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When we noted on Kyle Upton's Ghost Tours of Niagara page that Fort Erie was now offering a "ghost" event of it's own, we had to visit the site for more information.
Our contact, Jim Hill, an interpreter at the fort, welcomed us (Frank Correia, Tamara Zyganiuk and Jennifer Krutila and Matthew Didier,) into the fort and told us about it's bloody history and about three of it's more notable ghosts.
The fort itself is a beautiful re-creation of the original and is a must visit for anyone. In itself, it's worth the visit to the area with it's buildings, armaments and the spectacular surroundings not to mention (believe it or not,) a magnificent gift shop which sells an incredible supply of military and assorted historical books.
Fort Erie is also Canada's bloodiest battlefield. The fort was abandoned by the British after the fall of Fort George in 1813 and the local militia destroyed the buildings. The Americans took control of the destroyed fort for three days until the battle of Stoney Creek when they were forced back to Buffalo. In 1814, the British with a light garrison of 150 men surrendered the fort to the Americans again and on August 15th, 1814, the British laid siege to the fort and the bloody
View towards the North East Bastion conquest of the fort was begun. In a VERY odd and bloody affair, the British managed to secure and hold the Northeast bastion while the Americans controlled the rest of the fort. The powder magazine exploded leveling the better parts of the buildings in the Northeast and repulsing the British with heavy losses. The British/Canadian/First Nations forces pressed the siege until in mid September of 1814, the Americans counter attacked and destroyed many of the British batteries. With no hope of re-taking the fort, the combined Canadian force withdrew to Chippawa in late September leaving well over 2,000 dead from both sides.
Jim told us of the story about two American soldiers that might still be wandering the battlefield at Fort Erie. Legend has it that an American soldier was receiving a shave from another companion when a British cannon ball struck. This left the shavee beheaded and the shaver without hands! There is a legend that the ghost of a headless and on of a handless soldier wander the area near the fort.
Jim further shed light on this story by telling us that indeed, in a burial pit excavated by archaeologists that they did find the skeleton of a decapitated man and then one man over in the burial pit was a man with both arms severed below the elbow. Proof of the legends?
Also seen in the Northeast bastion area has been a man wearing a "top hat". Jim pointed out that this didn't seem to fit in with the fort's history but quickly added that some militia and regular officers did not always sport uniforms. Matthew Didier also noted that the British Marines uniform headdress was a top hat so could this mysterious person be from the war or from another time period.
On a ghostly note, when you visit the fort, be sure to have a look at their "ghost photo". A photographer was snapping pictures in the fort and took a very strange picture of what appears to be either a woman in a long skirt or a man in a "greatcoat" in the forts kitchen. Tamara Zyganiuk looked at the photo and did come up with a plausible explanation and the picture is available to be seen at the fort for your own examination.
Tamara's take on it was that it was a long exposure and an interpreter wandered VERY briefly in front of the camera as the film was being exposed. This does look like a likely scenario but in all fairness to the fort, and the original photographer I would recommend you make your own judgment upon viewing it as Tamara has no professional photographic expertise on which to draw her conclusions. The image is on display in one of the buildings on a doorway to a new (and as of our visit,) unopened exhibit.
The fort is alive with history and possibly ghosts and for the rest of the haunted history of the fort, please head (IRL - In Real Life) to the fort where there are many more stories, legends and interesting facts available for your enjoyment.