There are many Ridley ghost stories; here are but a few as shared to us by Don Rickers Director of admissions.
In 1925, a teacher was staying on the third floor of School House over the Christmas holidays. He was awakened by a noise coming from a hallway door, behind which was a small service elevator. (The elevator car was on the ground floor.) The dazed man opened the door in the darkness and leaned in, and was in danger of falling into the elevator shaft. However, he felt a hand grab him by the shoulder, and pull him back to safety. A benevolent spirit, perhaps?
Stories persist of ghost sightings in the bowels of the Middle School. Some swear the apparition is Herbie Morgan, the reclusive gardener who toiled at the school for years. Others suggest that the sightings are of Mr. Steciw, the curmudgeonly shop teacher.
But most of the ghostly sightings have been here, in the Memorial Chapel, this monument to the sacrifice of young Ridleians who paid the supreme sacrifice on distant battlefields.
Former teacher, assistant headmaster, and housemaster Maurice Cooke on one occasion noticed that the lights were on in the chapel late one night. He went down to investigate, along with his faithful dog, Labby. Upon entering through the tunnel, Mr. Cooke sensed something unusual, and felt a chill down his spine. Labby growled and refused to enter. This is consistent with other paranormal experiences, in which animals seem to sense the presence of a spirit, and exhibit nervous behavior.
Mrs. Trish Loat, a long-time Ridley staffer in the academics office, had a paranormal experience in the chapel. About ten years ago, she entered a darkened chapel, and began flicking on the lights. As she did so, she saw a swirling mass of smoke or vapour cross the front of the chapel, and disappear into a wall. The imaginings of a crazy woman? I think not!
A retired Ridleian from Halifax, Frank Tooton, sent me an e-mail after my Ghosts of Ridley article appeared in Tiger magazine a couple years ago. He wrote that while he was a Ridley student, one morning he approached the Ridley chapel and saw an old man standing outside. As he drew nearer, the figure simply faded away! A former headmaster or chaplain, perhaps?
But the most compelling testimony comes from Mair Mackey, the wife of former Middle School teacher David Mackie. Mair spent countless hours over the past few decades decorating and cleaning the chapel. Her first experience was her awareness that she was being followed as she walked down the center aisle one day. She clearly heard footsteps behind her. When she stopped and turned, no one was there. On the second occasion, she entered the chapel and witnessed a solitary young boy at a pew in the corner. As she approached him to ask if anything was wrong, the lad simply vanished into thin air!
And most recently I have learned of an apparition in Gooderham House, known as the Blue Boy, which to this day is an occasional visitor.
These stories are not meant to disturb or scare you, but rather to suggest that there is more to our existence than the mundane routines of classes and meals and hockey practices. If one has faith in an omniscient supreme being far greater than ourselves, it logically follows that one must consider the possibility of an afterlife heaven and hell, if you wish and of the existence of phantoms who languish uncontented on the fringes of the netherworld.
You may visit Ridley's website here: http://www.ridley.on.ca
Updates from our upcoming visit will be posted in the early summer (2006).