Haunted Walks Inc. and Phantoms of Yore are giving visitors to Fort Henry a hands-on investigative experience, without all the touching.
The 25-year-old tour group, with ghost walks in Kingston, Ottawa and Toronto, co-hosting two weekends worth of public paranormal investigations, Sept. 11-12 and 25-26.
Due to the pandemic, Creative Director Jim Dean and his team have reworked the original game plan for the events.
“What we’ve been able to do is keep the groups very small,” he said in a September phone conversation, adding there will be eight spots per time slot. “Each group has their own equipment that they’ll be using throughout the evening, so they won’t need to be sharing their equipment.”
Additionally, masks will be required any time the teams are indoors or working within close proximity.
The Haunted Walk already has done a dry run with the new format, as they performed investigations at L’Orignal Old Jail, 89 kilometres east of Ottawa from Aug. 29 to 30.
“It went very, very well,” Dean said. “People had a great, and everyone still felt safe and taken care of — nothing too, too risky.”
As for Fort Henry’s resident spirits, it is said that shadow people have been seen on site, and doors open and close inside the bakery. Even though the fort never saw action during the War of 1812, it’s original foundation, built in 1812, and the second one, 1832, have had their fair share of tragedy.
Nils von Schoultz, who lead the Battle of the Windmill during the Upper Canadian Rebellion, was sentenced to hang for treason on Dec. 8, 1838. He spent his final days in the fort.
Although von Schoultz may be the most infamous name associated with the fort, there have been other tragedies, which include a poor man who lost his head for pre-loading a cannon just after firing, and another man who was blown from the inner wall to the outer wall as well as those who succumbed to their hard lives at the military installation.
Phantoms of Yore investigators even caught a strange occurrence during an investigation in the officers’ quarters hallway leading into the wine cellar.
A tall, spindly and dark figure was seen at the end of the hallway when one of the investigators turned the corner.
“It is definitely a place where strange things have happened,” Dean said. “It is a really active and cool spot. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen during the investigation, to be honest, it’s that active and interesting of a place.”
There are currently tickets available for the first weekend of the series but in limited supply. Unfortunately, the team will not be able to carry over into October, given Fort Henry opens its doors to Fort Fright, a travelling haunted house attraction.
And Dean is cooking up something for those who want to investigate their own homes for paranormal activity.
“That’s something we’re putting the final touches on now,” he said. “I think it’s going to be really interesting for people to do these experiments to see maybe if their own house could be haunted.”
— Photo courtesy The Haunted Walk