Footprints on the Floor

4 Haunted Locations to Visit in the Heart of Georgian Bay

Every year on October 31st, streets are taken over by children dressed in all kinds of costumes, but the history behind this day is much more than that. The origins go back to the Celtic celebration of Samhaim, where people would dress in costumes and light fires to ward off the spirits of those who had passed. October 31st was considered the eve of the new year, following the harvest season, and was believed to be the date on which the barrier between our world and the afterworld was at its most thin. On this date, ghosts could come through the blurred portal to the world they once knew to wreak havoc and cause destruction.

As time passed, the festivities evolved after influence from the Roman festival Feralia, which added new elements like bobbing for apples in honour of the Goddess of fruit and trees. The name “Halloween” actually stems from the Catholic celebration of All Saints’ Day, which was also called All-hallows. Over time, the traditions of All Hallows Eve was brought across the Atlantic by immigrants to this new world and eventually evolved into a fun evening where it is considered normal to knock on strangers’ doors and ask for candy, wearing your favourite superhero, princess, or masked murderer costume.

To honour this day, we want to share a few locations in the Heart of Georgian Bay that have connections to the spirit world. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, it’s undeniably interesting to indulge yourself in stories of despair, like some of these locations have. But, you’ll have to visit them yourself to truly get the whole experience. Goose bumps, hair standing up on the back of your neck, chills, and more.

Penetanguishene Centennial Museum & Archives

Charles Beck immigrated to Canada in 1860 and very quickly began to build an empire in Penetanguishene when he established the C. Beck Lumbering Company. He brought many “modern” amenities to the region and contributed largely to the development of the town. Some say that his proud spirit still lives at his general store and office, which is now the location of the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum & Archives. There have been many reports of unexplainable sounds, movements and occurances over the years. It is even reported that there is a portal to the afterworld located on the second story in the museum, manned by the spirit of Charles Beck himself. This location was featured in the first episode of Haunted Huronia, a series of spotlight videos on locations throughout the Heart of Georgian Bay which are known to be haunted. You can view the full episode here, but the museum is open year-round to see for yourself.

The Beck House

Beck House image

The historic Beck House is a landmark in Penetanguishene. Originally built in 1885 by the same lumber barron, Charles Beck, it was the largest home in the area at that time and isn’t far from the Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and Archives. Charles Beck’s wife passed away fairly early in their family life and left their eldest daughter, Mary, to naturally assume the role of mother to her 8 siblings. But, due to conflict related to her choice of husband, Beck left her one single dollar in his will when he died while he evenly distributed his fortune amongst his other children. The elaborate Victorian-style home was long ago converted to apartments and residents have endless stories of unexplainable events within its walls, many of the spirit of Mary Beck herself. Today, you can actually stay in one of the apartments, listed as The Haunted House on Airbnb. If you are brave enough to stick through the night, you will most likely have a good story to tell.

Discovery Harbour

Discovery Harbour image
Sailors, soldiers and spirits. Discovery Harbour is a recreated naval and military establishment, originally built to protect the Upper Great Lakes and Upper Canada from American attack following the War of 1812. This vast waterside property is visited by thousands of daytime visitors every summer, who are interested in the history of the site, but also in the evening hours for their popular ghost tours. Visitors are guided through the property by lanternlight to hear just a few of the many, many paranormal sightings and experiences reported by staff and guests over the years. Stories like the child in the window of the Keating House photographed above, the private who froze to death, or a brother who died of loneliness and never really left. Experience it for yourself when the site re-opens for the season in May and stay tuned for upcoming dates of the popular ghost tours. Watch this video to hear the story of an escaped murderer who seeked refuge in the still existing Officer’s Quarters, after escaping from the asylum for the insane which was located right next door, and to this day is an institution for mental health care.

S.S. Keewatin

At 112 years old, you can almost assume that at least one spirit would inhabit this ornate ship. As the last Edwardian passenger steamship in the world, she has many stories to tell. She was one of five ships owned by Canadian Pacific, constructed in Scotland to ferry passengers through the Great Lakes to colonize the Western part of the country. Passengers making the journey from her home port of Port McNicoll to Thunder Bay began reporting sightings as early as 1910. Strange sensations, unlikely sounds and even appearances. Paranormal experts have documented extremely high paranormal activity onboard throughout the years. Since her return to her home port after 45 years of being stationed in Michigan, occurances have only continued to get louder and more undeniable. Read an article about one reporter’s experience actually sleeping onboard the ship a few years ago and visit yourself in the summer months to perhaps catch a glimpse of the resident dancing spirit, Rosie.

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