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Paletta Mansion - Burlington Ontario

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Paletta is a beautiful lakeside park that sits on the shores of lake Ontario in Burlington Ontario. The mansion and the land were formerly known as the McNichol Estate up until the recent renovations when its name was changed to Paletta.

It is now owned by the city of Burlington and is open as a park daily until 11.00pm. The history of the land is just as interesting as the many ghost stories that are told about the house. Dating back to 1806 the land was owned by Canadian legend Laura Secord. The British Goverment in a lottery awarded her the land.

Between the years of 1810 through 1912 the land changed hands many times until in 1912 two men bought it by the names of Cyrus Albert Birge and William Delos Flatt. Cyrus had a daughter named Edythe Merriam Birge. It was Edythe that built the house somewhere between 1929 and 1931 after her father had passed on.

I have found that there are three different dates recorded as to when the mansion was actually built.

Edythe married a man by the name of James John MacKay and together they had a daughter who they named Dorothy. James died in 1959 and not to long after in 1960 Edythe also passed on leaving the house and the grounds to their daughter. Dorothy married a man by the name of John Wallace McNichol. This is why it was known for many years as the McNichol Estate.

Dorothy owned the house and land until sadly she passed away in 1987. The estate remained in the family for three years after her death until 1990 when the city of Burlington bought the estate from Dorothy's children.

The house is made up of four levels, the basement, the main floor, the second floor and the attic. Also on the land there are two other houses, the gatekeeper's house and the wonderful dollhouse. The stables are also still standing today.

Although the entire estate is of interest historically, the real gem to this place is the dollhouse. This children's playhouse is said to be the only one of it's kind in Burlington. In its heyday it came fully equipped with electricity and running water. During the renovations undertaken by the Burlington Professional Firefighters Association, the dollhouse was moved from its original location a few feet to the west. The tour guide told us that Edythe and Dorothy would spend many hours in the sunroom doing cross-stitch and watching the children playing in the dollhouse.

She also told us that Edythe was a very clean person and the house had many cupboards to try and keep the house looking neat and tidy. An interesting point the tour guide also shared with us is that the house was so well kept that even the telephone was kept in a cupboard to keep it tidy.

I have heard it reported that the house as well as the dollhouse is said to be haunted. We have been researching the estate for about three years now; I have asked many questions of past and current staff as well as doing on-site investigative work. The pictures that you see are pictures that I took of the estate before the renovations were done. Our findings are that we have not come across anything out of the ordinary while we have been there. We have taken many rolls of film and have gone through many audiotapes. Hours upon hours of research so far has shown us that although this is a fantastic estate that has a great view of lake Ontario and well worth a visit for her architecture and history, it has not been proven to be the paranormal hot spot it is rumoured to be.

We would like to thank the staff of Palleta for their gracious assistance, and the City of Burlington.

For further information:

If you have anything to add or ask about, please contact Jennifer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Update November 2008

One of our readers writes:

On your website, it was stated that there wasn't much you guys had experienced.  Well, I am writing to say the opposite.  We went there around 10ish pm one evening. We never tell anyone we're going on these little adventures just in case someone tries to trick us.  We walked around in the dark and constantly had the feeling we were being watched.   We have pics with literally thousands of orbs.  I don't know if you are aware of this "legend or tale"  but apparently some people have seen the black cat inside the doll house.  We have a picture with something that appears to be a cat in the window, but we never saw it live in person.  (we went back the next day to see in the day light and nothing is there.) While taking pics along that same path, I had a large orb which i decided to zoom into.  You can clearly see the cat's face. Usually, I don't like to interpret orbs unless they are absolutely unmistakable....and in this case, I believe it is.  Also, while walking along the path in back of the house, we have a pic of an orange glow...  but once you zoom in on the glow, there is clearly a man right behind it.  Its impossible that someone was actually there seeing as it was in the middle of the air.  Also, we had walked onto the property, past the doll house, down to the water, crossed to the other side and walked back up the path towards the main house (with the bushes to our right.)  We were 6 people, split into two groups, one which was ahead of us. As we were walking, completely alone, we suddenly heard a loud moan... a manly moan like someone who was in a huge amount of pain.  As soon as we stopped, it stopped.  The group ahead of us, looked back to see if we had heard it as well.  We all kinda stood there in shock and then decided "we need to get out of here..."  So we started walking and maybe about 45 secs later, it did it once more.  Like I said, no one knew we were there, there wasn't any sort of ghost hunting tour going on, it was late... and it was from the part where on the other side of the bush, its actually thick bush. (there is a path you can take into the bush and continue along to a little bridge, but we were nowhere near there. we checked the next day.) Our friend, who had been there before had apparently been overcome by a weird feeling and suddenly saw women and men walking by her in period costumes, as if going to a Ball of some sort.  Well, while we were there, we took a picture of the housekeepers house... and you do see a "figure" going into the house.. and it seems that she is dressed in a beautiful gown.  I definitely suggest you guys go back and give Paletta a 2nd chance. Keep up the awesome work!!!!

Our thanks to the witness for writing, and sharing the above experiences. Please note we at the TGHRS, and OGHRS do not endorse "orb" photos as depicting ghostly activity. Please read our orb article here.