You can’t live in a county with as much history as ours without expecting to encounter a spirit or two. After all, so many fascinating people have made their homes, raised families, and run farms and businesses here, you’d be foolish to doubt that some paranormal oddities exist in otherwise unsuspecting places.
Here’s the question: are they friendly or somewhat more malevolent? Look Local invites you to get to know (from a safe distance) some of the more famous ghosts lurking in the dark, cobwebby corners of old inns, estates and landmarks.
Read on at your own risk…
The Beck House
83 Fox Street, Penetanguishene
The Beck House is one of the oldest standing buildings in the area and it’s no secret among locals that the former owners, Charles Beck, his wife and their nine children, never fully vacated their home. Flickering lights and weird noises are just some of the paranormal events that visitors and residents of the house have reported. Some have even felt a slight tug on their blanket as they crawl into bed (could it be Beck’s wife tucking them in?). This place is seriously spooky.
93 Jury Drive, Penetanguishene • discoveryharbour.on.ca
With roots tracing back to the War of 1812, Discovery Harbour was built as a British naval and military base, designed to safeguard access to Upper Canada. Occupied by military until 1856, the site attracted an incredibly diverse group of people, from Europeans to Métis, First Nations and more. Paranormal happenings include the apparition of a woman in a white dress, missing artifacts that mysteriously reappear, moving chess pieces and a small child in a window… anyone else have goosebumps?
Penetanguishene Centennial Museum and Archive
13 Burke St, Penetanguishene
Built in 1875 by Karl Maxillian (Charles) Beck—yes, the same fellow who built the haunted Beck House—this building was the former C. Beck Lumber office and General Store and became the Town’s Museum in 1967. Many visitors claim to have had paranormal experiences within the museum walls, including unexplained footsteps, eerie feelings, out of place objects, and orb sightings.
Orillia Opera House
20 Mississaga Street West, Orillia • orilliaoperahouse.ca
Still operating in downtown Orillia, this historic building opened its doors in 1895, then completed repairs in 1917 after it suffered a catastrophic fire in 1915. Before that, it served as City Hall offices and a local jail, among other things. The presence of ghosts has long been rumoured to haunt the Opera House and in the early 2000’s, a clairvoyant experienced the spirits of numerous people that had worked in the theatre: a female pianist who played the piano during silent movies, a woman who worked in the ticket office, and a gentleman who suffered a fatal heart attack during a performance. Yikes!
Stephen Leacock Memorial Home
50 Museum Drive, Orillia
Rumoured to be haunted by Leacock himself, his wife and his son, this house/museum has a downright eerie vibe. Strange phenomena include furniture moving in locked rooms, sightings of shadowy figures and doors that are securely locked opening and closing by themselves. Check out a guided tour and see for yourself.
A note to readers wanting more scariness: It didn’t take much digging for us to realize there are many more local places that are rumoured to be in the care of ghosts. Turns out, the spirits of Simcoe are restless, indeed!
Barrie Historical Archive