The Old Bank of Montreal and the New Hockey Hall of Fame
Written by Matthew Didier
I used to work as a bank teller for the Bank of Montreal (BMO) when this Front St. building was still a functioning branch. Stories about a mysterious teller abounded, and a few employees would refuse transfer to this branch because of its resident ghost.
Built in 1888 for BMO, the building remained a branch until 1993 when it became the new Hockey Hall of Fame. The story I heard as a teller goes like this...
In the early part of this century, there was a robbery at the branch in which a young woman was shot and killed. Her apparition is said to wander around the bank, especially near the area where she died --the vault. Another version of the story gives a name to the teller -- Dorthy -- and describes her as a distraught teller who took the bank's pistol, went upstairs and shot herself over a love affair gone bad.
Either way, the tales of the ghost are effectively the same; a woman in old-fashioned dress appearing near the offices and vault, and also poltergeist activity, such as lights going on and off and doors opening, closing and locking by themselves. Once, I was in the building (before its conversion to the Hockey Hall of Fame) and noticed several cold spots in and around the branch, but nothing more than that. If the new tenants have experienced anything, I have yet to read or hear of a report. Perhaps Dorthy isn't a fan of hockey.
UPDATE: This was recently sent in by one of our readers...
I saw the article on your organization in the GTA Today newspaper (October 13th, 2000), so I decided to take a look at your site. I have had a fascination with ghosts etc. since childhood, (I used to make my parents take me to graveyards just in case they were haunted) and I am always interested in any local lore so your site and organization really appeal to me.
I looked at the article about the old Bank of Montreal Building, now the Hockey Hall of Fame. I noticed that the author says that no reports have been given of any activity there since the building's conversion to the Hall of Fame. I've had communications with someone there and they have told me on a number of occasions that although they had personally not had any dealings with Dorothy (by the way, the second scenario is the better known one at the Hall), the people they work with have experienced cold patches and poltergeist activity, and a couple of the night staff have also seen her.
So Dorothy is still around, whether she likes hockey or not!
UPDATE: Another note sent in by one of our readers...
The first time I personally heard someone's account of Dorothy was when an employee from an adjoining office tower came to the administrative offices and demanded that we take our ghost back. She insisted that strange things were happening in her office and that she didn't want Dorothy there anymore.
We all chuckled at this, not believing that it could possibly be true. However, many of us had second thoughts about this when a coworker experienced something unnerving one night. It was a Saturday and the Hall was closing. It was this employees responsibility to ensure that the Great Hall (the Bank of Montreal) was empty of visitors. As she was walking up the stairs a young boy was coming down. She asked him if there was anyone left up there and he said there was a woman walking into the vault wearing a long white dress.
The employee proceeded upstairs and was greeted with a blast of cold air but there wasn't a soul in sight.
Now, there are elevators that lead to the floor and the offices but they weren't working that day so the only way out was down the stairs that she had just come up.
She was extremely unsettled after that and for a long time refused to do the end of the day sweep.
Whether or not these accounts are true, it adds to the mystique of a building that many consider a shrine.
Update: November 13th, 2005: A reader sent in the following report...
Read your story on Dorothy the ghost and have an interesting update.
I was one of the last Bank of Montreal employees to have worked at the branch in the mid 80's. At that time it was being used as general office space for the computer architecture group of the bank.
I look back fondly on having had the opportunity to work in this building. It's not often that you get to work in a place where you can claim you couldn't get your project deliverable completed in time because "Dorothy" took it. Even better, everyone believes you! Dorothy's antics were very real to the team of approx. 40 people that had their office cubicles on the main banking level. Several of our team refused go to the basement coffee room (a spooky place more akin to the dungeon of a castle) and even more of the staff refused to stay past six in the evening when the real antics started. The stories were not widely circulated at the time as we also held on to the very real thought that speaking out would be a 'career limiting move'. They Dorothy stories were reserved for the Friday afternoon team get togethers. Now that I'm retired, I guess I can speak up.
Imagine leaving your desk to go two cubicles over to use the copy machine and coming back to find your desk in disarray, your coffee split and your filing cabinets locked. Hardly a prank, as there were only three people in the building and none close enough pull this off. Incidents like this occurred on a regular basis. Less frequently during the day, but with great regularity after 06:00 p.m. As you look to the west side of the banking hall and raise your eyes to the mezzanine level, the walkway in front of the second floor vault (we used it as a conference room) is where Dorothy was rumoured to have made her walks... we unfortunately did not see her. We have not heard the story of the shooting in the vault. Everyone subscribed to the story of Dorothy committing suicide in the third floor women's washrooms after being jilted by the manager who was her lover.
The reason that prompted me to write is that it's nearing Halloween and it brings back an amusing story from twenty years ago. Working late on Halloween night, three of us were about to make our nightly exit out the back entrance (west side of the building- exiting to Front Street). Talk of Halloween got the three of us onto the story of Dorothy. Before we knew it, we had talked ourselves into visiting the upper floors which were accessible by the back stairway but had not been used for many years. In fact, I had not really 'seen' these stairs even though I passed by them on a daily basis. Yet there they were, and we looked at them as if for the first time. As we started up, we couldn't help but feel as if we had been thrown into a 'scary movie'. The heavy wooden railing, squeaky wooden steps, deserted building, low lighting. Imagine 3 grown adults literally 'afraid' to go up the stairs. To add to this (whether it's our own anxieties or reality), the chill we so often felt in our down stairs cafeteria was suddenly multiplied by 10 as we proceeded up the wooden stair case. As with any good ghost story, the lights would not work. Upstairs, the dim light cast by the street lights enabled us to complete the tour of the unused managers residence and even get a close up look at the huge glass center ceiling fixture that overhangs the banking hall. We even found the washroom which we believed was the location of the suicide.
We saw nothing unusual but it's clear in our minds today that the tension and the chill that followed our 10 minute visit subsided the instant we got back down to the second floor.
There are many personal experiences with Dorothy that can be still be recounted by the AD&D employees of that time. None of us went to the building believing in ghosts and we all remain skeptical. I can't believe that so many could fall victim to group hypnosis or have fallen victim to a hoax. The team worked closely together before and after leaving the old branch but never experienced anything closely similar either before or after having worked at the branch. Something special is there.
As an added note, your site alludes to Dorothy having moved across to BCE place. The story I heard was that the parking elevator in the south east corner (no more that 100 feet from Dorothy's favourite second floor walkway) is where she has been sighted.
Our thank you to the reporter for sharing the above with us and our readers.
The above report was submitted to Sue Darroch, director of ParaResearchers for The Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society.
I have read the stories on "Dorothy" the ghost which allegedly haunts the old Bank of Montreal which is now the Hockey Hall of Fame. During my high school days I had a part-time job as part of the security department at the Hockey Hall of Fame (Building Services). I worked there until about 8 years ago and have experienced several eerie situations which lead me to believe that the building is haunted. The story of Dorothy which I am familiar with is the one that she shot herself in the upstairs office washroom over a love affair with a co-worker.
My first personal experience with Dorothy happened about a year after I had started working in the building. Until this point the only things even close to a haunting which I had experienced where a few lights which were left on even though I could have sworn I had turned them off and the odd vertical blind dropping suddenly....basically things that could be written off to an active imagination. I used to open on weekend mornings and part of my duties would be to turn everything on and make my rounds of the building. I was on the second floor in the meeting room across the hall from where Dorothy had allegedly killed herself. It was about 7am and I was checking the windows in the kitchen beside the Board Room to see if they had been closed and locked when I felt a very cold eerie breeze on the back of my neck. You know the kind of feeling that makes all the hairs stand on end. I turned to look where it was coming from and in the Board Room next to me saw the swivel chair at the end of the table slowly finishing a turn as if someone had just gotten out of it and run off. I heard the doors to the elevator open down the hall and as I went to check the elevator display indicated that the elevator had gone to the 3rd floor which requires access with a pass card as that floor is executive offices. Figuring that an employee from upstairs had come in to do some work and I just hadn't seen them I went to the security office and checked on the security computer to see who it was (All employees can only get inside the building by using a pass card so as they swipe there card to unlock the staff door their name and the time is logged into the computer). The only card which had accessed the building in the past 12 hours was my own. Needless to say I reported the incident and refused to do the rounds on my own again.
The next story I have happened on my shift, but I was not directly contacted by Dorothy. It was the middle of the summer on a Saturday and the museum had only been open for a few hours. I got a call on the radio that there was an incident that needed to be reported on the concourse level of the museum by the elevators. I arrived at the scene to be greeted by a set of angry parents insisting that someone was trying to kidnap their son. Apparently according to another employee that was down the hallway from the elevator, the boy had been standing at the elevator staring for several moments. The employee found this strange and decided to keep an eye on the boy for a few minutes. Apparently after a few moments of the boy staring there was a chime from the elevator to indicate that the doors were opening (the employee was in a position down the hall which he could not see the doors of the elevator). The boy slowly walked towards the elevator and then all of a sudden began screaming and kicking and punching. Obviously the parents came running to see what was the matter. When the parents and the employee asked what had happened the boy claimed that when the elevator doors had opened there was a woman in a long white dress inside and she was looking at him and motioning for the boy to come towards her. The boy claimed that as he approached her she attempted to grab him and pull him into the elevator.
After the incident the elevator had got itself stuck on the 3rd floor and had to be recalled manually with a key. Again the 3rd floor is executive offices and can only be accessed by an employee with their pass card. After a thorough examination of the security computer and a police report is was determined that no one had accessed the 3rd floor that day.
In my 6 years working there I had only had an apparent experience with Dorothy these two times. There were many other silly little things that happen in that building though that could only be explained by a haunting. As I had mentioned the blinds will suddenly drop occasionally, lights will be on one minute and then appear to turn themselves off the next minute, and there is an eerie feeling about the building specifically at night.
There is another strange thing that happens in the building. If you visit "The Bell Hall" where the Stanley Cup is displayed you will notice that there is a big old fashioned bank clock on the balcony. The funny thing is that the clock is missing a hand. The reason for this is that the hand mysteriously disappeared one day. Someone was called to replace it and after a short period of time the new hand disappeared as well. This happened several times before they just gave up trying to replace it. Its weird but very true.
Anyway I know that this all seems a little strange and some of it hard to believe but if you talked to an employee there which had been around for a while (past 10 years), they would most likely be able to confirm at least the story of the little boy.
Our thanks to this witness for the above report.
"I'm not a psychic or clairvoyant but I hear stuff and feel some spirits and actually have talked to one ghost back in my country, Philippines. I am now in Calgary and living here for the past years. My husband told me about the Hockey Hall of Fame paranormal activity. About a lady who took her own life over a man. Just last week, we went to Toronto to visit a friend of mine and my husband took me to HHOF. I love hockey too. I was looking around the. where the Stanley Cup is and I went inside the vault but I didnt feel anything there. But when I got out of the vault, I looked up where the clock is, that's where i felt the strong energy. I'm not sure if it happened on the room on the left hand side. And my husband had goosebumps. He felt his hair stood up on the back of his neck. Well that's my story and have a good day. God bless.."