The Spooky Case of T.O.’s Ambrose Small
The ghost of this tycoon is said to still visit his favourite theatre, 90 years after disappearing
AS HALLOWEEN 2009 approaches, the 90th anniversary of the saga of Ambrose Small remains T.O.’s greatest mystery. The sudden disappearance of the local theatre tycoon back in 1919 sent shock waves through Toronto and set tongues wagging as police pulled out all the stops to investigate what happened to one of their most prominent citizens. Small was reportedly last seen in front of his office at the Grand Opera House, purchasing a newspaper. He was heading to his Rosedale mansion, but then vanished without a trace.
Everybody in town had their own theory as to where Small — who had just deposited more than a million dollars in his bank account — might have gone. As the investigation went forward, psychics came out of the woodwork, claiming he had been kidnapped, was the victim of amnesia, had escaped the country with secret funds. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame, was offered the case. (He refused.) Many theorized that Small’s wife Theresa had motive and could have hidden the evidence before anybody noticed he was gone. Soon, Small’s penchant for illegal gambling, shady business deals and women of ill repute came to light, and as his bank account continued to remain untouched, all signs seemed to point to murder — but a body was never found.
Meanwhile, after his disappearance, strange things started to happen at the Grand Theatre in London, Ont., the favourite of all of Small’s properties. Actors and patrons have reported phantom footsteps, voices in the darkness, lights that turn off for no reason and, most disturbing, the figure of a man in the left-hand balcony beside the stage — the balcony where Small had his private box. It is also rumoured that Small’s body is actually buried underneath a secret passageway that connects a Rosedale home to its coach house.
So this Halloween, if you see someone with a mustache, carrying a newspaper coming up your front walk, ask him where he hid his millions, it might be your lucky day.