(Muskoka Centre)(Muskoka Cottage Sanatorium)

North End of Muskoka Road North (18), Gravenhurst, ON

Status: Former Tuberculosis Sanatorium; Former Psychiatric Hospital; Abandoned; Police Dog Training Centre; Private Property


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Photo Courtesy of Craig M


This institution was the first tuberculosis – consumption, white plague – sanatorium in Canada.

In 1895 Sir William Gage – who had visited sanatoriums in America and Europe – decided that Canada needed to have its own sanatorium. At the time – before anti-biotics were discovered – isolation was the only treatment to stop the spread of the highly infectious disease.

His original plan was to build a sanatorium in Toronto but the city refused fearing the transmission of what was thought of as a poor man’s disease.

The town of Gravenhurst put itself forward for the location and were chosen. They beat out the city of Kamloops, BC – although a sanatorium would be built there in the future – who had offered free train rides to the sanatorium if they were chosen.

The Muskoka Cottage Sanatorium opened on July 13, 1897; albeit much smaller than it would eventually become. At the time it was rather like a resort with plenty of fresh air and healthy meals. In 1902 the Muskoka Free Hospital for Consumptives was opened for the treatment of the poor.

In the 1920’s there were major expansions at the site including building the giant 3 wing Sir William Gage building that is still the largest building on site. The sanatorium now had 444 beds, surgical facilities, laboratories and homes for the staff.

As with all tuberculosis sanatoriums worldwide the discovery of anti-biotics – the cure for the disease – led a steady decrease in patient population. In 1960 the facility switched over to the care of the developmentally disabled.

Unfortunately, the site – now called Muskoka Centre – suffered from outdated infrastructure and low staff to patient ratios. This resulted in a number of incidents of staff violence against the patients and in the early 1990’s a class action lawsuit, thankfully, brought the institution to its final days. It was closed for good in 1994.

The property has remained vacant since; although the police use the facility to train police dogs and for SWAT training. Between the sheer age of the facility combined with the lack of care through years of brutal Ontario winters and vandalism by the public the property is now condemned.

Its said that many people have been caught and charged with trespassing for entering the property.

As of 2020 this site was up for sale.


Paranormal Activity

Team experiences are located at the bottom of this section.

There’s not a lot of accounts of paranormal activity at this location. Probably due to the lack of ease in accessing the site.

Based on the mortality rate of tuberculosis and level of activity at other sites like Tranquille Sanatorium in British Columbia and Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky the likelihood of such activity is high. On the other hand, it has been suggested that many of the terminal cases were sent home from here before the disease ended their lives – if that happened here it would be a unique case in sanatorium history.

Reported Activity: a few reports of apparitions of former patients; disembodied voices; electrical disturbances; shadow figures; cold spots; objects moving on their own; phantom footsteps; light anomalies; unexplained noises and feelings of being watched and not being alone.

A general feeling of uneasiness has also been reported here.

Most of the reports of paranormal activity are in the main building and almost always on the mid and upper floors – this especially true of feeling of uneasiness and anxiety.

Team Experiences

The majority of the paranormal activity certainly does take place in the 3 wing main building.

Activity began very subtlety and quickly ramped up: apparitions of former patients moving in the woods (we saw no apparitions in the buildings); disembodied whispers and voices from inside the main building; phantom footsteps from inside the main building; unexplained noises inside the buildings including many knocks and scratching noises and a near constant feeling being watched by something unseen.