Oh, the Horrors
Ottawa can be a pretty scary place—and not just in the House of Commons. Once fall rolls around and the days darken earlier and earlier, it’s Canada’s ghostly capital. Fun and spooky events rise up, costumes and decorations come marching out, then residents young and old get giddy with excitement and fright. (Is the ghost of D’Arcy McGee really still lurking around Sparks Street?)
In this supernatural region full of history, thrills and chills, there are upcoming activities to keep everybody—scaredy-cats, cynics and monster fans—smiling.
Barn of Terror
Haunting season at Saunder’s Farm is always a terrifyingly entertaining time. This year it unravels, cobwebs and all, through November 2. The barn of terror, the haunted hayride and Camp Slaughter are just a few of the treats in store for daring farm-goers. (These hijinks are suitable for kids older than age 10.) Starting September 27, the farm is open weekends, including Friday nights from 6 to 10 p.m. During Halloweek, October 27 to 30, it’s open nightly from 6 to 9 p.m. and October 31 and November 1, it stays open until 10.
Local officials have issued a special alert: “On the night of June 21, 1994, a group of scientists gathered in the depths of the Diefenbunker in the hopes of making the latest scientific breakthrough. The terrifying event that happened next has never been disclosed to the public until now—20 years later.”
* gasp! *
Using the latest in time-travel technology, this fall there will be a journey back to discover the bunker’s most shocking secret! That’s right, folks, Canada’s Cold War Museum and Haunted Walks Ottawa are joining (supernatural) forces once again to present Incident at the Bunker: A Zombie Adventure. A 2014 Ottawa Tourism award-winning program (Best Partnership), it’s an interactive adventure with the undead, deep inside the labyrinth of the Bunker—where you never know what might lurk in the shadows.
Something peculiar is happening in Manotick. The historic gristmill along the water is haunted! Yes, Watson’s Mill has its ghosts and they have, er, axes to grind at this time of year. You can visit the haunted mill daily, check out the anything-but-creepy Harvest Festival October 11 and get your fright on at Haunt Nights October 23, 24 and 25.
The museum located at the Ottawa locks, between Parliament Hill and the Château Laurier, has plenty of stories lurking inside its thick stone walls, but don’t be alarmed. Its special Halloween event, Creepy, Crawly Bytown!, is suitable for little ones. Slated for Sunday, October 26, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. it offers hands-on and creepy crafts for the young and young at heart. These activities are included with admission.
Looking for a ghostly escapade that stirs up fun for the kids? Costumes, cackling and candy are on the agenda at Goulbourn Museum, where Mansion Mayhem will deliver plenty of seasonal fun. Young devils will decorate edible haunted houses, make creepy crafts and play ghoulish games October 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. Geared to children aged six to 11, Mansion Mayhem costs $20 per child ($15 for Connexion Cardholders). Registration is required and this event fills up fast, so call 613 831-2393.
A Halloween party is happening at Billings Estate October 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kids are encouraged to wear costumes since there will be trick-or-treating, with child-sized scale models of Ottawa landmarks such as Parliament Hill and Rideau Hall as the backdrop. In addition, trick-or-treaters can create their own legendary monsters and then use Nerf guns to capture some of these fiends. Face painting and a costume parade are also part of the fun. Cost is $10 for two people or $16 per family.
Cumberland Heritage Village Museum
Families can enjoy trick-or-treating door to door and learn a thing or two along the way. At Cumberland Museum’s Halloween Hijinks, the historic costumed characters will include Little Orphan Annie, Popeye and Olive Oyl, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and the classic characters from the Wizard of Oz. Kids can play a game to match the characters to their history and make a 1930s tabletop lantern to take home in a goodie bag. Halloween Hijinks is October 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the cost is the regular admission fee.
Looking for a safe, family-friendly place to celebrate Halloween? Nepean Museum is hosting a pumpkin party October 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. Activities will include a costume parade (make sure to don your Halloween best), fortune-telling games, bobbing for apples, face painting and pumpkin decorating. Cost is $10 for two people and $16 for a family.
Pinhey’s Point Historic Site
Halloween at Horaceville takes place October 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Family-friendly ghost stories and fortune-telling games are part of the fun and there are also lots of hands-on activities. Kids can carve turnips and pumpkins, make miniature birch bark canoes and create traditional Halloween greeting cards. There will also be 19th century snacks cooked over a fire using historic recipes. Cost is $10 for two people or $16 for a family. See ottawamuseumnetwork.com for details about the museum fun listed above.
Halloween for Adults
Billings Estate offers Edwardian séances October 24, 25, and 26 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Psychic Connie Adams leads a size-restricted group of adults through a traditional séance in one of Ottawa’s oldest wood-framed houses. Cost is $30 per person and registration is required.
Terror lurks at Cumberland Heritage Village Museum. A Haunted Halloween Village opens its creaking doors October 10 and 11, 17 and 18, and 24 and 25. The blood curdling starts at 7 with the last admission at 9:30 pm. You’ll wander unassisted through creepy forested areas and dozens of historic buildings in the black dark of night. “What was that?” Cost is $10 per person. These fright nights are not recommended for anyone under the age of 14. Visitors under age 12 must be accompanied by an adult.
Pinhey’s Point Historic Site also features Edwardian séances. The sessions are October 17 and 18 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Here too, psychic Connie Adams will lead a group of adults through a traditional séance in one of Ottawa’s oldest stone buildings. Learn about the popularity of spiritualism during a time of mourning for victims of the First World War and the Spanish Influenza. Cost is $30 and registration is required.
Ghost Stories of the Ottawa Valley come alive at Pinhey’s Point October 25 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. During this event, you’ll be led through the site in the dark by a costumed guide, who will recount ghost stories. Cost: is $15 per person and registration is required. This is event is for participants over the age of 14. For details about all the museum-based events, see ottawamuseumnetwork.com.
Haunted Walk’s Halloween season will run (for its life?) from Friday, October 10 through Saturday, November 1. Each evening will feature spine-tingling experiences to please all comers. Highlights include:
“Are You Afraid of the Dark?” – Ghosts and the Gallows (Halloween Version)
This hair-raising tour recounts the untimely death of D’Arcy McGee, with a visit inside the old Carleton County Jail (now the Ottawa Jail Hostel), where Patrick Whelan was hanged for the murder. By lantern light, you’ll pass through the haunted hallways of the old jail, death row and the last working gallows in the country.
“Canada’s Scariest Stories” – The Original Haunted Walk (Halloween Version)
This eerie adventure includes outdoor stops at several haunted buildings, including an extended visit to the Bytown Museum, one of Ottawa’s most haunted buildings, where guides will tell some of the scariest ghost stories from across Canada. They’ll also reveal where they’ve had their own up-close-and-personal encounters with ghosts. For details, see hauntedwalk.com.