Local Ghost Stories and Legends
I have always been fascinated with the idea of ghost stories, legends and tales of haunted places. The idea of hauntings and ghosts, the good and the bad, real-life experiences and sightings – I could spend hours watching every documentary and show out there. Nearly every area has, at some point, some sort of local legend or ghost tale. Here in Windsor/Essex, we are no exception. Here are just some of the tales that have emerged from our corner of Canada…
Originally called Fort Amherstburg during the War of 1812. Located in Amherstburg, along the Detroit River, there are many stories that are told about the spirits that they claim haunt this area. Honestly, its no surprise that this area would be the subject of ghost stories and experiences when you consider the lives lost in battle – most hauntings can be traced back to something tragic, or some big loss of life.
There is one building on the property that has apparently gone by many names and has a long history. It is generally open to the public for special events and private tours and is referred to as the old orphanage, once operated as the ‘Fort Malden Lunatic Asylum’ for many, many years. Operating in the mid-1800s, the asylum was only open for a decade before it was closed down. It is estimated that there were 240 patients there at a time. There isn’t a lot of information about the asylum available, but that which is out there states that they used a number of different therapies including shock therapy, hydrotherapy, drug therapy and even lobotomies.
Occasionally groups like the Cub Scouts actually sleep out in the building, and that’s where most of the stories I have heard stem from. They tell of the sound of footsteps, the feeling of eerie chills, ghostly figures and horrible nightmares while on site.
This was one story that always fascinated me. When I first moved in with my now husband we lived on a farm just a stone’s throw away from Texas Road. It has been the subject of many different stories, featured in a number of books about hauntings in the province, and there was even a movie being made about it.
Rather than trying to write this one out, I’m actually going to quote an excerpt from John Robert Colombo’s book ‘Mysteries of Ontario’:
“Between Windsor and nearby Amherstburg, there is a stretch of the Texas Road that passes through a gully. It is said to be haunted, and it is maintained that one man murdered another there, that the dead man’s spirit cannot leave the burial site, and that the murderer is fated to return on certain nights to the scene of the crime. Indeed, motorists have reported seeing a mysterious figure in a white shroud. Satanists are said to meet there. One tradition holds that if a motorist drives over the bridge here three times, the ignition will fail. Disturbances may date from the early 1960’s when, one explanation has it, as a Halloween prank, kids pulled a wire and then a white bedsheet across the road starling motorists. Or disturbances may date from the above-mentioned accident that occurred a century ago on Texas Road, near the Verdi Club when a rider was murdered and his body mangled. The man’s spirit returns and rides the road as a headless horseman. The small graveyard among the trees at Walker Road is kept locked to deter prowlers on Halloween.”
Located in Olde Sandwich Towne, one of the oldest settlements to have been built in the area, there are a lot of different stories about the ghosts that apparently haunt the building. There is no surprise that there are claims of hauntings here given the building has served as a courthouse, a prison and a place of execution over the years. Today, protected as a historical building, tours are conducted for those who wish to see it. In an article for CBC Windsor, Rob Tymec a tour guide who provides ghost tours in Olde Sandwich Towne as well as in Amherstburg, stated: “There is one ghost nicknamed the ‘Dragging Ghost,’ that allegedly ‘drags’ items around the hall.”
Visitors to the building have reported various objects being dragged around the rooms, sounds of movement/footsteps and items having moved mysteriously to different locations after being placed somewhere. The building is still used as an art gallery and performing arts space.
The Artisan Grill
Located in the town of Amherstburg, the same town with the famed Texas Road, the restaurant now known as the Artisan Grill was once called the Bullochs Tavern and owned by the Bullochs family. Above the restaurant are also a number of apartments.
Legend has it that the family went for vacation one day, their daughter staying behind to run the restaurant in the absence. While closing up the restaurant one night, while the daughter was alone in the dark of the closed restaurant, a man forced himself upon her. Unable to see who it was, all that the daughter was able to confirm was that it was one of the tenants of the apartments.
Tymeck explains, “They convicted the wrong tenant. Back then, when a crime like this happened, people got hung for it. The man, insistent he wasn’t guilty, was hung for the crime. Years later the other tenant confessed to the crime.” Today it is rumoured that the wrongfully hung man haunts the building. Objects move around in the apartments; a man can be heard yelling in one of the apartment living rooms and doors randomly open and shut. While most stories are traced back to the apartments, on occasion a sighting is reported in the restaurant.
Are there any ghost stories or legends from your hometown? Are there any stories, local or not, that you believe to be true?