Prohibition, Halloween and Dinner Theatre at Museum of Dufferin

Changing leaves, bountiful harvests, apple cider and sweater weather—these are the hallmarks of a YDH fall. But the best hallmark to top them all? Why it’s Halloween, of course! A spook-tacular holiday for the kid in all of us, no one is ever too old to celebrate in style… grisly and ghoulish though that style may be. Autumn may be thought of as the season where Mother Nature winding down for the winter, but events in York Durham Headwaters are just winding up. What are we talking about, you wonder? Mark your calendars for October 26th, as the Museum of Dufferin hosts its first ever 1919 Prohibition Halloween Dinner Theatre.

As long as you’re not a Bluenose (a.k.a. a Temperance advocate), you are cordially invited to purchase your ticket for a night of dinner, courtesy of Lavender Blue catering, and libations from GoodLot Farmstead Brewing Company. Our temperance band, the Tipsy Temperance Trio, will provide the evening’s music, and if the spirit moves you (haha, see what we did there?), MoD encourages you to come dressed in your best Prohibition-era glad rags… though really, any fun costume will do. ’Tis the season for witches and goblins, after all.

Temperance Temptation
Terra Nova Public House

A note of caution, though: while we in York Durham Headwaters encourage you to enjoy the local food and giggle water (responsibly, of course), there are some who may be in attendance that would turn you away from the sinner’s drink. Word has it that Mrs. Eleanor Crumpacker (who bears an uncanny resemblance to celebrated comedian, actress and television host Mag Ruffman) will try to turn anyone she can to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

“It’s called ‘theatre’ but none of it is scripted,” laughs Nanci Malek, Museum of Dufferin’s head of marketing and promotion, and the mastermind behind this one-of-a-kind event. “Mag [Ruffman] hones in on people, trying to convince them to join the temperance movement all evening. The band gets involved, too. It’s the funniest thing on earth to see them do what they do so well.”

The concept for the evening’s event is based on the museum’s Temperance and Temptation exhibit, which launched in the summer of 2018 and goes through to August, 2020. The exhibit runs in tandem with York Durham Headwaters’ Temperance and Temptation experience tours, which showcase Ontario’s rich history of bootlegging. “This is the first year we’ve done the dinner theatre,” says Nanci. “But just from the buzz we’re getting and the number of people who have already jumped at the chance to buy their tickets, I think it is going to be very successful.”

To add an extra flair of Halloween to the 1919 Prohibition Halloween Dinner Theatre, you may just hear a few local stories told throughout the night. After all, Headwaters region is as full of its own ghost and murder mayhem stories as any world-class historic destination. For example, there is (drumroll please) …

The Ghost of Dr. Frame’s Cabin

THE GHOST IS STILL IN IT! 

Strange Noises Have Been Heard by Different People in the Haunted House

3 Knocks is the Spirit’s Password

Haunted Cabin at MOD
Haunted Cabin at MOD
Haunted Cabin at MOD

These headlines, recorded in the March 7, 1895 Orangeville Sun, describe the interesting and perplexing events that took place in an abandoned cabin just west of Camilla earlier that year. No one could explain the unusual goings on in the old log house of the late Dr. Robert Frame, who was known as the best “bonesetter” in this part of Dufferin County. Generations of the family lived in the cabin until the early 1890s, but abandoned it to sit empty until 1894 when it was rented to a succession of tenants. That is when the ghostly events began.

None of the cabin’s tenants would stay very long, with reports of strange noises and unusual sounds coming from the attic to disturb sleep and family life. A woodcutter by the name of Adam Glover experienced thunderous knocking and a door opening and closing of its own volition in the wee hours of the morning. One night at midnight, chairs and beds were tossed around by an invisible intruder. Glover and his family also saw strange entities, lights, and even an unexplained, floating ball of fire on the property. Hearing of the ghostly disturbances, the Orangeville Sun dispatched reporters to the scene.

MOD Haunted

Here is where our story takes a grisly turn.  Upon searching the house, an array of human bones, amputations and old medicine bottles were unearthed. Whether it was Dr. Robert Frame the bonesetter, his son Thomas Frame (also a physician), or another member of the Frame family, we’ll never know. But someone had been studying anatomy and keeping the specimens. Interestingly, when the bones were collected and interred at the local cemetery, the noises and happenings stopped in the old cabin, and have not been reported since.

Could the spirit of Dr. Frame’s cabin have been laid to rest along with his or her earthly remains?


Don’t miss the wonderful performances, libations and cuisine that will bring a touch of Prohibition Zeitgeist to Dufferin County on October 26th. Purchase your ticket for the Museum of Dufferin 1919 Prohibition Halloween Dinner Theatre by calling 519-941-1114. Tickets are $80 per person. For more information, visit MoD online at www.dufferinmuseum.com.

Story by Katherine Ryalen

Ryalen is a Durham-based author and lifestyle blogger. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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