Most of us who celebrate Halloween don’t overthink its origins or meaning, nor do we take it too seriously.  It’s a night of fun and make believe. So on that note, may I just state that Burlington is haunted…oh yes.  For those of you who believe, great!  And for those of you who don’t, it’s fun!

Emma’s Back Porch and The Water Street Cooker, the site of the old Brant Inn, which is now the Joseph Brant Museum, and the Paletta Mansion are just a few of our haunted places.  If you go on a ghost walk, either on your own or a guided one, be prepared for lots of sightings and activity…but only if you bring your childhood sense of imagination and suspension of disbelief along.

For those of you who need scientific proof or for those that call themselves skeptics, no, there is no actual scientific proof by your standards to prove that there are ghosts. I’m not here to convince you that ghosts exist. I’m just saying that you can still have fun with the concept. So don’t be a drag, it’s Halloween.

Emma’s Back Porch, is haunted by Emma herself along with her 2 kids. Emma Byren along with her husband George, was the original owner of the restaurant about a hundred years ago. (Fun fact: Emma’s is the longest running restaurant in Ontario). She has been spotted by patrons as well as employees, in the restaurant and in the cellars. And upstairs at The Water Street Cooker, she floats around all dramatically in the staircase wearing a white dress. Her kids do kid stuff; they stomp around on the stairs and slam doors.  And the haunted mirrors at The Water Street Cooker, well, I am personally dying to see those. It is said this location is pretty active, with orbs and noises and sightings.

Staircase at The Water Street Cooker

The Joseph Brant Museum’s resident ghost is named Elisa. She also digs wearing the white Victorian dresses.  They call her the Grey Lady, and she reportedly likes to do ghost stuff, like move things around, slam cupboards, and shuffle papers. Spookiest of all, you can smell her perfume.

Elisa is also said to be one of the ghosts haunting the Waterfront Hotel. She and her gaggle of ghostly pals like to wreak havoc at this establishment by making the phones dial, hovering (literally), in the staircase, playing with the doors, and manifesting their quintessential ghostly evidence such as orbs and cold spots.

My personal thoughts on this Grey Lady is that the sightings of her must be pretty clear

for her to have been recognized as the same person that is haunting the Joseph Brant Museum.

But I digress. The point is, there have been many witnesses who have seen her and the other ghosts, both at the hotel and at the museum.

Dollhouse at Paletta Mansion

The old Tourism Centre used to be located down at the waterfront, and was haunted by the ghost of a tourist, a woman that has endearingly been named, “Windy”.  She likes to go for her strolls on windy days at our waterfront in the area of Spencer Smith Park wearing, you guessed it, a white Victorian dress.

Now if you ask me, one of the creepier ghostly locations is the site of the Paletta Mansion, which is home to several ghosts, including former residents Edythe MacKay and her daughter  Dorothy being the most prominent. The best place to catch Edythe and Dorothy in action is the dollhouse (insert creepy music); Edythe being all matronly, and Dorothy in child form, playing in her favourite place. Yes, both in white Victorian gowns yadda yadda yadda.

Paletta Mansion

Paletta is host to several ghosts cruising around in period costumes, strange disembodied sounds, (even moans!), orbs, and overall spooky feelings. Have you been to the Paletta property? I get why these ghosts hang out there, I wouldn’t want to leave either.

There are so many other places in Burlington that have reportedly been haunted or are at least home to sightings.  Who’s to tell a ghost that they have to live in one spot?  There are many cases not mentioned here, some too creepy to even reference. The air in Burlington is heavy with presence. I’m just pointing out the main spots where the ladies in the dresses seem to like to hang.

Peeking into Paletta dollhouse window

Now, don’t be creeping into the cellars of restaurants and mansions on your own. That’s not okay. Guided tours are the only way to do that and we have our own ghost walk company here in Burlington:

They offer safe and fun guided tours, accompanied by tales and some history of the sites you will explore together. Apparently, the walks have been very active in terms of activity lately.

Personally, I love the whole concept of ghosts in Burlington. It reminds me that our city wasn’t always as we see it. I can just imagine olden day Burlington; people wining and dining, visiting…I imagine an era when our city was apparently teeming with ladies in white Victorian dresses.

Keep your eyes and ears and even minds open this Halloween.

And heads up. Those days when there is a ghostly mist down at the waterfront…hmmmm…

About the Author Gordana Liddell