Bloody York : Crime and Punishment

Visitors to modern day Toronto often comment on its cleanliness and how safe it feels. But social justice, law and order were not always the highly regarded institutions that they are now.

Two hundred years ago, social despair and political strife led men and women to do some radical things, just to survive. But the consequence for even the smallest of crimes could be brutal. Stealing a loaf of bread could earn you a trip to the gallows. Curfews prevented women from being out on their own at night – the assumption (usually a correct one) was that she was a prostitute. Slavery was abolished at the end of the 1700s, but indentured service was nearly as bad. If an apprentice left his master to work for himself and escape poverty, he faced public humiliation at the whipping posts outside the local market.

On this tour, you will learn about the backdrop of harsh life that made up early Toronto history, and also about a few specific criminal cases. These include the brutal murder of the first lighthouse keeper, the assassination of George Brown, one of Canada’s Fathers of Confederation, Toronto’s last fatal due between Samuel Jarvis and John Ridout, and the public execution of two participants in the Rebellion of 1837.

Points of more general interest include one of the city’s earliest jail cells, and Market Lane, the historic site of the stocks, pillories and branding posts where citizens were beaten and tortured in public on a weekly basis.

Come and discover the gruesome history
behind our now peaceful city!!

Things You will Need to Know about this Tour

  • The tour begins outside the eastern most point of the Flatiron (or Gooderham) building, pictured on the right. The Flatiron building is located at 49 Wellington Street East, where Front and Wellington Streets meet up at Church Street. The Flatiron building is a short walk east from Union Station.
  • The tour ends at Adelaide Street East and Toronto Street (two blocks east of Yonge Street).
  • The tour lasts an hour.
  • The tour is conducted entirely outdoors, so please remember to dress accordingly and wear comfortable walking shoes!!


If you have any more questions, just ask!

Dates & Times

Thursdays at 5.00 p.m.
Saturdays at 1.00 p.m.

This tour is available throughout the entire calendar year. REMEMBER, if it is not scheduled for when you want to do it, just let us know, and we’ll change our schedule just for you! We suggest making reservations at least 24 hours before the tour starts.


$20.00 for one person
$15.00 each for two or three people
$10.00 each for four or more

Students and Youth - please contact us for details

We offer GIFT CERTIFICATES and special discount passes for visitors who plan to attend more than one tour. Contact us to find out more information.


Our Tours
About Us
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The Haunted Streets of Downtown Toronto
The Ghosts of the University of Toronto
Toronto History : the 19th Century
Bloody York : Crime and Punishment
Toronto's Rebel March
Royal Toronto
Toronto History : the 20th Century
Historic Cemetery Walk
Toronto's Lost Rivers
The History of Downtown Street Names
Victorian Toronto
The History of Midtown Street Names
Cinema and Scandal
Remembrance Tour
Neighbourhood Tours
2014 - Muddy York Tours