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Canada and U.S. Share Scary Niagara Region...

 

Marcy Italiano is a Canadian Journeywoman who works as a web designer in Waterloo, Ontario, and writes both dark fiction (poetry, short stories, novels) and non-fiction. Marcy's travels often prove to be a great inspiration and source of research, and after many trips to the Niagara Region, she realized she had found a ghostly jackpot. Marcy writes...

In the spirit of Halloween, some travellers might enjoy finding some locations that offer a spooky element. Have you ever visited a haunted restaurant, or stayed in a hotel room that housed an extra guest? My husband and I visited the Niagara Region on both the US and Canadian sides to find stories of ghosts and death/daredevils for my book, Spirits and Death in Niagara. For those of you thinking of heading to the Honeymoon Capital of the World, I’d like to share a few scary locations with you that are not only rich in history, but they might even make your hair stand on end.

Warning: This is definitely not for the faint of heart! Do you have teenagers living at home? This would make a terrific family outing.

 

The Olde Angel Inn...

Ladies beware! The Olde Angel Inn (Niagara on the Lake) likes to boast about their ghost, a British soldier named Captain Colin Swayze. Originally built in 1789, this English style pub and Inn consists of a restaurant, pub, and has a Snug Room (originally meant for guests of high profile who didn’t want to be seen drinking). There are rooms on the second floor, and they also offer separate, historical cottages just steps away from the Shaw Theatre in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

During the War of 1812, Captain Swayze came to the pub, either to visit his sweetheart Euretta, or to take a break from the fighting. The American soldiers found him in the cellar hiding in a barrel during a surprise invasion. That was the end of Euretta's love. It is said that he still walks around in that cellar, specifically in the women’s’ washroom where he died. He has been known to throw objects in the pub when staff are fighting, or interfere with the American beer taps. Some say that he also walks around the upper floor where the rooms are, but he’s generally happy as long as the British flag hangs over the front entrance. Any guests that dare to stay the whole night qualify for a Certificate of Survival. I would suggest booking as early as you can, especially if you want to stay in the Captain’s Room. Website: http://www.angel-inn.com/

 

An Uphill Battle...

Contrary to popular belief, very few cemeteries are haunted because it is very rare for a person to pass away in a graveyard unexpectedly. However, Drummond Hill Cemetery (and Lundy’s Lane) in Niagara Falls is the actual field where Canada’s bloodiest and most brutal battle took place on July 25, 1814 as the War of 1812 was coming to an end. The Americans marched up the hill towards British ground where they were ambushed in the dark fog. Soldiers could not make out who the enemies or allies were through the fog and gun powder smoke. The battle lasted six hours leaving almost two thousand men dead. In the Drummond Hill Cemetery you will find the graves of Lieutenant General Gordon Drummond and some of the soldiers, as well as Laura Secord.

On June 21, 1813, several American officers forced their way into the Secord home and ordered Laura to serve them dinner. Once the food and wine were served, the officers spoke of their plans to attack the remaining British resistance. At dawn, Laura snuck out of the house and travelled ninteen miles on foot and risked her life to warn the British. On some nights people have seen the red coats marching up the hill, or five, old Royal Scot soldiers limping across the field before disappearing. For more information you can visit: http://www.battleoflundyslane.com/

 

‘Till Death Do Us Part...

Not too far from Niagara Falls, NY, is the Elmlawn Church in Tonawanda. It is unknown what exact year the young woman married the love of her life, but after the ceremony, tragedy struck. A romantic carriage awaited across the street, ready to whisk them away to a happy future. As she went out onto the street, she was run over by a carriage and died instantly. They say you can still see her in her wedding gown crossing the road after dark, and others have seen strange lights between midnight and three in the morning.

 

Fort George...

During the summer months there are walking ghost tours of Fort George. About sixty percent of the time, guests and staff have reported paranormal experiences or sightings. The tour guides lead the group through the fort with a lantern, and do a wonderful job describing the history of the people and battles that once took place. There are so many stories about doors slamming shut, clothes that are tugged, footsteps heard, people being shoved, and images appearing all over the fort, that you really must experience this tour for yourself.

Located less than a block from the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, you can see Fort Niagara on the other side of the water. There are tourist plaques all around to show trajectories, and how the battles were fought. Daytime staff members at the park dress in period clothing and sometimes perform re-enactments, and they are always there to lead historical tours. There are places for your family to sit and have picnics or bike along beautiful trails. Website: http://www.friendsoffortgeorge.ca/ghost.htm

 

Maid of the Mist...

Many people have heard of the Maid of the Mist boat tours that take you right to the foot of Niagara Falls. It’s an amazing experience, and you realize very quickly that taking pictures from afar does not give you a full sense of the enormity and power of the falls. However, many people don’t know the legend of the Maid of the Mist.

When Indian tribes were inexplicably dying, they sent offerings of fruit to please the gods, Hinum and his two sons. There was no improvement, and they decided to sacrifice a beautiful woman every year. Lelawala, the chief’s daughter, was placed into a canoe and sent over the falls. Hinum’s sons caught her, and she agreed to become the wife of one of them under the condition that they save her people. Some people believe they have seen a young woman’s shape in the mist at the bottom of the falls; the spirit of Lelawala. Website: http://www.maidofthemist.com/en/

 

Fun Halloween Facts...

Halloween's origins date back over 3,000 years to the Celtic celebration of Samhain (Sow-en, not Sam-haain). The Celts believed that on November 1, the disembodied spirits of all those who had died throughout the preceding year would come back in search of living bodies to possess for the next year. So, on October 31, people dressed up as monsters to scare the spirits away.

On the evening before Halloween, the Celts left food on their doorsteps to keep hungry spirits from entering the house. There is also a tradition that in preparation for All Hallow's Eve, Irish townsfolk would visit neighbors and ask for contributions of food for a feast in the town. These lead to the childhood practise of Trick-Or-Treating.

Of all canned fruits and vegetables, pumpkin is the best source of vitamin A. Just a half-cup has more than three times the recommended daily requirement.

The Irish history of the Jack-O-Lantern goes back to the legend of a man named Jack who met up with the Devil in a bar. Later that night, Jack tricked the devil into climing up a tree and trapped him by carving a cross in the bark. Jack freed the Devil after a year, but only if he agreed to leave him alone and not take his soul when he died. When God would not allow such a soul into Heaven, and the Devil wouldn't take him, Jack was sent away with a burning coal to light his way in the darkness, which he put in a turnip to avoid burning his hands.

When it comes to spending money, Halloween is right behind Christmas. Candy, costumes, decorations and party goods can add up to over two billion dollars in the U.S. per year.

Black cats were originally believed to protect witches' powers from negative forces.

Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers #1.

People have believed for centuries that light keeps away ghosts and ghouls. Making a pumpkin lantern with a candle inside may keep you safe from all the spooky spirits flying around on Halloween.

(Sources: www.coolest-holiday-parties.com/halloween-facts.html, www.care2.com/gates/holidays/halloween/halloween.html,
www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/Halloween/facts.htm)

 

 

 

 

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