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Historic Osgoode Hall series: The haunting of Osgoode Hall

October 28, 2021

Do you believe in ghosts? With a history dating back nearly 200 years, there are bound to be a few chilling stories coming from the grounds of Osgoode Hall. Read on as we celebrate Halloween at the Law Society by digging deep into the archives of this national historic site to examine the myths and legends of the haunting of Osgoode Hall.

The Great Library’s great scares

The historic Great Library is the largest law practitioners' library in Canada and is often home to licensees and students putting in long hours of legal research. So, it wasn’t entirely surprising when one Sunday in the 1960s the head librarian found a studious fellow  hard at work even though the library was closed. Not wanting to disturb him, the librarian headed to his office to go about his day. He later returned to the library to see the man get up, walk to the exit and vanish through the door.

Years later, a figure was again spotted frequenting the library; this time sitting near the fireplace with his back to a night cleaner. Realizing that it was around 11 p.m. and the library was closed, the cleaner called security to report the mysterious man, only to be told that the library had closed more than an hour earlier and security had previously confirmed everyone had left.

Haunting of Osgoode Hall - library

What appear to be ghost-like figures in this 1884 photo of the Great Library are actually the result of people moving while the photo was being taken.
 

Another night in the early 1990s brought quite a fright to a member of the LSO security team. While walking through the library toward the war memorial, the employee suddenly heard rumbling and saw lights dancing across the walls. The bookshelves suddenly began to shake, causing several law texts to fall to the ground. He then saw the statue that normally looks up to the ceiling was suddenly staring directly at him. He dashed out, heart racing. He later rationalized that perhaps it was a streetcar causing the commotion, but that night was the only time in his 36 years at the Law Society that something so unexplained happened.

World War One memorial in the Great Library

Ghostly gatherings and the weeping woman in white

Imagine the surprise waiting for a former superintendent of Osgoode Hall when in the dead of night, he came upon Convocation Hall expecting it to be empty. The sounds of raucous voices at what seemed like a lively reception began echoing through the air. Concerned he wasn’t notified of a late-night event, he entered the hall only to find it empty, lights off and the furniture undisturbed.

This isn’t the only tale of paranormal activity from Convocation Hall. Several reports have been made of woman in a white dress, who visits Convocation hall to weep at the foot of one of the portraits hung high on the walls.

Haunting of Osgoode Hall - Portrait

One of the many portraits that adorn Convocation Hall.

Same old ghosts, new building

Our paranormal friends don’t just frequent the historical parts of Osgoode Hall. There have been several reports of unexplained occurrences in the newer wings as well. From dictation machines mysteriously switching on to bathroom doors slamming and paper towel dispensers churning with no one operating them, it seems the so-called ghosts of Osgoode Hall like to stretch their legs and tour the entire building.

We hope you have enjoyed this series of tales, myths and legends from Osgoode Hall. While these tales are meant to entertain and share in the spookiness of the Halloween season, the full history of Osgoode Hall is even more fascinating. You can learn more about the rich history of this national historic site and Ontario’s legal heritage, by visiting LSO.ca.
 


About the Historic Osgoode Hall series
Osgoode Hall is the oldest continuously used institutional property in Toronto. While the grounds have changed over time, they have retained their overall character, making Osgoode Hall one of the few remaining examples of mid-19th century Ontario institutional landscapes. 

The Historic Osgoode Hall series brings to life some of the stories, traditions and notable events that have taken place in Osgoode Hall’s almost 200-year history. 

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