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Ghost Walks
 

story Maureen Scott    photography Steve Uhraney

After filming 10 episodes of the new TV show Ghosts of Mississauga, producer/host Sabina Foo got spooked. The show currently airs on Rogers TV Mississauga, produced by Sabina and her husband, cameraman Chris Jenken.

“Do I believe in ghosts? Yes,” answers Sabina. “That’s one of the reasons we decided to take a break from the show. Half way through the season I was at home in the kitchen and Chris was upstairs. Suddenly the stereo cranked on at full blast. The dogs were with me so there was no reason for this to happen. I have very strong Christian beliefs, but I started to question what was happening and why. Did something come along home with me?”

Sabina, a former editor/producer with CityTV, first became interested in ghosts while working on a story about a “haunted house” in Pickering. She says she’s not a ‘ghost hunter’. 

“Ghosts of Mississauga comes from an historical perspective. We explore properties in the region which reportedly are haunted - working with Matthew Wilkinson, an historian with Heritage Mississauga to research the history of each place.”

Sabina and her team filmed segments at ten properties, which she says are reportedly haunted, such as The Glenerin Inn, Cherry Hill House Restaurant, The Franklin PourHouse and The Grange.

“The Franklin House has many reported incidents of hauntings and the staff was very open and willing to share their stories,” says Sabina. “I snapped some photos of the area where the hauntings reportedly took place and all of the photos had streaks of coloured light through them. Something bizarre happened with our camera equipment. We had put new batteries in the camera and it was working fine, but once inside, nothing would work, including our cell phones.”

Jason Mercier, general manager of Glenerin Inn says having a ghost can be good for business. They even have a website link to their Ghosts of Mississauga story.

“I think it is fitting that an old mansion could possibly have a ghost, as long as no one gets hurt by this,” says Jason. “I haven’t had any personal experiences, but the staff has told me many stories, including one about seeing a groundskeeper-like character by the fireplace. Guests seem amused and intrigued and some want to experience it for themselves. We are not promoting this heavily, but we are happy to share our history.” 

Heritage Mississauga historian Matthew Wilkinson says he’s the ultimate sceptic when it comes to ghosts. This, despite the fact that he organizes the annual Spirit (Ghost) Walk and that the Heritage Mississauga offices at The Grange are reportedly haunted.

“My academic historical background is based on finding facts and it is a leap of faith to believe that ghosts exist. Show me the hard evidence that archives can support. I fully accept that other people believe. I’ve been here late at night and have never seen anything.” 

The annual Heritage Mississauga Spirit Walk, now in its 11th year, draws a sell-out crowd of about 300 people staggered over four “walks” per evening. This year’s event happens on Friday, October 19 in Dixie Union Cemetery, established in 1810. The theme is The War of 1812.

“We have records that indicate 57 individuals served in some manner in The War of 1812 out of the 250 people who lived here,” says Matthew Wilkinson. “With great respect to those buried at Dixie Union, actors in uniform will narrate their stories—almost like a murder mystery, weaving the stories of what we know about their lives. The purpose of the Ghost Walk is to entertain and educate people about our past. Visitors will have had a history lesson without realizing they had one. No one is going to jump up and scare people!”

Author Terry Boyle has written four books about ghosts, most notably, Haunted Ontario and Haunted Mississauga, which is now in its third printing. He is the former host of the TV show Creepy Canada and the radio show Discover Ontario. Terry worked alongside Matthew Wilkinson to research the history of the thirteen properties featured in his book, weaving the historical background of the property with dates and names and retelling the paranormal activities experienced at Mississauga landmarks like The Cawthra Estate, The Adamson Estate, The Bradley House Museum and others. Terry says he’s been up close and personal with a ghost, several times.

“I’ve seen spirits from across a room — I’ve watched things levitate and I have been slapped on the back of the head on my own front porch!” says Terry. “Growing up, I never felt I was alone. I always had company.”
Terry is a retired teacher who lives in Bala, just one of the towns where he conducts his extremely popular Ghost Walks. After 30 years of interviewing people for his books and TV show, he’s heard just about every ghost story out there.

What exactly is a ghost? “There are theories that people do see ghosts that appear as actual people, while others see them as misty forms,” explains Terry. “Some see ghosts as full embodiment, which they can walk right by, but often it triggers something that they know is not quite right. They often communicate and know your name. I don’t have all the answers. Many say that they are spirit guides watching out for you. Other people have the ability to move back in time—are you the ghost to them?

One person told me a story about camping along the French River north of Parry Sound and suddenly their vision became blurred—like venetian blinds opening and closing—and they then saw three canoes paddled by natives. They had stepped back in time 200 years and experienced a gift from our ancestry.”

Gift or curse? Terry Boyle advises never to purchase an antique mirror. And throw out your Ouija board. “Mirrors can be portals for ghostly spirits to enter this world. I hear stories over and over again about people who have seen spirits of past loved ones in a mirror.”

Ghosts don’t always haunt spooky old mansions or cemeteries; newer homes can have spirits too, according to Terry. “Spirits can be associated with land, places or objects.” 

In the mean time, Sabina Foo says it’s all quiet on the home front.
Will there be a season two of Ghosts of Mississauga? “We certainly have enough material that people have sent to us through our website,” says Sabina.

Ghost Links
Ghosts of Mississauga, www.ghostsofmississauga.com
Heritage Mississauga Spirit Walk, www.heritagemississauga.com
Haunted Mississauga by Terry Boyle is available at Chapters and Heritage Mississauga or visit www.entwoodcottage.ca
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The “Mississauga is 1812” War of 1812 Reenactment takes place
September 15 and 16, Streetsville Memorial Park. Featuring
125 participants and three battle engagements.
Free admission.

Ghost Walks
Left to Right: Richard Collins, Greg Carraro and Adam French


“The purpose of the Ghost Walk is to entertain and
educate people about our past.”

– Matthew Wilkinson, Heritage Mississauga