The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 33 no 4, Octomber 2021. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
Ottawa’s “Haunted Walks” tells of our Phillips Property ghost. Several books and articles describe its hauntings.
For 67 years, both believers and non-believers have witnessed a wide range of ghostly antics in different places on our property.
Just in time for Hallowe’en, here are just a few of their stories ~
It all began soon after my parents built our Cantley cottage in 1954. In the dead of night sounds of footsteps often awakened them, always walking from the same corner to the opposite corner of our main room. My mother got up to check us young children. All seemed normal except for our cat whose fur stood on end.
A short walk from the cottage is our 1832 log cabin where my grandmother stayed. She, too, heard nightly footsteps walking corner to corner, sometimes preceded by the door’s big latch rattling. Other overnight cabin guests reported the same sounds. One morning we found a guest asleep on our cottage porch. Embarrassed, he explained he was “too freaked out” to stay in the cabin because he heard strange footsteps.
Professor M, a non-believer, lived in our log cabin. He ignored the nightly footsteps until they began climbing the stairs towards his sleeping loft. One night they reached the top. M was awakened by a blinding bright light. But what annoyed M most was the portrait of Queen Victoria hanging on the main wall of the log cabin. In the night, this portrait fell from its hook crashing to the floor. M repaired it and strengthened its fastening. The same thing happened several more times. Finally, M placed a poster over top concealing Queen Victoria. It never fell again.
Subsequent log cabin residents regularly heard the footsteps as did their cats who tensed with fur raised. Different nightly tricks began happening. S often filled a vase with fresh-picked flowers. Inexplicably, the next morning she would find the vase and flowers scattered on the floor. Sometimes the wood stove door rattled then opened during the night. Objects disappeared and reappeared.
A ghost moved into La Grange in 1976 with my parents. It particularly liked the upstairs bathroom. Often while sitting quietly downstairs, one can hear a toilet flushing from the bathroom above.
One hot midsummer night, while Dad and his friend T were swimming in the nearby river, T excitedly pointed towards the log boom in the near distance. Dad looked just in time so see a white blur fading away. After a moment, the shape reappeared in a glowing light. It resembled a woman with long wet hair hovering above the boom.
Neither my daughter nor her visiting friend B knew Dad’s story. One night the friends were sleeping outdoors when B woke up. A blurry white shape slowly appeared. A woman in white, with long, black, dripping hair, actually spoke to B saying that she and her fiancé were travelling down the nearby river to elope because their parents didn’t allow their marriage. The frightened couple struggled to navigate dangerous rapids. Finally, after safely reaching calmer water, she turned to her lover just in time to see him reach to push her overboard. He held her underwater until she drowned.
While researching his 2016 play “A River Runs Through Us”, Ian Tamblyn asked Kitigan Zibi’s Anishinabeg elders about their Gatineau River stories. In one, they spoke of a Métis girl and her lover, a white raftsman working the log drive. Their inter-racial marriage was prohibited so they eloped. She tragically drowned near the river’s Eaton’s Chute.
Before 1927, Eaton’s Chute was just upstream from the calmer waters of today’s Phillips Property.
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