Mr. Christie Makes Good Secret Chambers In Which To Imprison A Mistress by Adam Bunch

Okay, so here's the story of William Mellis Christie and his son, Robert. The elder Mr. Christie came to Toronto from Scotland when he was still a teenager and got a job at a bakery near Yonge and Davisville. He'd spend his nights baking and in the mornings he'd push a handcart down into the village of Yorkville to sell his goods. Things went well. Within a few years, he owned his own company. He partnered with his old boss and started winning awards for his cookies. From there, the business expanded quickly. In 1860, when he was 30 years old, Mr. Christie had a staff of five people baking by hand. By 1874, the steam-powered Christie, Brown and Company factory took up an entire city block between King and Adelaide (where George Brown College is now).  Less than twenty years after that, he employed two out of every three people in entire Canadian biscuit manufacturing industry.

When he died, in the year 1900, William Mellis Christie was one of the most famous businessmen in Toronto. He'd built a fortune. Lived in a mansion across from Queen's Park at the corner of Wellesley. Christie Street was named in his honour. As he was laid to rest in Mount Pleasant cemetery, his son, Robert, inherited it all: the money, the business and the Christie Mansion.

And that, if you believe the rumours, is when things got weird.

Robert, you see, had a mistress. And while he was living there with his family, he decided to have her move in as well. He kept her hidden in a secret chamber behind the wood paneling in the library. It was fully furnished, with a bed and a bathroom and a butler to bring her all of her meals so that she would never have to leave. She would just hang out in there, waiting for him to visit so they could have sex and carry on whatever twisted semblance of a romantic life you can when one of you is being held in the secret room of a Victorian mansion by your lunatic cookie baron lover, slowly going mad as he loses interest and you're left alone more and more often, hour after hour after hour, until you finally can't take it any more and you hang yourself from the rafters.

Her ghost, as you might expect, still walks the halls of the mansion some nights, scaring the crap out of the Jesuits who run the place—it's Regis College now, part of the University of Toronto.

Photo: Christie Mansion (via Nightmare Revue, which does Ghost Tours of Toronto)

Adam Bunch is the Editor-in-Chief of the Little Red Umbrella and the creator of the Toronto Dreams Project. You can read his posts here, follow him on Twitter here, or email him at

This post originally appeared on the Toronto Dreams Project Historical Ephemera Blog, which tells stories about the history of Toronto, including tales of bank robbers, duels and 100 year-old fish. You can read more highlights from it here, or visit it yourself here.


Anonymous said...

Interesting story although the only references I can find about a son named Robert appear only in ghost stories. William Mellis Christie's sons reportedly both died in 1868 due to illness - James and William Jr (Willie) at aged 8 and 8 months. No mention of a Robert. A great story nonetheless...

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