Brockville’s Fulford Place is looking to scare up some viewers for its second virtual summer ghost tour of the season.
Summer student Brianna Hayden, who attends Carleton University for social work, teamed with ghost tour narrator David Cody to pull together the Ontario Heritage Trust location’s popular event. Cody has worked with the ghost tour for 20 years and has also collaborated with several student groups over that period.
Fulford’s first online ghost tour of 2021 took place on July 22. Cody and Hayden prepared a second show for a tour that is traditionally held in person.
“Because of COVID, we’ve obviously had to do everything online the past two summers,” Hayden said, during an August phone conversation. “Which has definitely been different since I did in-person my first summer working there.”
Hayden has been volunteering at Fulford Place since she was nine; a friend of her family was a manager at the location. The 20-year-old started working there three years ago.
Fulford Place is the former home of George Taylor Fulford, Sr. a senator and businessman who owned the company that sold Dr. William’s Pink Pills for Pale People.
The pills were manufactured in Brockville and the family had close ties to those in power in Ottawa. Senator Fulford built the 20,000-square-foot Edwardian mansion between 1899 and 1901.
The gardens surrounding the house, sitting on 15 acres, were designed by Frederick Olmstead, the same landscaper who designed Central Park in New York City.
The Fulford family home was donated to the Ontario Heritage Trust after the death of former Member of Parliament for Leeds, George T. Fulford, in 1987.
When it comes to the resident spirits, and Fulford Place’s ties to the world of spiritualism, Cody and Hayden turned to a book by local historian Nancy Wickwire Fraser, Mysterious Brockville: The Ghost Walk Stories!
George Fulford, Sr. died in an automobile accident in 1905. Mary’s youngest daughter, Martha died in 1910 during childbirth. Given those tragedies, Mary turned to spiritualism, which gained her some attention from prominent figures, such as former Prime Minister Sir William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Hayden has had a few run-ins with the ghosts that allegedly haunt Fulford Place, a place that was known to be the location of seances.
“There was one day I was there — my first summer — I was there before everyone else. I was opening up, turning lights on, getting set up and I could hear two women talking,” she recalled. “I’m like, ‘Oh cool, my coworkers are here,’ so I looked outside and no one was there. I go, ‘Maybe they’re up in the office and I didn’t notice them there,’ and there was no one there.
“I was the only one there, so I just stayed in the office until everyone got there. It was a little unsettling.”
Voices in the powder room is one of the most common ghost stories shared by those visiting or working within the walls of Fulford Place, Cody admitted.
“It’s women’s voices and sort of mumble-y, but you can tell they’re cheerful. You can’t really make out what they’re saying. They’re just voices,” he said in an August phone conversation.
Cody added that there have been several other experiences reported, including a large ball of light that travels up and down the mansion’s central, three-tiered staircase.
“The housekeeper and the groundskeeper remained there until the Heritage Foundation was going to take over. They would spend their evenings in the library watching television, and they made their meal and the husband was bringing the meal into the grand hall and this white, glowing ball of light ascended the basement staircase,” he recalled. “The ball of light went right past him at chest level, and ascended the grand staircase, and he dropped the tray and called his wife.”
Fulford’s Virtual Summer Ghost Tour will take place Aug. 26 from 7 to 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at Eventbrite.
Exterior photo of Fulford Place courtesy of Brockville Tourism.