Murder victim haunting island lighthouse?

By Kevin Connor, Toronto Sun
First posted: Sunday, December 27, 2015 03:17 PM EST | Updated: Sunday, December 27, 2015 05:01 PM EST

Toronto’s first victim of an unsolved murder is said to haunt the island lighthouse where he was killed.

German immigrant J.P. Radan Muller was the first keeper of the City of Toronto’s Gibraltar Point Lighthouse in 1808, and as his tale goes, he was a rum runner with a penchant of watering down the hootch to improve the bottom line.

There area couple of versions of what brought about his demise on Jan. 2, 1815.

“One is that he was bootlegging for a supplemental income and was entertaining some soldiers from Fort York and he wanted to close the (lighthouse) bar and they didn’t want to leave. Another is that a couple of soldiers popped in on New Year’s Eve for some whiskey and later, while they were on patrol, they started to drink it, but it was frozen (far less than 100 proof) and they came back to the lighthouse,” said Warren Hoselton, long-time parks supervisor of the Toronto Island and lighthouse.

“The story goes he (Muller) was bayoneted and decapitated and his body parts were spread around the lighthouse.”

When Muller vanished, the only sign of him was blood stains on the lighthouse’s wooden steps.

“The soldiers were tried and not convicted,” Hoselton said.

It wasn’t until 1932 that a Gibraltar beacon keeper found human skeletal remains scattered around the lighthouse.

Hoselton added Muller’s story is generally unknown, but like a good fish story, it has been passed on for generations.

“People claim to have seen a light at the (decommissioned) light house go on and paranormal people have come around over the years to do monitoring, but there has never been anything conclusive. There was one guy who wanted to put salts down and do an exorcism, but I told him, ‘Dude we are good. We are OK,’” Hoselton said.

The lighthouse, which is in its original state has the title of being the oldest standing structure in Toronto.

Muller’s lighthouse also was the site of a number of ship wrecks after his death and before the structure’s lights went dim in the 1960s.

“Who knows if there is a connection,” Hoselton said.

It now stands in the shadow of the current Island lighthouse which uses radar as opposed to whale oil to guide ships.

“The old one used light and the new one uses radar. They are only 100 feet apart and a hundred years apart,” Hoselton said.

Whenever he climbs the 100 narrow spiral stairs of the lighthouse — always avoiding the 13th step — Hoselton bangs on the dingy whitewashed stones of the tower.

“I hit every stone because there is apparently bootleg cash hidden in the walls,” Hoselton said.

“This place is so unique. It is more than just an island. There is no other lighthouse like this ... the age, the stories, the history. I pay more attention to the paranormal now.”

kevin.connor@sunmedia.ca (external - login to view)
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