life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

The Hunchback of Oakview Avenue

By Laryssa Landale

As 9-year-old Maggie lay motionless in her bed, she heard it: the slow, steady sound of footsteps making their way up the stairs. A shudder ran down her spine as her eyes darted over to her bedroom door. She willed the footsteps not to stop outside it. But they did – as always.

Maggie normally left her bedroom door open just a trifle so that the hall light could penetrate the darkness. It helped her sleep. Now, the door was slowly creaking open. Maggie held her breath. The door closed again leaving just a sliver of brightness to cut across her room. Then the dim light from the window illuminated the shadow of a figure – small in stature, hunched over and moving slowly along the wall toward the closet. The door to the closet (which housed the entrance to the attic) swung silently open and the shadow was gone.

Maggie was frozen with fear. She lay in her bed for what felt like an eternity, until she mustered enough courage to leap from the concealment of her bedsheets and bolt down the hall to the sanctuary of her brother’s room.

Shortly after her family had moved to the house on Oakview Avenue in Toronto, Maggie’s night visits had begun. They continued for years – not every night, not consistently, and sometimes more frequently than others.

Amazingly, Maggie grew used to the sights and sounds of her guest. Her parents, busy in their adult world, chalked it up to youthful imagination with nonchalant comments like, “That’s interesting, dear.” Her second oldest brother, Henry, (two years her senior) found the story useful ammunition for frightening and teasing her. However, one night, a few years after her first eerie encounter, Henry sprinted into her room with a terrified look on his face. His eyes wide, he whispered, “I saw the hunchback man!”

When Maggie was about 17, her girlfriend, Elizabeth, came to live with her family on Oakview Avenue. Elizabeth stayed in Maggie’s oldest brother’s room as he was away at college. There had been a long lull in the ghost’s appearances. Maggie hadn’t remembered seeing it for nearly two years. Several months after moving in, Elizabeth commented “you know you have ghosts in this house?”

Maggie’s jaw dropped. Then she asked her to explain. Elizabeth described the same hunchback shape that had been so familiar to Maggie. The ghost was back.

Until she moved out of the home on Oakview to attend college in September of ‘61, the hunchback man continued to appear to Maggie every now and then. Over 40 years later, she has not seen or heard of him since, but will never forget her encounters with the supernatural.

“Maggie” now lives in Windsor.



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