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Sheridan Sun: A Haunting in Whitby: Take a tour of terror!

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Are you tired of uninspired Hollywood slasher movies? Do you feel ready for a real scare? How about taking a creepy tour of small town Ontario’s most haunted locations! Whitby Ghost Walks is offering an exciting interactive tour of downtown Whitby, based on the town’s macabre past. There, you can visit graveyards, hanging sites, cursed chapels, and former retirement homes where the dead refuse to retire.

Launched in 2005 and operated by Amanda Dainard Bishop, Whitby Ghost Walks boasts two regular guides, as well as visits by specialists including a vampire historian, a local witch, a spiritual medium, and a professional ghost hunter.

“Our motto is: We guarantee to get your heart pumping, whether from walking or from fright!” said Bishop.

The spooky sights Bishop tours are rooted in history. “One haunted building would have to be the Ontario County Courthouse,” Bishop explained. “It is perhaps the most consistently haunted place in North America, and has been featured on numerous ghost-hunting TV shows.”

“The courthouse is home to the ‘shadowy man.’ During the late 1800s a man was sitting on the second floor balcony, watching the trial of his son. When the judge declared the boy guilty, the man stood to protest,” Bishop said. “Unfortunately, he lost his balance and fell two storeys to the courtroom floor, dying instantly. He appears to people as a shadowy figure wearing a top hat.”

“One of our tour participants was lucky enough to capture this apparition on a digital camera!” added Bishop.

Wailing wraiths and somber spirits are not the only flavour of the supernatural available on a Whitby ghost walk, Bishop said. “Another great location is the All Saints Anglican Church. The church was built in 1866 by Toronto architects Gundry and Langley, and patterned after Whitby Abbey, which was the inspiration for Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula.’ The building is said to have incorporated a ‘cursed stone’ from the original Whitby Abbey into its foundation. As a result, tour patrons often report feeling ‘seasick’ at this location, and cameras often capture odd mists.”

“We also visit a current retirement home, the name of which we aren’t allowed to publish. The name is visible on the tour. Most people would expect to hear ghost stories in a retirement home, usually involving harmless granny ghosts. Stories emerging from the home describe the haunting as “zombie like”. Why is an old folks’ home haunted by zombies?”

“In the 1970’s it was discovered that the land on the corner of Colbourne and Dundas Streets was actually a pauper’s cemetary for a local house of refuge. Graves were procured, but no-one is sure of the boundaries of the original cemetery,” said Bishop. “How many nameless bodies are still buried in that area?”

Whitby Ghost Walks holds tours during the month of October. Up to 40 brave souls can go on tour at a time, with the spooky subject matter recommended for children above 10 years old. To book a tour, visit Whitby Ghost Walks online.

Bishop explained her passion for history with a horrific twist: “The best part about Whitby Ghost Walks is watching adults be legitimately scared. Most adults aren’t fazed by “tourist type” haunted houses, or scare parks. The wary looks on the faces of tour participants are truly priceless. If people walk away scared, and also know more about local history, then we’ve done our job. We’re teaching people about the history in their own backyard, in an interesting format.”

This story originally appeared in the Sheridan Sun.

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Written by tomczerniawski

March 14, 2010 at 12:09 pm

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