UPDATE: June 2015 - The bookstore has move out of the building, and a large chain drug store has moved in. We visited the site, and the drug store (large chemist's store,) has done a fantastic job of keeping up the old building and honouring the history of the area and the building. It is worth the visit!
The following was sent in by one of our readers...
My boyfriend was the manager of the Famous Players movie theatre at the Runnymede before it closed down a few years ago. The building used to be a vaudeville-type theatre and is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl who was killed on stage by a sandbag that fell from the ceiling in the early 1900's.
My boyfriend had to often go up onto the stage behind the movie screen because that is where they stored supplies. He never had any ghostly encounters but other managers and staff claimed to hear a little girl sobbing behind the screen.
We are still getting vague reports but all seem to stem from the theatre when it was operational rather than the bookstore that now inhabits the space. We have had one person that said they had a creepy feeling in the store but not much more to report than that.
If you have had an experience in the theatre, bookstore, or drug mart please contact us:
Update March 2006:
I've been working at the Chapters bookstore since the time they took over the old Theatre and we've had many weird sounds and unaccountable things happen but nothing like the experience I had.
I was putting away books at the far end of one of the dead-end aisles when I thought I saw a customer come into the aisle out of the corner of my eye. I felt the presence move closer to me, as you would when someone comes into your personal proximity, and thought they were standing right behind me. All of a sudden there was a very loud 'Boo' (I know, how original, right?!) in my ear, I shrieked and thought one of the staff was playing a joke. So I turned around expecting to see a mischievous smile but there was no one there. They couldn't have run out of the aisle in time for me not to notice them! Needless to say the whole episode gave me goose bumps and I avoided that space all day.
I tried to find a logical explanation, like someone being a ventriloquist or that somehow the sound in the building had bounced into my area, but these theories don't pan out. On reflection of what happened, the 'Boo' that I heard was very strange as well. It was like the sound had been created almost within my ear, not like when someone would say it over your shoulder.
There are a few other stories, like when a bunch of us were working an overnight shift and in the early hours of the morning our old dot matrix printer started printing garbeldy-gook. It wasn't something that would have printed by accident and made no sense either. I decided in my sleepless delirium that it might be an idea to let the 'ghost' know that it was dead (watched too much TV!), and that we couldn't understand it's message. Now that room had always had a freezing cold temperature, but shortly after that episode the temperature raised to normal room temperature and hasn't been that cold since. Coincidence?
Staff have also found sand on the stage and other areas of the store that can't be explained but that it looked like it had dropped from above the table it had landed on.
Whatever happened will stick with me forever. I had always been a little skeptical of ghosts but now I will be more open to other people's experiences.
Our thanks to the witness for contacting us and sharing their experiences! We have also received other reports from people who claim they feel a strange dizziness while on the stage area.
Update - November 2006: One of our readers writes:
I can confirm the happenings at the Runnymede Theatre as I was one of the managers around the time of its closing. While I only experienced strange feelings while in the theatre I was good friends with a manager there that had a more interesting experience. He had gone to the basement that was back behind the stage to get some supplies. He found himself feeling woozie and then as his mind cleared realizing he could see and hear a little girl in front of him. He said he could not make out what she was saying. She then disappeared.
Some research was done and discovered that a little girl had been killed on stage by a falling sandbag. Strangely it was never ruled an accident. For whatever reason the authorities must have had a reason to believe that it may have been done on purpose, but must never have come up with absolute proof. (Webmaster: Please note that this is speculative only)
As I stated earlier I never saw anything, but even prior to his experience, every time I went backstage I always had a strange feeling as if being watched and sometimes even a chill run through me. I always did what I had to do back there quickly and got out. When the other manager told me about his experience I had not mentioned mine to him so we just kind of confirmed each others experiences and had not influenced each others beliefs.
If you have had an experience in the theatre or bookstore, please contact us
Update - May 2009
This may be a complete fluke, but while I was at the former theatre (now bookstore) today I had what may have been an encounter. I was reading while I sat in one of the original theatre seats down the side of the lower level when a book fell (or flew?) off the second or third highest shelf that was across from me. Although the shelf backs on to the downward escalator I've never seen the escalator cause books to fall on the floor in all the years I've gone there. It was a smaller book, facing towards me, that fell and rolled across the aisle until it stopped literally beside my foot. The title was something like, "Books Men Read". Who knows if it was an actual encounter, but I think it's a good story.
Update - October 2009
Just wanted to say that I have had a similar experience as the witness from May 2009 at the Runnymede Theatre/Chapters.
It was 2005 and a friend of mine and I were downstairs looking for a specific book. We kept finding books of the same topic and similar relation but not the one she was looking for. The minute we gave up and decided to turn around, a book fell off the shelf (mind you, no one was in the isle with us). It was exactly the one she was looking for.
Whatever it was definitely helped us out!
We received the following report from one of our readers in October 2013:
"A few years ago my husband and I attended a performance by historical (and hysterical) singer Mike Ford at Chapters on Runnymede. We had never been there before. It was pointed out to us that the bookstore was once a theatre, which had become evident to us by the presence of a sizeable stage and theatre memorabilia adorning the walls. During the performance I heard a child crying. I looked around to see where the child was, but then realized that the crying was actually magnified coming out the speakers! I asked my husband if he heard it. He said “hear what?” The woman beside me said she thought she heard something strange but couldn’t identify it.
When we returned home - out of sheer curiosity, I went into the internet to find out more information about the old theatre and when it had become a bookstore. It was only then that I learned about the tragedy that had happened in that theatre. My Google search confirmed that the crying child I had heard during Mike Ford’s performance was likely that of the little girl who was killed by a falling sandbag so many years ago."