Come Wander

There’s something lingering in the air throughout October, leading up to the culmination of all things spooky on its final day – Halloween 

October starts with the summer’s lush canopy of green bidding a final farewell through a stunning display of vibrant colours. When the leaves die off and settle as a multi-coloured blanket on the forest floor, and the fog rolls in over the lakes and fields, so does that familiar unsettling feeling 

If you’re the type to watch scary movies all month to chase those heebie-jeebieshere are a few creepy spots in Ontario’s Highlands to visit this season. 

If you head out in search of the haunted, abandoned, and otherwise scary locations in our region, please be respectful of the locals and do not trespass on private property. Leave no trace and take only photographs – if you dare. 

*Feature photo credit to the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum.

Moore House – Carleton Place 

In downtown Carleton Place, nestled amongst heritage buildings made of limestone and brick, a single log house is bound to catch your eye. Built in the mid-1800s, Moore House is now home to the Roy Brown Museum, Visitor Centre, and Chamber of Commerce. But as legend suggests, the ghost of Ida Moore has never left.  

In 2017 a paranormal investigation found evidence that a spirit continued to lurk throughout the home. Keep the ominous feeling going while in Carleton Place with a self-guided haunted heritage walk throughout town.  

Treat Tip: You’ll be more alert for ghost-spotting with a caffeinated beverage from Under Pressure Coffee House. 

 Buck Hill – Killaloe 

The legend of Buck Hill is well known around the Ottawa Valley. During the Depression, a logger returned home during a snow storm to find his daughter distraught about her missing dog. Knowing the conditions were treacherous, he warned her not to leave the house, but when he let his guard down, she disappeared into the storm and was never seen again.  

Legend has it he’d be out searching for her every night by lantern, and his spirit has continued to do so well after his death. If you visit Buck Hill Road at night, you might see the glow of his lantern weaving through the trees.  Local musician Liam Lloyd even wrote a song from the eyes of the father. 

Treat Tip: Warm up with a hearty meal or hot drink from The Cottage Cup in Golden Lake.  

 TTC Streetcar – Haliburton  

Have you ever wandered through a forest and seen something that shouldn’t be there? In a wooded area east of the village of Haliburton, you might come across something you wouldn’t expect to find – an abandoned TTC streetcarIf you head out in search of this creepy spot, be mindful that you are surrounded by private property. Do not trespass and adhere to any local signage.  

Treat Tip: Stop by Castle Antiques in Haliburton before you go for vegan and gluten free treat, there’s nothing spooky about that! 

Magnetic Hill – Dacre 

Right off Highway 41 in the Ottawa Valley you can experience a strange sensation that some have attributed to the paranormal. On Magnetic Hill Road, you can drive to the bottom of the hill, put your car in neutral, lift your foot off the brake and watch as your car glides back uphill.  

While urban legend often attributes this to magnetic fields or some sort of unknown force warning you that you’re unwelcome, the truth is it’s actually a rare optical illusion where you appear to be going uphill, when in reality it’s downhill. Though it’s not a busy road, do exercise caution when testing this out, you are operating a motor vehicle after all. 

Treat Tip: For homemade goodies, take your pick from Rosie’s in Denbigh or Bonnechere Bakery in Renfrew, which are about equidistant from Magnetic Hill. 

 Rockingham Church – Rockingham 

The Rockingham Church is not necessarily haunted, but it certainly looks the part. The little wooden church on the hill was built for the thriving hamlet of Rockingham in 1875. By the 1940s the hamlet was mostly abandoned and the church left to deteriorate.  

It was saved from demolition in the mid-90s and designated a heritage site. With a tiny cemetery in front, and a forest behind, it’s a nice spot to take hauntingly beautiful photos. 

Note: the church grounds are open for exploration during daylight hours only, though the church itself is closed to visitors due to COVID-19. 

Treat Tip: Pay a visit to the Madawaska Coffee Co’s shop in Barry’s Bay for a fresh brewed coffee. 

 Franktown Public Cemetery – Franktown 

Lanark County is rich with history, having been settled back in the early 1800s. As a result, many of the historic cemeteries give off an eerie vibe with their decrepit grave markers. The Franktown Public Cemetery is another cool spot that makes for a nice backdrop for creepy-themed photos. Its oldest tombstone dates back to 1823, and its stone fence with arching sign are a photographer’s dream. 

Note: it should go without saying that you should be respectful in a cemetery.  

Treat Tip: The Cheddar Stop in Carleton Place with its glorious magenta cow out front is a must-stop for fudge, cheese curds, and more.  

Heritage House Museum – Smiths Falls 

The Heritage House in Smiths Falls is another historic building where you might feel the hair on the back of your neck stand. It’s not known for sure whether spirits really haunt this building, but it is true that the original owner died in 1864 just a few months after construction was completed on his home 

Perhaps the uneasy feeling staff and visitors have reported, or the mysterious activity recorded in a 2008 paranormal investigation can be attributed to the owner, but the truth remains a mystery. The museum is open to visitors, and appointments are encouraged. 

Treat Tip: Your one-stop-shop for sweet and savoury is Sweet Scoops and the Pickled Pig – a combo store where you can get a sandwich for lunch and an ice cream too.  

 Haliburton Highlands Museum – Haliburton 

Ask a local from the village of Haliburton and you’ll get a slew of spots that are reported to be haunted, including the Haliburton Highlands Museum’s Reid House. Just last year, fueled by reports of the ghost of a boy spotted by children who visited the Reid House, paranormal investigators recorded video and audio throughout their visit and pored over the footage.  

They reported their findings in a special presentation last year around Halloween: the most unusual was an audio recording that resembled a woman’s voice, which nobody had picked up on until they were reviewing footage. Check the museum out for yourself – it’s open by appointment only Wednesday through Sunday. 

Treat Tip: Once you work up an appetite searching for ghosts, fill up on delicious grub from nearby food truck Mega Munch 

Stories

Finding Good Medicine on Thunderbird Mountain

Having a guide can turn an everyday hike into the most amazing adventure. Although I’d hiked on my own in the past, making the hike with Tim Yearington of Bird Mountain Journeys wove together a story that allowed a deeper connection and different outlook on nature and history. It gave me a greater outlook on […]

Shiver-Worthy Spooky Spots

There’s something lingering in the air throughout October, leading up to the culmination of all things spooky on its final day – Halloween.   October starts with the summer’s lush canopy of green bidding a final farewell through a stunning display of vibrant colours. When the leaves die off and settle as a multi-coloured blanket on the forest floor, and the fog rolls in over the lakes and […]

Haunted Walks and Hair-Raising Ghost Tours

Have you ever wandered through an older building and felt the hair raise on the back of your neck, and not been sure why? It may be you are sensing something that others aren’t, some spooky aftereffect from a historical wrongdoing or the ghostly pinings of a disgruntled spirit. Many small communities in Ontario’s Highlands […]

The Artist’s Way

Who says art can only be found in big galleries or urban showrooms? To find fantastic local and Canadian art you need to head to the places that inspire artists to create, and Ontario’s Highlands is among the most beautiful places in Ontario (in our humble opinion). Beyond the inspiration found in the rugged hills […]

Big Attractions in Ontario

Are you the type to pull over when you see a comically large roadside attraction, or a picture-perfect spot to snap a few shots? Amateur photographers and Instagrammers alike can agree that a giant ice cream cone, a massive mural adorning the side of a building, or a full-size replica of a jet plane are […]

Ground to Glass

Discover how four craft drink makers harness Mother Nature’s flavours to elevate their beverages in Ontario’s Highlands.

With Love, to the Ottawa Valley

From the rushing waters of the Petawawa, Madawaska and Ottawa rivers to the unspoiled woodlands of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa Valley is a sultry enchantress, enticing us with adventure. Renowned as a world-class whitewater destination and for the challenges found in its rugged hills and lush dales, the Valley pushes us to do more, live […]

With Love, to Lennox & Addington

Known for its pristine wilderness, incredible views and rugged natural spaces, the majestic beauty of Lennox & Addington speaks to the wanderer inside us all. From the craggy peak of Mazinaw Rock at Bon Echo Provincial Park to the starry skies overhead, there is wonder waiting to be discovered here, a vivid reminder of how our […]

Your Guide to COVID-19 Safe Travel in Ontario’s Highlands

We are happy to see that fall is in full swing here in Ontario’s Highlands, and even happier now that we have seen the lifting of many restrictions here in Ontario. After months of staying home we are eager to get out and stretch out legs and imaginations in a region made for discovery. This […]

Dark Skies, Starry Nights

Have you ever wondered about the mysterious realm outside our planet? Maybe you’ve wanted to roam the galaxy, travel among the stars, and get a new perspective on the universe. For now, stargazing is as close to it as us ‘average humans’ can get! Luckily there are still places to getaway, where the view of […]

Get in Step

April Verch, fiddler, singer-songwriter and step dancer extraordinaire teaches the basics of stepdancing.

Exhale and Unwind

Experience a slice of farm life at Dwyer’s Farmhouse in the Ottawa Valley.

Discover Hidden Gems

Feed your curiosity and explore the diverse geology of Ontario’s Highlands at these Recreational Geology locations.

Shine at Giving this Holiday Season

Today’s craft markets are full of fresh, hip products made by creative and talented makers. This holiday season, go above and beyond by picking up handmade items with a story to tell at one of these Ontario holiday markets.

Art in the Summer

Celebrate creativity at art festivals across Ontario’s Highlands this summer.

3 Cheers for Mom

Discover ways to give a mom a Mother’s Day to remember, with gift ideas that go above and beyond.

Batter up!

Get a behind the scenes look into the world of baseball at Sam Bat.

Get Your Hands Dirty

Find out where to appease your creative side on this Creative Cruiser road trip.

The Creative Cruiser

I’m a Creative Cruiser. I wander with a desire to feed my curiosity, to follow my passions, and to grow from my discoveries.

Where Am I

Explore the sweet moments and ageless beauty of Perth, Ontario.

Hidden Gems

Seven charming museums in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Visit the Petawawa Heritage Village, where you can step back in time and explore the lives of those who wandered long ago.

Where Am I?

Discover a rich history and an even richer geology at the Beryl Pit in the Ottawa Valley.

Where Am I?

Discover breathtaking beauty blasted from the Earth at Marmora Mine in Ontario’s Highlands.

Where Am I?

Discover the story of the earth at the Bonnechere Caves in Eganville, Ontario.

Locals Know Best: Art & Culture

Discover the best spots to learn about the vibrant culture and hidden gems in Ontario’s Highlands through the locals themselves.