We cannot recommend more highly the tours at the fort and all the staff that run them have some stories to tell of their own as well as those tested, tried and true ones from the regular tours. If you're in the area, stop by.
The following is from our June 2001 Road Trip to Niagara...
At 6:30pm, we all met in the parking lot at Fort George, (a walk away from Niagara-on-the-Lake's main strip,) and the idea WAS to eat a small potluck meal and head into the fort but "Crabby Joe's" had done such a wonderful job of filling us, it was pretty much a "relax and lay on the grass" kind of moment.
At the appointed hour, Kyle and Mark (another ghost-tour guide,) walked up to us and welcomed us and three extra visitors to the fort for this GHRS private and extended ghost tour.
For over three hours, Kyle shared his tales as we wandered, took photographs, had recording devices going and generally "enjoyed" the atmosphere of this impressive reconstruction. Although the plan was for Kyle to tell us the story and then give us time for photos and our own look around, the enthusiasm and energy of the night was such that several people wandered about regardless. It's sad for those folks, though, as they missed Kyle's impressive abilities to tell a REALLY good story!
By the time of getting to the tunnel, however, most people were enjoying what Kyle had to say and were enraptured with his tales of the fort. Aside from one person's inability to understand that a powerful flashlight need only be flashed onto the chest of a person you wished to address as opposed to the face (and therefore the eyes,) everything went VERY well! (Don't get me wrong, this person was not being malicious, just new to late-night investigations!)
Now, from what I have gathered, most people enjoyed Kyle's stories and the tour and almost all said they planned to come back for the normal 90 minute affair BUT overall Ireland House had affected the majority more than any other place. This, however, is not the case in your humble correspondent's (Matthew Didier's) views of what happened to himself.
While inside the officers quarters and standing beside Mark, the other guide, near the Junior Officer's bedrooms listening to Kyle discuss the haunted mirror, (for those who were there, there's a GREAT story about the pianoforte that Kyle tells in his book,) I noted Mark was anxiously looking behind himself into the pitch dark of the sleeping quarters. After turning his head to look in several times, I offered him "The Intruder", my enormous Mag Lite, to look in and see whatever it was, he whispered in my ear, "I'm a little deaf but do you hear something moving in there?"
I admitted I had not but after switching places (to get a better "ear" view?) I listened waiting to hear the movements. A few minutes passed and I did indeed hear the sound of cloth or fabric being moved about. I admitted that I finally had heard it but it was obviously the wind blowing the sheets and curtains around.
It's about that time, Mark brought me up to speed and reminded me of something... The Officer's quarters are the home of many of the fort's more valuable antique items and is therefore sealed from the elements. The windows do not open.
Breaking with my own rule of trying to NOT take pictures during Kyle's speeches, I poked my head inside the doorway and quickly took about four pictures. More on this later...
"Matthew's Note": These images revealed nothing, I'm afraid.
We finished the three hour tour (hmmm... shades of Gilligan's Islands?) and were comparing feelings and stories while some did a "bathroom run". We had decided after that workout, the pot-luck lunch would be PERFECT for a midnight snack and a few made there way back to the parking lot.
It was then, I remembered my first experience at Fort George and wanted to take a picture of the area for the website. Okay, I know this has been LONG winded but I'm going to have to take you back AGAIN almost three years to Kyle, Sonja, my friend Mike and his wife Val, myself and a band of YTV people doing a shot on the ghosts of the fort. YTV had brought us in for affect more than anything which was fine with us, (no interview, no cameras on us and the fort, more or less, to ourselves!)
Please remember, I was just starting out the GHRS then!
Kyle was YTV's main interest and therefore his wife, Sonja, was stuck baby sitting us and while we waited for "who knows what", we got a VERY extended tour by Sonja for ourselves which included a lot of relaxing in the staff quarters.
HOPING I wouldn't have to play brave, I told Mike, "Dude, I'm out of film and need to go to your car." hoping he would pick up on this subtle cry for company. NOPE! He flipped me the keys and I was on my own.
Realistically, I had TWO options. One was be brave and sally forth with confidence in my own abilities to brave the unknown and the second was to admit that I was scared senseless and meekly ask for assistance.
Guess which I did?
While walking to the gate alone, passing the first blockhouse and losing what little ambient light I had from the crew filming at the far end of the fort, I felt an overwhelming sense of panic and increased my pace. By the time I arrived at the gate, I was in a full sprint.
No, nothing got me and on my way to the car, I quietly chastised myself for silly fear!
I got to the car, loaded my film and then with a sense of "oh crap", I realized I now had to make the return journey.
While walking towards the main gates of the fort, another, different feeling got to me. The only way to describe it is the same feeling a kid gets on his way to the principal's office for being naughty. Just pure dread. About sixty feet out from the gate, again, I came to my senses!
"Matthew, you MORON! Your walking up a dark path towards a FORT! It's not SUPPOSED to feel like walking into a country inn, it's been DESIGNED to scare and intimidate! Look at those tall pointed stakes that make up the wall! There are also TWO cannons (hmmm... I think they're the big 32 pounders to boot!) facing you on either side in the bastions! You big goof! You're feeling dread because you're SUPPOSED to feel dread!"
I felt much better. It all made sense and I strolled forward, laughing at my own stupidity!
By this point, YTV was done with Kyle and the four folks that didn't get a paycheque from YTV were gathered by the fence near the officers quarters. I laughingly told Kyle about my trip OUT to the car. He interrupted me...
Hmm... I figured that was more coincidental than anything so I laughingly told him about my trip back with the long pointed logs and two cannons.
"Are you sure it was THAT bastion?" Kyle asked.
"Yup!" I cheerfully replied.
It was then he told me that there was no cannon there and to boot, Sonja had seen her first "ghost(s)" at the same site. A gun crew with cannon.
That phased me. I had only seen the cannon but I'd seen it well enough to "calibrate" it if you will. I'd noted it's size. 32 pound shot.
Now, jumping BACK to June, 2001!
Folks are going back to their cars and food is being served, I am waiting for Jennifer and Elizabeth (my sister and my niece,) who are waiting for the return of a couple of flashlights used for people using the "facilities" and I decide to take a picture of the bastion "with no gun" from the path.
Alone and as of now, VERY unafraid of the dark and the fort's elements, I stand getting ready for my camera's flash to engage. Suddenly, I see someone who was a little under six-foot with curly hair (only in shadows,) coming towards me. At first, I think it's one of my group and lower my arms to greet them and tell them what I'm up to but no one is there. I write it off as odd and bring the viewfinder back up to my eyes. The figure re-emerges heading towards me at a quick pace on my right. Again, I'm perplexed and my flash is finally giving me the green light but as the figure rapidly gets to about (I'd reckon,) five feet away from me (and probably no less than a two second delay in colliding with me,) I take a step back, watching my "auto-focus" lights going mad obviously trying to compensate for this person's "shadow" approaching me, and CLICK-FLASH! get my picture as I stumble two steps back to allow them to pass at their fast walking pace except... no one was there.
Below is the picture I snapped. Not much to look at BUT it is interesting in one way... Obviously, the image does NOT show the bastion and was auto-focused close to me as there is nothing discernible to the front of the picture.
It could have been a bat or something but I got the DISTINCT impression of a person not "running" towards me but walking VERY quickly and with purpose towards me and yes, it unsettled me a LOT!
I ran back, told Jennifer who seemed less than impressed by my actions because a bit of a humorous play was in the process of being acted out. Not to tell tales TOO far out of school but Mark, the intrepid ghost-tour guide and daytime interpreter was waffling. He did NOT want to go to turn out the one remaining light inside the fort by himself. Sadly, when he asked for company initially, too many people wanted to go back with him so he decided against it.
Apparently, an odd "glow" (described as looking as if a fire was burning in the officer's quarters fireplace,) was seen by Mark, Jennifer and Elizabeth. Mark has reasons for not liking to visit the officer's quarters alone in the dark and I'll cover those in a second.
Finally, he was FORCED to enter by himself borrowing two "ticklers" (Mini-Mag Lites) for his sojourn.
After a time, I realized he was REALLY late in coming back, I poked my head around the enormous gate of the fort and there was Mark... standing at the end of the path looking at the officer's quarters.
"Mark! You okay there, big-guy?" I yelled.
"Oh yeah, I'm fine. Wanna come with me?"
He didn't get into why he had a fear of the quarters 'til later but I went in, turned off the lights and bid an adieu and a thank you to the ghosts in the quarters as Mark and I ventured back to the parking lot to partake in some (as of now,) much needed food.
It was too bad that most people either left or didn't pay attention to Kyle and Mark in the parking lot. As I've often said, the BEST stuff always comes out AFTER hours and during the "burn down". A few people heard Mark's stories and those of us that did, laughed VERY hard. Mark, it turns out, is a former non-believer but Fort George was his epiphany.
The stories he told are recounted in Kyle's book, Niagara's Ghosts at Fort George but to hear it from the source... Oh, this was PRICELESS! I don't want to tell all of Kyle's tales but this one had me in stitches so I hope he doesn't mind me paraphrasing it here...
Fort George had recently acquired some new artifacts and antiques and Mark and a co-worker had spent the early evening arranging the new furniture and stuff in the officer's quarters. They retired to the staff blockhouse, (off limits to the general public,) and although Mark, like myself, is a bit temperate, his coworker did have a "couple" for the night.
During the evening, they noticed a strange "green glow" in the officer's quarters and went in to investigate. They found all their furniture arranging and the new artifacts had been "mysteriously" moved. Both men surmised it had been a trick played on the by fellow workers and simply laughed, re-arranged everything back and retired to the outside of the building.
It wasn't long before the green glow returned and assuming they would catch the would-be joker in the act, they burst into the officer's quarters to watch the items moving, apparently, all by themselves.
Mark made a point of re-iterating that this was FURNITURE and was not something easily moved by wind.
So, with this sight to greet them what did they do??? What else! Ran out of the fort to the police station and told the cops.
On hearing this story, I burst into laughter. My comment was "Oh yeah, THEY can help!" His response was that the local constabulary was wondering what they'd been smoking. Since only one of the two was drinking, the cop at the desk begrudgingly decided to check it out and back to the fort they went.
Worried about the new artifacts, the two brave guardsmen handed the cop a list of the new items at the gate and bravely stayed put outside the fort as the police officer wandered in with keys and the papers.
"In the time it takes a normal person to walk from the gate to the building only," the cop frantically returned, thrust the paper and the keys into my [Mark's] hands and said...
"I don't know what's doing that or why but when it's done, my advice is to LEAVE it the way it like's it! ...and if anyone asks, I was never here."
The policeman left in a hurry and never returned.
I told Mark after he shared a few more GREAT stories to those few of us intrepid ghost enthusiasts who had now become determined to stay past "The Witching Hour" that when I came back, it may be specifically to take the tour as given by Mark. I like Kyle and his tours are my faves but it was obvious to me that Mark's tour is also more than worth the price of admission.
Update - June 2002
I'm VERY happy to report that the bond that exists between the GHRS and many of the fort's in Ontario is as strong as ever and that once again, several times this year we've been back to Fort Erie, Fort York, Fort Mississauga and Fort Welington including our late-night investigation at Fort George in May 2002 that yielded little in the way of ghostly reports.
We found ourselves back at Fort George in mid-June assisting a film crew do a documentary on the ghosts of the Fort (we were not on camera but were there for "moral support") and an experience happened to Sue St. Clair (formerly Darroch and a researcher with the GHRS and director of ParaResearchers) Chris who is one of the ghost tour guides and one of the crew from the documentary.
Details will be on ParaResearcher's website shortly but in a nutshell, the crewman was packing up his cables in the largest barracks (home to a ghost nicknamed "Irving" by the fort's staff) when he heard a very strange knocking. On investigation, it seems that this knocking might have been an animal trapped (or making it's home) in between the boards of the barracks which Sue and Chris discovered making the noise.
While waiting to come back into the area that the crewman was in, both Sue and Chris (at different times but within a few seconds) experienced a cold chill pass "through" them. In Sue's terms, the delay between Sue and Chris experiencing this was very interesting as it was at about the right rate of speed for a person to walk from one of them to the next and although Sue was the first "hit", she refrained from sharing the experience until Chris gasped and then felt the chill.
In good spur-of-the-moment investigative skill, Sue let Chris tell her his experience that moment before comparing hers and yes, they seem to match.
Was Irving making himself known? Sort of saying "Yes, that WAS a raccoon knocking about but I'm STILL here"? Maybe...
One of our readers kindly submitted the following report...
My husband and visited Fort George for one of their ghost tours and we enjoyed it very much and, other then a very odd and cold feeling I had between what had been the charnel house and the hospital, nothing untoward happened. We both had enjoyed the historical information to such a degree that we returned the next day for the daylight exhibits.
The daytime visit was perhaps one of most enjoyable during our vacation and although not much happened during this day hour trip, of the things that did, one stood out for both myself and my husband.
I am not prone to flights of fancy but I swear that I felt someone was breathing down my neck walking out of the tunnel at the fort. My husband who was to my left and one step behind said I must have been reacting to his presence since no one else was in the tunnel.
Neither of us liked one of the cells in the guardhouse that doesn't have an exhibit in it. When we looked into the cell, we got the impression that it was time to leave that we were not wanted.
We both put these incidents (the cell and the tunnel) down to over active imaginations as a result of the ghost tour.
Nothing really unusual happened until we were ready to leave the Fort.
I remembered to a paper in school about General Brock and wanted to go up to the site where he had once been buried. [Editor: Brock's Bastion.] My husband agreed to hike up to the site where he could also get a view of the American Fort. [Editor: Fort Niagara] He seemed to be interested in the American Forts since he his an American, and ex US Navy, but has taken out Canadian citizenship several years ago. I had mentioned my husband's citizenship status on the ghost tour to Mark our guide because, possibly, that may confuse the ghosts as to how they should react to him. (This, however, did not come to my mind until after the following incident...)
So we climbed the small incline, I stood and read aloud the memorial and wondered why his aid de camp's name [Editor: Lieutenant Colonel Macdonell - Also killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights and interred with Brock at the memorial at Queenston] was not included. My husband had moved to the right to look out at the river while I moved to the left.
I turned around to call my husband to come over and look at the boats when I noticed there was a total absence of sound , no birds, no voices, no wind, as I noted this, I look at my husband and he was completely white, then he threw his hands up in the air and said "I am out of here" and we moved down the incline.
I asked my husband what had happened. He said that he had been touched. It was if someone had squeezed the biceps on his left arm as one might when trying to redirect someone, he thought at first it was a just a muscle spasm until it happened again, then it was much firmer and he knew that he was not wanted up there. He then announced he was out of there. I noticed then, after he explained everything, that I could now hear voices and birds, we immediately left the Fort.
Update January 2010:
One of our readers sent us in the following ....
"On the 2009 Halloween tour, at 7.00pm, our group of 30 went into Blockhouse2 and listened politely to the guides stories. While sitting downstairs in the barracks I sat on the trunk in front of the stove with my cousin beside me. My Aunt and mother were a few people away seated at the table. About halfway through our guides story I began to hear a young woman talking and after a minute or so it was louder than the guides voice, but muffled as if she were in another room. I mentioned to my cousin that it was quite annoying and assumed another tour was upstairs. She said she couldn't hear anything, but the guide and thought I was trying to spook her. When we went outside my mother said she too was annoyed that someone would listen to phone messages during the tour and said she heard a young woman talking loudly, but she couldn't make out what she was saying. My Aunt and a another couple who sat near them said it was dead silent in the barracks except for the guides stories. Why out of all those people were my mother and myself the only ones to hear this woman's voice?"
Our thanks to the witness for sharing this experience with us. Fort George is one of our personal favourite haunts, and we highly recommend the tour. Many people over the years since the inception of the ghost tours have experienced strange things while on it.