Toronto’s Horse Palace investigated by journalists, influencers

It was VIPs only for a ghost investigation at Exhibition Place’s Horse Palace with the Canadian Paranormal Investigations team and Instagram maven Krista Maryk.

On a late September evening in Toronto, journalists Geoff Rohoman, Liz Braun and TV personality Desta Ostapyk, as well as other guests of the Fall Home Show, were handed EMF detectors, dowsing rods and encouraged to communicate with those beyond the five senses.

Glenn Laycock and Angel Morgan provided the know-how, and the equipment was courtesy of Spirit Hunters Ontario. The two work together as part of a team to resolve any hauntings. Nine times out of 10, according to Morgan, it’s not a haunting.

“We are very team-oriented, so we don’t do anything without the others knowing,” the 51-year-old said, after the Horse Palace investigation. “It’s either somebody who is hoping to experience a haunting or thinks they might be (haunted) and they’re really afraid.”

They go in, much like at the Horse Palace, and assess what’s really going on at an allegedly haunted location.

On this particular evening, Morgan, who is a medium, spoke to the guests and walked around the stables, while Laycock placed a spirit box close to a column, where echoing voices uttered undiscernible words.

Morgan is also an animal communicator and she said she sensed the spirit of a cat in the kitchen of the stable’s bar, the Bit and Bridle Pub.

Brian Baker/The Superstitious Times
Desta Ostapyk uses dowsing rods to communicate with alleged spirits in the Bit and Bridle Pub.

Each stop on the tour of the stables was introduced by historic tour guide Steve Collie of After Dark Tours. He shared the story of a ghost of an officer who rides his horse down the aisle. As it turns out, he was a former police officer who died after suffering a heart attack in the building.

“When I do a tour, I really research it,” he said. “You got to have the right information and it’s got to be accurate.”

Collie has been providing guests with historical knowledge since 2006 when he first started working with Heritage Toronto. For him, the Exhibition Place is a very active location, even if there are naysayers.

“There are a lot of people who say, ‘I won’t believe until it happens to me’,” he admitted, after the tour, adding every time he goes into the Horse Palace, he gets light-headed.

Hauntings are a 24-hour occurrence, he added. It’s just that people tend to miss the daytime events because they’re engrossed in their lives.

His passion for the paranormal is rooted in his near-death experience at the age of six. He lost vital signs after a car accident and was revived after being taken, by car, to the hospital. During his departure, he had a brush with the other side.

“Basically, I died and came back, and I remember holding some old guy’s hand and walking into a bright room with a bunch of old people,” Collie recalled. “And all the old people said, ‘That’s Anne’s boy. He shouldn’t be here.’

“The next thing, I woke up and my mom was in the room next to the operating room crying.”

Brian Baker/The Superstitious Times
Steve Collie shares the history of the Bit and Bridle Pub at the Exhibition’s Horse Palace.

The Horse Palace was designed in Art Deco fashion and constructed in 1931. J.J. Woolnough was the architect behind the design, which brought together all three levels of government for funding to provide stable accommodations for horses.

Between 1942 and 1946, the grounds of Exhibition Park were occupied by the Canadian military. The Army used the Horse Palace as its barracks for soldiers waiting to go overseas to fight in the war effort. Evidence of their time at the palace is etched into the bricks of the stairwells.

Although the Toronto Police Service has had a presence in the building since 1931, it wasn’t until 1968 that they made it the permanent home for their mounted unit.

It had been a busy September for Maryk, who also investigates Ontario haunts for the Walking Among Us team. The social media influencer was the host for the tour.

She first started her paranormal career on YouTube and then switched to TikTok, where her presence was noticed. Maryk said she keeps her paranormal tank running on full through investigating haunted locations in Canada, Los Angeles and even Hawaii.

But the Horse Palace was a return visit for her, and this time it yielded some new evidence.

“Right before we met up with everyone for the tour, we did a walkthrough of the stables. I was the last one coming down the ramp and something tugged on the back of my sweater,” she said. “I thought maybe it was my bag or something. No one was behind me.”

After retracing her steps, she couldn’t repeat the same sensation.

“I always try to debunk what’s happening to me because I don’t ever want to assume it’s paranormal,” she said, adding she spoke with investigator Laycock about the occurrence. “(But) there was no other way. Something definitely tugged on the back of my sweater.”

Brian Baker/The Superstitious Times
WWII soldiers waiting to go overseas etched their names and details into the bricks at the Horse Palace.

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