Oct 11, 2017 by David Lea Oakville Beaver
People interested in learning about Oakville’s past while having a bit of spooky fun are invited to participate in the 2017 family Ghost Walks.
The walks, which begin Oct. 16 and continue through Oct. 30, will see interested souls guided through the town’s darkened streets by volunteers masquerading as figures from its past.
“It’s a one-hour walk looking at some of the old places of the 19th century and the people who lived in them and the ghosts who never moved on,” said Wendy Belcher, Oakville Historical Society (OHS) volunteer.
Const. George Sumner and his wife Mary (played by OHS volunteers Stan Smurlick and Nuala Johnston) are two of the otherworldly guides residents may encounter.
Const. Sumner served as the town’s chief constable as well as tax collector, health officer, harbour master, truant officer and dogcatcher during the late 19th century.
Part of the Ghost Walk includes a tour of the grounds of the old jail/town hall in the Navy and King streets area where Sumner worked.
That structure burned down in 1876.
“George used to put people in jail if they didn’t have enough money to stay in the hotels. Mary would bring them a light dinner,” said Belcher.
“His house was nearby and one night he looked out his window on the way to bed and saw the jail was on fire. He had put five men up that night so he went and managed to save them, but lost the jail.”
Other stops during the one-hour walk will include the Thomas House, the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts and Erchless Estate.
Belcher said all these places are haunted, but described Erchless Estate as the most haunted place in Oakville.
“It has nine ghosts and everybody who has ever worked there has run into some of them,” she said.
“I remember taking a group around one night and I finished talking about Erchless and all the lights in the house suddenly went on and there was nobody in there. I phoned the town and they said, ‘Well maybe it was the cleaners.’ There wasn’t anyone in the parking lot.”
Belcher said she has also heard from people who have had wedding pictures taken on the grounds of Erchless only to have ghostly figures appear in the background when the pictures are printed.
Other stories told during the walks include the tale of strange noises coming from the attic of a home that once belonged to a long-departed Oakville ship’s captain.
What two boys found there sent them running from the room never to return, according to Belcher.
Go on a Ghost Walk to find out more.
Organizers emphasize that while some of the tales may be spooky, the experience is appropriate for the whole family and a fun way to get ready for Halloween.
Anyone wishing to participate in the Ghost Walks is asked to make a reservation either online at www.oakvillehistory.org or by calling 905-844-2695.
The walks begin at the Oakville Historical Society at 110 King St.
Multiple Ghost Walks will take place nightly, except Sundays.
The cost of attending is $12 for each adult and $6 for each child between the age of two and 12 years.
Infants can attend free of charge.
Pets are not permitted.