In my book, it's never too early to start getting excited about fall and all the great things that cozy season brings. Think fuzzy sweaters, autumn colours, and of course, Halloween! Everyone loves Halloween because it's the one time of year when you can let all your creativity out and dress up as someone you're not.
All the creepy crawlies are free to roam the streets on Halloween, so you never know what's lurking around the next corner. Ontario has a rich and mysterious history that's much darker that you might imagine. There's been murders, disappearances, executions, and a whole lot of other frightening, inexplicable phenomena.
There are a whole lot of eerie places in Ontario that are just waiting to be explored. From haunted jails to ghost towns, there's a creepy story behind every spot on this list. Are you brave enough to read on? (PS: These spots aren't just reserved for fall; they're perfectly terrifying to explore ANY time of the year!)
St. Catharines, Ontario
The Merritton Tunnel in St. Catharines is definitely one of the most haunted spots in this province. It's also known as the Blue Ghost Tunnel because of all the deaths that occurred in or near the tunnel. On some nights, there's said to be a "blue mist" that's mysteriously seen coming out of the tunnel and no one knows why. People have also said they felt like they were being pushed near the entrance of the tunnel and they could hear the echoes of crying children.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Where: Toronto, Ontario
Built back in the early 1800s, this lighthouse carries a lot of controversy and mysteries with it. The very first lightkeeper that lived in this lighthouse was said to be murdered here by a group of men looking for bootleg beer. The men were never convicted of his murder even though they went to trial, and it's said the lightkeeper's ghost still roams this area. It's even creepier to visit this spot at night.
The Grand Theatre
Where: London, Ontario
A theatrical entrepreneur in the early 1900s, Ambrose Small opened up the the Grand Theatre in the heart of London. The interesting part of his story is that he was never found dead; he walked onto Yonge Street in Toronto and just disappeared. It's said that the ghost of Ambrose Small comes out and wanders the theatre after every opening night. He's also been spotted during performances, on balconies, and sitting in seats.
Regional Mental Health Centre
Where: St. Thomas, Ontario
This old asylum was built back in 1939 but has since closed its doors. Just about every abandoned mental hospital is assumed to be haunted, but real sightings have occurred here. It was used as a government asylum that held criminals who were guilty of serious crimes but were brought there instead of jail because of their mental illnesses. This building is said to be haunted by those who died inside its walls. People have seen curtains moving, lights flicking on and off, mysterious sounds, whispers, and even crying.
Drummond Hill Cemetery
Where:Niagara Falls, Ontario
This cemetery was the sight of the Battle of Lundy's Lane, which was one of the most deadly fights during the War of 1812. This place is definitely creepy on its own, but people have reported all kinds of paranormal activity here. They say they've seen the ghosts of marching soldiers, sounds of battle, unexplained mist, and even the feeling of being watched! As if cemeteries weren't creepy enough already...
Bala Bay Inn
Where: Bala, Ontario
If you're heading up to Muskoka, you should consider staying at the Bala Bay Inn, which is home to all kinds of mysterious paranormal activity. Lots of different spirits are said to haunt the corridors here, including one notable writer and musician, E.B. Sutton. People have witnessed flying objects, TVs turning on on their own, creepy voices, footsteps at night, and rattling doors! If you're brave enough, you can spend a night here and see if these rumours are actually true.
Where: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Another War of 1812 location, this one is a hotspot for spectral soldiers wandering the grounds (and talking with visiting children!), and some visitors have reported seeing a woman in haggard period clothing combing her hair in the officers' quarters.
Peterborough Lift Lock
Where: Peterborough Lift Lock
The Peterborough Lift Lock is the world's highest hydraulic lift lock and is truly an impressive structure. This spot is said to be haunted by many spirits who met their untimely death here. People have said to have seen a woman who was burnt at the stake here in the 1840s, a couple who committed suicide here, and a mother and son who died five days apart. Even the man who works as a guard here has admitted that he's experienced lots of paranormal activity and that this site is definitely haunted.
Where: Dundas, Ontario
This was the site of British soldier Otto Ives's home, built some 160 years ago. Now all that's left are ruins of the walls, but there's a lot more to see here than meets the eye. People have said they've seen apparitions of what the house used to look like, and they've heard cries of the coachman who hanged himself there after a love affair with the soldier's daughter. You can take a Ghost Walk here and learn all about these spooky stories in-depth.
Located in Muskoka, the small town of Germania was bustling back in the 1870s, but it was eventually abandoned, leaving a creepy ghost town in its place. The building of the old schoolhouse from the pioneer era still stands to this day. This town and the schoolhouse had a dark reputation for infanticide and other tragedies. People who dare visit this ghost town might hear the cries of children who haunt it. While you may not experience any paranormal activity first-hand here, even just walking through this ghost town is bound to give you the creeps.
The Jester's Court
Where:Port Perry, Ontario
The Jester's Court is a pub located in Port Perry that's haunted by a whole lot of spirits. Patrons and staff have spotted a little girl in the stairwell, a woman in a blue dress by the women's washroom, an elderly couple sitting and talking at closing time, and a woman who throws things from shelves at the staff.
Old Oxford County Court House and Jail
Where: Woodstock, Ontario
In 1860, Thomas Cooke was convicted of murdering his wife. He was hanged in 1862, the county's first public hanging in which 3400 people showed up to watch. A mask of his face was made after the hanging, named a "death mask," and displayed in the courthouse. Apparently, the death mask was removed from the wall in 1982 and triggered a bunch of paranormal activity like flickering lights and ghostly faces appearing. The mask was hung back up and the occurrences stopped.
The Nicholas Street Hostel
The old jail turned hostel is a unique spot in Ottawa where you can actually sleep in the old jail cells! In 1869, it was also the site where the alleged political assassin Patrick Whelan was hanged. People who have stayed here have reported seeing his ghost standing and staring at them or reciting the Lord's Prayer on the floor that was once dedicated to Death Row.
Galt Collegiate Institute
Galt Collegiate Institute is Ontario's oldest educational institution that's still open, built back in 1852. The very first headmaster of this school is said to haunt the halls, teachers and students have reported smelling pipe smoke on the third floor, an old habit of his. People have also heard boys whispering in an empty main floor corridor.
Where: Algonquin Park, Ontario
If you're Canadian, you've definitely heard of the Group of Seven artists. While Tom Thomson wasn't an official member, his art is often displayed with the group's. Thomson came to Canoe Lake for inspiration for his paintings, but he mysteriously drowned in the lake in 1917 after he went out on a canoe ride. The cause of death is still unknown, many thinking it could have been murder. People say that they've seen his ghost at the lake to this day.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.