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.
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 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.