Photograph of Sister Vinnie at work
A cornerstone of the city, St. Mike's is easily one of Toronto's crowning hospitals. Run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, its doors opened in 1892.
Ward 7B however offers an interesting tradition of Sister Vincenza. "Vinnie", as she's called by the staff, turns lights on and off and can be seen occasionally making her rounds. There's only one little problem with "Vinnie" -- she's been dead since the 1950s.
The most eerie part of this combined poltergeist and apparition haunting is that when people see Sister Vincenza, her nun's cowl is circling a black chasm where her face should be.
Devoted to the end and apparently beyond, "Vinnie" is a definite fixture of the lore of St. Mikes.
The following was sent in to us in October of 2000...
I'm acquainted with one of the staff at St. Michael's on the 7th floor.
Very recently (fall of 2000), the night nurse, while on rounds, came around a corner and almost stumbled right in to a figure, dressed in a black robe from head to toe, slowly walking down the hallway away from her. Scared, she turned and ran back to the nursing station.
Not long after, a code blue (cardiac arrest) rang out from the area in which the apparition was heading.
Needless to say, the nurses did rounds in pairs for the rest of the night shift!
In other notes, Sister Vincenza has also been know to give patients blankets, and in general care for them. Perhaps her devotion to the sick and suffering lives on in her after death.
In all accounts, her appearances seem to be of a helpful nature, even if it is helping one pass out of our world.
September 2008 Update:
I started working at St. Michael's Hospital in 2006. During the first 6 months of my employment and while working a night shift, one night I rode the elevator with a nun dressed in light blue to the 4th floor where the neurosurgical and trauma ICU was temporarily located. I didn't really think anything of it at the time. But I did think it was a little odd that she was visiting the hospital in the middle of the night. About a year later, I spoke of this experience to some of my colleagues. I found out that nuns do not regularly visit the hospital anymore or in habit for that matter. I was shocked. To me, the nun in blue looked as real as any person. I smiled at her and she smiled back and then I got off the elevator.
Our thanks to the staff member for sharing their experience with us.
The following was sent in by one of our readers in June 2009:
That is not the only spirit haunting in this hospital, There is also a man that walks up and down through the back filing room that is located in the Medical Records Office. There are many reports on this as well.
Our thanks to our reader for sharing this with us. If you believe that you have also had an experience at St. Mikes please do consider sharing it with us.
The following report was sent to us from a staff member in July 2013
I've worked at St Michaels Hospital for many years. I've heard many stories of the hauntings throughout the hospital (aside from "Vinnie" on the 7th floor, staff have told me of the MSICU ghost on the 4th floor, who isn't so nice, and likes to smack the nurses on the rear, scaring the living day lights out of them), however, I never thought I'd have my very own encounter in the current Fracture Clinic in the B1 Bond wing.
I had worked in the clinic for many years, and had never once heard of a haunting there, but what happened a few weeks ago changed my opinion. The clinic's current location has been there for about 9 years, and in all that time I had always felt uneasy when opening up, or closing, the doors, especially when I was the only one there. One evening, after an insanely busy day, I had stayed over time to help clear up the back log of patients. I'm normally gone by 3:30pm, but this particular day it was 7pm by the time I could close up. As I was finishing up a few charts, I could hear the distinctive sound of an old man, laughing. Figuring I was just fatigued from such a busy day, I wrote it off as exhaustion and quickly finish the task at hand.
As I stood up, I could have sworn I saw a wisp of light dart past my desk, followed by an ice cold breeze, which, considering the AC seldom works, and it was 34 Celsius outside, was very odd. I walked toward the back doors (the clinic has several doors to the hall way) I again heard laughter, but this time, it was right in my ear, as if someone was standing right beside me. Frankly, by this point, I was terrified. I knew, with 100% certainty, I was the only one left in the area, so who was laughing? I tried my best to ignore it, and finish locking up, but just as I was about to leave, I hear a computer turn on (there are over a dozen PC's there). I walk back, thinking I'd left it on (although I was positive I had shut it off), sure enough, I was on, this is when it got really scary.
The front of the clinic has several stretchers, with a computer at each bedside, 2 more turn on as I'm standing there, and I swear I feel someone watching me. These things only happen in the movies right? Wrong! I was literally frozen with fear, I couldn't run out of there fast enough. As I head for the door, I see what looked like that same light that had whisked past me, forming into the faint outline of a torso, kind of like a light fog. I couldn't believe what I was seeing, so, in total panic, I run as fast as my feet would carry me out of another door, down the hall, and out to Queen Street.
After I finally caught my breath, I'd realized that, in my panic to flee, I had ran out without shutting off the computers, turning off all the lights, or locking any of the doors. Problem is, I was too afraid to go back, but I couldn't leave everything unlocked (we have a lot of theft), so, with tail tucked firmly between my legs, I went to the security office, requesting they let me back into the hall (which is card access only after hours, and I'd left my card on my desk). I was too embarrassed to tell the guard what had just happened, but I was really glad to have him with me. He lets me back in the hall, we go to the clinic, and.........the computers were now turned off, the doors were locked and the lights were off. I had no explanation, and the security guard must have thought I was loosing it considering I had told him I forgot to lock up and shut everything off.
He must have noticed my look of panic, and asked me if I had seen him. "Him who?" I asked. He said many of his fellow guards have seen and heard an old man wandering up and down the hall outside the clinic as the were doing their patrols. I never did tell a soul, not even the guard, I have a hard time believing it happened, and I doubt any of my coworkers would believe me, but I'll say this, I'll never stay there alone, ever again! As a side note, after asking some of the older staff, I think I figured out who was roaming the hall.
The wing in which the clinic is located is about 80 years old, it's been many things over the decades. A storage area, a kitchen, shipping, and, the morgue! But I couldn't understand why a spirit would want to hang around the morgue. But then, I spoke to an employee who'd worked there for 45 years. She told me decades ago, the morgue attendant, Joe, had suffered a massive stroke, and died on the job. Apparently, he'd worked there most of his life, and was mere months away from retirement when he died. Rumour has it, he absolutely loved his job, and never wanted to retire, seems like he found a way to stay. This is, of course, all hear say, I have no proof, but it all fits into place. If ever you're passing by the clinic in the evening, don't be surprised if you see Joe, still on the job, and in the place he loved most.
Update November 2015 another staff member shares the following:
"In 2010, I worked the night shift. On one particular overnight, I had just completed a morgue call. I took my break in the ICU waiting room located on the 4th floor of the Cardinal Carter Wing. Alone with all the lights off and the door closed I sat there watching TV, trying to clear my mind. Within a few moments, the sink in the pantry had turned on full blast and I froze. My instant reaction was that this is a ghost and I didn't want it to know that I was scared. I waited almost ten minutes until I realized it wasn't going to shut off. I finally got up to turn off the TV and the cold water tap and got out of there.
I've heard many ghost stories from staff and patients, but one thing you realize after working there for so long is that we aren't the only ones looking out for the hospital. Over 100 years of providing care to the community, it seems as though the spirit of St. Michael's carries on to the afterlife and some of those caring souls are still doing their work. They just remind us every once in a while."