Haunted Niagara

To many, the city of Niagara Falls is like Canada’s mini-version of Las Vegas. Bright lights, top-notch casinos, fine dining restaurants, five-star hotels and a plethora of concerts and events. Add in the city’s main spectacle, one of the largest waterfalls on the planet, and it is easy to see how Niagara is one of the premier tourists destinations in Canada.

All that a visiting thrill seeker needs are some directions and a quick history lesson. Through reports and other documented proof, one can learn that Niagara’s historic landmarks pack much more of a haunted punch than a dark house featuring scary music and skeletons popping out of closets.

Historic Landmarks such as Fort Erie, the Keefer Mansion, the Mahoney Dollhouse Gallery, Fort George and the Lighthouse Restaurant and Pub are true havens for apparitions and ghost like activity.

Niagara Favorite Haunts

While Niagara’s spooky “Haunted Houses” are successful animated frightfests, an online video series producer is determined to show the real thing does exist in Niagara Falls.

“History of a Haunting,” Canada’s latest paranormal series, has just wrapped its first season in Niagara Falls. With its battle sites, many buildings and homes over two centuries old, the show’s producer, Jerry Potter, believes Niagara Falls is an ideal site to explore manifestations of lingering spirits. Two executive producers, Nathan Chamberland and Todd Brown, are also natives of the Niagara Region. The trailer for the series is online.

Among the sites they will visit is Drummond Cemetery, near the site of the Battle of Lundy’s Lane during the War of 1812. Sightings of soldiers who died from their wounds have been reported by many visitors at all times of day.

Another well-documented haunted spot in Niagara Falls is “The Screaming Tunnel”, on Warner Road, near where it intersects Garner Road. If one goes into the tunnel at any time and lights a match, a whoosh of air extinguishes the match instantly while a piercing shriek echoes off the high stone walls. In the early 1900s a farmhouse caught fire at the south entrace to the tunnel. The legend tells of a young girl, garments aflame, who escaped and ran into the tunnel where she perished. A visit to the Screaming Tunnel has convinced many skeptics that someone is still there in spirit.

Cavendish Manor, a girls’ school long ago, is the site of many encounters with ghostly little girls, both laughing and screaming fearfully. The legend goes that, soon after the screams sound, someone will die.

The Angel Inn, at Niagara-on-the-Lake, is reputed to house a British soldier, Captain Swayze, murdered by American soldiers in 1812. Captain Swayze reportedly likes to tamper with kegs and mugs of American beer.

Come to the Niagara region, and see if the ghosts will appear to you.

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Blue Ghost Tunnel

Constructed in 1876 out of limestone blocks, the Great Western Railway was built in order to allow trains to travel underneath the 3rd Western Canal.

This railway, located at GM Glendale- Gate 12, was active until 1915, when the tunnel was abandoned due to frequent use of the 4th Welland Canal. At this point, the GWR Tunnel’s greatest use was providing a shortcut for local farmers.

Acting as reservoir to their respective canals, locals began building man-made ponds near every canal in 1903. However, building the pond for the 3rd Welland Canal became troublesome as the builders were forced to relocate the St. Peters Church Cemetery. It is believed that only 250 graves were removed, leaving behind over 500 dead bodies to rest beneath the brand new reservoir.

Though there are no records of any deaths from within, the tunnel known as the Blue Ghost Tunnel has seen its fair share of violence. Two trainmen lost their lives after their trains had collided just yards beyond the tunnel in 1903. An accident in 1912, at the tunnel’s 22nd lock, forced portions of the tunnel to break, drowning two boys caught gallivanting in the tunnel.

It has been reported that while listening to the tunnel, the sobbing cries of a young boy can be heard along with whistling. Though some reports speak of confusing drops of water from the melting ice with whistling, other reports have mentioned that the whistling hummed a very specific tune. Conversations have been heard coming from the tunnel’s east end, and music, early 20th century music described as coming from an old music box has been heard as well.

One patron who dared to enter took a photograph of the mouth of the tunnel, captioning a strange blue mist surrounded by a cloud of white mist. It is unknown whether or not the photograph had anything to do with the tunnel’s nickname of the Blue Ghost Tunnel.

by Chase Kell

Merritt House

Located on Yates Street, the Merritt House was built in the 1820s and owned by Mr. William Hamilton Merritt, the builder of the Welland Canal. Fire destroyed the house in 1858 and the second version of the beautiful white house was built approximately two years following.

From 1918 to 1930, in the midst of the First World War, the house’s main purpose was serving as a recuperating rest stop for those in the military. Shortly after the war, the house briefly served as an Inn and a brewery before transforming into a radio station.

Perhaps the most fascinating detail of this house lies underground, where tunnels were built to connect the main building with the carriage house. As one extension of the tunnel ran north right up to the river, another extension emerged next to the river in the very location that the Burgoyne Bridge stands today. Originally serving a large role in the underground railroad, these tunnels were made very useful to bootleggers during the Prohibition, but for safety reasons were filled in and sealed up in 1967.

Yet underground tunnels and a prominent history are not all that this house is well known for. Several reports of ghost like activity in recent decades have lead many to believe that this house is still someone’s home.

Doors that open and shut by themselves. Trophies, chairs, cups and other random objects have been seen moving from one spot to another by translucent hands. Electrical equipment has been known to malfunction, including radios broadcasting peculiar sounds such as bells, a sighing woman and a man laughing.

Apparitions of a woman standing in the former waiting room, which today is a studio, as well as a man standing before the studio doors until vanishing have also been reported.

Some have even spoken of an aura, a strange feeling as if something was trying to restrict their movements. The sounds of a baby crying hysterically from a room on the second floor have been reported as well, hinting to some that there is some form of life, or lack there of, that refuses to leave this house.

by: Chase Kell

Drummond Hill

At the corner of Drummond Rd and Lundy’s lane, in the heart Niagara, lies one of the most notoriously haunted cemeteries north of the boarder.

The oldest tombstone at the Drummond Hill Cemetery dates as far back as 1797, a time when the small wooden structure that sits nearby stood tall as the Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church.

The church was destroyed in 1814 during the infamous Battle of Lundy’s Lane, a six-hour battle in which Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond and his troops successfully thwarted an attack from the rival Americans.

As the story goes, the ghosts of five injured soldiers have been seen limping their way through the former battlefield, fading off into the distance. The apparition of three gun blazed British soldiers, marching their way up the hill towards the Lundy House has also been reported.

May the faint of heart be forewarned.

by: Chase Kell

Hawley House

Built as two separate buildings in 1796, the Hawley-Beckenridge House underwent massive renovations in order to merge the buildings into the beautiful house that exists today.

This location on Mississauga Road played a large role in the underground railroad as several freed slaves found temporary refuge in the house. In fact, it is believed that at least six of those very slaves were buried in the backyard.

Yet despite the fact that the house aided many in their struggle to live free lives, the house continues to exist with an aura that is not as positive. Though it cannot be confirmed that the bodies buried in the backyard are at all responsible, frequent reports lead many to believe that the spirits of several angered slaves may still be living inside the house.

Unwelcome guests are often greeted at the house by the slamming of doors, where no one was there to do so. The large brass knocker on the front door is often repeatedly banged with brute force, and some have answered a knocking at the back door only to find that no one was there.

Apparitions such as a woman dawning a long, flowing dress, briefly seen before she disappears in a puff of smoke have plagued this house. What can only be described as a smoky, foggy-like figure has been seen standing at the foot of the stairs and a woman, appearing to be in her mid 30s, clothed in a bonnet and a long dress is often briefly glimpsed at prior to disappearing right before the fireplace.

by: Chase Kell

Keefer Mansion

The Keefer Mansion, built in 1886, was the home of the Keefer family, who were well known as brilliant engineers during the 19th century. The mansion was built on the very same property that the American’s occupied with a hospital during the war of 1812.

Since the Keefer family, the mansion has been used for several ventures including a mental institution, a bar, a hospital, apartment buildings and most recently, the Maplehurst Retirement Home.

In its early years, the mansion played a large role in the underground railroad as it is believed that hidden tunnels were built within the mansion’s walls.

As this prominent mansion is well known for many things, housing ghosts and spirits apparently is one of them. In preparation for the mansion’s latest venture, a bed and breakfast opened in 2005, city officials hired two mediums to attempt to remove the reported spirits.

Perhaps these spirits are responsible for the footsteps often heard from inside one of the rooms upstairs, as well as the frequent banging from the staircase. Faucets turn themselves on and off, and the hanging smell of smoke from a pipe often lingers in the basement, where apparitions of various ghost like figures have been spotted. The sounds of a gate, squealing as if being opened and closed repeatedly have been reported as well.

by: Chase Kell

Haunted Niagara

“Haunted tales of Trails of blood streaming down the driveway of the Victorian style mansion known as the Pink Palace in Silvertown, Niagara Falls. Also local accounts of innjured uniformed 1812 soldiers limpimg their way up the hill of the Drummond Hill Cemetery. With dishes that often rattle from within the cupboards of the Angel Inn.”

Reported apparitions and encounters such as these have allowed many to believe that Niagara is just as much dead, as it is alive.

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Angel Inn

Angel Inn Niagara-on-the-Lake

Located at 224 Regent Street, the Angel Inn ironically has a not so angelic history that goes back to the 18th century.

Built in 1789, the Harmonious Coach House once stood in the Inn’s place. The Inn saw many names during the 1800s, going under the titles of the Mansion House and Fraser’s Hotel before settling back to its original name, the Angel Inn.

Reports of the many haunting stories within the Inn began to surface in the 1820s, including a newspaper clipping that speaks of table settings being rearranged, footsteps heard from the dining room as well as conversation and laughter, and glasses clinking together in the cupboards.

A more recent report tells us of an owner awaking to the sound of an immense banging from outside the bedroom. After stepping out of bed, the owner had noticed that the horseshoe he had nailed to a post had been removed and thrown 20 feet onto the floor. Apparently the laughter and footsteps coming from the dining room are still heard regularly, and the sounds of a fife, a small flute formerly used in the military can be heard coming from the upstairs bedroom, along with heavy drumming.

The ghosts of eloquently dressed men and women have been seen mingling within the Inn. Reports if dishes rattling in the cupboards, and chairs literally thrown into the walls and kegs of beer, American beer, have been known to malfunction, if you will.

by: Chase Kell

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Screaming Tunnel

Beneath the railway tracks that connect Niagara Falls with New York City and Toronto, on a dirt road just off of Warner Road lies the infamous Screaming Tunnel, nearly 2000 square feet of beautiful stonework and eerie vibes.

Most who know of this tunnel remember it as Christopher Walken’s temporary place of refuge in the 1983 feature film Dead Zone, but to some, this tunnel represents a varying story of fire and death.

According to the legend, a young girl set ablaze in the early1900s lived her dying moments inside this very tunnel, yet how she arrived there is mysteriously debatable.

One story of her arrival speaks of a nearby farmhouse, which had caught fire and forced the young girl and her family to use the tunnel during their escape. Screaming with her hair and clothes caught in flames, the young girl was unable to make it through the tunnel with the rest of her family.

Another version describes a custody battle with a violent conclusion as the young girl was dragged to the tunnel and set on fire by her father. Some have heard that the young girl was kidnapped by a crazed butcher, who dawned a pig’s mask and burned her alive after she had tried to escape through the tunnel.

Perhaps the most gruesome story, the young girl was raped while inside the tunnel, with the perpetrator burning the body in order to hide the evidence.

The burning farmhouse version of the young girl’s arrival is believed to be the most accurate, yet despite which story is true, they say that you can often hear the young girl’s screams echoing through the tunnel. And those who have dared to step near the tunnel have spoken of extremely cold temperatures, even during the hottest of days.

by: Chase Kell | clip credit: wwwyoutube.com/user/burrheadjr

Mahoney Dollhouse

Located at 657 Niagara Boulevard, the Mahoney Dollhouse Gallery was built in 1835 under the original name of Bertie Hall. Despite owning a collection of nearly 150 dollhouses spanning 200 years, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this museum lies in the basement, which contained a tunnel extending well in to the bedrock that was used to help smuggle slaves from the US during the Underground Railroad.

After his son had drowned when the rising tide flooded out the tunnel, Captain Forsythe, owner of the building in the late 19th, sealed off the tunnel entrance with bricks. It is believed that a flood in the tunnel also claimed the life of a young slave in the early 1800s. Since then, it is believed that the museum is a haven for phantom and ghost like activity.

Despite the fact that the basement has witnessed the drowning tragedies, it is the upper floors where the apparitions and strange occurrences are noticed. An employee once noticed that a pink dollhouse had moved at least three feet overnight while sitting up on the 2nd floor. The smell of lilacs that seems to come and go is probably relative to the often seen apparition of a woman, holding a basket of flowers as she stands on the stairs.

by: Chase Kell

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Pink Palace

Tales of brutal murder have built a creepy aura around the apartment building at 4223 Buttery St.

Converted into apartments during the 1950s, this building once stood as a 27-room Victorian style mansion built in 1865. Originally knows as the Pink Palace, this illustrious mansion was part of an 85-acre estate that featured stables, vineyards, orchards and tennis courts.

Being well known for hosting sumptuous parties, a Dr. John Ferguson owned the property until his untimely death in 1893. According to reports, Dr. Ferguson’s property played host to much more than lavish festivities.

It has been told that a transaction resulted in murder when a thief attempted to connive an immigrant into purchasing this property, which the thief did not own. Lets just say that this immigrant was not as gullible as the thief believed. Ten years later, while awaiting their carriage following one of Dr. Ferguson’s luxurious parties, a couple is said to have been brutally murdered on the driveway of the mansion.

It is believed that a phantom horse-drawn carriage has been seen rolling its way up the driveway. On the anniversary of the couple’s murder, blood trails are said to have been seen streaming down the driveway.

by: Chase Kell

McFarland House

There are not many buildings on Niagara on the Lake from the past 200 yeas, but McFarland House is one of the few monuments attesting to that time period. The entire brick building was built by John McFarland in 1800.

In the early years, it was used by the British Army officers as its headquarters. However, it also functioned as a hospital during the early wars of that period. During the British occupation the house regaled in all the pomposity of British aristocracy and future owners of the house continued the British tradition of afternoon teas in the gardens. Today, fine British tea and biscuits are the highlight of the visit. For those who frown tea, there is an ample choice of wine to drink. For the children ice creams in all flavors are available.

Over the past 100 years, the building has undergone numerous reconstructions and restorations to preserve the historical significance of the monument. In 1959, the building was bought over by the Niagara Parks Commission who further renovated it and have opened it to the public. The building now functions as a museum and as a tea house. Unfortunately, the gardens surrounding the house have become dilapidated and most have disappeared. However, the house is located in area of picnic grounds and the Niagara River Trails which more than make up for the lost gardens.

McFarland house is located in McFarland Point Park. For those who want to know more about the history, scheduled guided tours of the building are available during the summer months. There is an entrance fee of $4.50 for adults and $ 3.50 for children. The house does offer access for the handicapped.

Fort Erie

Contrary to popular belief, it was the French, and not the British, who built the original Fort Erie back in the 1600s. The British hadn’t officially claimed the site until 1763, building their own fort following the conclusion of the seven years war.

Located at 350 Lakeshore Road, the original Fort Erie sat on the edge of the Canadian side of the Niagara River. The severity of the winter storms began to be troublesome for the British, which lead to the construction of a new fort on higher ground, further away from the riverbanks in 1803.

However, the new fort had yet to be completed when the war of 1812 had begun. Less than a year into the war, US forces had temporarily taken control of the fort only to have the British regain control shortly after. The US forces managed to seize the fort yet again in 1814, destroying the fort and fleeing to Buffalo in December of that year. As the US fled, the carnage and bloodshed left behind was astounding, allowing Fort Erie to easily be recognized as the deadliest battlefield in Canadian history.

The British occupied what was left of the fort until 1823. Stones left from the fort’s ruin were used three kilometers north in the building of the St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Being left somewhat abandoned, the fort remained empty until a brigade of Irish Republicans claimed the fort as their base during their raid into Ontario in 1866. The Irish fled shortly after, and the fort remained abandoned until reconstruction began in 1937.

With such a history of such violence and bloodshed, it is believed by many that the ghosts of deceased soldiers continue to call this fort home. Supported with evidence from an archeological excavation in the late 1900s, the journal of a former drummer boy tells many tales of apparitions and ghost like activity.

The drummer boy spoke of certain visions, including that of a headless soldier as well as a soldier missing his hands. While the US Forces were occupying the fort for the second and final time, it is documented that a young corporal was shaving the beard of Sergeant Benjamin White before a British cannonball came blasting through the fort, severing the corporal’s hands and decapitating the sergeant.

by: Chase Kell

Niagara Apothecary

With a history spanning over 100 years, under the ownership of six different suitors, the Niagara Apothecary is believed to be the last of Ontario’s confederation buildings to be left standing.

The Ontario Heritage Foundation began to restore the Apothecary shortly after its closure in 1964, transforming the facility at 5 Queen Street into a museum seven years later. And like many of the areas with historical prominence in Niagara, there is much more to this property than meets the eye.

The reported sounds of footsteps jogging up and down a staircase have lead some to believe that there is a high level of ghost like activity within the museum. Some have gone as far as to strategically place newspapers on the front steps only to watch as the paper is gently moved by what they described as translucent footsteps. Although samples of a specific medicine called Beladona are no longer kept on site, the scent of the medicine, along with wild flowers, are frequently noticed by the museum’s visitors.

Some have reported the sensation of cold spots, certain areas that are dramatically colder than others even during the hottest of days. It is believed that the cold spots occur when a ghost is near and/or angry and upset, leading some to believe that the Apothecary had seen its fair share of violence and medical negligence.

by: Chase Kell

Fort George

Photo By: Robert Linsdell

Not only does Niagara’s Fort George hold historic prominence, it is also the location of some of the creepiest reported hauntings in the province of Ontario.

Located on Queen Street, on the opposing shore of the Niagara River, Fort George was completed in 1802 and was used to house the British Army as well as local militia. After 11 years the fort was partially destroyed and seized during the war of 1812 by the Americans, who used the fort as a base while invading Upper Canada. Shortly after, the battles of Beaver Dams and Stoney Creek forced the Americans to flee as the British won back their fort and began rebuilding.

Upon the war’s conclusion, British troops fled Fort George and took shelter in Butler’s Barracks and Fort Missassauga. In the 1930s, the Niagara Parks Commission rebuilt and restored Fort George into the beautiful fort that stands today. Parks Canada is responsible for maintaining the fort, especially the stone powder magazine, the only remaining section of the original fort and the oldest military structure in the province of Ontario.

Yet with such historical prowess come some of the eeriest hauntings and apparitions in the history of Ontario, many of which made famous by Kyle Upton, author of the book Niagara’s Ghosts at Fort George. The often seen apparitions from within the blockhouses include a grey-haired man behind the bunks looking outwards; a young girl with long blonde hair wearing a white night gown; a man clothed completely in white; a small hand appearing translucent, resting on the stair railing; a dark Caucasian man standing before a ground-floor window and a man pacing the upstairs floor.

If you are to look into an original gilt framed mirror, dated back to the 1790s which rests in the officer’s quarters of the fort, chances are that you might notice a beautiful young lady with long, curly hair standing behind you. Footsteps have been heard from within the halls of the officer’s quarters, doors seem to open and shut by themselves. Even the display gates have unhooked and opened up all on their own. Apparently the upper torso of a soldier’s body, patrolling the gates with his musket ready to fire can be seen on the fort’s property.

All of which contributes to the historic prominence and the eerie vibe that is Fort George.

by: Chase Kell

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