Oct 31, 2009

One Last Campus Ghost Story: The University of Toronto

Canadian colleges are increasingly popular destinations for American high school students. Our friends to the north are quick to point out that students studying in Canada have much in common with their counterparts in the U.S. and going over the border doesn’t necessarily mean giving up Halloween or other ghoulish campus traditions found nearer to home. With soaring Gothic spires and a history rich in colorful characters, the University of Toronto welcomes adventurous American students and can provide more than enough in the way of scary stories to satisfy even the most active imaginations.

One such tale documents the doomed lives and loves of a couple of 19th century stonemasons. It’s an all-too-familiar story: love goes wrong and the wronged take revenge. Hired in 1857 to complete decorative stonework for Toronto’s University College, Ivan Reznikoff mysteriously disappeared after discovering his fiancĂ©’s infidelity with Paul Diabolos, the project foreman. Legend suggests that Reznikoff challenged Diabolos with a stonemason’s axe to avenge his honor but lost out to a quicker knife wielded by the cunning Diabolos, who later disposed of the body in an unfinished stairwell. To add insult to injury, Diabolos is said to have carved the face of Reznikoff into one of the monstrous gargoyles seen today by the southwest corner of University College.

Dishonored, murdered, and mocked, Reznikoff haunts the University of Toronto campus seeking students to listen to his sad story. To this day, a deep gash in one of the University’s doors gives proof that a fight occurred. And, the accidental discovery, in 1890, of a skeleton wearing a stone-mason’s belt hidden deep within a ventilation shaft of University College certainly appears to confirm the ghost’s story. Students are warned that Reznikoff tends to appear as a tall man clad in black with “lank hair” spilling out from under a pointed hat who accosts those who have indulged in a bit too much partying.

No comments:

Post a Comment