H. H. Holmes

Stay The Fuck Home Guest Post by Chantal!

Hi there!  My name is Chantal and I run a nifty little business called Toronto Cemetery Tours.  I help people relive history while walking through the city’s beautifully landscaped graveyards.  Most of my tours are themed and I like to focus on people and facts that are not always easy to find out in just a simple Google search.  Think Victorian diseases, Escapes Slaves, Murder, and the Women who built our fine country.  There is so much history buried beneath our feet and I have a passion for digging it up and sharing it with you.  Including this little-known tidbit…. 

In these strange times, let’s wish a strange happy birthday to Herman Webster Mudgett, born this day, May 16th  in 1861. You may better know him as the serial killer H.H. Holmes.

Holmes is recognized as one of the United States’ first serial killers. He built a hotel in Chicago now better known as “The Murder Hotel”. During the 1893 World’s Fair he would lure people there, then kill them after they became lost in the hotel’s confusing and labyrinthine rooms and hallways. He is said to have killed anywhere from 50 to 200 people, mostly young women. 

His connection to Toronto stems from an insurance scam Holmes tried to capitalize on. He killed Ben Pitezel, a long-time conspirator, and stole away with his wife and children. Through a bizarre series of events, the con-man ended up in Toronto with two of the Pitezel girls, Alice and Nellie. Here, Holmes killed them and buried their bodies in the cellar of the house he was renting at No 16 Vincent Street. The building has long since been demolished and the street itself was incorporated into Bay Street. 

Not long after, the killer returned to Chicago and his unthinkable crime was discovered. Upon his capture, he has this to say of his life, “I was born with the devil in me. I could not help the fact that I was a murderer, no more than the poet can help the inspiration to sing. I was born with the evil one standing as my sponsor beside the bed where I was ushered into the world, and he has been with me since.” For his multiple crimes, H.H. Holmes was executed by hanging in Philadelphia on May 7, 1896. 

The bodies of his two Toronto victims were buried in an unmarked grave in St. James Cemetery, one coffin above the other, in a space not far from the front gates. 

If you’re interested in reading more about serial killer H.H. Holmes pick up the book “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson. 

To learn more about Toronto Cemetery Tours or to book your own private tour when we no longer have to stay the fuck home, email info@torontocemeterytours.com or check out my social media:  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TorontoCemeteryTours/ 

Instagram:  @TorontoCemeteryTours 

Twitter: TOCemeteryTours  

See you in the cemetery! 

Redheads Writing in Cafes — let’s rock and or roll unless it’s with Jack.

1910-Palm-room-cafeArchtop Cafe has become one of my favourite neighbourhood cafes. It’s located in Bloor West Village and is about twenty-minute walk from my home. There are a few things that make this cafe one of my favourites.  The staff are top notch and make you feel at home right away. There are classics from the 1920s to the 1980s being piped out of the sound system and in the theme of the music, the cafe sells vinyl, both new and used. A few months ago, they opened a section of their basement as a used vinyl shop. Vinyl lovers, you need to check out this place.

fbf9cbf472fff266ba1be83aeb472213--gramophone-record-human-photography

The cafe is a nice size and has quite a few tables, it would be a great place if someone was considering holding a reading. At one point they had live music on Thursday and Friday nights and though they have put that on hold, it may resume again in the fall. Out front during warmer weather, there are a few cast iron bistro tables. The other day, while running errands, we sat out there sipping lattes as we watched the villagers walk by.

20120915peacock

I love that I live in a part of town that has neighbourhoods with their own individual personalities. Each feels a little like the small villages they use to be.  High Park, The Junction, Roncesvalles and Bloor West Village.

campbell-block-lg

04_campbell block, Fri Mar 06, 2009, 12:57:25 PM, 8C, 3056×2366, (446+4096), 100%, bent 6 stops, 1/60 s, R113.2, G77.1, B86.9

In the basement of the Annette Street, Public Library is the West Junction Historical Society. I need to visit the Historical Society when it’s open to the public as it will assist me with my research. I also need to find a day to go to the Toronto Reference Library. I keep putting it off and need to just suck it up and go. One the problems of living in a neighbourhood that you are in love with and has almost everything you need within walking distance is you tend to not leave the area. Personally, I am also someone who can go days or even weeks without leaving the hood. I would much rather go to places that I can walk or cycle to. If only the information I needed from the Toronto Reference Library was online!

tumblr_inline_oo642eb97R1r00w3x_1280

In other news and in the last few weeks, I’ve been seeing promotions for the new documentary on H.H. Holmes. My friends also know that I’m a bit of an H.H. Holmes aficionado so I often get tagged in things referencing him. I am on the fence about watching the documentary as the topic it’s about has already been debunked several times and I honestly think his great grandson is just trying to cash in on the fame, especially with the movie Devil in the White City with Leonardo DiCaprio coming out and the popularity of the novel.  Every time I hear about the documentary on the History Channel I feel a rant brewing and ready to bubble up. H.H. Holmes was NOT Jack the Ripper! I could get into a whole detailed timeline showing why he wasn’t, or the many glaring and obvious reasons that he could not be Jack, but I would rather leave that fun to you. Seriously, go read up on both of them. Though the history is gruesome, it is also very fascinating and once you educate yourself, you will also realize how impossible it was for H.H. Holmes to be Jack.

lg_ce5803-H.H.Holmes_ChicagoHistoryMuseum

I’m going to end this blog post before I go off on a serial killer tangent.

20-Facts-about-the-Jack-the-Ripper-and-It_s-Identity

Until next time…. stay shadowy.