One way to beat the COVID blues is to submerge yourself in everything fall this year, including Halloween’s spookier side. Toronto’s popular Cemetery Tours offers some chilling tours this fall, beginning with the Tales of Murder and Unfortunate Death tour. The tours take place on weekends in October and lead a limited number of people through some of the city’s most historic cemeteries.
Toronto Cemetery Tours began when Chantal Morris befriended the previous guide to learn as much as she could about Toronto’s history. Shortly after that, Morris took over the tours and began to absorb as much as she could about Toronto’s past.
“Only four short years ago, I attended my first cemetery tour, and I was hooked,” Morris says. “I befriended the guide, who had to leave the country not long after, so I took over. I wrote all new tours, expanded the social media presence, and started branding with a logo to stand out.”
The cemetery tour company currently has more than 2,000 Facebook fans, with new posts popping up almost daily. Morris’s passion for history was slightly blindsided when COVID happened, but not just because the pandemic eliminated the option for large tour groups. Morris is an essential worker that’s been instrumental in testing the city’s population.
“COVID has slowed me down, but likely not for the reason you think. My day job is in a hospital where I just finished setting up a molecular genetics lab for COVID testing. Most of my days are spent gowned and gloved, testing patient samples. Like most frontline workers, I’m tired by the end of the day and haven’t really had the energy to do tours through the summer,” she says.
But few things can keep her from the lure of fall leaves and cemeteries.
“Fall, however, is the perfect time for cemetery tours, and I miss them too much to not have any,” she says.
Uber-conscious of the pandemic and its dangers, Morris’s tours are capped at 25 people per group this year, and participants must keep to their own bubbles. She also insists that everyone wears a mask during the tour.
Morris is currently booking small tour groups of 25 people (much smaller than her usual 200). Tours are first-come-first-serve and tend to book quickly. Toronto Cemetery Tours are usually free for larger groups, but Morris is charging $20 per person during the pandemic. She does hope to return to the free model when COVID is behind us.
To sign up for an upcoming tour, visit Toronto Cemetery Tours on Facebook and send Morris a private message to reserve your spot.
“You can visit the people you’ve only read about in history books,” Morris says, “if you know where to find them.”