Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there is something about a good ghost story that sends a shiver up the spine and a thrill through the senses. Phenomena we can’t control or explain have always intrigued us, and as the days grow shorter and the natural world goes into hibernation, we tend to take stock of time passing and the cycle of birth and death.
Our region is home to a number of ghosts, if you believe local anecdotes. David Heard, the owner and operator of “Creepy Tours” in Aurora didn’t start out with the intention of doing Spirit Walks. His journey began when he discovered that his ancestors had lived in Aurora since 1802, and he became curious about Aurora’s history. His research and dedication led him to become a local historical expert. Later, he decided that leading historical walking tours would be a good way to attract tourists and also draw local people out to discover and appreciate Aurora’s downtown. Heard explains, “Once I started the tours, people wanted to tell me about their experiences with hauntings and the stories of the houses that they lived in.” Because he is a curious and open-minded person, people were drawn to Heard, and soon he was invited to tour the basement of the Filly and Firkin Pub, where staff had witnessed some unusual occurrences. Heard describes the events there as unlike anything he’d ever experienced. “Things were moving around, and I was able to capture some sort of apparition with the flip-phone camera I had in my pocket.” Following that event the TV show, “Rescue Mediums” came out to do an episode there. “It turned out that the name of the spirit, according to the mediums, was Annie Dunning.Much later I found out that the Dunnings and my family had been neighbours.”
Heard has been surprised by the support and interest within the community. “When I started, my dream was to bring new energy to the downtown core.” Of course, the kind of energy that showed up wasn’t quite what he was expecting. Heard has an abundance of fascinating stories to share and will be running tours from Thursday Oct 25th to Tuesday Oct 30th, starting at 7:30pm at the Aurora Town Park. Tickets can be purchased at the event for $15 (cash only) and proceeds are donated to local charities.
Newmarket also has a number of reputedly haunted locations. The Town of Newmarket offers “Ghost of Old Town Hall” walking tours on Wednesday evenings throughout October, sponsored by snapd Newmarket and hosted by the Georgina Paranormal Society. These tours are so popular, according to Town employee Jesse Zulauf, that the tickets often sell-out.
Lynda Quirino, of The Georgina Paranormal Society, has done a number of investigations in the Newmarket area. Her fascination with ghosts spans more than thirty years, and she notes that TV reality shows have peaked peoples’ interest. She explains that there have been ghost sightings at the Grey Goat Pub (formerly known as Henry Harrison House), unusual phenomena at the Elman Campbell Museum, and many sightings at the Sharon Temple—a Quaker gathering place just to the north of Newmarket.
Quirino is often called upon to do investigations (they are free) and to speak with people who are concerned their home or neighbourhood might be haunted. She says, “Ultimately it’s about validation, and also interconnectedness.” Although there are people out there who really want to see a ghost and be frightened, Quirino is not interested in thrill-seeking or high-tech investigations. “For me it’s always been about stories, and what needs or wants to be communicated.”
Creepy Tours, Aurora
Ghost of Old Town Hall, Newmarket
Georgina Paranormal Society, Georgina
Sharon Temple, Sharon
Grey Goat Pub, Newmarket
by ELAINE JACKSON