This article will be taking a look at how a student learned the identity of the spirit behind the University of Toronto haunting – through a tale of love, betrayal…and sinister murder…
Conversation With a Ghost
A student named Allen Aylesworth was walking through the university grounds some time in the 1870’s, when he encountered a large bearded man wearing a dark hat and long coat. Aylesworth decided to make a little chit-chat by commenting on the cold weather.
The tall dark stranger replied that it was always cold in his world.
This reply interested Aylesworth, so he struck up a conversation with the stranger, who then identified himself as Ivan Reznikoff.
After a few minutes Aylesworth realized that the weather was starting to eat through to his bones, so he invited Reznikoff back to his apartment to get out of the cold. They spent the remainder of the night downing rum and talking…
This conversation managed to reveal the identity of the ghost who was frequently spotted on one of the university stairwells…
Reznikoff explained to Aylesworth that he was a stonemason who worked on the university building and ended up falling for a local lass named Suzie, who he planned to propose to.
Unfortunately a Greek worker named Paul Diabolos was also in love with this local girl…and a feud was born.
The competition was on – and both men set out to show each other up.
This resulted in Diabolos carving a likeness of Reznikoff as one of the leering gargoyles that decorate the corner of the university. Reznikoff was not happy about this – and he realized that Diabolos was actually a more talented stonemason than him!
Diabolos’s witty carving seemed to win Suzie over, and she began having an affair with him. Just before the planned wedding Susie called it off…and ended up getting engaged to the talented Diabolos.
Reznikoff was furious – and chased Diabolos across the university grounds with his trusty axe. They ended up running through the east wing but Diabolos managed to hide and get the drop on Reznikoff, stabbing him the back in the process.
Reznikoff finished his story saying that Diabolos had buried him under the stairs where his undiscovered body still lay.
The other members of the university construction group all thought that Reznikoff had ran off – broken hearted and embarrassed by his loss in love.
Reznikoff then claimed that he had been standing near the stairs where his body was buried, ever since, in the vain hope that someone would discover it.
Aylesworth woke up the following morning and the man named Reznikoff was gone – surely he had drunk too much rum and imagined the ghostly story the stonemason had told him?
In 1890, a devastating fire burnt out a large area of the university and the east wing was gutted by it. During the repair work, after the fire, workers stumbled upon human remains beneath the stairwell.
Allen Bristol Aylesworth, now a successful lawyer, returned to the university grounds and revealed his story. The remains were eventually interred under an old maple tree in the University College’s quadrangle.
Aylesworth went on to become a Canadian Parliamentarian…but he always stuck to his story of meeting the ghost of Reznikoff…
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