Mackenzie House – The Haunted Home of Toronto’s Rebel Mayor

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2020 - The Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St
2020 – The Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St

The Mackenzie House is located at 82 Bond St (just south of Dundas St E) in the Downtown Yonge area of Toronto. The historic property was the last home of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor.

William Lyon Mackenzie

Mackenzie was born in Scotland in 1795 and emigrated to Canada at the age of 25. He was a merchant, journalist, newspaper publisher and politician. He was elected to the Provincial Legislature from 1828 to 1834, and during that time, he was expelled many times. Mackenzie then became an alderman for St David’s Ward, which at the time was bounded by King St E to Yonge St to Queen St E to Parliament St. He worked diligently to incorporate the Town of York into the City of Toronto, and in 1834, he became the City’s first mayor. He held the position for one year.

The Reform Movement

Circa 1850 - Portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie Toronto’s first mayor
Circa 1850 – Portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie Toronto’s first mayor (Toronto Public Library OHQ-PICTURES-S-R-6)

Mackenzie then led the Reform movement, which opposed the system of patronage as well as the Crown giving British settlers preferential treatment over Americans regarding land grants. When the Reform group tried to take control of the government during the Rebellion of 1837 (or the Upper Canada Rebellion) in Toronto, they were defeated. Along with a few hundred supporters, Mackenzie fled to New York state. While in exile there, he watched the accomplishment of Canada becoming self-governed. He strived to achieve this for years with no success. After receiving a pardon from the government, he returned to Toronto in 1850 and sat in Parliament until retiring eight years later.

The Mackenzie House

Built by William Rogers in 1857, William Lyon Mackenzie moved into the home at 82 Bond St the following year. It was bought for him by his friends as “a mark of esteem and in recognition of his public services.” The Georgian-style, three-storey brick home was the centre of what was once three townhouses. He died in the bedroom of his home in 1861. His wife and daughters continued living in the house until Mrs Mackenzie also passed there away in 1873.

1930s - Looking northwest towards the Mackenzie House
1930s – Looking northwest towards the Mackenzie House (Toronto Public Library R-733)

Mackenzie’s grandson, William Lyon Mackenzie King, became Canada’s 10th Prime Minister. In 1936, during his third term, King saved his grandfather’s home from demolition. The townhouses on either side of it had already been destroyed. In 1960, the William Lyon Mackenzie Foundation gave the property to the City of Toronto. The home received heritage status in 1973.

Today, William Lyon Mackenzie is known as Toronto’s rebel mayor. His restored home is a museum and gives visitors an understanding of what Victorian life was like in 1860’s Toronto. Inside the museum is period furniture, along with a recreated print shop with an 1845 printing press and artifacts.

Haunted History

The Mackenzie House is considered one of Toronto’s most haunted houses, with its famous former resident and his wife lingering inside.

An apparition of a short man wearing a frock coat and a wig has been seen about the house, particularly near the bedroom.

In 1960, two different sets of caretaking couples lived in an apartment on an upper floor, rent-free. They both left quickly, and when asked why they said they were so frightened by the strange occurrences they could no longer live there.

The caretakers mentioned the disturbing feeling of being watched or feeling they were not alone. While upstairs, they also heard Mrs Mackenzie’s piano playing from a parlour on the first floor and footsteps on the stairs. One of the wives said she saw the spectre of a woman wearing 19th-century garb hovering over her momentarily, then vanishing only later to return to slap her across the face. When she awoke the following morning, her cheek had two welts on it. Click for more haunted tales.

Mackenzie House Photos

2020 - Looking west towards the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St. The historic property was the last home of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor
2020 – Looking west towards the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St. The historic property was the last home of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor
Circa 1950 - Looking southwest towards the Mackenzie House at 82 Bond St just south of Dundas St E
Circa 1950 – Looking southwest towards the Mackenzie House at 82 Bond St just south of Dundas St E (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 747)
2022 - Looking west towards the Mackenzie House Museum during a ghost tour. It's considered one of Toronto’s most haunted houses
2022 – Looking west towards the Mackenzie House Museum during a ghost tour. It’s considered one of Toronto’s most haunted houses
Circa 1850 - A portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor. He and his family once lived at 82 Bond St
Circa 1850 – A portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor. He and his family once lived at 82 Bond St (Toronto Public Library OHQ-PICTURES-S-R-6)
2023 – The William Lyon Mackenzie bronze bust is located in Queen's Park. The park is the site of the Ontario Legislative Building, which houses the Legislative Assembly of Ontario at 110 Wellesley St W. William Lyon Mackenzie s became Toronto's first mayor in 1834 and held the position for one year
2023 – The William Lyon Mackenzie bronze bust is located in Queen’s Park. The park is the site of the Ontario Legislative Building, which houses the Legislative Assembly of Ontario at 110 Wellesley St W. William Lyon Mackenzie s became Toronto’s first mayor in 1834 and held the position for one year
2023 - The plaque, located on the west side of the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen's Park, reads: 

William Lyon Mackenzie 1795-1861 "Born near Dundee, Scotland, Mackenzie came to Upper Canada in 1820, and four years later founded a political newspaper, the "Colonial Advocate", at Queenston. Sharply critical of the ruling oligarchy in the province, he entered politics, became leader of the radical wing of the Reform Party, and in 1834 was elected Toronto's first mayor. The rejection of his demands for reform drove him to lead an armed rebellion in Upper Canada in 1837. Defeated by government forces, he escaped to the United States where he found many sympathizers. In 1849 he was permitted to return to Canada and settled in Toronto. Before his death, he witnessed the firm establishment of a system of responsible government."
2023 – The plaque, located on the west side of the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park, reads:

William Lyon Mackenzie 1795-1861 “Born near Dundee, Scotland, Mackenzie came to Upper Canada in 1820, and four years later founded a political newspaper, the “Colonial Advocate”, at Queenston. Sharply critical of the ruling oligarchy in the province, he entered politics, became leader of the radical wing of the Reform Party, and in 1834 was elected Toronto’s first mayor. The rejection of his demands for reform drove him to lead an armed rebellion in Upper Canada in 1837. Defeated by government forces, he escaped to the United States where he found many sympathizers. In 1849 he was permitted to return to Canada and settled in Toronto. Before his death, he witnessed the firm establishment of a system of responsible government.”
2023 – Located on the west side of the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen's Park is the William Lyon Mackenzie Memorial. The memorial was started by William Lyon Mackenzie's grandson Prime Minister Mackenzie King, in 1936 to honour his grandfather
2023 – Located on the west side of the Ontario Legislative Building in Queen’s Park is the William Lyon Mackenzie Memorial. The memorial was started by William Lyon Mackenzie’s grandson Prime Minister Mackenzie King, in 1936 to honour his grandfather
1977 - Looking towards the east facade of the Mackenzie House at 82 Bond St
1977 – Looking towards the east facade of the Mackenzie House at 82 Bond St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 19, Item 1)
2022 - Looking southwest towards the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St during a ghost tour. The Mackenzie House is considered one of Toronto’s most haunted houses
2022 – Looking southwest towards the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St during a ghost tour. The Mackenzie House is considered one of Toronto’s most haunted houses
1977 - The historical plaque reads: (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 19, Item 7) 

The William Lyon Mackenzie Homestead

“This house was the home, in his later years, of William Lyon Mackenzie, first mayor of the city of Toronto.

It was presented to him on 4th August, 1859, by friends as “a mark of esteem and in recognition of his public services.” Here he died, 28th August, 1961.

The homestead was purchased and presented in 1947 to the Homestead Foundation by T. Wilbur Best, Esq, to be preserved as a historic site, library and museum of the early days of Toronto.

Formally opened by the Hon. Leslie M. Frost, Prime Minister of Ontario, 10th May, 1950.”

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
1977 – The historical plaque reads: (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 19, Item 7)

The William Lyon Mackenzie Homestead

“This house was the home, in his later years, of William Lyon Mackenzie, first mayor of the city of Toronto. It was presented to him on 4th August, 1859, by friends as “a mark of esteem and in recognition of his public services.” Here he died, 28th August, 1961. The homestead was purchased and presented in 1947 to the Homestead Foundation by T. Wilbur Best, Esq, to be preserved as a historic site, library and museum of the early days of Toronto. Formally opened by the Hon. Leslie M. Frost, Prime Minister of Ontario, 10th May, 1950.”

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
1972 - Looking west from Bond St towards the Mackenzie House between Dundas St E and Shuter St
1972 – Looking west from Bond St towards the Mackenzie House between Dundas St E and Shuter St (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 2032, Series 841, File 13, Item 30)
1930s - Looking northwest towards the Mackenzie House. Notice the 10¢ parking in the neighbouring lot
1930s – Looking northwest towards the Mackenzie House. Notice the 10¢ parking in the neighbouring lot (Toronto Public Library R-733)
2020 - The Mackenzie House Museum is located on Bond St, just south of Dundas St E in downtown Toronto. The Georgian-style, three-storey brick home was the centre of what was once three townhouses
2020 – The Mackenzie House Museum is located on Bond St, just south of Dundas St E in downtown Toronto. The Georgian-style, three-storey brick home was the centre of what was once three townhouses
1977 - The Mackenzie House at 82 Bond St was given heritage status by the city in 1973
1977 – The Mackenzie House at 82 Bond St was given heritage status by the city in 1973 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 19, Item 1)
2020 - The Mackenzie House Museum sign at 82 Bond St
2020 – The Mackenzie House Museum sign at 82 Bond St
2020 - Stone relief of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor, located at the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St
2020 – Stone relief of William Lyon Mackenzie, Toronto’s first mayor, located at the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St
2020 – Looking southeast towards the back of The Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St
2020 – Looking southeast towards the back of The Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St
2020 - The entrance to the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St, just south of Dundas St E in the Downtown Yonge area of Toronto
2020 – The entrance to the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St, just south of Dundas St E in the Downtown Yonge area of Toronto
2020 - The Mackenzie House Museum sign
2020 – The Mackenzie House Museum sign
2020 - The Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St. The heritage-designated home was built it 1857
2020 – The Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St. The heritage-designated home was built it 1857
2022 - Looking southwest towards the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St, just south of Dundas St E. The three-storey Georgian-style home was built in 1857
2022 – Looking southwest towards the Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St, just south of Dundas St E. The three-storey Georgian-style home was built in 1857
1953 – The Mackenzie House at 82 Bond St just south of Dundas St E
1953 – The Mackenzie House at 82 Bond St just south of Dundas St E (Toronto Public Library R-740)
2022 - Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St in downtown Toronto
2022 – Mackenzie House Museum at 82 Bond St in downtown Toronto
1910 - William Lyon Mackenzie's gravestone located in Toronto Necropolis at 200 Winchester St, in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood
1910 – William Lyon Mackenzie’s gravestone located in Toronto Necropolis at 200 Winchester St, in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood (Toronto Public Library R-5810)
2020 - William Lyon Mackenzie plaque reads: "Born in Scotland, Mackenzie came to Upper Canada in 1820. He became a prominent radical journalist and was first elected to the assembly in 1828, building up a strong popular following. He was the first mayor of the city of Toronto in 1834. Frustrated by political setbacks, Mackenzie led an abortive rebellion in 1837, and fled to the United States. From there he watched the achievement of Canadian self-government, which he had sought ardently but without success. Returning under amnesty in 1850, he sat in Parliament again until 1858."

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

2020 - William Lyon Mackenzie plaque reads: "Born in Scotland, Mackenzie came to Upper Canada in 1820. He became a prominent radical journalist and was first elected to the assembly in 1828, building up a strong popular following. He was the first mayor of the city of Toronto in 1834. Frustrated by political setbacks, Mackenzie led an abortive rebellion in 1837, and fled to the United States. From there he watched the achievement of Canadian self-government, which he had sought ardently but without success. Returning under amnesty in 1850, he sat in Parliament again until 1858."

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
2020 – William Lyon Mackenzie plaque reads:

“Born in Scotland, Mackenzie came to Upper Canada in 1820. He became a prominent radical journalist and was first elected to the assembly in 1828, building up a strong popular following. He was the first mayor of the city of Toronto in 1834. Frustrated by political setbacks, Mackenzie led an abortive rebellion in 1837, and fled to the United States. From there he watched the achievement of Canadian self-government, which he had sought ardently but without success. Returning under amnesty in 1850, he sat in Parliament again until 1858.”

Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
1837 - Proclamation
1837 – Proclamation (Archives of Ontario I0055588)
2023 - Toronto Fire Rescue boat named the Wm Lyon Mackenzie. It's docked in front of Toronto Fire & Marine Station 334 at 339 Queens Quay W on Toronto's waterfront
2023 – Toronto Fire Rescue boat named the Wm Lyon Mackenzie. It’s docked in front of Toronto Fire & Marine Station 334 at 339 Queens Quay W on Toronto’s waterfront
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