Toronto Ghost Walk July 26, Aug. 23
TORONTO — The Historical Society of Toronto’s first Ghost Walk of the season held June 28 was hailed a success with 38 attending an experience that brings to life “former Toronto citizens and the true stories they have to tell, or maybe never got to tell.”
The next tour is set for July 26, followed up with the final one of the second season on Aug 23. The times both days are 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with participants meeting at the commons or gazebo area at Third and Market street, one block from the museum.
The event is shine only with a rain date the following night — July 27. “The tour actually walks the streets of Toronto as we tell the stories and meet the people. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes. We have no provision for those who cannot walk,” explained Carolyn Walker as she and Linda McFerren take participants on a walk along the streets of Newburg, now known as Toronto, and “visit the places and people of our past and listen to the stories they have to tell.”
Among them are:
¯ Stories of places like the Daniel’s Building with an appearance by Susanne Daniels (Donna McCasland);
¯ A visit with members of the Howell gang (Paul Barnes, Dave Carnahan, Bud Grygo and Chuck McFerren) as they tell of their crime spree while living as good citizens of the community over on Loretta Avenue;
¯ Hannah Daniels (Dani Swearingen) displays some of the hats she has created for residents;
¯ Windy Reynolds (Zane Daughtery) and Bones Sherwood (Paul Sherwood) tell of their experience as they witnessed the murder of Mary Darson.
¯ Is that Chief Lester Hinkle (Ed Pope) walking down the street checking out the local businesses as night draws near?
¯ Come visit with Bill Jaco (Don Clarke) and Donuts (Don Redmond) as they still interact with people on the streets.
¯ Arnie Moren Casey (Joann Barnes) and her daughter, Margarita (Coda Johns), tell the story of her husband, Dr. Ben Casey, and how the popular TV show in the 1960s was named after him.
Others sharing their stories are: Norm Winstel telling of the firemen races and the death of one of the firemen when the harness from one of the carts broke loose; Clarence Peck (Bob Petras) reporting the news story about officer Abie Miller’s death; Ron Riggleman relating stories from Barney’s bar where he had worked while in high school; Lon Teneyck (Craig McCasland) as the singing milkman; Spunky Firman (Terry Jones) checks out a local residence; and the Rev. William Hastings (Larry Davidson) tells about his time in the Civil War and the gift of a special knife given to him by President Lincoln.
There is the opera house, with its notable doorman, (Nathan Jones), where the famous vocalist Maude Clifford (Rebecca Jones) appears, and could that be Pretty Boy Floyd (Jim Ray) standing on the corner by the bank? The Silverman Sisters (Regina Grygo and Linda Winstel) live up to their reputation of always arguing with everyone, and then there’s an appearance by Mrs. Paisley (Rita Carnahan) and Mrs. VanNuys (Shirley Riggleman), whose business rivalry often carried over into the streets.
“Buildings and businesses are not forgotten as you will hear stories of Noonan’s Drug Store, Wimpy’s hamburger stand, the Victory Market, the Goucher building, Bank of Toronto and Youth Harbor along with the Presbyterian Church, Francy building and Veteran’s square,” Walker said.
Tickets are available for the July 26 and Aug. 23 tours at the Clarke Funeral Home, THS Alumni Office or by calling Walker at (740) 537-2157 or Riggleman at (740) 537-4915). Tickets are $10 per person and sold only in advance. All proceeds benefit the Main Street Museum located at 210 Main St.
“All the stories told on the ghost walk, either by the characters portraying an individual or by us as the host, are true,” Walker said. “Our sources are old books, news articles, church histories and memories of individuals we have interviewed over the past 10 years.” Walker and McFerren each lead one tour each evening.
“We try to stay within 25 to 30 people for each tour. Last year’s four tours hosted 120 people,” Walker said. She and McFerren wrote the scripts.
“A couple years ago we came up with two evenings called ‘Haunted Toronto’ where we invited citizens to bring a lawn chair and join us at the gazebo for stories of paranormal or strange activities in and around Toronto,” Walker said. “Two ghost hunters, Stephen Pool and Teresa Gamble, joined in with stories, and the rest we found in our archives. We invited the crowd to share their stories, and we got a lot of them — the strange and unexplainable. At those events we had 275 people show up. It was free to the public. Over the winter months that year, Linda went on a ghost tour in Tennessee where they went by bus and had a public speaker. While our tour plays down the paranormal, we call it a ghost tour because we are bringing to life ghosts of Toronto’s past and the stories they have to tell. This winter we came up with adding more characters, and Linda wrote some parts so the characters could now tell the stories. The people involved provide their own costumes, we provide pictureboards at various locations, and each person with a speaking part has a voice amplifier to project to the crowd,” Walker explained.
“We really put the first walk together last year,” she said, noting this year’s installment is enhanced, and next year’s will come when Toronto marks 200 years since it was first laid out in 1818 as Newburg.
The historical society formed in 2007, and the museum opened in 2009. It is called the Main Street Museum and is located at 210 Main St. in Toronto in the historic Daniels’s Building located at the corner of Third and Main streets. The museum averages about 400 visitors a year.
As of July 15, the museum is open on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but donations are accepted. Other visits can be arranged by calling Walker at (740) 632-6708 and setting up a time.