Frequently Asked Questions
- How long is the Ghost Walks of Niagara on the Lake?
Tour is about 90 minutes long
- Why is Niagara on the Lake Canada's most haunted town?
Niagara on the Lake was the capital of Canada during the War of 1812. A focal point for the Americans in their campaign which brought much violence to the town. Not to mention Niagara on the Lake is Ontario's oldest community. Only a town of about 20,000 people has 2 Ghost Walks and even a book solely about those ghosts.
- Do we go into any of the buildings?
The Ghost Walks of Niagara on the Lake are completely outdoors other than a stop in the picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake Gazebo. Also, 3 of the most haunted locations are open to customers before or after the Ghost Walks. These are The Prince of Wales Hotel, Corks Restaurant and Niagara-on-the-Lake's most famous ghostly hotspot, The Angel Inn.
- Are group discounts available?
Yes! If you have a group of 8 or more people, we may be able to provide a discount (depending on night and time of year). To find out, Contact Us, mention the number of people and desired date.
The History of Canada's Most Haunted Town
Upper Canada’s first provincial capital was home to many Ontario firsts.
- Post Office
The British accomplished in a short time after Colonel John Butler, his men and families settled in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
They fled the American Revolution into British Upper Canada to remain loyal to England (called Loyalists) and avoid violence.
Our history, in combination with previous native history makes Niagara-on-the-Lake Canada’s most haunted town.
The Natives of Canada
Natives called this land home for over 10,000 years before the British.
The Neutral Nation called it home for 500 years. Credited with providing the name Niagara, for raging waters starting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and going to the massive falls.
Translating to, we believe, “thunder of the waters” or “neck” (because of the shape of the Niagara River).
The Neutrals called Niagara-on-Lake "Onghiara", or paradise. It was, until the Iroquois found them. They were plenty, but peaceful as the name suggests. Would be their downfall as warring tribes took land, killed, starved and pushed them out. Eventually the Neutrals disappeared.
John Butler and his men met with the Mississauga’s when arriving in Niagara-on-the-Lake and in 1781 the town was purchased for the Brits. The Mississauga’s received “300 suits of clothing”, proving a person's trash is someone's treasure. One way to sum it up, they were ripped off.
In 1782, 16 families started “Butlersburg”. Just 10 years later it was renamed “Newark” by Lieutenant-Governor John Graves Simcoe, changed for what would become the first capital of Upper Canada.
5 Parliament sessions held over 3 years.
A most historic decision happened in Niagara-on-the-Lake when slavery was outlawed for Ontario. One of the first laws of it's kind in the world.
It’s said the men retired to The Harmonious Coach House Tavern to celebrate. The Coach House would later become The Angel Inn (still in operation).
In 1796, the capital was moved to the less vulnerable York, now called Toronto.
Burning of Niagara-on-the-Lake
Then on May 27, 1813, as the War of 1812 raged, the American’s marched into town.
The conquering army took Queenston Heights, killing our famous General Isaac Brook. Fort George burned to the ground as 5,000 Americans easily defeat 1,000 British, causing many horrible, violent deaths.
The Americans held Niagara-on-the-Lake until December 10 of 1813, just 7 months before defeats at Lundy's Lane (part of Niagara Falls) and Stoney Creek (now part of Hamilton).
As the Brits advance to their former capital, the American’s decide it's not worth the fight.
One final insult is dealt. They burn Niagara-on-the-Lake.
To deny the Brits shelter during a cold winter. Every building, structure in Niagara-on-the-Lake destroyed, except the McFarland House, part of today's Brockamour Manor, the Power Magazine in Fort George and some random houses for citizens to huddle.
The people of Newark... eventually renamed to Niagara, then again to Niagara-on-the-Lake to avoid confusion with Niagara Falls... rebuilt their town.
Because of this, “Original” houses do not predate 1814.
Freemasons are a Symbol of Hope
The first symbolic structure was the Freemason Lodge on King Street.
Built back up using the rubble of destroyed houses and structures as a symbol of rebirth, removing the sadness of destruction for the creation of greatness.
Canada's Most Haunted Town
Most towns have haunted locations attached to the regular historic events, regular tragedies part of any Canadian society.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is different.
The only war fought on Canadian soil affected here like no other. Death, violence, emotions and tragedy afflicting a small place with history spanning over 200 years combined with native history confirms Niagara-on-the-Lake to be Canada’s Most Haunted Town.
So many ghost stories
History is the foundation of ghosts. The stories from war still being told today, interacting with the living, causing Niagara-on-the-Lake to rightly receive the reputation of having more ghosts than living residents.
Stories never stop coming in. If all our stories were told on The Ghost Walks of Niagara-on-the-Lake, you’d be there over 4 hours. So we cut it down to a manageable 90 minutes.
But this proves a point. There are so many stories.
Here are two not featured on the tour.
The Legend of Sobbing Sophia
Sophia Shaw was the love of General Isaac Brock.
The great general for the British was their important strategist against the Americans. He didn't want to be in Canada. Would rather have been fighting Napoleon in Europe, but Canada needed a leader.
The Powell family lived in the house now called Brockamour.
Sophia was Captain Powell’s sister-in-law and lived with the family. Sophia's father, Aeneas Shaw, a frequent visitor to the house.
Brock met and fell in love with Sophia while stationed at Fort George.
Their courtship was fast due to tragic times, and the couple talked about the future. Marriage, a family, a life together.
Sophia’s father was against it. He thought Brock was important for Upper Canada, but not a noble. He didn’t come from money and couldn’t afford the best for his beloved daughter.
Aeneas denied Isaac permission to marry Sophia, but the couple was not deterred.
Until, in October of 1812, Brock was summoned to join his men and defend Queenston Heights.
A strategic location, and if lost would give the Americans a straight march to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The couple said goodbye, Sophia not knowing it would be the last time.
At Queenston Heights Brock charged into battle. He ran up the hill, into heavy American assault as some of the Brits fearfully dropped back.
Brock screamed out, “This is the first time I've seen the 49th turn their backs!” The men surged forward.
Brock was shot in the wrist and didn't slow down.
Then, 50 yards away an American sniper emerged from a bush, lined up and fired into Brock’s chest. The great General was dead.
His men retrieved the body, now stained with blood across his bright red coat and the sash given to him by native rebel Tecumseh.
Sophia was told her beloved was dead. She mourned for many years, never marrying, always wondering what could have been.
Then dying at a young age, many believing from a broken heart.
During her final few years, the people of Niagara-on-the-Lake didn't see Sophia.
Many heard her cries, coming from an open second floor window in Brockamour Manor.
They called her “Sobbing Sophia”, and she's still heard today.
Many reports of a woman crying in that room at Brockamour, and even along Niagara-on-the-Lake's Queen Street at night.
The Watcher of the Town
Many of the town’s people reported the strange blue light.
Some called it an orb, seen floating the streets at night. Seen near the modern Post Office.
Locals say it's a former constable, hence the color blue like police. No one seeing it long enough to investigate, feel any emotion or notice a figure in the shadows..
Instead they simply call it the “Watcher”, only appearing at night when the town is sleeping.
Article Written by Daniel Cumerlato