The quiet rural town of Niagara-On-The-Lake in the southern part of Ontario, Canada, has Victorian-era buildings and a welcoming old-world charm. But it has a very dark history that gives this small place the reputation for being Canada’s most haunted town.
The town, which was originally called “Newark”, was settled by British loyalists in the 1700s. During the War of 1812, thousands of American soldiers came to the town to try and conquer it. During that time, they killed around 1,000 British soldiers and held the town for nearly seven months before British reinforcements pushed them out. When the American soldiers were leaving, they set the town on fire and destroyed pretty much every building and structure around the area. Because of that, the British had no place to seek shelter and many of them ended up freezing to death from the extremely cold temperatures during the winter of 1813.
Many of the hauntings in the town are associated with the numerous deaths that occurred during the war as well as from the fire. Several of the historic locations of the town have been long associated with paranormal activity, such as the Olde Angel Inn, Prince of Wales Hotel, the Courthouse, Brockamour Manor, and Fort George. Let’s take a look at these haunted locations.
Established in 1789 and rebuilt in 1815 after the war, the Olde Angel Inn is known to have ghosts lurking around. One popular legend is the ghost of Captain Colin Swayze who is said to still roam around the small inn. He delayed joining the British retreat because he wanted to meet up with a woman who he believed to be his true love. When the American soldiers searched the Inn, the Captain hid in an empty barrel but was killed when the soldiers used bayonets to prod into every potential hiding place. Many say that the Captain still wanders around the inn looking for his true love. Quite a bit of the paranormal activity occurs in the dining room where people have heard unexplained noises as well as table settings getting rearranged.
Built in 1864, the Prince of Wales Hotel has a reputation for being very haunted. Legend has it that when the Americans entered the town during the war, a soldier was ordered to search through a wooden house that once stood in the exact spot where the hotel is located today. When the soldier reached the top floor, he noticed a figure standing by the window and immediately stabbed the figure but he soon realized that it wasn’t a British soldier but instead a woman with long brown hair. That woman was Molly McGuire and it is said that she haunts the hotel room 207 – where her bedroom would have once stood. Guests who have stayed in that room have experienced unexplained footsteps as well as lights turning on.
The town’s second courthouse was built in 1847 and it’s so haunted that workers refuse to go in there at night. One night, a cleaning lady named Mary noticed that a light on the ceiling was swaying back and forth but there weren’t any windows or doors that were opened. It started swaying faster and eventually crashed onto the floor. Another lady was walking through the main hallway when she heard loud knocking sounds coming from an old original jail cell that had been locked up for decades. Afraid that someone accidentally got locked in there, she grabbed the keys and opened the door only to find the dark room completely empty.
Fort George was built between 1796 and 1799, and served as the headquarters for the British Army. It is considered to be one of the most haunted locations in all of Canada. In addition to the spirits of numerous soldiers who have passed away, the site is also home to several other ghosts, such as the “Tall Man” who is often seen hiding around the blockhouses and sometimes peaks out from behind bunk beds. He is even said to follow guests around. The “Man in White” is apparently a quiet and peaceful ghost who lies on the beds and watches the guests as they walk by him. Other spirits include a little girl named Sarah Ann and a much darker presence known only as “The Watcher”.
One of the town’s most popular legends is “Sobbing Sophia” who once lived at Brockamour Manor. As the story goes, she was in love with a man named Isaac but her parents wouldn’t allow them to get married. Isaac, however, vowed to marry Sophia, but he was killed in the War of 1812. Sophia was so distraught that she spent the remainder of her days grieving over the loss of Isaac. Many people believe that her spirit still remains at the manor and she can even be heard crying at night throughout the hallways.