The Ghost Hotel

October 24, 2023

Did you know:

From 1916 until 1927 the Ontario Temperance Act prohibited the sale of alcohol in Toronto. Bootleggers ensured a steady flow of alcohol from the United States by travelling across Lake Ontario and delivering their wares to Toronto harbour under the cover of darkness. 

Some of the buildings in Condoland have an infamous history and reputation as “ghost hotels” – condos with a very high percentage of short-term rental properties for people visiting the city for a night, or weekend, on the town. This has led to controversy and a push for short term rental regulations in communities like CityPlace.

Just because you’re dead, doesn’t mean you can’t make a living.

After an ill-fated rum bust claimed the lives of Leo’s entire family — wife, brother, three sons, two daughters, even his mother-in-law — the hardest part about being deceased was being BORED.

Running a lucrative bootlegging business across the border was exciting, dangerous, and — most important — kept everyone occupied, forward thinking and alert.

Leo’s mother always used to say “Idle Hands are the Devil’s Workshop” but for Leo, the busier his hands, the more the Devil really got to WORK.

For such a ghost, and his wayward family, the quiet, safe and repetitive routine of Canoe Landing — with its dog parks and happy families, solo runs at sunrise and walks at sunset — was slowly driving them stir crazy. And the thing with ghosts is, you’re stuck where you land.

That all changed almost 100 years to the day of his death, when Leo stumbled on two of the tallest buildings he’d ever seen in his life, shining like silver bullets straight in the air, with a burst of blue light shining off into the night sky. It reminded him of bright beams of the lighthouses that used to mark their way on their bootlegging routes back in 1916.

Leo was confused. These buildings looked like the high-rises Leo knew from his lifetime. Apartments that would be bustling with neighbours, saying hello in the hallway, going about their day to day, in routines recognizable to each other.

But, in this place – Leo felt like he never saw the same neighbour in the hallway twice. This place was a revolving door of new casts of characters, every weekend, ready to party like it was 1926.

On the rare occasion that Leo witnessed a resident who actually seemed to LIVE there – they looked tired and unhappy and were asking for the building manager.

Although confused – Leo was never one to let an opportunity pass him by. And, to his great fortune he found kindred spirits in those same building managers, who seemed perfectly happy to let Leo start up his brand-new bootlegging enterprise in the topmost floors of their building.

The rum trickled down, and those weekend long parties kept raging. As long as they got their cut, the owners of the building were happy to turn a blind eye.

One of the elevators was commandeered exclusively for the delivery of Leo’s barrels of hooch, causing massive delays for those few, frustrated residents. Fire alarms were constantly tripped — a prank that ghosts just can’t get enough of. 

Leo was back on top, his family was thriving. Sure, he didn’t like the music as much — but boy, his Ghost Hotel was unstoppable. 

And, as he looked over his new, shiny, modern empire, he could only think of his mother’s other favourite saying — “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” And Leo could only tip his glass to the moon over the harbour, take a swig and declare, “I sure hope so Ma…I sure hope so.”