Oakville Memories: Old & New
The ghosts of Oakville and beyond... (1900s)

Ghosts? Here in Oakville? The only spirits around here are the ones in bottles, you say? Well, maybe you don't believe ghosts exist this close to home. Or maybe you just don't believe ... But on Halloween, when superstitions come to life, the ghosts of Old Oakville rise to thrill the most inquisitive trick-or-treaters. At dusk, when the haunt begins, adventurous sheet-clad spooks might think twice before treading on these haunting grounds.

Haunting footsteps at the Oakville Club

In the dead of night, during the fall, the sound of footsteps of a ghostly visitor echoes throughout the Oakville Club. Established in 1908, the rambling clubhouse has since acquired a history of strange occurrences.

In 1959, a cabaret was held with more than 350 people. By 1 a.m. everyone had gone home except for the eight bartenders. They remained to clear the glasses off the tables. All the doors and windows had been locked. All the rooms had been checked to see no one-remained in the club.

"When the work was done we all grabbed a drink and shot the breeze before going home," recalled one of the men. "Then all of the sudden we heard the door go Bang. We all looked at each other saying, "I thought you locked the door." But we knew that we had locked it. Then we heard the sound of footsteps going up the stairs. We went upstairs and began searching the entire place in two's but we found nothing."

An Oakville Transit driver; who worked at the club for 11 years, remembers similar incidents on several occasions.

"It's been many a bloody night that I've heard this," he says. "I used to work there at midnight. I would see the bartender out and lock all of the doors and windows. Then I would commence to do the cleaning. I was cleaning down in the women's locker room one night at about 2 a.m. when I heard the door bang. The hair stuck out on the back of my neck. I listened and heard the sound of footsteps, thump, thump, leading up the stairs to the lounge. I picked up a piece of wood and went upstairs holding my breath. I searched the place from top to bottom but there was absolutely nothing. I checked everything. All the doors and windows were still locked. "

"After this happened, I would check the thing and it would still happen," he said.

Halton police were called by one cleaner to investigate the strange noises at the Oakville Club but to no avail. The mystery of the night stalker remains unsolved.

The ghost of 54 Chisholm

The Harris family lived until recently in the turn-of-the-century house at 54 Chisholm Street where a ghost haunted the threshold of the eldest son's bedroom.The ghost's presence was felt so strongly that he was compelled to walk around the presence before entering his room. Several times throughout a day, Mrs. Harris would hear a strange tapping noise on her bedroom dresser.

Although the ghost never materialized, it radiated a peaceful feeling. Eventually, the Harrises accepted the ghost as part of the house.

One evening, a young nephew sleeping in the living room felt his bed covers being pulled up over him. He scurried into Mrs. Harris's bedroom saying, "Auntie, I don't want to be covered. " His aunt reconciled him saying that it was only the friendly ghost.

54 Chisholm Street. Courtesy of the Oakville Beaver
54 Chisholm Street. Courtesy of the Oakville Beaver Details
The barn house hauntinqs

A poltergeist haunted the previous owners of a 100-year-old house in east Oakville that had been remodeled from a barn. In the stylish cedar-decked house on Wedgewood Drive, the ghost only communicated with the daughter of the family.

The house remained in the structure of a barn from the time of renovation, more than 30 years ago. Even the old horse ramp still exists in the basement. On one occasion, a guest heard the sound of horses trotting across the floors.

In the backyard are three gravestones, marking a family cemetery of the first property owners who died there in 1861.

The girl in St. Jude's

Even the bravest of souls would shudder at the thought of entering a haunted graveyard. But if you do venture near St. Jude's cemetery, beware the ghostly manifestation of a young girl who wanders down the gravel road at the stroke of midnight.

As she fades into the ominous shadows, the moonlight illuminates her long flowing beige hair and gown. And like the tombstones, her complexion appears stony white.

The certified spirit

A former reverend of Munn's church certified in the church archives a ghost who haunted the manse in the early 1900s. A holy spirit it was indeed. The ghost walked up and down the stairs, closed doors that were left open and repeatedly knocked over books that were placed on their shelves.

At the time of the reverend's departure, the archives disappeared. To this day, no written account of the ghost has been found.

The manse was torn down in 1977.

The famous Toronto city hall grabber

After the chimes in Toronto's Old City Hall strike 12, the archaic structure becomes the landmark for ghostly phenomena. The belief in spirits is so intense, that a security guard paid $600 to become exorcised.

One evening when Jo Felqueiras was walking down a flight of stairs , he was unable to move his feet for several minutes. After the incident, Felqueiras said that he didn't feel like himself for several weeks.

"I couldn't breath right. I couldn't talk," he exclaimed. "I went to doctors but they couldn't help me."

Felqueiras then sought the advice of a medium. She informed him that he was possessed. He underwent a two-week ordeal in which the spirit was exorcised from his body. As for the $600 fee, Felqueiras believes that it was a small price to pay for his well-being.

Michael Micallef, another security guard, shares a history of the bizarre. At 10:45 one weekend; while working the night shift alone, Micallef felt the building start to shake below his feet.

"It felt like the floor was shaking right under me. It felt like the walls were shaking around me. I didn't know what was going on so I walked out into the courtyard and the shaking stopped."

Micallef then went back inside but after a while, the building began shaking again.

Ghosts in Oakville? Courtesy of the Oakville Beaver
Ghosts in Oakville? Courtesy of the Oakville Beaver Details

"This time when I went outside, the building was still shaking. I looked up at all the towers and there was a black cloaked figure hanging over the archway of one tower, dangling a rope with a noose on the end. I went back inside and punched out for the night."

The sounds of footsteps are heard throughout the hallways and old courtrooms on the second floor. Several cleaners travel through these halls in pairs. Ever since their experiences, Felqueiras and Micallef also travel together.

"You'd be walking down a hallway," explained Micallef, "and the doorknob to one of the rooms would start turning. And you know that no one is there."

The ghosts on the fourth floor and attic are much more blatant. Security guards refuse to work at night on these two floors. As many as four staff members a week had quit their job or asked to be relocated when security was enforced in the attic, according to Dennis McTernan, former night foreman. Today, remnants of courtroom furniture and law books of the early 1900s are stored there.

John Carey, manager of operations for the Metro property department, acknowledges that Old City Hall is haunted. "The noises are terrible, I've heard them. But we can't account for the banging."

Mr. Carey hired a team of roof experts to investigate but they found no technical explanation for the banging. "It is theoretically impossible for the contraction and expansion of the copper roof to make those noises and still withstand the pressure without bursting."

The moans of spirits echo in the detention areas of the cellar where former prisoners were once kept. A staff member who occasionally works the midnight shift, tells of the noises he has heard. "One morning, at about 3:00, I heard so many bangings but I never saw anything. I heard screaming and laughing coming from the prison cells and the second and third floor. But when I went there, I saw nothing."

One of the more famous ghosts of Old City Hall plucked at the robe of Judge S. Tupper Bigelow in 1965, while he was climbing the back stairs to his chamber on the second floor. On the same stairway, Judge Peter Wilch heard footsteps and felt a light breeze pass by him. Some of the staff members believe that it was the ghost of a former cleaning lady. When she was alive, her job was to always keep that stairway spotless. But the judges used to walk upon them, leaving their footprints on the newly waxed stairs.

Although Mr. McTernan says that he has "walked the halls a hundred times and no ghost has ever tried to be 'fresh' with him, he still thinks there is definitely something going on. "But I'd rather not believe it, it makes the job easier."

By Sylvia Drachenberg and Kathryn Rydren.
Courtesy of the Oakville Beaver

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