Review: Ghosts of Niagara-on-the-Lake digs up history; brings it to life

Ghosts of Niagara-on-the-Lake (Second Edition)

by Maria da Silva and Andrew Hind

Dundurn Press, Canada, 2018


The only way some people can swallow the pill called history is by wrapping it up in the proverbial bacon, a la filet mignon, and serving it on a platter.

My own mother-in-law admitted to me that she could not stand history from way back when. But she has shared the odd ghost story about her home province of New Brunswick with me from time-to-time, knowing full well I’d be intrigued.

And that’s what greases the wheels, as it were, to pick up the history of any given location in Canada or elsewhere in the world.

Wrap the history in an old-fashioned ghost story and the hazy scenes of yesteryear will be wolfed like the aforementioned bacon by a happy pup.

Maria Da Silva and Andrew Hind do this deliciously in their book Ghosts of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is in its second edition with Dundurn Press.

Dundurn Press
Ghosts of Niagara-on-the-Lake
By Maria da Silva and Andrew Hind

Niagara Region, in general, is saturated in history, given its role in the War of 1812, but to bring that largely neglected portion of Canadian heritage to life through modern-day spectral stories is both brilliant and with enough flourish to avoid falling down the textbook rabbit hole.

I was born in Welland, so I’m well acquainted with some of the more popular haunts, such as Fort George, Laura Secord’s homestead, Queenston Heights and Butler’s Burial Grounds. Even though Fort George is only touched upon, the stories always come back to that central fixture of both history and the supernatural.

The fascinating part is, Niagara-on-the-Lake didn’t always go by the name it has now. Newark and Butlersburg were former names that I failed to recall. Shame on me, but in my defence, I wasn’t raised on the Peninsula.

Now, the only drawback would be the Short Takes From Beyond the Grave chapter. I would have loved to learn more about the Silks Country Kitchen, Royal George Theatre and Lizzie in the haunted shop.

Perhaps a second book would be in order that covers all of the Niagara Region, from Welland to St. Catharines to Port Colborne to Fort Erie.

Now, the redemption comes with the closing part of the book is the appendix that allows visitors the chance to contact the locations, lest they are caught travelling to Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is a wonderful extra.

But remember, avoid trespassing on the properties if they should happen to be closed for the evening. You may not only run into ghosts but the long arm of the Niagara Regional Police too.

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