DateJanuary 12 2002

InvestigatorsDee Freedman, Anita Perron
    Steve Dietrich, Krystal Perron

WeatherCloudy, 36 degrees C

Moon Phasenew moon

A Brief Background:

The Guild Inn was built in 1914 by Gen. Harold Bickford as his country home, originally being a 33 room pseudo- Georgian villa. In 1932 it was purchased by Rosa Hewetson-Clark and at the time of the 'Depression' the Clarks created 'The Guild of All Arts' which adjoined the original property. Cottages and workshops were built to house the artists and staff at that time. Since then, through the years, there have been additions to the Guild Inn in the form of buildings and add-ons.

In 1942 the Government of Canada requisitioned the property and buildings for the purpose of training and housing the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRENS). In 1945 the property was requisitioned again as a military hospital specializing in the treatment of nervous disorders and mental illnesses relating to the war. It was then known as 'Scarborough Hall'. The property was not returned to the Clarks until 1947, when they re-established the 'Guild of All Arts'.

The Guild Inn is now owned by the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and the grounds are controlled by Toronto Parks and Culture.
September 16, 2001 Report 

October 13/14, 2001 Report

January 12/13, 2002 Report

March 25 2006 Report 
(Toronto Star Article - Checking out the Spirits)

Inn Closing, Toronto Star Article

Back to reports index
Date  September 16 2001


Dee Freedman

Anita Perron

Steve Dietrich

Krystal Perron

Sue Darroch

Lisa Reid

WeatherClear sky, Cool, Dry

Moon Phasenew moon
Anita leaning over Thomas, who was hiding in the corner, initially in a fetal position with his head down.
This particular room which is hidden down in the tunnels had a very unnerving affect on me. I feel that someone had their head smashed against the fireplace and lost their life as a result. Shortly after, Anita came into the room and sensed blood in front of the fireplace. She felt that the death was an accident because of someone's anger getting out of hand.
The Greek Theater. An example of some of the marvelous structures at the Guild Inn.
The fireplace in one of the tunnel rooms. We have no idea what the inscriptions are in the mid-top of the fireplace.
This particular night was a preliminary assessment, in order for us to determine what equipment we may need for an investigation, should we decide to move forward with one. We did not proceed with a thorough investigation in mind, hence we did  not have the usual and necessary equipment on hand. 

Below are the individual accounts of those in attendance on Septemnber 16 2001.

Dee Freedman

After we began our preliminary assessment of the tunnels,  I was hit by some very heavy residual stuff. There were 2 places in particular that I would not even enter, it was an evening of sensory overload for me. We came to a spot that was only recently discovered a week before and my first reaction was anxiety, followed by very weak and shakey legs. That's when the fun started. I was busy feeling anxious when Anita called me to come over to the corner of the newly discovered room. The moment I looked into the corner, I picked up on a young man (teen years) crouching down in a fetal position with his head hidden practically in his lap. The young man, whom I discovered a short time later was named Thomas, was absolutely terrified and totally unaware that he had passed over. Anita by this time was huddling over Thomas in a protective position. Anita, being empathic, began to take on Thomas's emotions and was soon in tears.

It immediately dawned on me that we had to get him out of there because I was suddenly aware of a presence behind us and I didn't like her one bit. She was responsible for Thomas's fear.  I began talking directly to Thomas trying to get his attention and desperately trying to get him to raise his head to look out in front of him. It took several requests to get him to listen to me. I asked him to look straight through the corner of the wall, at the light that was there (he was not aware until that moment, that he could do this). Once his attention was on the light we finally convinced him to walk to it and not look back. He was finally free of the woman I felt was terrorizing him. She seemed to stand back and wait to see if we were successful in sending him on his way and was not the least bit happy with any of us because of our interference. The entire incident seemed to me, to take about  a half-hour, although I know that that is not possible. As I was directly involved, it is not possible to give you an unbiased opinion of what occurred, however I can state that I have been just as involved in similar occurrences prior to this, through the years.

In a later incident up in the attic portion, I became extremely emotional myself and was given the opportunity to see through the eyes of a man that resided there, probably circa World War II. It was very unsettling to say the least. Most of what I encountered here, however,  was residual with the exception of "Thomas".

Below is each group member's unedited and honest accounts and feelings of this peculiar evening.  We do not ask you to take our word for what is written here. It's up to you to assess the comments and make up your own mind as to the events..

Dee Freedman, Director, Hauntings Research Group

Sue Darroch

Steve and I entered the tunnel area in question. The lighting was extremely poor and furnished solely by our flashlight. This particular chamber was devoid of any furnishings etc..- completely empty.. My eyes had not fully adjusted, however I immediately pointed out to Steve that I believed there was something in the far corner. It appeared to be a dark, huddled, humanish mass for lack of a better description. I do not believe that Anita nor Dee had overheard this statement made by myself and I know that they were not privy to my thoughts on the appearance of what I was seeing at the time as I did not verbalize them. Shortly thereafter Anita and Dee entered this room and both immediately and almost in unison stated that there was an 'entity' in the corner that I had previously pointed out to Steve. I found this to be corroboration to what I was physically seeing with my eyes as well as 'feeling'. My two fellow investigators of the paranormal (Dee & Anita) quickly began what I can only describe as an 'intervention' in order to 'rescue' this perceived soul. They used encouraging and loving words in order to have the said entity 'move on'. While Dee maintained her composure, Anita (in closer proximity to the 'entity') appeared to be physically and emotionally shaken by the unfolding experience. She was in fact crying. At  the approximate halfway point of this event my eyes (more properly adjusted) were drawn to a point in the tunnel area directly behind my colleagues, L. Reid and K. Leigh. I saw what appeared to be movement (as if someone had entered the tunnel area) coming towards us. This apparent movement had stopped just short of L. Reid whose position was at the approximate 1/4 mark of the tunnel in relation to us. As my attention had become solely focused on this new event; I did not notice the apparent departure of the 'entity' in the far corner. However, upon completion of their joint 'intervention' I did notice that the 'dark huddled humanish mass' was no longer visible. Very interesting! I would also like to add at this time that I personally had never witnessed this type of interaction before. As for whatever it was that had stopped in the tunnel it was my 'feeling' at the time that whatever 'it'  was, was still there as we exited the area.

Other notes of interest: I did not notice any 'cold spots' or other dramatic change in temperature/atmosphere during this event, the total duration of this event was approximately 5 -10 minutes, (my best guestimate as I was not wearing a watch), I did not notice any unusual smells nor hear any sounds associated, my own composure remained throughout and oddly I do not remember a sense of fear or anxiety take hold at any time, which could be interpreted as strange in and of itself considering the circumstances and despite the fact that I was in the company of 5 others. One's senses/emotions typically become more heightened during such an experience. This is only a natural human reaction to that which we do not fully understand.

At this time I will refrain from theorizing and opinionizing on this particular experience other than to say that I believe 'something' of a paranormal nature DID in fact occur, was witnessed to varying degrees by six people, and that this was not what could be classed as a 'residual haunting'. I state this based on my own research and investigation of this type of phenomena to date and my beliefs which are borne out of my own life's experience.

Sue Darroch, Director and Webmaster of Para-Researchers of Ontario

Krystal Perron

We went through the first entrance of the tunnel and I showed everyone where a bricked off doorway was. This is where I believe the tunnel branches off but is not accessible. As we proceeded further in, we made notes of general interest and explored a few closed doors. One of the rooms we entered seemed to have a more heavier feel to it. Sue was the first one in the room and immediately sensed something in the far corner. Anita came in and felt the presence of a teen-age boy who was extremely distraught. Dee then entered and saw the young boy frightened and curled up in the corner. I could not see the apparition myself, but as I said the room had an extremely heavy feel to it. After several minutes had passed (which felt like an eternity down there), Dee and Anita were able to direct ('Thomas') the teen-aged boy, to his rightful place. But we still felt like we were not alone.

How brave we all were as we continued through the rest of the tunnels and then proceeded to the attic. I was surprised to fine the attic door wide open this time as I have never had the chance to explore that area before. Again this area also seemed to be a little unnerving. Dee and Anita were able to pick up on negative energy in several of the attic rooms. All in all I think our exploration has left us with more questions than answers and is cause for a more thorough investigation by the same team.

Krystal Perron, Hauntings Research Group

Steve Dietrich

If a tree falls in the forest, does it still make a sound if no one is there to hear it??? But what if you are there but can't see, feel or hear it. This is my situation.

This was one of my thoughts after an incident was witnessed by myself and others at the Guild Inn.

While searching through the lower tunnels and rooms of the Guild, Sue and myself entered a small room with heads lowered so as not to hit them against the ceiling, and proceeded to check out this area. At the end, there was a turn to the left which ended immediately but I paid no attention to it and looked at a hole in the wall to see if it went anywhere. Sue then asked me to shine the light into the corner to the left with great urgency. Looking at the area, I was wondering what she had seen. Dee and Anita came to our position and felt a presence in the corner. There was obvious worry in their voices as they felt that this unseen presence was in distress and Anita went to the corner to comfort what was later said to be a cowering child. Dee was telling the "child" not to be afraid and to look up at the light. Although I could not see Anita's face, I could hear sobbing coming from her. She has told me that she picks up the emotions of spirits strongest. She was also comforting the child by what appeared to me to be lightly rubbing the back of the child. This went on for a short period of time trying to convince the child that everything was ok and to look up.

Now, I'm watching all this happen and I start thinking to myself, "what's really happening here". I'm seeing nothing, I'm feeling nothing. I'm not even getting a cold feeling or a draft of any kind that is usually associated with paranormal phenomena. No hairs on the back of my neck standing up! The negative thoughts start to enter. Again, I think "what's really happening here". Is there really anything happening here?". I would have to say YES, although this is a subjective opinion only.

There was no media to play a role for. There was no one there that was unknown to any of us, that an act was necessary to be played out for. We are all friends and colleagues and I personally feel that I know them well enough that this was not some game. Also, just because I'm not  picking anything up, doesn't mean something is not happening in front of me.

I immediately stopped the negative thoughts that I was experiencing so as not to interfere with what might be unfolding in front of me. If there was a child in need, then those thoughts might disrupt the attempt to help. Very shortly thereafter Dee said that he was looking up at the light and was leaving.

As for the length of time that this lasted for, I personally feel that it was approximately 3-5  minutes.

Some people need glasses to see. Some need hearing aids. The sights and sounds are still there but sometimes devices are needed to help out. Unfortunately this is something that at this point in what I feel is our level of spiritual development, will remain an unknown to most of us and but a few selected individuals shall have the opportunity to experience.

Steven Dietrich, Field Researcher,  Webmaster of Golden Horseshoe Ghost Haunts

Lisa Reid

As I have lived near the Guild Inn all of my life, I have always viewed it as a grand, exciting, mysterious place. The beautiful gardens, unique sculptures and interesting buildings make it a place with a great story.

As you enter the gates of the Guild Inn, everything seems so calm, quiet and beautiful. Upon entering the building, you realize that it is a place that has been around for quite some time and that it has been well enjoyed by many people over the years, however you would never expect what was/is lurking below the mail floor. I know I certainly didn't.

Having explored the tunnels below the Guild before with Krystal and friends, I knew what to expect in terms of the condition of the area. There are low ceilings, broken tiles, low pipes, a mildew smell, a feeling of stuffiness and a sense of abandonment.

As we began to explore the tunnels, Krystal took us to a room that does not make sense. As we opened the metal door, we filed in one by one, along a narrow hallway (if that is what I can call it) to an area that is maybe 12 feet by 12 feet at the most. The floor slopes in this space and there is a small section of the back wall that has been cut out and has an opening like a sewer at the top, that we think leads to the outside grounds. Its purpose is still unknown. 

As we explored this small area, I heard Sue telling Steve that there is something in the corner of this area. I'm thinking it's a spider or a mouse. As I see her flash the light in the corner, Dee and Anita begin to sense a presence in this area. Anita went to the corner to be with the spirit and Dee started speaking to the spirit. She said that he was sitting in the corner, with his eyes covered, not looking into the light. As Dee kept speaking to him, I had the feeling that someone may be coming down the hallway - maybe the evening desk clerk?; highly unlikely, but possible. Then Sue mentions that she senses someone in the hall area. I thought to myself, I'm having the same feeling. That can't be! As Dee continues to urge the spirit to look at the light, to go to the light, she explains that he has passed on, to not be afraid, and tells Anita to say a few words. I can not see Anita's actions, but I know that she is with the spirit, consoling him. My thoughts are, "is this really happening?, Am I really experiencing this? What is really going on here?",  Then Dee announces that he has left the room and that he is now in a safer place. This entire incident lasted about, maybe, 5 minutes at the most.

As we continued to explore the tunnels, Anita and Dee had more feelings in other rooms, of things that had taken place. As we discussed our experiences over coffee, I asked Dee and Anita how many times they had done their team work in helping a spirit move on. They said that this was the first time. This pretty much confirmed for me that something really did happen down there.

So, as it stands, the Guild Inn is a place with a lot of history, with so much more to be discovered! I can't wait to see what we discover next!

Lisa Reid, Director of Para-Researchers of Ontario

Anita Perron

The Guild Inn is a beautiful place in which to visit, at any time, although at night it seems a touch on the eerie side, down in the tunnels.

We made our way down into the, now infamous, tunnels with one dim flashlight in hand and an excited group. One room off the tunnels that we came to, received my instant attention. I felt the presence of a teenage boy in the far dark corner of the room. Terror captured me in a tight embrace. He was terrified of being found. 

I didn't know at the time who he was hiding from, but I was sure he was hiding from someone. I walked over to where he was curled up, in a fetal position with his head buried in the corner. I tried to comfort him as best I could with thoughts of protection and security. I had no real awareness of anyone else in the room except for Dee, who was now beginning to ask him to look toward the light, as well as telling him he had passed on. It took a lot of convincing on our part to do this. I finally realized I had tears running down my face, they had come from the strong emotions of the boy. He began to listen to our encouragement and finally looked to the light. He at once realized he was gone from this world and could walk into the light and be safe. The whole affair, I was told, took only approximately 5 minutes, but it sure felt like much more.

Anita Perron, Co-Director of Hauntings Research Group
After attending the TGHRS anniversary party, some of us booked rooms at the Guild Inn for the night. A few of us had a very long drive home and as it was already past 1:30a.m. upon leaving the party, therefore we decided to stay in the city for the remainder of the night.

As we always end up doing when we are together, we talked the night away instead of going to bed. At about 5:30 a.m., we heard loud banging from the room next door. The banging continued on the door of the adjoining suite (which was booked by another couple who also attended the anniversary party) and we thought that maybe we were talking too loudly and they were getting upset with us. This was a little bit baffling because we were talking quietly, not partying, in fact two of our group, actually slept through the conversation. 

As we continued to talk about the banging  from the next room, the door knob between the suites started turning and I commented "what are they trying to do, get into our room?". We all had a bit of a giggle and continued to watch the door knob as it turned once more. Three of us watched that door knob turn. We would find out later that the couple staying in the adjoining room had heard the same banging on their side of the wall and thought it was us. They also thought we were turning the door knob from our side trying to enter their room!

At 6:30a.m. we were all totally exhausted and decided to get a couple of hours sleep. As I lay down and closed my eyes, a little boy approached me and placed himself right in front of my face. He really wanted my attention and  I could not help but notice his unusual eyes; one was brown, the other blue.

I was so exhausted and wanting sleep that I told him to "go away, I just can't  deal with you right now, I'm too tired". Then I immediately fell asleep until 9a.m., at which time my husband woke me for coffee which we were all having across the hall at the other room we had booked as a group.

While I was sipping my coffee, I announced the visit from the little guy earlier that morning and when I mentioned that he had one blue eye and one brown. I thought Krystal and Sue were going to fall over face first from the looks of surprise on their faces. They went on to explain that they had had a report of a similar nature recently. The report was about a resident who had been having dreams about (you guessed it) a fellow with one blue eye and one brown eye. I never did get back to that little guy although I'm curious about who he might have been and what his connection was with the area.

We also had an incident with a  piece of jewelery, which was placed under a pair of gloves on the dresser, prior to everyone going to bed. The jewellery and gloves were beside a wallet and some money, none of which were moved or lost with exception of the jewelery. A number of us looked for it, under the bed, behind the dresser, around the room. One of our group went so far as to shake out the bed clothes to no avail. I then asked the owner of the jewelery to loudly, ask for it to be returned. Not more than a few minutes later, voila, the jewelery turns up on the bed that had just been shaken out. No one had moved or entered or left the room during this time. Quite an interesting night all in all.

What do you think?

DateOctober 13/14, 2001

Present   Dee Freedman
Anita Perron
Steve Dietrich
Krystal Perron
Sue Darroch 
Lisa Reid 
Gary Freedman

Weathernot applicable

Moon Phase4% almost new
How freaky is this? Gary is a dead ringer for one of the artist's who's stone bust is displayed on the property.
E.B. Cox

Born: Alberta, July 16, 1914

Mr. Cox's sculpures can be seen at the C.N.E. grounds, throughout Toronto as well as other locations. He has more sculptures to view in Toronto than any other sculptor. Children love to climb over them as do adults (see our report)

His black bear scupture (assited by Michael Clay) can be viewed on the Guild Inn grounds. He served 3 1/2 years during WWII in the Armed Forces and taught french and german at Upper Canada College for 11 years.until 50, at which time he became a full time sculptor..

Mediums used by Mr. Cox include sumac, cedar, walnut  limestone, alabaster, serpentine, oynx, granite, marble.

Source:The History of the Guild Inn by Carole M. Lidgold

Upon arrival at the Guild, the team settled in and Dee mentioned that she thought there would be a busy night ahead. Several loud bangs were heard almost immediately, which sounded as if a metal structure was flexing as a result of temperature changes. Ideas were thrown around as to what the cause of the banging could be and never did get resolved. It was determined however that heating ducts expanding and contracting were out of the question because the section of the Guild that the team was in was electrically heated by m,base board units. There was no duct work. The sounds were not audible in the rest of the Guild. During dinner, at 7:30 pm, distant voices were heard although the investigative team was alone in that particular part of the Inn. 

After dinner, it was time for a walk for some fresh air. We walked along the paths behind the Inn taking in the sights of the bluffs and the stone carvings on the property. We were all in a jovial mood when we came upon a carved life size stone bear. We dared Steve to climb onto the bear's back, which did not prove easy. The back of the bear stood approximately four feet, eight inches high. After several attempts and much laughter, Steve accomplished his quest, which we happened to catch on video much to his dismay.

After coming in from the cold, we then roamed throughout the building itself. We ran into cold spots almost immediately at the front of the Inn near the foyer and on the landing of the oak staircase. A compass was used to determine whether or not there were any magnetic anomalies and indeed the compass would not settle down for about 90 seconds at which time it then settled into proper form. The compass was used at another location just to verify how much time it took to settle on a point. The time taken by the compass to settle was about 3 seconds.

We descended the stairs into the tunnels. Upon rounding a corner we heard a squeaking sound reminiscent of metal wheels, which reminded everyone of a catering cart or gurney, however there were no other objects available in the area that we could find that would duplicate the sound. Further down the hallway we came upon a closed room containing a dead starling near a wall. What we noticed that was unusual was that the head was not intact, nor anywhere to be seen in the vicinity. The spine was protruding from the body about 3/4 of an inch and was clean of all tissue, blood, or sinew (as if boiled clean).

No animal scat was found within the room, nor were we aware of any entrance or exit points within the room leading to the outside. Several months before in the same area one of our team witnessed a cat which ran between the legs of another member. A few of our team searched for the cat immediately, however a search proved futile. There was no possibility that a cat could have exited those tunnels that quickly without our knowledge, leaving us to wonder if we may have witnessed a phantom cat. (Note: this cat has been witnessed by a member on more than one occassion/)

While standing in the old staff room in the basement, two of the team felt aware of a presence behind them. That is when the lights went on in the staff room, however this could be attributed to a faulty ballast in the light fixture, although if so, the coincidence was indeed strange.

Proceeding along to the first floor kitchen,  Anita, Dee and Krystal were in the front of the kitchen while Steve went to the back of the kitchen where he heard what seemed like hammering. Again upon investigation, there was nothing to substantiate it. Keep in mind that the Inn is closed for the season and we were alone in the building.

Upon reentering the tunnels, we decided to visit the boiler room, which supplies heat to the old part of the Inn only. Anita noticed what appeared to be a balloon which was inflating and deflating about 20 feet away. After approaching it however, it was discovered that there was no balloon nor were there any sources on the machinery to house a balloon nor cause such an effect.

After retiring for the night in the newer part of the Inn, we were in for a few more surprises. Steve experienced what he had called a tickling sensation under his arm. He wasn't completely asleep, but knew that it wasn't one of the other members of the team. He reached out and grabbed what he thought was a child's arm, which transformed into a cat's paw. We acknowledge that this could possibly be the subconscious at work.

Dee's sleep was disturbed throughout the night by the sound of a clock or metronome ticking away, until she realized that there was nothing in the room to justify the sound at which time it immediately stopped. In the morning she was awakened by a older man with longish gray hair, slight build, dressed in a grey sweat type shirt. He was wearing protective goggles around his neck and had dark glasses on.  She immediately got out of bed and wrote down the description on paper and showed the others as they slowly made their way into the common room during the morning. Later on in the morning one of the other members brought in a book titled 'The History of the Guild Inn' by Carole M. Lidgold, which Dee quickly went through until she came upon a photo of the man she saw that morning. His name; E.B. Cox (see below). Stranger still is that we think E.B. Cox may still be alive, to which end we will do further research. On Sunday morning while walking the grounds yet again, we were surprised to discover that the bear which we all had fun with the night before, was carved by, you guessed it, E.B. Cox. Yet passes one more interesting and puzzling experience at the Guild Inn.
Taken in the tunnels, your guess is as good as ours!
The reflections on the white cupboards in the mid-background are reflections from the stainless steel counter tops
The head of this starling was missing and no where to be found. The spine was protruding from the body about 3/4 of an inch and was clean of all tissue, blood, or sinew (as if boiled clean).
The Guild Inn, Scarborough Finally Closes It's Doors

During the month of February 2002 it became publicly known, through the media and such, the fate of The Guild Inn. We are all very saddened to hear that The Guild would be permanately closing down. We are keeping our fingers crossed that they do not tear down the original structure, but find some way to work it into future plans. As a few of us also feel very fortunate to experience all the that the Guild had to offer, we remained active there until it was no longer possible for us to do so.

Krys Perron, Feb 4, 2002

The Toronto Star
Wed Feb 6, 2002 - Updated at 07:38 AM  > GTA
Feb. 6, 2002. 07:29 AM

City aims to save historic 'jewel'. Investors sought to redevelop Guild Inn
Nicholas Keung, STAFF REPORTER


 A new life is being planned for the famous Guild Inn and Gardens in Scarborough. And the only building that may be demolished to give the historic complex new life is the eight-storey "white elephant" hotel that towers over the site, area councillor David Soknacki (Ward 43,  Scarborough East) said yesterday.

Earlier this week, the City of Toronto issued a request for proposals, which asks for plans for restoration and development from private investors for the 36-hectare site on the south side of Guildwood Parkway, between Morningside Ave. and Kingston Rd.

"This is a real jewel and it's sad to see it going down without proper investment and maintenance," Soknacki said. "But the Inn has been designated as a heritage site and all the old structures will stay."  

The main building of the facility was built in 1914. It was used as an artists' colony in the 1930s and by the military in World War II, as a training base and military hospital. In the 1970s, the city took over the property and kept it as a hotel and wedding venue.

Artifacts and pieces from other historic structures demolished in the city over the years have also been removed to the site, making it a sought-after location for weddings and family celebrations.

In recent years, the occupancy rates of the hotel, which was built in 1965, have dropped dramatically to around 27 per cent last year. The hotel was closed Nov. 1 for winter and will not reopen on April 1 as it normally does, said John MacIntyre, Toronto's director of parks and recreation.

"We now have the requests for proposals under way and it would not be economically viable for us to continue to operate the hotel," said MacIntyre. 

"Had operation of the hotel continued into this year, projections estimate it would have cost Toronto's taxpayers $387,000 ... just to maintain the hotel operation."

All the older buildings, which are designated under the Ontario Heritage Act, along with two wood lots on the site, will not be changed or demolished in any future redevelopment, he said.

Late last year, the local community initiated a revitalization plan for the area. Soknacki  suggested the city invite the private sector to help in the redevelopment.

The type of project the city, councillor and community would like to see is something like a luxury spa, a high-end restaurant or a culinary school, any of which would inject capital and protect cultural assets in the facility, Macintyre said.

The deadline for proposals is April 15 and the city hopes to start negotiations with the chosen investor this fall.

"We are basically looking for someone with an expertise to make a good investment for something that'd fit well with the community's vision," said Soknacki, adding that the investment would probably cost a few million dollars.

Gerard Baribeau, president of the Guildwood Village Community Association, said he wouldn't oppose razing the hotel, which has fallen into disrepair.

But he's adamant that the historic buildings remain. "They'll be torn down over someone's dead body," he said.

Guild Inn, Scarborough

 March 25 2006
March 26 2006

Toronto Star Article March 30 2006
Scarborough Mirror Article March 31 2006
available below
Checking out the spirits (reprinted from the Toronto Star)

Whisperings, ghost sightings and the sounds of footsteps are regular occurrences at the Guild Inn Closed in 2001, the inn appears to still have a few guests who refuse to leave, Bill Taylor writes
Mar. 30, 2006. 01:00 AM

It comes, whatever it is, felt but unseen along the sixth-floor hallway. There is a distinct sensation of... something brushing past me. The heating is on but the corridor has turned chilly.

A story like this you can either take at face value or with a grain of salt. I am a rational man, a skeptic both by nature and training. I'm reporting what I experience during an overnight vigil with a team of paranormal investigators — "Please don't call us ghostbusters" — at the Guild Inn on Scarborough Bluffs.

For the Searcher Group, it's a quiet night. The inn has several well-documented ghosts and group leader Richard Palmisano apologizes for the lack of manifestations. But between 4 p.m., when the team sets up cameras and recorders around the inn, and 5 a.m., when the surveillance ends, we have more questions than answers.

The property was built in 1914 as a summer home for Col. Harold Child Bickford. In the 1930s, it became an artists' community. During World War II, it was a training centre for the Women's Royal Naval Service and, between 1945 and 1947, a military hospital. There are rumours of secret tunnels to the lake.

A six-storey, 100-room wing was added in 1965. The Guild was a popular venue for weddings and its restaurant was a local favourite. The inn closed in October, 2001. There are plans for it to be demolished and a new hotel built on the site.

Resident spirits are said to include a boy, with one blue eye and one brown, on the sixth floor; a man wearing a top hat in the kitchen; and a "nasty" middle-aged woman in the basement. Security guards have reported footsteps, doors slamming and lights turning on and off when there's no one there.

Tonight's investigation has been arranged through David Soknacki, councillor for Scarborough East. His constituency assistant, Stephanie Ford, and Tammy Webber, of Parks and Recreation, are among the dozen people staying up all night.

Palmisano, 41, works in the security business and has been probing the paranormal since he was a teenager. His second book on the subject, Journeys Into the Unknown: Mysterious Canadian Encounters with the Paranormal has just been published by Dundurn. 

The Searcher Group doesn't charge for its services. It includes Dee Freedman, 52, of Peterborough, who claims psychic abilities but insists, "Unless we can find facts later to verify what I've picked up, we don't use it."

When Webber shoots a picture in the library and reports seeing "orbs" — a popular subject of spirit photography — Freedman shoots her down.

"It's dust, honey. I get so sick of seeing that sort of stuff on those weird TV shows. It's not paranormal; it's para-nothing."

Another member, Krystal Leigh Perron, 33, used to work at the Guild. She leads the way to the basement. There are staff lockers still with clothing in them. And a room that I just want to get out of. The atmosphere is oppressive, deeply unpleasant.

"The nasty woman has been seen in here," says Leigh.

"Mean as dirt," says Freedman.

Palmisano's brother Paul, 53, with a crucifix on his tool-belt, sprinkles plastic sheets with baby powder to pick up any footprints. He leaves a toy truck and balloons on the sixth floor to try to attract the little boy. They stay there when we leave. "You don't give a kid something and then take it back."

"Base camp" is the dining room off the lobby. The electricity is still on in there. Three of us go up to the sixth floor. Freedman says she can sense the boy's presence. "His name is Will. He's curious but he's not coming close. Yet. We'll come back."

Most of us head off for dinner. Ford and Webber stay behind. When we return, Soknacki has dropped in to see how things are going. He says he found them outside — literally spooked.

"I heard a woman walking around downstairs in high-heeled shoes," says Webber. "No mistaking it."

"Then we could hear all this whispering in the lobby," says Ford. "We thought at first it was you guys. It just kept going on and on. So we left."

"It wasn't fun," says Webber.

As the night goes on, Freedman keeps forming us into a circle — sort of a rudimentary séance — to try to get some spirit response. Typically, the temperature drops a few degrees, the regular sounds of an old structure die away so the silence is total and then... nothing.

But all is not well on the sixth floor. In any building, a residual atmosphere builds up from the life that was lived there. The top floor has somehow lost it. You can feel the difference.

"It's never this quiet," says Freedman. "It's not natural."

There's no longer any sign of Will, she says, and she's convinced he's being held back by another spirit, a man who doesn't belong here.

"He's out in the hall," she says. "He's lurking. I hate lurkers."

We step out of the room. "He's moving this way. You feel it.?"

Yes. Yes, I do.

As we return to the dining room, I feel a gentle push on my back. There's no one behind me.

Freedman is troubled. "I think maybe kids have been breaking in and doing rituals; stuff they don't understand. I think they've brought something here that doesn't belong. Strong enough to stop the others making any contact with us."

Part of her theory is borne out when three men stop by from the security firm that monitors the property. They show her a room where they found a circle of candles and burned herbs. The debris is still there.

The men tell of how the inn's sensor-alarms will go off in sequence "as if someone has walked from one end of the building to the other. But then there's no one here."

Often, they say, different lights are on and off when they visit and outside there's always the feeling of being watched. From anywhere in particular?

"The sixth floor."

We're back in a room where Freedman is trying to communicate with whatever she's sensing up there. Suddenly, Webber and Star photographer Steve Russell have stabbing pains above their left eye. Webber's afraid she's going to throw up.

There's a burning smell at the end of the hall. It comes and goes abruptly and never lasts long. But it's unmistakable.

The long night ends with hours of audio and video tape to be reviewed for whatever they may have picked up.

"It'll be interesting to see what happens when the new place goes up," says Freedman. "I wouldn't want to be the guy who tears this place down. I think he'll find he has problems."

As he prepares to leave, Russell walks by a ground-floor room that is in darkness. Moments later, when he turns around, the light is burning.

Taken from the Toronto Star Article by Bill Taylor
HRG and the Searchers Group attended the Guild Inn for the purpose of an investigation, which attendance was arranged by David Soknacki, councillor for Scarborough East. We are grateful to Mr. Soknacki's assistant, Stephanie Ford who was extremely helpful with respect to  arranging all that was necessary for our visit.

We have been told that although the Guild Inn will be torn down to make room for a new building, the concept for the new building will be similar to the old, with the panels, woodwork and other interior fixtures from the old building being refitted into the new. There are, apparently, plans for a spa and hotel amongst plans for other similarities to the old Guild Inn. 

We were also made aware that artists will once again be encouraged to work on the premises. In other words the grand dame of Scarborough may once again live in some resemblance to what was. Councilman Soknacki, his staff and community have been working diligently to restore the Guild and its facilities to its once former glory. We were also informed by Ms. Ford that the buildings are currently being audited and the Studio is restorable.

The grounds of the Guild are still maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of Toronto and are there to be enjoyed during daytime hours by the public. The actual inn however remains fenced off and under surveillance on a 24/7 basis and is for the most part no longer safe. Trepass and you will be charged.

It is a shame that the old girl has been allowed to descend into what is now beyond repair, however it is heartening to know that what once was, may be again. We are looking forward to it.

Update: July 2008

Many plans that had been tabled for the property are supposedly up in the air once more.

Up-to-date news of the Guild plans can be obtained at 
Although there are many of us that are not a part of the community, we share in their concerns with respect to the Guild Inn and are most thankful for the tireless work and effort of Councilman Soknacki and his staff, the Guildwood Village Community Association and its president, Harry Spindel,  in their attempt to save a true piece of history.

To the right of the page, you will find an article written in the March 30 2006 copy of the Toronto Star by feature writer, Bill Taylor. Bill was a pleasure to meet and is one of the few writers that actually approached his article without forming his opinion prior to meeting with us. He did approach the evening with true skepticism which was as it should be, rather than outright denial. We have always maintained that being skepitcal is a good thing.


Quest for ghostly guests at Scarborough relic
Searchers tap into spirits at the Guild Inn

Mar. 31, 2006

Henry, settle down. Back to your room. 

And listen here, Henry - you're dead. A paranormal investigator says you've been rattling around for 60 years in a hallway of the old Guild Inn in Scarborough. You've become such a noisy ghost the other ghosts are sore at you. 

A skeptic may say encounters with Henry and his fellow spirits in the dark, drafty hotel between Saturday night and Sunday morning were random sounds or imaginations run wild. But Richard Palmisano, director of The Searcher Group, said he's got proof on tape. The Etobicoke resident said recording equipment his team placed in the top floor of the original inn, a converted First World War-era home, picked up Henry "banging around, making a lot of noise" and several clear voices telling him to go back to his room. 
Then the tapping started. 

For two years after 1945, the inn was a military hospital treating patients for shellshock. Palmisano said he thinks some traumatised men remain as spectres, Henry among them. "These people or these spirits are communicating via the radiators in Morse code," he said. "It was probably because the nurses were there and they weren't allowed to talk." The voices and sounds on the tape cannot be accounted for, Palmisano said - not by teenagers lurking outside, the raccoons that now roam the Guild at will or the many curious humans in the doomed building that night. 

"Would we hear them if we were standing in the hallway? Maybe, maybe not," said Palmisano, who acknowledged the number of people alongside his five-member team made investigations difficult. 

"We like to work in a controlled environment." 

Paranormal researchers had their first look at the Guild and the tunnels beneath it in 2001, just months before the building closed for good. 

This time, they were guided by Krystal Leigh, a friend of Palmisano who, like her mother and grandmother, once worked at the inn, most notable for having been the centre of an artists colony on the Scarborough Bluffs. 

Another Searcher member who is "sensitive" to spirits picked three places she felt were particularly active for monitoring: the top-floor hallway, the kitchen and the sixth floor of the 1967 expansion to the inn. 

Ward 43 Councillor David Soknacki (Scarborough East) convinced the dubious parks department to let the group spend the night and dropped by himself, as did some security officers and Guild enthusiasts from the area. 

Soknacki remains skeptical about spirits and said the result was "just 16 adults enjoying themselves for an evening. We didn't have evidence (of a ghost) that more than one person saw at a time." 

None of the lights or toilets work in the inn, but the elevators do, for safety reasons. "Animals have gotten in. Moisture has gotten in," said Soknacki, whose assistant's nephew shot a picture on the sixth floor that contains a ghostly head. "I think it's nothing but a pre-flash in a mirror." 

The councillor hopes to see the Scarborough landmark torn down and resurrected as a boutique hotel, spa and culinary centre in the midst of a park the city will continue to run. 

After years of failed bids and slow negotiations, Soknacki suggested he is within weeks of announcing a deal. 

Palmisano, 44, said he'd like to be there when the inn is torn down, particularly so he can see the full extent of the tunnels. The spirits won't be going anywhere, he said, though each will eventually make a decision to move on. 

"If they're stuck in 1944, they will see the Guild as it is in 1944." 

An author with a career in corporate security, Palmisano said he'll supply the city with a full report. He grew up in a haunted Toronto house and enjoys solving mysteries, he said, but he and his friends are not "ghostbusters." 

"We don't clear houses. I know a couple of groups that do it and I disagree with it," Palmisano said, adding ghosts are "there for a higher reason" and he doesn't want to disrupt the balance between good and bad spirits in such places. 

People call his Searchers in to understand the spirits and for "conflict resolution" so they can stop doing things that upset or annoy resident ghosts. Sometimes that's children tracking mud into a house. 

Renovations top the list of ghost peeves, comparable to "sneaking into a blind person's house and changing the furniture around," according to Palmisano, who said ghosts communicate displeasure in the best ways they can, such as flickering lights and making sounds. 

The Guild Inn is owned by the city and its grounds are a public park 
Artists who worked there in a colony, The Guild of All Arts, include Group of Seven painters A.Y. Jackson and A.J. Casson 
Number of sculptures and fragments of other buildings on the grounds: 70 
Estimated number of resident ghosts: 30 

Guild Inn, Scarborough, Ontario
Founded in 1999