The University of Toronto Haunting

The University of Toronto Haunting

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.

Conversation With a Ghost

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…

The Stonemason

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!

The Affair 

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.

The Affair 

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?

The Discovery

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.

Aftermath of the Fire
Aftermath of the Fire

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…

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the subject we have covered here, please leave them in the comment section below.

10 thoughts on “The University of Toronto Haunting

  1. I’ve always been interested in the paranormal but very skeptical at the same time, I came across this article while looking for evidence that ghosts might be real and found it very interesting. I’m still yet to be convinced as I am only reading about a story somebody said and not any actual evidence.

    I know that the body of Reznikoff was found where Aylesworth claimed it would be about that was only after it was found. Do you have any concrete evidence that this actually happened?

    1. Wow…

      Concrete evidence and the paranormal don’t normally go hand in hand Matthew. If I had concrete evidence I’d be living on a small island that I own by now! 🙂

  2. I must say that this story is very interesting and a little scary. Honestly, I would be afraid to stay a night at that University, I don’t believe in ghosts but something definitely happened. Is it confirmed which body is it? Thanks for sharing such a great and interesting story. 

    All the best, Daniel

    1. Well the report suggests, or leans towards the body being that of Reznikoff. I don’t suppose they can check due to the age of the body/crime (doubt they had DNA reports etc). 

  3. Dear Chris,

    Wow, thanks again for another interesting post, as always you covered all the details and every single time I read an article of yours I learn so much new information!

    Nice article. I really enjoyed the content and in the manner that you presented.

    This was terrifying and I am running out of words and to be honest I don’t know what to say. There are many stories like this everywhere and it is really hard to neglect it. I am always enjoying your posts.

    Best wishes to you, your family and your success, 

    Warm Regards


  4. This is a very interesting piece. Though I have never had ant personal experience with a ghost before, but my religion and traditional culture made me believe the existence of ghost. Although science and technology have made so many people, especially the younger generation to believe contrary. But truth is, ghosts do exists and they mostly appear to people through dreams. Although there is not scientific proof to justify the claims, but traditions made us believe it. 

    1. That’s an interesting angle there mate! So your religion/beliefs point to ghosts appearing to people in their dreams?

      Would love to hear more about that at some point (if you have the time!)…

  5. Interesting read! You’re an excellent writter and story teller. Where can i read up further on this story? I’m into ghost and paranormal stories so I’m always looking for new stuff to read. I know many people don’t belive in ghosts but I’m a beliver and have had first hand experice with the paranormal. Bookmarked your site for later.

    1. Well Google is your friend Ezra (as are we!)  🙂

      There are numerous articles on this subject online. We had to slightly condense this article to make it more ‘readable’.

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