This particular story seems to be a favourite of Colombo's as it is a major part of his book, Haunted Toronto.
At the corner of Manning and Ulster Streets near Harbord stands the Anglican church of St. Mary Magdalene, where there are reports of a type of apparition known as a grey lady. This grey lady was first reported by the late Dr. Healey Willan, church organist and choirmaster, who reported seeing the apparition once while practicing with the doors of the church locked from the inside. He also had a second sighting of the same lady outside the church during a garden party.
Dr. Elmer Iseler, another choirmaster, also saw the apparition outside near the northeast part of the church property. Apparently, the smell of cheap perfume also accompanies the ghost.
Update September 2008
Our reader writes:
In September 2006 I had occasion to be working in the basement level at the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Toronto. On the early evening hour in question I was alone in the building, to my knowledge: I had walked down to the basement level via an interior staircase leading from the Manning street entrance. Doing so required that I pass by the entrances to the parish office and the church interior, both of which were dark. Approximately 5minutes after I entered the basement area and sat down to begin some work I had been assigned to tend to there, I heard three rhythmic footsteps in the ceiling above me, which sounded undeniably like shoes making contact with an old wooden floor in a resonant space. Nothing ominous or loud, they were actually rather timid, kind of like the sound a teenager would make sneaking inside late at night, trying not to wake anyone up, but creaking the floors anyway. I immediately figured there must be a caretaker or priest puttering around in the main church interior, possibly walking around on its old wooden floor running various usual errands, etc.
I used to work often in churches, and am used to a pretty wide repertoire of noises - sometimes really creepy ones, too! I must say this was different; there were the usual routine creaks and groans coming from the heating and water pipes simultaneously, but these footstep noises were decidedly distinct from all that.
The noise itself wasn't particularly creepy, only that I didn't think anyone was in the building...that was kind of creepy. I still didn't really think much of anything of this, though I still was slightly surprised,
because I'd really thought I was alone that evening. Furthermore, these footsteps did not sound particularly "purposeful" to me; they only sounded three at a time, and didn't possess the irregularity of someone walking
around a church doing something "purposeful" like cleaning, dusting, shelving books, etc, shifting their weight around, etc. Still, I returned to what I was doing, trying to ignore the noise and how real it was! Within
about 20 seconds, I heard exactly the same thing again; again I ignored the sound with increasing difficulty, as I was starting to get scared.
Again 20 seconds later the same thing. Three at a time, each time! What concerned me somewhat is that the church itself, the only space in the building which could produce such a resonant noise, was not in fact above me, but further to the south end of the building. I know for a fact that the space directly above me at that point was a small, quiet, carpeted room, not a large, resonant one.
It is hard for me to describe exactly "where" the steps sound appeared to be originating from - the best way for me to describe it is that it sounded like someone walking directly on the ceiling above me from the other side of the plaster, but that the noise was also resonating generally "from the rafters" above my head, and from there resonating in the room and in the walls where I was sitting. When I realized what I was hearing over my head was coming from a small carpeted room, and not the church itself, I have to admit I really was good and frightened. I immediately exited the building without delay and circulated around the building via Ulster and Manning to see that the church and the office area were both completely dark. I did not see or hear anything subsequently, but in all fairness, I did ensure to never put myself in a position to experience that again! I did mention my experience to several individuals who worked at the church, and also several who were involved there on a regular basis; all seemed both amused and unsurprised by my account; some hypothesized that I'd had an experience with the church's fabled "Grey Lady." I'd really hope anyone who might have had similar experiences in the building to 'fess up as I have!
Our thank to the witness who shared these experiences with us.