Chasing Ghosts on the Toronto Island
Happy Halloween! It’s my favourite time of the year- I love all things spooky and creepy, so when I had the chance to take a ride to Toronto’s very own ‘Spooky Lagoon’ I jumped on it.
Spooky Lagoon is a new Halloween style event to Toronto this year for those who want to take a break from the classics like Screemers, Casa Loma or Halloween Haunt at Wonderland. The idea comes from Jimmy Jones (you may know him as the unofficial mayor of Toronto Island), and no one knows the Island better than Jimmy Jones, he’s been living there since 1947!
The night starts off at 99 Harbor Square where you’re taken back in time a little with some costumed storytellers. You’re shown a short picture presentation of what the island looked like back in the 1900’s and I actually learned a lot. I didn’t know just how populated the island was, with hotels, restaurants and shopping strips. There was a rollercoaster, so-called ‘diving horses’ and a baseball stadium where the one and only Babe Ruth hit his first home run!
The presentation ends with the re-telling of the unsolved murder at the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. J.P Radelmuller, the lighthouse keeper, was brutally murdered there in 1815. His body was later found and laid to rest near the lighthouse. “…and you want to go there?!” the man in 1900’s costume asked our group before we boarded the water taxi “Some people’s kids!”
The ride to the lighthouse was very picturesque, with the lit up Toronto skyline as the backdrop. The ride was accompanied by a recording of Jimmy Jones telling tales of life on the island, he grew up there and had firsthand accounts of very interesting stories. Some amusing, some sad and some just plain spooky. We were told about the Trillium, a 107 ferry that had once sunk to the bottom of Lake Ontario, but was rescued and is still used today. We heard the story of a few poor souls who were boating back from downtown after seeing a play when their ship sank and they were found the next day drowned in the docking slip. Jimmy reminisced on helping visitors to the island with their luggage as a boy by wheeling it in his wagon to their hotel for tips. It was all very intriguing and I really enjoyed the narration. You could tell Jimmy was excited to share his stories about the island.
After a 20 minute ride, we docked at the Lighthouse. We were met at the dock by ‘Bella’, holding a lantern up to our group. She beckoned us to climb out and follow her through the dark on a beaten dirt path. At the base of the dimly lit lighthouse she told us the story of poor JP Radelmuller. He was a well-liked Toronto Island citizen known for his hobby of brewing his own beer. His hobby may have lead him to his own demise, as the story, as Bella tells it, is that soldiers from Fork York visited the Lighthouse one night to enjoy a beer or two with JP. They became drunk and demanded more beer from JP, who supposedly refused and in a blind rage, the soldiers murdered the poor man. ‘His jaw bone was found just over there, very close to where we are standing right now’ Bella whispered. She lead us down another tree lined path to JP’s grave. In the quiet dark, it was pretty creepy. Could you feel JP’s presence? It’s been said he’s been haunting the lighthouse since his murder. Some say on the anniversary of his dead blood is seen leaking from the 13th step of the lighthouse. No thanks!
I would have really loved for the lighthouse to be open to the public so we could have a peek inside. “The lighthouse door is open only one night a year- and this isn’t the night” Bella said to the crowd with a shrug. I do have to cut them some slack, this is the first year Spooky Lagoon is operating in Toronto and I’m sure granting access to multiple tours a night requires tons of paperwork and fee’s. Maybe next year?
After the quick stop at the Lighthouse it was back to Harbour Square. It was eerie gliding through the tree’s at night. Raccoon eyes lit up from the forest (or was that a ghost?) and the slow creaking of the docked boats pierced the air. It was definitely ‘spooky’.
All in all, it was good Halloween fun. Maybe not so much for the kiddies, as the telling of the Lighthouse murder was pretty gruesome, but I for one had a good time getting creeped out. Fingers crossed that Spooky Lagoon returns next year, maybe even with another stop on the island? Here’s hoping. For more information check out SpookyLagoon.com. Sleep tight!
Until Next Event! X
Leave a Reply.
Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.