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.
Over the years several TGHRS, and OGHRS members, family and friends have had the privileged to visit Fort George, and partake of the Ghost Tours being offered there. Here is a collection of some of our thoughts, opinions, and experiences at the fort and on the tours.
"Outstanding historic location that played a major role in Upper Canadian history. The ghost reports are numerous, and recent! Staff are happy to talk about their own ghostly encounters, and that of the visitors over the years as well!"
- Matthew Didier, Founder Director GHRS and PSICAN
"Fort George is one of my favourite historic haunts to visit. The ghost tours are world-class, and while some tours claim that you might experience something paranormal on their tours I can say with all sincerity that I have interviewed many people over the years who have told me about strange, inexplicable things they've seen and felt while taking Kyle's tour. In fact he has written not one, but two books on the subject of ghostly experiences at the Fort! I have personally experienced what I believe to be ghostly activity in the second block house along with a member of the security staff. It is an experience that changed my views on ghosts, and one that I will carry with me the rest of my life."
- Sue St. Clair, Co-Director TGHRS and PSICAN
"Lynn, her son, Dave and I went to Fort George Monday night and had a very good time with Nick and Sarah from the Scottish SPR. Kyle Upton, who leads the ghosts walks on the fort is a top notch story teller, and hopefully PSICAN will arrange a night coming up where we all have an opportunity to go and investigate the fort. We had a private tour as the sun was starting to set, which has a very magical effect on the empty fort. It was a wonderful opportunity to accompany some esteemed international researchers to one of the most fascinating haunts in the country - which I had wanted to visit ever since Matthew and Sue recounted their adventures there."
- Chris Laursen, Historian, PSICAN Media Liaison, TGHRS Researcher Investigator
"Try going over to Fort George, many people have seen unusual activities at the Fort and on the surrounding parkland during the Ghost Tours. I have been startled, fascinated, inquisitive, but only once, so far, have I been so terrified that I almost had an asthma attack. That experience was the first time I entered the dreaded "tunnel" at Fort George.
My daughter and I were on our first Ghost Tour with Mark, as our guide and were almost at the end of the line when we entered the tunnel. It became so dark (Mark was up front with the lantern) that I could not see my daughter's face, so she grabbed my hand and said "don't get lost." Halfway through the tunnel, her hand didn't feel like her hand. I kept clutching it, as it felt like a man's hand! Larger and rougher. Standing there in the dark, I knew she was beside me, but whose hand did I have? I could feel panic starting to rise and just when I felt like I was going to scream - "Mark, I'm out of here", I looked up and noticed what looked like fog on the top of the stairs at the end of the tunnel. Upon really observing this new development, I could see the side of a child's leg, little foot, long nightdress and hair, fading in and out. This observation did not frighten me and it made me forget about the "man's hand". When the fog faded, I felt her hand again and it was back to normal. Very strange. I was really glad to get out of there.
On another Fort George Ghost Tour this past summer - beads swaying back and forth in the gift shop window. The beads on both sides of the swaying beads were still. The gift shop was locked up and Mark indicated that there is not a clock at that location. About 6-8 people witnessed this event and again we were startled and excited about this incident, not frightened.
In closing, I found out that the picture in the Officer's Quarters at Fort George is of George III's Queen. An elderly lady (grey hair). When I looked at this picture this summer, I thought it had been changed. I saw the grey haired Queen, on all other trips to the Fort in the past, I had observed a very pretty young lady with dark hair and almond eyes! Mark said that this young lady and a soldier have been observed on other tours, so this time I felt privileged to have been able to see her.
You never know what you are going to see. Ghostly happenings seem to happen when you don't expect it. I have toured quite a few places and nothing happens, but when it does, aside of a few occasions, I feel more privileged to be a witness than frightened."
- Pat, PSICAN Forum member
For more information on the Ghost Tours at Fort George please visit their official website by clicking on this link, and please do let them know that the Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society recommended them to you.
In July 2012 one of our readers writes:
My sister and father were walking through one of the buildings at Ford George, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Suddenly, as they were about to exit the building, the chained doors of a cupboard began to bang and rattle furiously, as if someone was desperately trying to get out. A staff member assured us that what they had supposedly seen could not have been a part of the ambient experience. There was no natural explanation or debunk. My father is not the kind of person that makes up experiences with the paranormal, nor would he exaggerate on the subject for he is greatly spiritual. This happened years back, and both my father and sister can still recall the event in graphic detail. It obviously left an impact.
The following was sent in by one of our readers...
"My husband and I went to Fort George on July 8th of this year (2014) and were there at roughly around 7:30pm. We were very excited to see such a place that played such large part in our history, with my husband being British, but to our disappointment the fort closed at 5pm.
We still decided to take a walk around the site and when we arrived at what would have been the front of the fort we heard a loud bang that echoed in the sky. We put it off as nothing and kept walking but suddenly two minutes later we hear another loud bang, this time much closer! I said "This isn't right... What is that? It sounds like gun fire."
Being very interested in the these subjects and being so in-tuned with paranormal things, I shook it off and made my way to the right of the fort.
As I turned the corner I could loud muffled men screaming as if giving orders and then another bang... this time without a doubt I told my husband there is something going on here. He said he had been hearing it all too but being sceptic, ignored it and said maybe the workers were doing a demonstration. After careful review of the entire area we ruled that out because every parking lot and field was empty.
Later that night we went on a ghost tour in nearby Niagara-on-the-Lake. When I told the guide what had happened at the fort, he said the vine yards have programmed recordings of gun fire to scare the birds off but that at this time of year... but its unlikely they are on. Still being sceptic about this matter of the off chance that it was a recording, my husband and I decided to return to Fort George the next day during normal operating hours. This was really the only way to understand this miraculous piece of land and the buildings inside.
When we got there the staff was doing a musket demonstration and to our surprise the bangs from the evening before sounded without a doubt the exact same. I approached the young gentleman with the musket and asked if they had been holding some sort of demonstration inside the fort between 7:40pm-ish and 8:15pm the evening before. He said he wasn't aware of anything planned after the fort closed at 5. This made me start to ponder if maybe the experience was more paranormal then we thought.
Then we asked another staff member who said with out hesitation that they were absolutely not holding any demonstrations the evening before and all staff were out of the fort. We believed this as the fort was chain and padlocked when we saw the door that evening. He also pointed out that he believed we had heard something as many others have had similar experiences outside the fort.
Later on our tour, we came to the tunnel at the Southern end of the fort, which was one thing I was most looking forward too, but when I started in the entry way I got this sudden feeling of dread and feeling of someone was behind me rushing me through this tunnel to the tower. I reached the top of the tower, letting some other tourists descend and leave, and after about 5 minutes of looking out the very top, I heard loud boots on the stairs... so loud it rattled up the wood around me. I looked at my husband to get his reaction but it seemed to go unnoticed with him. So I looked down the stairs waiting to see a person emerge, but no one came up... and when we descended back down the tower, the stairs and the tunnel were empty.
I can't state these experiences were without a doubt paranormal in nature, but to me it seems this place is very active with the sounds, orders, cries and emotions of the past. We look forward to going back next week for a ghost tour and see what happens at this location when the sun isn't around!"