The Mackenzie House is located at 82 Bond St (just south of Dundas St E) in downtown 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
Mackenzie then led the Reform movement which opposed the system of patronage as well as the Crown giving British settlers preferential treatment over Americans when it came to land grants. When the Reform group tried to take control of the government during the Rebellion of 1837 (or Upper Canada Rebellion) in Toronto, they were defeated. Along with a few hundred supporters, Mackenzie fled to New York state. While he was 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 8 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 lived there until the 1870s.
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 property was given to the City of Toronto by the William Lyon Mackenzie Foundation. 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.
The Mackenzie House is thought to be one of Toronto’s most haunted houses with its famous former resident and his wife lingering inside.
An apparition of a man wearing a frock coat and a wig has been seen about the house and particularly near the bedroom.
In 1873, Mrs Mackenzie also passed away in the home. 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. Click for more haunted tales.
Mackenzie House Photos
- Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
- City of Toronto Heritage Register: 82 Bond St
- Britannica: William Lyon Mackenzie
- The Canadian Encyclopedia: Rebellions of 1837
- Toronto Ghosts
- The Globe and Mail Newspaper Archives: Mar 8, 1962, pg 7
- Toronto Star Newspaper Archives: Apr 27, 1980, pg C12
- Vintage Photos: City of Toronto Archives, Toronto Public Library, Archives of Ontario & Library and Archives Canada