The Keg Mansion was built sometime between 1867-1868 by Arthur R. McMaster on land given to him by his uncle, William McMaster, the first president of the Canadian Bank of Commerce and founder of McMaster University. It is a great example of mid-19th century Canadian gothic revival architecture and has survived remarkably well over the last 150-ish years.
After the death of A.R. McMaster in 1881, the house was sold to the Massey family who named the building Euclid Hall after a street in Cleveland. It remained with the Massey family until around 1915 when it began a continuous lifecycle as an ever changing commercial property. In 1976, the Keg took ownership of the building from another restaurant/pub combo (Julie’s Mansion and the Bombay Bicycle Club) and vowed to preserve and keep the building’s history alive.
To the people of Toronto, the Keg Mansion is known for its neverending ghost stories, so it seemed like an appropriate place to go for a pre-Halloween dinner.
The Oval Vestibule
The oval vestibule is located just outside the women’s bathroom on the second floor of the restaurant. From the vestibule you can look down and see the marble checkerboard floors of the main lobby.
We asked our server if she had any ghost stories to tell. She’s a long term employee at the Keg Mansion and has heard many many stories from patrons and staff over the years. The one that stuck out in her mind was that of a father and daughter who came to the restaurant after a gymnastics competition in the city. The two were from out of town and knew nothing about the restaurant before stopping by “The Keg” for a meal.
The girl was 10-years old and went to the washroom at some point during the meal. A while later she came back to the table crying. She told her father that while standing by the oval vestibule outside the washroom, someone tried to push her over the edge of the railing. When she turned around, no one was there.
It was only after talking to the waitress did they learn that this is where Lillian Massey’s maid committed suicide shortly after the death of her employer. Others have claimed to see the maid’s body hanging from the vestibule. The two were understandably freaked out and left the building rather quickly.
To get to the library, you walk into the main dining room area, past all the chairs, and through a small entrance at the back of the room. The entrance leads into a tiny room full of books and historic tchotchke.
We were seated at a cozy booth in this recently opened Library. The booth is only one of two that exist in the building. The original library was located beside the kitchen and was not accessible to the public; however, after a fire the owners decided to move library to an area that once held a salad bar and convert it into a seating area.
While here we experienced nothing out of the ordinary… only a couple of periodic chills, great steaks, and a delicious crème brûlée. We liked the cozy feeling of the room and being away from the main dining area. It seems like it would be an interesting place to hang out on a cold, blustery, winter day.