Backgrounder: Toronto history museums’ Halloween-inspired events this month
October brings a chilling lineup of Halloween-inspired events to Toronto museums, as described here. Information about the museums’ broader program lineup is available at https://www.Toronto.ca/museums-events.
Spooky tours and walks
Victorian Gothic – Roots of the Macabre
The public will have an opportunity to explore Gothic Victorian fiction and 19th-century funeral and burial traditions, including post-mortem photography, remembrance traditions and the significance of hair wreaths and jewellery at Mackenzie House on October 2, 9 and 23 (7 to 9 p.m.). Tickets, at $30 a person plus tax, are available at https://mackenziehouse.streamintickets.com/.
Raw History Thursdays: Victorian Gothic – True Crime
Guests will learn about Toronto’s 19th-century Victorian true crime while solving a Gothic crime scene investigation at Mackenzie House from 7 to 9 p.m. on October 3, 10 and 17. Admission is $30 a person plus tax. Tickets are available at https://mackenziehouse.streamintickets.com/.
Print a Trick or Treat Bag
Guests can stop by Mackenzie House, one of Canada’s most renowned haunted houses, to take a tour and hear famous ghost stories. After the tour, guests can print a “trick or treat” bag on an 1845 printing press to take home. It takes place at Mackenzie House on October 5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 from noon to 5 p.m. Activities are included in regular admission.
Haunted High Park
Torontonians are invited to Colborne Lodge’s grounds to witness a theatrical séance complete with the trickery, sleight-of-hand and showmanship that enabled spiritualists to contact the departed. Guests can join a candlelit tour of a 19th-century home and visit the tomb of John and Jemima Howard, the founders of High Park. The event, at Colborne Lodge at 7 and 9 p.m. on October 18 to 20, 23 to 27 and 30, will explore Victorian ideas and traditions of death, dying and the afterlife. Admission is $32.50 plus tax. Tickets are available at https://colbornelodge.streamintickets.com.
Shades of Old Islington
Participants can start the evening at Montgomery’s Inn, where they will learn about 19th- century mourning and funeral traditions. Guests will follow their guide by lantern to the Islington Burying Grounds, the final resting place of Thomas Montgomery and his family, on October 24 and 25 at 7 and 8:30 p.m., October 26 at 6:30 and 8 p.m. and October 27 at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $25 a person plus tax. Tickets are available at https://montgomerysinn.streamintickets.com. This event is not suitable for children younger than 12.
The public will be led through downtown alleys and laneways to discover Toronto’s alleged haunted buildings. Participants will return to gas-lit Mackenzie House to hear ghost stories. This event will take place at Mackenzie House on October 25 and 26 at 7 and 7:30 p.m. Admission is $15 a person, plus tax. Tickets are available at https://mackenziehouse.streamintickets.com.
Fort York After Dark: Lantern Tours
The public will hear chilling tales on a lantern tour at Fort York. Participants will learn about paranormal mysteries while touring the grounds and military cemetery from October 28 to 31 at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $13.27 plus tax. Tickets are available at https://fortyork.streamintickets.com.
Retro 1940s Halloween Party
The public will have an opportunity to celebrate 1940s Halloween traditions. Participants are invited to come in costume, decorate an owl cupcake or a ghost cookie, try their hand at traditional scary Halloween games, make a vintage take-home craft and take a spooky selfie while enjoying fall treats made from 1940s recipes. This event will take place at Todmorden Mills from noon to 4 p.m. on October 19, 20, 26 and 27. Activities are included in regular admission.
Haunted Halloween workshops
Participants are encouraged to use their imagination to create a spooky Halloween mask or an eerie paper lantern. Two family workshops will be presented with treats provided at Todmorden Mills on October 19 (mask making), October 20 (lantern crafting) from 10 a.m. to noon. Admission is $8.85 a person, plus tax. Tickets are available at https://todmordenmills.streamintickets.com. The workshops are suitable for ages 6 and up, and children must be accompanied by an adult.
Halloween Blast from the Past
Guests are invited to wear their Halloween costume for a fun-filled day of activities complete with trick or treating and bobbing for apples. Visitors can go on a scavenger hunt, try a pumpkin spice drink and make 3D pumpkin crafts while eating devils-food cake baked in the wood-burning stove at Scarborough Museum on October 26 from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is “pay what you can” at the door.
Visitors can bring their carved pumpkin to Gibson House Museum to display outside throughout the evening so community members can see their neighbours’ jack-o-lanterns and celebrate the end of Halloween together. Guests are invited to explore the historic house and enjoy children’s take-home crafts, parlour games and apple cider on November 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Communicating with the spirit world
Curious Clairvoyance: Seeing the Future…From the Past
Participants will have a chance to hear about the history of spiritualism in Toronto at the turn of the 20th century and get a scientific explanation of how the Ouija board works. Visitors will learn how to read their palm, tea leaves and special decks of fortune telling cards. This event will take place at Spadina Museum on October 10, 11, 17 to 19, 24 to 26, and 30 from 7 to 10 p.m. Admission is $30 a person, plus tax. Tickets are available at https://spadinamuseum.streamintickets.com.
Victorian Spirits: How to Properly Speak to a Ghost
The public can take part in a Victorian séance lit by candle and gaslight in the basement of Mackenzie House on October 16 at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Admission is $30 a person, plus tax. Tickets are available at https://mackenziehouse.streamintickets.com. This event is not suitable for children younger than 16.
Victorian Halloween Haunt Pop-Up Tarot Night
Participants are encouraged to come with two questions and be prepared to connect and hear what wisdom their higher self wishes to impart through a tarot reading at Scarborough Museum on October 23 from 5 to 8 p.m. It’s “pay what you can” for general admission and $10 if you want a tarot reading, with tickets available at https://scarboroughmuseum.streamintickets.com.
Victorian Halloween Haunt Pop-Up Numerology Night
Participants will experience an evening of spooky delights with photo stops and the museum’s resident ghouls. Guests can add to their experience with a 15-minute Victorian numerology reading to learn how numbers give their life special meaning at Scarborough Museum on October 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. It’s pay what you can, but tickets are $10 for a numerology reading, available at https://scarboroughmuseum.streamintickets.com.
The public is invited to join paranormal investigator, Stephanie “Spooky Steph” Dumbreck for a séance and to learn about the Victorian obsession with death and the rituals that surrounded the mourning and burial of the dead. Audience participation will be encouraged. This event will take place at Gibson House on October 30 and 31 at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Admission is $30 a person, plus tax. Tickets are available at https://gibsonhousemuseum.streamintickets.com.
About Toronto History Museums
Toronto History Museums are a group of 10 museums owned and operated by the City of Toronto that bring Toronto’s history to life for residents and visitors. They include Colborne Lodge, Fort York National Historic Site, Gibson House Museum, Mackenzie House, Market Gallery, Montgomery’s Inn, Scarborough Museum, Spadina Museum, Todmorden Mills and Zion Schoolhouse. More information is available at https://www.toronto.ca/museums, or follow Toronto History Museums on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tohistoricsites, on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/tohistoricsites or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/tohistoricsites.
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Media contact: Michele Simpson, Economic Development and Culture, 416-392-4467, Michele.Simpson@toronto.ca