Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Ghost of Ambrose Small

Ambrose Small, a millionaire Canadian theatre producer, disappeared in 1919 without a trace. This crime at the time was touted in international newspapers as the “Crime of the Century.” 

His disappearance is considered one of Canada’s great mysteries for this case has never been solved.

Just the day after Small sold his theatre chain for 1.7 million dollars, he was seen leaving--The Grand Opera House in downtown Toronto, Ontario after a night performance. He was then seen buying a newspaper and was never seen again.

Toronto Grand Opera House
Last place, Small was seen.

A $50,000 reward was offered, and the police conducted an extensive search--literally for years afterward-- but no valuable leads were ever discovered. Small was declared legally dead in 1923 but the case was not officially closed until 1960.

People are still fascinated by this case, and several books have been written about it.  

Yet another mystery is connected to Ambrose Small for it is said he still watches over--haunts-- his favorite theatre, The New Grand Opera House located in London, Ontario that he opened in 1901. 

Today this theatre is called The Grand Theatre.

Just a month after his disappearance a night watchman at the New Grand Opera House reported seeing a ghost that looked like Mr. Small.

Ever since there have been countless sightings of Ambrose Small in this theatre. Small’s apparition has been seen by cast, crew, and theatre patrons. He is often seen in his favorite balcony box sitting in his favorite seat.

Even when his ghost is not seen, the seat on this chair is observed going down when he arrives and popping back up when he leaves. It is said he never misses an opening night.

He is also often spotted walking the theatre's catwalks. Phantom footsteps have been heard for years around the theatre.

A ladies man in life--Small is said to still be partial to the ladies. Several actresses that have performed at the theatre over the years state that they heard their name whispered in their ear and have felt something messing with the hem of their gowns.

Actors have even reported seeing him floating above the heads of the audience during performances.

The following are two famous sightings of Ambrose Small's ghost:

In 1927, comedian Beatrice Lillie saw Small's ghost beckon to her during a performance. It is said as she moved toward him, a prop chandelier crashed down, almost hitting her.

In the summer of 1957, a teenager Jay Campbell who later was to become a local television meteorologist and his girlfriend, saw a figure climbing a ladder off stage. "It really didn't look like a person, but from the waist up, it had the form of a person."

The theatre's electrical equipment often malfunctions. These occurrences are always blamed on Small. 

But Small is considered a benevolent ghost, and he performed an excellent service for the theatre in 1977, which many appreciate. At this time, the theatre was undergoing an extensive renovation.

A backhoe that was being used to knock down a wall came to close to the theatre’s historic west wall arch mural. This painting, if destroyed, could not be replaced. 

It is said this machine stalled without cause just seconds before this wall came crashing down. It is felt Small stopped this machine. To this day, the theatre displays the two remaining bricks that kept this arch in place.

The Grand Theatre Arch
Recently, people in various parts of the theatre have heard an unexplained “hissing sound.” The source of this sound has yet to be discovered. Some feel it must be Ambrose Small just making his presence known.

This link is to an interesting 7-8 minute video on youtube that has witness descriptions of many of the encounters with Ambrose Small’s ghost at The Grand Theatre.

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