Thursday, July 16, 2015

Canada: University College Ghost

The original structure that sits on the University of Toronto’s campus is a formidable building known as University College or U. C. for short.

This building is in the Gothic Revival style and it has many ornate medieval features including gargoyles, cloisters, balustrades, leaded windows, flying buttresses and a roundhouse known as Croft Chapter House which has an impressive rose window.

The corridors of this building are haunted by one of the men who carved many of the gargoyles that adorn it.

University College
This ghostly tale of woe remains a popular story on campus today. It involves two stonemasons one a burly Russian, Ivan Reznikoff and the other a wily Greek, Paul Diabolos.

These two men had the misfortune to be in love with the same woman—Susie the daughter of a local publican. A feckless woman, Susie was engaged to the Russian but was seeing the Greek on the side.

She played Reznikoff for a fool—taking all his money and then eloped with Diabolos.

In the late 1950s students, staff and facility often retold stories of encounters with Reznikoff’s ghost known as the U.C. Ghost. His skull is displayed in the Principal’s office in U.C.

This haunting is unusual in that the ghost of Reznikoff himself told a student at the college in the 1870s about how and why he was murdered.

Allen Aylesworth * was walking across campus one night when he encountered a strange man with a beard wearing a tall hat.

Ayleworth greeted the man, “Cold night.”

To which the man replied, “It’s always cold with me.”

Aylesworth invited the man into his student quarters and as they sat by the fire his guest introduced himself as Ivan Reznikoff.

He told him that he and another man, Paul Diabolos were hired to carve trimmings for the University College building.

One afternoon as the two men carved gargoyles the Greek pointed out his work to the Russian and asked, “Does that remind you of someone?”

The Russian shook his head.

Gargoyles Greek carved.
“It is supposed to be you.” The Greek then pointed out his own likeness on another gargoyle and stated, “It is me laughing behind your back.”

“Why?”, asked the Russian.

The Greek told him that his betrothed Susie was unfaithful for she was dating him as well.

That night Reznikoff followed Susie and sure enough she met the Greek. In a rage, the Russian picked up a double-headed axe and swung at Diabolos.

The axe missed and left a gash in the thick oak panel of the roundhouse door.

Door with gash
Later that night the Greek crept up on the Russian and stabbed him to death with his knife. He then threw his body down an unfinished stairwell.

It dawned on Aylesworth that the Russian who was telling him this story was the murdered stonemason and a ghost. But before he could react the figure in front of him vanished into thin air.

The only evidence he had been there was an unfinished glass of wine.

Aylesworth later learned that after University College was burned in a fire in 1890 workman uncovered in the stairwell the remains of a man—skull and bones.

Today, guides still point out the gash on the door and the twin gargoyles that the Greek carved—one grinning the other grimacing.

* Allen Aylesworth after graduating was called to the bar of Ontario in 1878, becoming a member of the House of Commons, a member of Laurier’s Cabinet, a member of the Senate, and finally Sir Allen Aylesworth.

No comments: