In 1790, Loyalist Mary Jones Gage and her two children were granted two-hundred acres of land on which they built their first log home. In 1796, this was replaced by a story-and-a-half frame house and from there on, the Gage house was a place destined to become a historic site.
The house was used as headquarters by the invading US army in 1813 who were beaten back after a brilliant attack by the British troops in June. (One of the more fascinating people of this conflict was Billy Green who is well worth learning about.)
In 1836 the family sold the home as Mary's son James had gone into business in Hamilton. The house changed hands many times over the years until the Women's Wentworth Historical Society (run by a great-granddaughter of Mary at the time,) acquired it in 1899 and set about setting up the home and the surrounding four acres as a park.
Today, after being taken over for a time by Niagara Parks, it is now run by the City of Stoney Creek and run lovingly as "The Battlefield House Museum".
In October, the house runs a "haunted spirit walk" and this is what drew us to the site. We contacted the house and were told by the curator at the time that "Mrs Gage... We think she is a nice ghost though."
We will be visiting the home shortly for a more detailed report but are hoping that people might fill in some of the blanks for us before we journey to the house.
Update: August 31st, 2001 - From our Newsletter
Looking at The Battlefield House Museum in Stoney Creek from TGHRS Director Matthew Didier
Well, we finally got out to visit The Battlefield House Museum and the Battle of Stoney Creek Memorial. It wasn't a "ghost trip", as such, but our usual go-see-tour-talk trip.
Our charming young tour guide lead us through this impressive building (a bright home on a beautiful park-like setting,) and just before mounting the path to the memorial tower, (seeing this 100 foot Scottish-castle-like tower is worth the trip in itself!) I mentioned "who" we were and our reason for the visit, (I always wait until after the regular tour,) to which I wasn't scoffed at or pushed away but didn't exactly get any new information.
Aside from the Gage family, (who originally built the house, and, it has been said that the matriarch of the original family still lingers in the home but is a "nice ghost",) in 1813 the home and the Gage farm was the US headquarters and camp for Brigadier-General John Chandler, a former blacksmith, tavern keeper and US Congressman before the war, (like most of the US Generals, he was NOT a military man but a politician,) and during the fierce struggle at Stoney Creek, wounded men were housed in the basement of the Gage home. It is not unlikely that a few of those men never saw the outside of this basement again... at least in their "lifetime".
The story of the home and the battle are worth looking into. Billy "The Scout" Green's assistance in letting James Fitzgibbon (of "Take me to Fitzgibbon!" fame on those "Laura Secord" Heritage Moment commercials), Lieutenant-Colonel Harvey, Major Plenderleath and General Vincent know about the American's strength, position and the "counter sign" to pass the sentries which of course lead to a successful if brutal night attack that drove the Americans off the Niagara frontier for the rest of the year.
As always, even William Hamilton Merritt played a roll in this battle with his Light Dragoons (light calvary). In the same way Toronto's historic sites all seem to have a connection to Mackenzie, Niagara seems to always have a connection to Merritt! (Note: Merritt's old home, "Oak Hill" in St. Catharines is one of our best documented and BUSIEST investigations...
Is the house haunted? Some say yes and it certainly deserves to be. The battlefield surrounding the home could be as well!
All in all, this place is worth visiting! Take two hours to see the site and examine the house. You won't be disappointed but be warned, although as I stated, it DESERVES to be haunted, it didn't strike us a particularly "charged" location and although some staff will (obviously,) discuss the paranormal, not all will.
The Museum also has one of the BEST websites for a museum of this sort I've ever come across... http://www.battlefieldhouse.ca/ where details of re-enactments and the Haunted Spirit Walk are covered.
So, of the (at least to us in Toronto,) places that normally folks wouldn't poke into, I would recommend The Battlefield House Museum in Stoney Creek and, of course, Ireland House in Burlington as "must stops" en route to Niagara.
This is one of those lists that will probably grow BUT for now and while most folks are still on Summer Vacations, these are two places that for history and atmosphere (both historical and paranormal,) are well worth visiting.
For more information, please visit their website by clicking here.