One of Ontario's best known and best preserved forts is Fort Wellington in Prescott. Currently (2001) the fort is set out for visitors as it was in the 1840's.
Since the late 1700's, a fortification has stood here guarding the mouth of the St. Lawrence River and what makes this particular British fort so interesting is that unlike Fort York in Toronto, George in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Erie in Fort Erie, Fort Wellington has never been attacked.*
* - Fort Henry was not attacked by land but was subjected at least once to a sea bombardment and the present fort in Kingston is not from the War of 1812 era either.
The fort sits very much as it did over a century ago and is home to a ghost of it's own. Oddly enough, it's not the ghost of an English or Canadian soldier that fell during the Battle of the Windmill nearby in 1838 or even that of an "American Hunter" or Canadian rebel but apparently a lost soldier from the War of 1812. Even more interesting is that this fellow, who'd be used to a single-story blockhouse (in 1812, the blockhouse was only a one story building,) made his presence felt on the second story of the restored 1840's blockhouse which features three floors.
Some staff had reported a "freaky feeling" in the blockhouse and the odd "weird event" occurred (things being moved or shuffled about seemingly on their own volition,) but not too long ago, a visiting re-enactor/interpreter was alone on the second floor of the blockhouse when the old soldier made his presence known.
According to three separate sources, the soldier came out of a corner that is the normal location for some brooms and introduced himself as Terrence Anderson (the spelling of this name could be VERY wrong,) and informed the interpreter of his rank and regiment and of the fact he was from the conflict of 1812. He apparently made his appearance to voice approval of the fife practice that this fellow was performing. What happened after this initial encounter, we can't say for sure but we are looking into it.
Whether "Terrence" is really the only ghost or not, he will bang and slam doors occasionally during "fife" sessions in the blockhouse and we have been told that some staff members will not happily venture near the brooms in the evening.
Don't let this possible haunt dissuade you. The staff is courteous and friendly and will discuss "Terrence" if asked nicely although it (he) is certainly not part of the tour. The fort is easily the "cutest" fort in Ontario consisting of the normal palisades, the three story blockhouse, the officers quarters (approximately 1/8th the size of the officer's quarters at Fort George or York,) and the "privy". There is the ever popular tunnel that is open for visits during the day that leads to a sheltered firing room for men to fire on the enemy caught in the earthworks. Best of all for families, Fort Wellington has a "play fort" for young children with dolls made up as soldiers and stuffed muskets on the third floor of the blockhouse.
If you find yourself in the area (and for ghost enthusiasts, it's a good area to be in,) take in the ghost tours of Kingston or Brockville and do stop in with your whole family to see the Royal Canadian Rifle's at Fort Wellington. You won't be sorry you did as it is one of our favourite forts.
UPDATE: May 27th, 2002 Thanks again to our friend Kyle Upton for the following report...
One night at the fort, the motion sensor alarms sent a signal that indeed, the blockhouse in the fort had been broken into.
A team of three was dispatched to catch the intruder in the building and when they arrived, they indeed did watch as the alarm panel showed one motion detector tripped, go off and the adjoining one then trip and then go off and so on demonstrating that indeed, someone was wandering the upper floor of the blockhouse.
The three men raced in and scoured the first floor finding nothing, then the second, nothing but then, heard the footsteps of the intruder on the catwalk that surrounds the core of the third floor of the blockhouse.
Thinking they had their break and enter artist trapped, they moved stealthily up the stairs... one fellow remained in the middle of the blockhouse while the other two went through the entrances to the catwalk to circle in on each other trapping their person between them and forcing him out.
The man in the middle heard all three walking and then the mysterious footsteps neared the exit of the catwalk and being prepared to jump the intruder was astonished as the footsteps entered the core of the blockhouse without a person attached to them. In other words, just the sound and no person walking.
He didn't have time to organize to many thoughts about this before his two assistants bolted through the same exit inquiring if he had "got him". They saw no one but they too had heard the "person" walking the catwalk and exiting.
More than this, Kyle didn't know but did share with me that through his contacts, he has heard that odd motion sensor alarms are not uncommon in the blockhouse when there is no one around to "trip" the sensors... Is Terrence wandering about at night?
Aside from the spookiness of this report, it also poses an interesting question... Motion sensors work by either sound or light being "broken" as someone passes through a beam but the witness report said they saw no person but only heard the footsteps that ended up directly into the core of the blockhouse sans any type of visual contact to warrant the sound... I guess that's what makes a good mystery and a good story to boot!
UPDATE: August 2002 Thanks to a reader named Brenda Russell, we invite you to have a look at Fort Wellington from a bird's eye view!
During the 1980s, I worked at Fort Wellington. During that time, I experienced many unusual events with several other staff members of the Fort.
I will recount some of the experiences I had.
Because of its location and the height of the earthworks, the interior of Fort Wellington is very dark at night. During the month of December each year, we used to open the Fort on weekends for "Christmas tours". The barracks would be decorated and hot apple cider prepared in a fire pit which is located immediately to the east of the blockhouse.
One evening in the early 1980s, I and two other staff members were lighting the fire to warm the cider. The gate to the Fort was closed to avoid the public wandering in before opening time, and the door to the blockhouse was still locked. While we were standing by the fire, we saw a single individual walk in the gate and around the far side of the blockhouse.
Thinking that this was another fellow we worked with coming to open the blockhouse door, myself and one of the other two gentlemen I was with walked around to the blockhouse door, which is on the south side of that building. No one was there. We walked back to where the other of my coworkers was waiting by the fireplace, and he confirmed that he had not noticed the unidentified person leave or go anywhere else in the Fort. Later, the person we thought was the chap that apparently disappeared did show up and confirmed that neither he nor anyone else of whom he was aware had entered the Fort.
I should note that although we saw that person walking in, we did not hear anything. There was no speech or sound of walking in the snow.
There is another story from around the mid-1980s. After the Labour Day weekend and until Thanksgiving each year, the Fort's on site staff would be reduced to one or two guides. This was a lonely job since attendance fell to the single figures each day. After school one day, I went to the Fort and one of the fellows I worked with was the on site guide. He was sitting in the kitchen of the officer's quarters sewing. We spoke for some time, and then he asked me to go into the blockhouse and rewind some 16 mm films in the blockhouse's modern theatre (east half of second floor).
I went upstairs and rewound the films. At the time, there was a small white cat which hung around the Fort and he was sitting in the projection room with me. All of a sudden, he went stiff and ran off very quickly. This discomfited me and I decided to go down to where the other fellow was sitting and ask him to help me inspect the blockhouse for intruders. When I entered the barrack room (west half of the second floor), the cat was sitting with its fur standing on end and hissing at the southwest corner of the barrack room. I was watching the cat while I walked towards it, but out of the corner of my eye I saw something moving in the corner the cat was hissing at. Already frightened, I ran out of the building at top speed with the cat right behind me.
The fifing story was relayed to me by the fellow that experienced it first hand. In about 1980 or 1981, the fellow was sitting in the same barracks room playing the fife. While playing, he suddenly had the sense of an entity moving towards him and laughing at him. According to 'the witness', the entity did not introduce himself as Terrence. Indeed, I do not think Terrence has ever introduced himself to anyone that way.
The door alarm story was also told to me first hand from the witness himself. Part of the firearms display in the blockhouse was stolen in about 1982. A door and motion alarm system was installed in the blockhouse because the 1982 thief had entered and left the building through a window on the second floor. During the winter, few people ever visited the blockhouse and it stood empty for weeks at a time. On the third floor, a projecting wooden gallery stood away from the stone wall to a distance of about three feet. The floorboards lifted up to permit soldiers to fire down at the base of the building's wall. This gallery is accessible through eight doors, two of which are on each side of the large open room which is the third floor. During the winter, these doors were sealed shut to prevent wind from blowing through into the interior of the building.
On one occasion the alarm went off in the middle of one winter's night. The alarm company called one of the employees, who lived a few blocks away from the Fort. He went to the Fort, unlocked the gate and walked to the blockhouse door. He walked through the building, and saw nothing until he reached the third floor. Once he got there, he saw that all eight of the doors to the gallery had been opened, triggering the alarm. He closed them quickly and left.
The Terrence story came from a Ouija Board experiment conducted by five employees and myself in the mid 1980s. One chap brought in a Ouija board and we tried to talk to the spirits in the Fort. One spirit identified himself as "Terrence" and said that he had been at Fort Wellington during the War of 1812. He said that he had served with the 12th Regiment of Foot. I have always been sceptical about the veracity of the Terrence story since the blockhouse is a replacement building built in 1837 and 1838 and because the 12th Regiment never served in Canada during the War of 1812.