5 haunted places along the Rideau Canal

Spooky stories and tales told along the Rideau Canal waterway. Do these legends remain ghostly mysteries or merely tall tales that remind us of the past?

 

Rideau Ferry – Oliver’s Ferry Murder Mystery

Rideau Ferry

Legend has it that in the early 1800’s a man named Mr. Oliver set up a ferry business at what is known today as Rideau Ferry. Prior to a bridge connecting the roads from Brockville to Perth ON, Mr. Oliver’s Ferry was a rough-hewn raft that he used to shuttle travelers across the waterway. He had one quirky rule though, he would refuse to take travelers across after dark, preferring to put them up in his house overnight and send them on their way in the morning. However, his neighbors seldom saw the travelers in the morning and when they asked him about it, Mr. Oliver would simply say, “They went on their way at first light. You must have been asleep.” One strange thing kept happening though. Many of the travelers who spent the night did not arrive at their destination. Neighbors had assumed they were victims of murderous highway robbers. Years later when a bridge was constructed to replace the ferry, the outbuildings on the Oliver property were dismantled to make way for construction, human bones were found under the floors and in the walls. The travelers had never left. 

Find out the truth about Oliver's Ferry murder mystery

 

Manotick – The Woman in the Window: The Haunting of the Manotick Mill

Watson's Mill

This story is one of the oldest and most-acclaimed ghost stories in the Ottawa area, older than Canada itself. 

Along the Rideau River, in the village Manotick, lies Watson's Mill. Built in 1860, the mill is the most recognized landmark even today and it is also well known for its ghost, Annabelle. The belief is that Annabelle is the ghost of Ann Currier, the wife of one of the mill’s original owners, Joseph Merrill Currier. Shortly after Watson’s Mill’s official opening on Valentines Day, 1861, Joseph Currier decided to bring his young bride, Ann, for a visit. They had only been married six weeks and just returned from their honeymoon when tragedy struck. Ann was ascending a staircase between the second and third floor when her dress became caught in the spinning works of the mill. With no time to free herself, she was flung against a wooden pillar and killed on impact. After her death, Joseph cut all ties with the mill, moved to Ottawa, and remarried, but Ann’s spirit remains in Watson’s Mill. On misty evenings, the apparition of a beautiful, tall, flaxen-haired young woman can sometimes be seen looking out at the waterway from the second-floor windows. 

The Haunted Ottawa Paranormal Society (HOPS) has investigated the mill several times. They have experienced several unexplained sounds such as footsteps, knocking, disembodied voices, as well as strange lights, tugging on clothing, temperature change, and batteries draining without explanation. 

Learn the full history of the haunting of Manotick Mill

 

Perth – The Curse of Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital

Perth Ontario

According to legend the Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital, formerly known as the Great War Hospital, has a curse upon it. The Auxiliary of the hospital was built in 1858 by former resident Judge John Glass Malloch and his family. When the house was being built, Malloch contracted a local farmer to deliver stone at a given time and price. Later, the farmer asked if he might deliver it a week late. Construction was going rather slowly so Malloch agreed, however when the farmer delivered the stone, Malloch refused to pay him, saying he had forfeited his payment by delivering it late. Because Malloch was the judge for the whole county, the farmer had no legal recourse, and the dispute became so hot that the farmer declared that he was laying a curse on Malloch and his family, which would remain in effect “until the building was put to the public good.” Malloch laughed off the farmer’s threat, but that year his only daughter Emeline died. Within 25 years, Malloch and both his sons were dead, and the only survivor of the house was his third wife. The house remained empty and derelict for nearly 50 years until it was purchased in 1922 to be a hospital for the town. 

Apparitions of members of the Malloch family, appearing haggard and unwell, have been known to appear at second-story windows and in the upstairs halls. The late Peter Code, a life-long resident of Perth and a member of one of the town's original and eminent families, was very convincing when he told of his personal encounter with the ghost. 

Read more about the hospital's hauntings 

 

Burritts Rapids – The Lady in Blue

Burritts Rapids

The red-haired lady in blue, Kathleen McBride, arrived in Burritts Rapids sometime in the 1860s on an early summer’s day, long after Irish laborers and the British army had finished the Rideau Canal. Kathleen McBride took a room in the hotel beside the canal bridge. While she was there, the maid reported that Kathleen had brought with her only one of everything - one blue dress, one pair of shoes, one brush, and one suitcase. 

Throughout her stay, Kathleen spoke to no one. All summer and into the fall, she traveled slowly on the "Tip to Tip Trail". She spent many long hours standing on the upriver hill a the end of the island. Often, she stood at the dam watching the water roaring down. Most other time was spent walking the mile long bank of the canal and the river, searching the water, but for what? 

Kathleen went out for her last search on the moonlit night of October 31st. She searched and searched, but she did not return. Two days later a torn piece of blue satin dress was found on the bank, where the new bridge crosses the river in the middle of the village. In those days most of the countryside was forest, and wild animals abounded. Kathleen McBride might have drowned or been eaten by the bears. As the years went by, whispers spread that on moonlit nights on the "Tip to Tip Trail" near the dam, and near the little hill at the top end, Kathleen appears. The red-haired lady in blue still searches, walking or floating through the air, with her torn dress clutched to her breast. Some have been close enough to feel the chill in the air as she passes by. Some have been close enough to hear a tiny keening cry as she searches on. As the decades pass, the sightings continue. So, if by chance you venture out on a summer night and she passes you by in the moonlight, please move to the side so you don’t hinder her everlasting search.

Read the full tale of the Lady in Blue 

 

Chaffey’s Lock – The Tale of Davidson’s Ghost

Chaffey's Locks

If you are on Opinicon Lake, on a calm night, you might just catch a glimpse of a ghostly apparition, a solitary paddler in a dugout canoe, known to locals as the ghost of Old Davy Davidson. Shortly after the canal was built, David Davidson arrived in the area and built a cabin at the far end of Opinicon Lake. Davidson was a trapper, fisherman and hunter who made a modest living, but rumors circulated that he had a nest-egg stashed away somewhere on his property. By the 1880s, old Davy was a fixture on the lake and at this time the area was overrun by merchant peddlers. It was later rumored that one of these peddlers heard about his money and killed Davidson for it. Although a peddler had been sighted in the area about the presumed date of Davidson’s death, he was never found, the crime remains unsolved. As for Davidson’s horde it has also never been found. Reader beware, the details of Davidson’s death are not for the faint of heart. 

Read the whole spine-chilling story

 

Le Boat October

For more local Halloween fun check out the The Haunted Walk

Haunted Walking Tour in Ottawa

Take part in Haunted Walk in Ottawa and visit some of our most chilling ghost stories from the area including the Bytown Museum, the Fairmont Château Laurier, and Ottawa’s haunted high school. You’ll never look at the city and these buildings the same again!

Haunted Walking Tour in Kingston

Experience the Haunted Walk  in Kingston Ontario and learn what has haunted the locals for years! This ghost tour takes you for a spooky stroll through Kingston’s old Sydenham Ward and features haunted hotels, hidden burial grounds, grave robbings, hangings at the old courthouse, and Kingston’s famous haunted courtyard.

Try a Haunting at Home- A paranormal experience from your couch  –if you dare!  

The Haunting at Home is a ghostly online audio experience created by the paranormal experts at The Haunted Walk. Turn the lights down low & conduct a series of fun & spooky experiments in your own home. Will you be able to complete them all – in the DARK? Experience a spine-tingling and thought-provoking night of supernatural thrills & chills.

 

Happy Halloween from Le Boat!