The city of Hamilton is uniquely haunted. Because when you look at the on-the-books history, you’ll wonder… How can it be so haunted with a limited history?
Peel away that layer and realize a hidden history of loyalist settlements. Still seen in the names of the smaller towns making up the city. And the lost name of Barton, once the township making up the centre of Hamilton.
But the rest remain… Stoney Creek, Dundas, Flamborough, Ancaster, Albion Mills and more. Names appearing in the below list, and on many of our different Ghost Walks and Dark History Tours of the city.
So, no more delay. Allow me to introduce you to 10 different haunted places you can visit in the spooky city of Hamilton.
10 Haunted Places in Hamilton
Not all of the locations can be seen on the inside. Links and info are given with any Museums to schedule your own personal history tours. Otherwise, it’s marked as “Outside Only”.
Outside Only || MAP
There’s only one reason this location isn’t at the top of the list. No haunted house or building. And ghost stories just aren’t the same without a building to look at.
The lands surrounding Albion Falls were once the town of Albion Mills. Not much remains of the town. Wiped off the map by progress. Today only the old town cemetery and the ruins of a Blacksmith shop stand. And of course, the Falls.
Such dark history! A rough mill town with random fights and violence. The remote dumping ground for the mobsters of Hamilton’s past. And, as well, a tragic resident ghost named Jane Riley.
Victim of a failed love story with a handsome boy of station. From a rich family. He’s seeing a pretty girl from the blue-collared town of Albion. She falls hopelessly in love. But the boy… who knows how he felt.
We do know his mother was against it. Maybe why the boy was caught cheating on Jane Riley.
And she heard the rumours. But In public denied them. However, on the inside she was tortured. Leading one sunny day, when Jane rushed out, on top of Albion Falls.
Pulling away from her friend and pitching herself over the side. Later found by workers below. Barely alive, Jane tried to speak her last words. Only straining before dying.
Today, the ghost of Jane Riley is the fear of all the teens using the parking lot of Albion Falls as a “make-out point”.
Reports of a strange woman seen wandering the woods near the Falls. Hair disheveled and muttering words which are never heard. Maybe the final words she never got to speak.
Scottish Rite of Freemasonry
Outside Only || MAP
The centre of Freemasonry. This beautiful house, built by a former Hamilton Mayor. Also known as the Tobacco King of Canada.
George Tuckett was a local hero in industry and politics. This was his castle (literal, thanks to an impressive battlement tower). Lived here with his family for many years. His Tobacco Factory once located just down the street at current day Queen Street and York Blvd.
The factory is long demolished. But rumours remain about a secret tunnel once leading from the basement of the house to the factory. Nefarious reasons? Not quite. It’s said George wanted easy access, especially in the winters. Rich people!
Purchased and converted to the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in the 1920’s. Including the addition of the cathedral building on the west side of the house.
Tuckett’s Tower’s is home to a ghost. A woman in a white dress. Shown in full grandeur on canvas. A pastel portrait at the top of the Tuckett’s grand staircase.
No idea who the woman is, or her connection to the Tuckett family. She’s been heard and talked about by the secretive Masons. Simple reports of slight movements. A flash of white in the corner of their eyes, spinning around to see an empty staircase.
Others have heard her walking around the second floor. A couple of the men bounding up the stairs to greet silence.
You’d think Dundurn Castle, Hamilton’s most known historic home, would be haunted. And you’d be right. But getting the stories is a challenge. We have a special Halloween event at the house but are still learning.
A dedication to proven history stands as a block for the more spiritual. Discouragement to those who believe, and feigned ignorance if you were to ask guides or workers. Some saying, “Dundurn is definitely not haunted”.
No way to know for sure. However, I understand the hesitation. Many places shunning ghost stories for fear it sends the wrong message. Thankfully, times are changing.
The history supports an energetic place! Built in the early 1800’s for a prominent investor and politician. Sir Allan MacNab was technically a Canadian Prime Minister. “Why haven’t I heard of him in history class?” You ask. Cause it was before we were an official country. Serving as a leader of Upper Canada (now Ontario).
So much darkness followed the man through life at Dundurn. And even into death. When religion caused a fight over the man’s legacy …and corpse. Eventually thrown into an unmarked grave in Burlington’s Holy Sepulchre Cemetery (a stone added in the 1960’s).
HEAR THE FULL STORY… on the Dark Trolley Tour of Hamilton’s Waterfront
But, sadly, MacNab doesn’t seem to haunt his beloved Dundurn. Instead, it’s his youngest daughter, Sophia (pronounced So-phi-ah). The young girl spent the best parts of her life at Dundurn. The favourite daughter of a then aged MacNab.
Married off at a young age to English Royalty. She moved to England and never returned to her beloved Dundurn. In life. But maybe after death! Now attributed to many experiences in the house. And reaching out through wedding photos taken on the grounds. Cool fact! Sophia MacNab is a direct ancestor of the current Duchess of Cornwall (Prince Charles’s wife), Camilla Parker Bowles. Hence why they stop at Dundurn during royal visits.
Steam & Technology Museum
Spawned from a piece of dark history. The only reason this impressive ‘pump house’ exists is because Hamilton had a problem… dead bodies in the street!
Too dramatic? Allow me to retort.
In the early 1800’s, the township of Barton (now Hamilton Centre) had an issue. Family’s riding in, deciding if they wanted to live here, and greeted by the sight of corpses.
Thanks to cesspools. Diseases getting into the drinking water and killing nice folks. Their solution… a waterworks system. The Steam and Tech Museum is the first pumphouse. Pumping water from the (once clean) Lake Ontario and sending it throughout the town.
That’s why the building looks so cool. Show off the technology to Canada. Today, home to the oldest surviving Canadian-built engine in existence.
And the resident ghost of a little boy. Possibly a reminder of the low standards of safety from the past. Ancient tech built with tiny crawl spaces needing maintenance.
But how do you get a man into these spaces? You don’t. Child labour accepted in those days. Making crawl spaces acceptable. The ghost of this boy seen in tight spaces. No confirmed history, but legend states the boy died inside the powerful mechanics of the pump.
The literally hidden, historic haunt. Whitehern Mansion has been surrounded by progress. Mostly flanked by Hamilton’s City Hall.
But walk behind the city’s centre of government (and our scariest building for many reasons), and you’ll be presented with a snapshot of time. An original stone fence cuts the history. A mid-1800’s mansion surrounded by massive old trees. A heart shaped garden, original created by Dr. Calvin’s wife in the 1800’s. Perfect centerpiece as you walk-in for a tour.
And what a tour! A unicorn in the historic house industry. Amazing stories about the family places you into the history of the McQuestens. While surrounded by grandeur in their “humble” home (by old-timey rich guy standards).
Similar to Dundurn (see above), ghosts of Whitehern are blocked. A little more open, but still not as open as us paranormal nutcases want. Oh well, can’t have everything.
HEAR all the Ghost Stories of Whitehern… on the Ghost Walks of Downtown Hamilton
However, some great stories have found their way out. From the shadow of a disgraced family member… to disembodied legs stalking an employee.
The most jarring is a woman on the second floor. Not only heard singing inside the house by employees while closing at night. But also reaching out to folks passing by at night. Trying to mind their own business, before looking up to see the shadowed silhouette of a woman peaking out from a second story window.
Outside Only || MAP
It’s not everyday an open field with some stones is considered extremely haunted. That’s what makes the Hermitage Ruins very interesting.
Energy from an old house, built in the mid-1800’s by the Leith family. On lands once used by two other families. Including Otto Ives, the known historic figure in Ancaster’s most famous ghostly legend. One of the top legends in Hamilton, and even Canada.
The story centres around Otto’s niece. Who fell in love with the wrong man … the family servant, William Black. At the time, this was unacceptable! And when Otto found out, he exploded with anger.
Sent the boy away, ending his employment at the Hermitage. And the next morning, Otto found William hanging from the rafters.
It’s where the street ‘Lover’s Lane’ gets its name!
HEAR the full legend & ghost stories … on the Ghost Walks of the Hermitage Ruins
There’s that. And also, the Leith’s energy. A family line leading up to Alma.
Alma Dick-Lauder was a local writer. One of Hamilton’s first historians, writing for the Spectator. And in 1934, during a lavish tea party, a malfunctioning fireplace shot out sparks. Set the house on fire. Spreading too quickly to stop. All Alma could do is save the people, along with much furniture and artwork.
Her love for the house kept her on the land. Living inside a small tent. Then moving into a wooden shack built inside the ruins.
Is there any doubt this love didn’t last, long after her death?
Outside Only || MAP
If this theatre were still active, it’d be #1 with a bullet. Notice I didn’t say ‘still existed’. Because the Tivoli Theatre does still exist!
There’s this oddly placed park on James Street North, just north of Wilson Street (behind the mini mall). It’s not a park… it’s the abandoned 2,000 seat auditorium of the old Tivoli.
Left like that after 2004, when the theatre building had structural damage. Officials rushed out, and from fear of collapse, tore down the original 1800’s lobby building. Today, this action was deemed ‘hasty’.
Unfortunate, because that building was the best part. The oldest ‘movie theatre’ structure in Canada. Technically… because it started out as a horse carriage factory. Converted to a 200-seat vaudeville venue. Before being transformed into a behemoth, 2,000 seat venue for the new moving pictures.
Believed to be the first place in Canada to feature a ‘talkie’. A silent film with actors reading out lines backstage.
Stayed a movie theatre until being converted to live shows after Sam the Record Man bought it. This is also when the maintenance budget was cut from the original 100%, to a slightly less… 0%. Eventually leading to the collapse of 2004.
Here are the Ghosts
But we paranormal enthusiasts are grateful for the Record Man days. Those years showed off the ghosts. Stage actors and show staff spending late nights inside the building, experiencing the strong energy.
This including the ghost of a former owner, and Canada’s famous disappearing man, Ambrose Small. Along with a silent woman seen desperately trying to talk.
And the ghost of a little boy heard inside an air vent at the front, stage-left. An obsessed manager pushed himself into the vent and found evidence. An old report card from the local Ryerson Elementary School. Belonging to a young boy with terrible grades.
And a wonderful story about a monster of a guard dog. Tasked with walking the lobby each night. Kept out of the main office by a locked door. One morning, the manager came in to find the dog was missing. Looked desperately, until hearing a whimpering from the office. Something had unlocked the office, opened the door… let the dog in, slammed the door shut and relocked it. Be envious, other Hamilton ghosts!
Outside Only || MAP
The potential of this building in Canadian paranormal practice is astronomical.
Last piece of the original, and massive, ‘Hamilton Insane Asylum’. Yes, the historical correct medical name of that building. A primitive exploration into the minds of those who were deemed, “different”.
Also, deemed difficult! There was a saying in Hamilton back in the 1800’s. “Be careful how you act in public, or you may end up in the Mansion on the Hill!” The Asylum’s nickname was the ‘Mansion on the Hill’, because you could see the main Barton Building from Downtown Hamilton.
The Barton Building is long gone (demolished in 1976). Century Manor is what remains. Originally called the East House, this structure was home to the worst and most violent patients of the Asylum. Along with the most brutal experiments done on humans.
Which leads me to a conflict. Should a building with a shady history be kept and repurposed? I’m sure you have an opinion (…let me know by Making Contact).
In the end I lean towards saving it. Because the building is interesting, and the architecture is nice. Mixed with its connection to the history of medicine. It should be a museum! Definitely a museum.
Again, we don’t have any solid ghost stories due to a lack of access for many years. Just one expereince. Happening to a security guard walking the basement tunnels which connected the Asylum buildings underground.
He heard voices. Assuming, incorrectly, it was trespassers. Surprised by two women dressed in, what he called, “… old nursing outfits.” Not much in the way of ghosts. The main reason it’s #3 … history and potential. I have no doubt this place is one of the most haunted around.
Battlefield Park in Stoney Creek
A battlefield and haunted house mixed into one place. That’s why it’s #2 on the list!
It wasn’t supposed to be a battlefield. The American’s chased a defeated British unit who’d abandoned Niagara-on-the-Lake (the former Capital). Brit’s settled on Burlington Heights (current location of Dundurn Castle and the Hamilton Cemetery). Sitting and waiting for the end.
Then a 20-year-old from Stoney Creek changed everything. Billy Green watched as the American’s took the Gage family farm. This is the house at Battlefield Park.
He warned the British and setup the surprise night attack. Allowing for an upset victory done by only 700 British vs 1300 Americans. Considered a turning point of the war, and one of the reasons we’re still Canadian.
A massive scale of drama, tragedy, and death on this land. Then there’s the owner’s story.
Mary Jones Gage fled the United States after her husband died in the Revolution… fighting for the Americans! No choice, she swore allegiance to the British in exchange for free land in Stoney Creek.
Imagine being witness to so much death during one war. Escaping. Relaxed and farming your land… when the news hits. Remember those folks you tried to escape? They’re here.
Her and the entire family spent the battle tied up in the basement of the house. The entire time expecting to die.
Wait! I’m not done
Mary lived out her life in that house. And after death, she was buried in a cemetery at King and Victoria Streets. “But Daniel… there’s no cemetery there.” You’re right!
That’s because the church burned down in 1969. A developer saw his opportunity, swooped in, and bought the cheap land. The only problem… unwelcome guests who can’t pay rent. In the graveyard.
The plan – move the bodies to Woodland Cemetery. And most of them were, except one. Drumrolllllll -> Mary Jones Gage! Her body and gravestone were stolen in the middle of the night. I’d be more surprised if she wasn’t haunting the house. She is. Said to play with the electronics, and her face seen in photos and videos.
Anyone who knows me, knows I’d make the Custom House #1. And it may not be the most haunted building in the city. But that’s my experience.
Have spent so much time inside it. Mostly at night! And over the years, the experiences coming out of this building were profound.
Consider, when first starting the tours, there were enough stories from past generations to make a full tour. Around multiple spirits, including the oldest known ghost in Hamilton… the Dark Lady. Voices, seeing things. Slamming doors. Footsteps so clear the witnesses knew it was a child running back and forth on the second floor (the building was once a school).
Then we showed up. Opening the building at night for ghost-minded folks.
- Moving doors.
- Shadows scaring our guides.
- Phone calls from empty houses.
- Knocks on walls when you’re alone
- … And multiple possessions!
While trying to keep this article until 200,000 words, I considered how to approach the #1 haunted place in Hamilton. I’ll focus on 2 things. First, the most haunted areas of the Custom House. And second, a personal experience of my own.
Most Haunted Areas Inside the Custom House
Definitely the basement and attic. Exactly what expected.
The basement is the location of the stairway room and vault. Stairway room’s legend is around violence done to people when the building was a ‘social service’ agency (abandoned building with an open front door to anyone). The spirits of a woman and child are experienced.
And the vault… site of a tunnel collapse that buried a group of men alive into their unmarked grave. And where the body of the Dark Lady ended up, after the murderous captain docked in Hamilton.
In the attic with have the caretaker. Second most prominent ghost of the building. Called the attic his home. He loves to appear as a shadow and knock on the walls. The apartment still exists.
That Time I heard Voices
It happened when showing up early to setup for a night. Towards the beginning of these tours (circa 2003), the coordinators had a bit of a bad habit… forgetting we were coming!
After a couple of forgotten nights, I was tense. Arriving and knocking on the front door.
I heard something. Muffled conversation from inside the building. Sounded like two women talking. I put my ear against the door. Tried to make out what was being said but couldn’t.
And the first thing that popped into my head, “… they’re messing with me!” After the missed times, they must be inside, giggling over my stress.
I knocked hard, yelling, “Come on! It’s not funny!” And the voices stopped. I listened for the sound of footsteps and a familiar click of the deadbolt. Silence.
Started knocking and yelling. That’s when one of the employees walked around the corner of Stuart Street off MacNab. He said nothing. Only starred over with a look of fear and wonder.
Then opened the door and turned off the motion-sensor alarm. “Sorry about that”, I said with a smile as he went inside to turn on lights. I secretly walked around the entire first floor looking for some source of the woman’s voices. Nothing.
That’s the Top 10 haunted hot spots in the City of Hamilton. I know for a fact there are more. And I’m sure some folks will disagree with this list.
A Hamilton honorable mention…
On the list because it’s a unique piece of Canadian history. The Haida Battleship, now stationed in Hamilton Harbour, saw violence during World War II, the Korean War, and Cold War.
Surprisingly, only two men lost their lives on the ship. And not from the enemy. During a battle, one of the guns overheated and exploded. Bad luck for them. However, considering what the ship as been through. It’s possible to say, this vessel has great luck.
Proven more by the harrowing rescue of the Athabaskan
Decommissioned in 1963. Stationed in Toronto from 1970 until 2002, before being fixed up and transferred to the emerging Hamilton Waterfront.
And I have no ghost stories to tell about the Haida. This doesn’t mean there’s no ghostly energy.
If history being a direct cause of ghost stories, then the Haida, no doubt, has the right energy. Making a visit for any sensitive a must.
And even the non-sensitives. To reveal this unique history is worth it.
And speaking of it, as mentioned above we have different tours showing off the strange history and ghost stories of this very haunted city. These include…
- Original Downtown Hamilton Ghost Walk
- Hamilton’s Dark History Tour
- Hermitage Ruins in the Forests of Ancaster
- A Unique Open-Air Harbourfront Dark Trolley Ride
- And, our special Halloween time 2-part event at Dundurn Castle!
Hamilton tours tend to run every weekend during the main season. See the Calendar for dates.
Hamilton Stories on the Ghost Guide Daniel Podcast…
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