The Ghost Stories of Lake Ontario’s Oldest Cities

The Province of Ontario, formerly known as Upper Canada, played a very important role in the founding of this country. In the 1800’s, many journeys and shipments were completed by water, as the roads were in very poor shape. As a result, many of the early towns and cities were built on the shores of the Great Lakes.

Many of these communities still retain many of the original buildings, dating back to the 1700’s. Places like Toronto, Kingston and Niagara harbour dark pasts, and legends of murder and death. It is believed, by some, that the spirits from these long ago events may still linger.

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Toronto’s Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

The Gibraltar Point lighthouse, which stands on Toronto’s islands, was constructed around 1808. Built from Queenston stone, the hexagon shaped lighthouse provided safe passage for marine traffic entering the harbour at York, as Toronto was known.

During the War of 1812, a man named J.P. Rademuller was employed as the lighthouse keeper.

In addition to these duties, he supplemented his income smuggling American whiskey. Soldiers from the garrison at nearby Fort York were among his best customers.

Toronto's Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

In January, 1815, legend says, several drunken soldiers approached the lighthouse, and a dispute ensued when Rademuller refused to sell them whiskey. One of them struck him in the head, killing him.

The soldiers are believed to have cut up his body, and buried it in the sands around the lighthouse. Although his remains were never found, newspapers reported that Rademuller was “believed dead,” and no charges were ever laid.

Almost 200 years later, Rademuller is still believed to haunt the lighthouse. Keepers who succeeded Rademuller reported hearing footsteps walking up and down the metal staircase inside the structure, while others tell of seeing the shape of a person at the top of the lighthouse.

Eerie mists and orbs have also been reported, along with strange noises from inside the tower, especially on stormy nights.

It is believed that, until his killers are brought to justice, J.P. Rademuller will continue to haunt the old lighthouse.

Niagara on the Lake’s Olde Angel Inn

Niagara on the Lake, originally known as Newark, is a picturesque town on the shores of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara River.

During the War of 1812, an American army crossed the Niagara River, captured nearby Fort George, and burned most of the town.

A British officer at the fort, Captain Swayze, fled to the Olde Angel Inn. Some believe it was to warn the tavern keeper of the advancing enemy, while others claim the Captain was attempting to destroy the supply of liquor, denying it to the invaders. Whatever his reasons, Captain Swayze was found in the Inn’s cellar, and bayoneted to death by U.S. soldiers.

Patrons have claimed to see a dark shadow in the basement, where the washrooms are now located. Staff working late at night have reported hearing noises from the cellar, and objects being moved around in the dining area.

One visitor even claims to have seen the reflection of a man dressed in a 19th century military uniform in a washroom mirror, but when he turned around, nobody was there.

The ghost of Captain Swayze is said to be harmless, as long as the British flag flies over the door of the Inn. He is also believed to cause kegs of American beer to malfunction, from time to time.

Kingston’s Prince George Hotel

The city of Kingston, located in the east end of the province, is the last major port on Lake Ontario before entering the St. Lawrence River. The historic town was the capital of the Province of Canada from 1841 to 1844, and the home of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. McDonald.

The Prince George Hotel, constructed in 1809, overlooks the harbour, near downtown Kingston. The hotel is no longer operational but when it was, cleaning staff would see and hear strange things coming from the rooms – lights and radios turning on and off or doors slamming shut behind them.

Kingston's Prince George Hotel

The old hotel has several ghost stories associated with it, including the spirit of a female named Lily, who may be the daughter of the original owner.

Many have seen a shadowy figure of a woman, widely believed to be the ghost of young Lily Herchemer, who lived in the building in the early 1800s. Lily had a bit of a romance with a sailor who worked down in the harbour, but her parents did not approve.

“She would often times hang a lit lantern from her windowsill to let him know that it was safe to come and visit,” says Morgan Anderson, tour manager for Haunted Walks Kingston. “One night this caused a fire and Lily was killed in the fire, so we think she may be the ghost haunting the building to this day.”

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