Niagara on the Lake was Upper Canada’s first capital. It was home to many firsts for Ontario. Including the library, courthouse, post office, pharmacy, newspaper and church.
Colonel John Butler and his men settled in Niagara-on-the-Lake after leaving the United States post Revolution. These Loyalists created the town.
5 government sessions held over 3 years. This included the country’s greatest decision happening right here in Niagara on the Lake… when slavery was outlawed. That’s one of the first laws of it’s kind. Well, sort of. It didn’t free current slaves, just stopped it for future generations.
Then celebrations took place as politicians retired to The Harmonious Coach House which now called The Olde Angel Inn. And in 1796 the capital was moved away from the border to York (today called Toronto)
Town is Burned
Good they moved it. On May 27 1813 as the War of 1812 raged, the Americans came to town.
They took Queenston Heights, killing our famous General Isaac Brock. Then burned Fort George to the ground.
The town held until December 10 1813. Was only 7 months when they were defeated in Stoney Creek (now part of Hamilton).
The Americans dealt out a final insult. They burned Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Included every structure except the McFarland House, some of Brockamour Manor and Fort George’s Power Magazine. Also some small wooden houses left for citizens to huddle in.
But the people rebuilt. Their town eventually named Niagara, then Niagara on the Lake to avoid confusion with Niagara Falls.
Canada’s Most Haunted Town
Most towns have haunted places attached to historic events. However this town is different.
The only war fought on Canadian soil. It had death, violence, emotions and tragedy in such a small place. And history spanning over 200 years. Plus this town has two Ghost Walks and a book about the ghosts. Which confirms the Niagara on the Lake tours is in as Canada’s Most Haunted Town
So many ghost stories
Stories keep coming in. If all told, the tour would be 4 hours long. We made it a comfortable 90 minutes.
Here are two stories not featured on the tour…
The Legend of Sobbing Sophia
Sophia Shaw was said to be the love of General Isaac Brock. The British’s great leader stationed in Canada during the War of 1812.
Captain Powell’s family lived in the house now called Brockamour Manor. Sophia was Powell’s sister-in-law living with the family.
Legend says Brock met and fell in love with Sophia while at Fort George. Because of the times their love grew fast. But Sophia’s father was against it. Brock was important but not of noble blood. Her father denied Isaac permission to marry Sophia. Which didn’t stop either of them. That took a war.
In October 1812 Brock is summoned to join his men at Queenston Heights (the next town over). An important location. If the British lost, Americans would win Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The couple said goodbye. Sophia didn’t know it was for the last time.
During the battle at Queenston Heights Brock charged up the hill into a heavy fire. Some of the Brits fearfully dropped back as Brock screamed out, “This is the first time I’ve seen the 49th turn their backs!” They surged forward.
A shot hits Brock in the wrist. He didn’t slow. Then fifty yards away an American sniper rose up and fired into Brock’s chest. The great General was dead.
Sophia mourned for years. It’s said she never married. Always wondering what could have been. Then dying at a young age from which many say was a broken heart.
During her final years the people of Niagara on the Lake didn’t see Sophia. They heard her. Cries from an open window on the second floor of Brockamour Manor. They called her “Sobbing Sophia” and she’s still heard today.
Reports of a woman crying in that room and even at night along Niagara on the Lake’s Queen Street.
Legends are so for a reason. What do you believe? See Reference 1 | Reference 2 | Reference 3
The Watcher of the Town
Many in Niagara on the Lake report a strange blue light. Called an orb, it’s seen floating the streets at night. Near the modern Post Office (across from the Ghost Walks’ Gift Shop & Starbucks).
Locals say it’s a former constable. Hence being blue, like the police. It disappears as they get closer. No feeling or spirits, just a simple blue light everyone calls “the watcher”.