that those who encounter her will smell a faint scent of lavender, which is likely how the apparition earned her name.

Other spirits said to haunt the theatre's halls include a ghost known as Sam the trombone player, who is believed to be behind ghostly music heard in the building and inexplicable occurrences, like flashlights going on and off and theatre seats folding and unfolding themselves.

Others have reported hearing disembodied voices and seeing strange figures seemingly from another time.

And there may be even more spirits calling the theatre their home.

"We're beginning to suspect that there's a lot more haunting the building than was previously known, simply by the fact that we are the first people going in and spending a lot of time trying to communicate with whatever is there," MacDonald told us.

If you want to investigate for yourself, you can join The Haunted Walk on Alone in the Dark at the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre, a paranormal adventure taking place on select nights in August and September, with additional future dates possible.

The experience takes about 120 minutes and costs $84.99 per person. Be warned, though – once you've walked these haunted halls, you might just leave with a ghostly tale of your own to tell.

Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre ghost tour

Price: $84.99 per person

When: Select dates in August and September

Address: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, 189 Yonge St. Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: You can embark on a spooky adventure and search for ghosts at this haunted theatre in Toronto.

Accessibility: Elevator access can be made available for those who require it with advance notice.

The Haunted Walk website

Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

Katherine Caspersz
Katherine Caspersz is a Creator for Narcity Media focused on evergreen travel and things to do, and is based in the Greater Toronto Area in Ontario.