With Halloween just around the corner, we’re starting to think of all those creepy places we can go to set our spines a-tingling. There are lots of haunted places all around Ontario, of course, but we think Durham Region takes the cake for the most haunted place in the province. So many stories exist of haunted buildings, unexplained happenings and things that go bump in the night here. We at York Durham Headwaters invite you to indulge in some spooky settings that will bewitch your sense of adventure and get the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. What was that cold draft, you say? It might have been the presence of a long-dead Durham inhabitant… who has never left.
Here are some of the stops you can visit which we think make Durham Region the most haunted place in Ontario.
Haunted Stops in Port Perry and Scugog
279 Queen St., Port Perry
Jester’s Court welcomes one and all for great food, great drinks, and a great atmosphere. If your timing is just right, you may be treated to some entertainment of a paranormal nature as well! This popular pub in Port Perry is so haunted that it has been featured in the book Haunted Ontario by Canadian author Terry Boyle. The spirits haunting Jester’s Court are active, but whether they are mischievous or malicious is a hotly debated topic. Witnesses have experienced poltergeist activity including salt shakers being fired across tables, paintings spinning on the walls, and a washroom haunted by a mysterious “Lady in Blue.” A little girl is often spotted playing innocently on the stairwell which leads from the main restaurant to the second floor, too. And there are disturbing reports of an angry-looking older gentleman peering down at departing diners from the window of an empty upstairs room.
Just outside of the quaint village of Port Perry, Ghost Road is the setting for many interesting phenomena. Ghost Road is also the location of a well-travelled Native footpath, and artifacts and human remains have been unearthed in the immediate vicinity. Also, reports of a large white light heading down the road are commonplace, and sometimes these sightings are accompanied by the disembodied sound of a motorcycle. Legend has it that in the 1950s, a motorcyclist lost control of his vehicle and met his end on this road. Now, while paranormal investigators have debunked much of the phenomena that is said to be tied with the supposed 1950s-era accident, it is noteworthy that reports of unexplained light phenomena have been reported on “the island of the devil lights” since the 1850s. Whether this is all urban legend or is perhaps tied to the artifacts and remains found (or is something else entirely) has yet to be determined. However, the atmosphere on Ghost Road is nothing short of spooky.
16210 Island Rd., Port Perry
This charming collection of historic buildings on Scugog Island depict the town of Scugog as it was in the 1800s—complete with a few former residents who have decided to linger here after death. There has been activity reported in many of the buildings such as the church, the school house, the log cabin and the cemetery. But perhaps the most active of buildings is the Lee House, which was moved to the museum property from Greenbank, Ontario, and is purported to still contain the ghost of Rosina Lee and some of her kin. Phantom scents, chills, and ghostly visions have greeted previous visitors. Who knows? You might be the next visitor to report a spooky encounter!
Haunted Stops in Pickering
2365 Concession Rd 6, Greenwood
This collection of historic buildings and artifacts which preserve Pickering’s heritage also preserve the spirits of a few of its former residents. Will you encounter the curious man in the Miller-Cole House? Perhaps you might befriend the children of the Collins House, rambunctious creatures who keep each other company in death as they did in life. With so many lives having come and gone through the museum’s buildings, it is no wonder that a few have stayed behind—especially since most, if not all, of these buildings were in use during the typhus and cholera epidemics that ravaged the City of Pickering nearly two hundred years ago. If you do happen to catch a glimpse of someone lurking in the shadows, be sure to say a cheerful “Hello.”
Haunted Stops in Oshawa
1450 Simcoe St. S., Oshawa
On the shores of Lake Ontario stand a collection of historic buildings amongst a charming and idyllic park setting. These were once homes, and as can be attested to by those who work at the Oshawa Museum, those former residents of a century ago may not have left. Footsteps have been heard through empty halls, and furniture has been moved askew after staff have straightened it. Whisps of apparitions in period dress have been seen disappearing around corners, and on one occasion, after staff had shut off the main electrical panel for the night at the Guy House, within an hour the top front room had been lit brightly when the house had been locked. If you like the idea of being startled when you least expect it, the houses of the Oshawa Museum might just be for you.
99 Simcoe St. S., Oshawa
Located in the heart of Ontario’s Motor City, this community project, established in 1962, is home to the world’s most significant collection of Canadian automobiles, as well as memorabilia and artifacts like automobile manuals and photographs. Murder and mayhem are featured in the stories of many of the automobiles on display at the Canadian Automotive Museum. Famed horror author Stephen King based two of his novels on cars in the museum’s collection. Two ghosts are also drawn to the Canadian Automotive Museum’s Dodge Regent, and have been seen by more than a few witnesses. One spirit is said to be that of a First World War veteran who once worked in the building when it was a car dealership from 1921 to 1931, and the other is that of a little boy who was thought to have perished in a house fire in the 1920s, built on the spot where the museum’s parking lot is now located. But the creepiest, most spine-tingling part of the building is the basement. That part of the museum is not open to the public. Count yourself lucky—even those of you brave enough to want to go down there!
Ghost Road Bush – Located within the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Preserve, the aptly-named Ghost Road Bush is a diverse woodland, swamp and wet forest, which has also been the location of unexplained lights and other phenomena—including unearthly figures that are seen but for a moment before disappearing. 1908 Colonel Sam Dr., Oshawa.
Haunted Stops in Uxbridge
Uxbridge Historical Centre – Unearthly activity has been documented at this museum with ten historical buildings and over 10,000 historical artifacts. In fact, guests and staff have reported unexplained happenings and feelings of unease for many years here. 7239 Concession Rd. 6, Uxbridge.
Leaskdale Manse – Once home to beloved Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Leaskdale Manse has had its share of unexplained lights, unearthly voices and visitors who feel things that aren’t quite there. Is it the ghost of Maud herself? Harrison Dr, Uxbridge.
Haunted Stops in Whitby
Whitby Centennial Building – Built in the 1850s, this was once the location of the Ontario County Courthouse. Here, lights go on and off by themselves, a shadowy person has been seen descending from the balcony of the old courtroom, and the figure of a large black dog has been seen to transform into a man with burning red eyes! 416 Centre St. S., Whitby.
Station Gallery – Today it is a public art gallery, but the former Whitby Junction Railway Station was once the scene of a terribly tragedy when, in 1914, 21-year-old night telegraph operator Billy Stone was shot and killed by an unknown assailant. Since that time, staff have experienced a number of unexplained events and feelings of being watched. 1450 Henry St., Whitby.
Haunted Stops in Bowmanville
Clarington Museums & Archives – An unknown ghost is said to haunt this nearly-200-year-old former home, with staff reporting that they feel uneasy, and seeing a shadowy figure of a man in the basement. 62 Temperance St., Bowmanville.
Mad Bohemian Tattoo – A small, childlike shadow has been seen running from one side of this local tattoo shop to the other, and shadows are reported to drift unexplainably throughout the building. Disembodied voices are also heard here in this quaint building in the heart of Bowmanville’s Historic District. 37 King St. W., Bowmanville.
Copperworks Brew Pub – This 1800s-era building is a thriving pub today, but was the site of a tragic accident in an earlier time when the building to the south was a coal operation. A little girl is said to have been trampled in the laneway between this building and the pub, and her spirit is sometimes seen wandering the restaurant. And the ghost of a former resident, Prohibition advocate Sybil, has been reported to make a ruckus and to make her presence felt by libation-imbibing visitors. 7 Division St., Bowmanville.
Have you visited these haunted Durham locations? Tag us on social media at @VisitYDH and tell us all about it!
Story by Katherine Ryalen