Haunted Cemetery Road Trip – The Beck House

Last weekend, my fiancé Chris and I spent the night at a haunted Airbnb. Since we’ve been engaged, it’s become an annual tradition to have a haunted holiday in October. Last year, we spent the night in room 105, the most haunted room at the Inn at the Falls in Bracebridge, Ontario. This year, we spent the night at the Beck House in Penetanguishene, Ontario.

The Beck House, built in 1885, is one of the oldest standing buildings in Simcoe County.1 It was built by Charles Beck, a wealthy lumber magnate, for his wife Emelia and their nine children. Charles, who also went by the name Carl, was mayor of the town from 1892 to 1895. In 1903, he was the first person to buy an automobile in the area.2 Sadly, two of his nine children died in the house, at a very young age. Emelia, their mother, also passed away young.3

Today the house has been converted into apartments for permanent residents, but two apartments on the top floor are available to rent through Airbnb. Many visitors to the Beck House have reported flickering lights, hearing footsteps, and unexplained knocking. Some have even heard disembodied voices, and have felt invisible hands tucking them in at night.

The house itself is just beautiful and is quite imposing as you come up the driveway toward it. The red brick, slate roof, and Queen Anne revival design give off elegant but spooky vibes.2 The house was decorated for Halloween when we arrived, which added to the spooky atmosphere, with pumpkins on the stairs, and ravens perched on the veranda railing. 

As you enter the house, you are greeted with large whiteboards that are covered in writing from visitors’ past. Here, people shared their experiences, thanked the hosts, or just marked that they were there. Some guests recommend what to keep watch for, like the doll in the green dress, or suggested other interesting places to visit in the area, like the Asylum Point Cemetery.

Walking up to our room, was like walking through time. The beautiful winding staircase, with its creaky steps and beautiful hardwood railing, almost seems to go up forever. Among a smattering of Halloween decor, were more historical pieces, like vintage dresses and a spindle wheel. Even more gorgeous antiques waited for us inside apartment 302.

The apartment is beautifully decorated with antique furniture and items. I especially loved the decor in the red room, with its gold cherub lamps, antique rocking horse, and a gorgeous dressing table complete with an antique mirror. There is also a little alcove in the living room area that is filled with vintage hats and hat boxes. All these little touches add so much to the space and the experience of staying there.

The Beck House, Apartment 302, Penetanguishene ON ©2022

We checked into our room at about 6 p.m., and after briefly exploring the space and dropping off our things we headed out for supper. We made mental notes of the position of the doll in the green dress, just in case. We had a lovely supper at Flynn’s Public House, downtown. The downtown core looks lovely, but we didn’t have much time to explore it. After supper, we visited Discovery Harbour to experience Pumpkinferno, a display of meticulously hand-carved jack-o-lanterns. It was magical! Walking among hundreds of lit jack-o-lanterns while Halloween-themed music plays is the epitome of Halloween. There were also some haunted attractions there to visit like Grim Reaper’s Grove, Macabre Mansion, and the Ghost Ship. They even had a little cemetery set up. After enjoying some hot chocolate, we headed back to the Beck House and apartment 302.

The doll in the green dress had not moved, and nothing seemed to be out of place. We settled in the living room to decompress from the days’ travels and adventures. In the dining room, there is a notebook filled with previous guests’ experiences, I read a few while we had some snacks. We decided to spend some time alone in each of the rooms, to see if a spirit may want to reach out. I took the red room, while Chris took the green room. I read with the light on, now and then peeking at the rocking horse to see if it was moving. Chris sat in the dark in the green room, with only the light from his phone as he scrolled on social media. He didn’t experience anything either. After a while, he joined me in the red room. We decided we would spend the night in the green room, as we could hear another tenant’s TV below us. Then we retired to bed. 

I don’t generally sleep well when we stay at haunted locations. I think it’s because I am afraid to miss out on seeing something supernatural happen. Eventually, I did fall asleep. Nothing peculiar happened, although. At one point during the night, Chris seemed to be having bad dreams. He was moving a lot in his sleep and even cried out. At exactly that moment I heard a creak in the floorboards. It sounded like it came from the doorway of the bedroom. We had gone to sleep with the door open. I didn’t see anything in the doorway. The rest of the night was uneventful.

In the morning, we packed our things and said goodbye to the Beck House, but we still needed to say goodbye to Carl and Emelia. After a nice big breakfast at Phil’s Casual Dining, we stopped in to visit the Presbyterian Cemetery. 

At the back of this pretty little cemetery is the Beck Mausoleum. It’s a rather imposing structure, flanked on either side by lovely white planters. The door is firmly locked, with a charming cast iron gate protecting it. I’m not certain of who rests within the mausoleum, but I would think that Charles, Emelia, and some their children, if not all, are laid to rest here. I thanked Carl and Emelia for our lovely visit in their house and paid my respects. Directly in front of the mausoleum, there are many grave markers for later generations of Becks. This is the only mausoleum in this small cemetery, standing like a sentinel keeping watch.

Beck Mausoleum, Presbyterian Cemetery, Penetanguishene ON ©2022

We did visit a couple of other spots in Penetanguishene, but that will be a story for another day. I hope you enjoyed this Haunted Cemetery Road Trip story. Have you ever spent the night in a haunted hotel? Do you have any October traditions? I would love to read about them in the comments!

Happy October and as always, thank you for reading! 

References:

  1. Haunted Simcoe: The Beck House | Barrie 360
  2. Carl Beck House | Penetanguishene Heritage
  3. Facebook post, October 9, 2018 | The Beck House

Cemetery Tours in Ontario

It’s my favorite time of year again, October! I love crisp sweater weather and crunchy leaves on the ground. Dead leaves are one of my absolute favorite smells. It’s also the best time for leaf peeping, and of course, visiting cemeteries. 

This is also the time that you will see Cemetery Tours being advertised. The gorgeous fall colors are a lovely contrast to the beautiful grey tombstones. Cemetery Tours are a great opportunity to photograph a new cemetery, learn about local history and take a nice cemetery stroll. You may even hear a ghost story or two.

Cemetery Tours are usually put on by local Museums or Historical Groups. The tour guide will lead you through the cemetery, explaining the history of the place as well as highlighting the stories of historical figures buried within it. Sometimes they will also talk about famous and infamous graves. Some tours have guides that dress up and use a lantern to light the way, while other tours have actors dressed in period clothing that will tell the life stories from the deceased’s graveside. Some tours are self-guided. On this type of tour, you will be provided with a map with points of interest marked on it. You can do these tours at your own pace. 

I love cemetery tours! You can learn a lot about the history of your local cemeteries, and notable graves and may even learn some obscure trivia along the way. It’s also lots of fun to meet people with similar interests on these tours. 

So for today’s blog post, I wanted to share some Cemetery Tours that are happening this fall in Ontario.

Fergus: Wellington County House of Industry and Refuge (Poorhouse) Cemetery Tour

October 21, 22, 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

$15 +HST a ticket

It’s that time of the year where everyone loves hearing scary stories, but real history holds some of the scariest and unnerving stories. Join us as we take a trip through the real history of the House of Industry and Refuge and explore some of the more unsettling stories of inmates and staff that called this place home.

The Museum which is housed in the Old Poorhouse building still looks after the graves and these tours are an opportunity to tell the stories of those that lived, died, and still remain on the site.

Enjoy a lantern lit tour of the Wellington County House of Industry and Refuge (or Poorhouse) Cemetery. Between 1877-1947 the building was the Wellington County Poorhouse and over 600 people died on site during those years. Those that had no family or friends to claim their body were buried here, and 271 burials took place over those years.

Please be aware there are no accessibility routes for this tour. This tour is designed for a 14+ audience.

Tours begin at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm on the front steps of the Wellington County Museum. 

Grimsby: Queen’s Lawn Cemetery Tour

Tour Queen’s Lawn Cemetery by lantern light and hear true eerie stories of past Grimsby residents.
3 tour dates available:

  • Wednesday, October 5 at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 12 at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 19 at 7 p.m.

Pre-registration is required and limited space is available. Groups are kept small to ensure a quality tour. Tours are approximately 1 to 1.5 hours and are recommended for ages 12+.

Tours will be held rain or shine. The tour will be canceled in the case of extreme weather and refunds will be sent if the museum does have to cancel.

Please contact the Grimsby Museum for any questions you may have at museum-public@grimsby.ca or 905-945-5292. *This event is subject to a minimum registration.

Hamilton: Stories in the Stones

The Stories in the Stones Tours tell fascinating stories through free guided walking tours at Hamilton Cemetery each Saturday between May to November.

Local historian and storyteller Robin McKee guides you through historic Hamilton Cemetery with various themed tours he has created. Themed tours will include early settlers such as Robert Land and George Hamilton, victims of the Desjardins Railway Disaster.

Tours start at 11 a.m. at the Cemetery Gatehouse (777 York Blvd.) across from Dundurn Castle and run for approximately 1.5 hours. Tours take place rain or shine and tours and dates are subject to change.

They also offer a History Unearthed historical walking tour.

Kenora: Lake of the Woods Cemetery Walking Tour

$11.62 per person

Come and explore the dark side of Kenora’s past in the largest graveyard in Northern Ontario— the Lake of the Woods Cemetery.

The tour looks at Kenora’s history through the lens of true crime tales, and murder mysteries, the Ontario-Manitoba border war, sickness and disease, and one of the most famous (and grisliest) bank robberies in Canadian history. These true stories of real people combine to give a history of Kenora like you’ve never heard before.

We’ll explore these topics and more on this guided tour in Kenora’s silent city of the dead.

London: Mount Pleasant Cemetery Tour

Takes place on Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9.

1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. start times. $15 / person

Join us at the historic Mount Pleasant Cemetery for a tour diving into the history of the cemetery’s architecture and the unique ecosystem that make the grounds beautiful and serene. Learn details about the culture of death during the Victorian era, and the art and architecture carved into the monuments and gravestones at the Mount Pleasant site.

Niagara Falls: Drummond Hill Cemetery Tours

October 15, 16, 22, 23 at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m.

These tours offer a unique opportunity to discover Niagara Falls through a visit to one of the most historic cemeteries in Canada. Led by a costumed guide, the human drama unfolds as guests wander the grounds and happen upon theatrical performances that provide a glimpse into the lives of some of the people from our City’s history.

Ticket price $12 per person or $10 per museum member. Tickets must be purchased in advance; rain or shine and they are non-refundable. 

Post tour refreshments and open house are offered at Battle Ground Hotel Museum just across the street.

Niagara-on-the-Lake: Niagara’s Dark History Tour

This tour features only dark history and strange stories of Canada’s Prettiest Town, Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Featuring the true villain of the 1813 burning, a disgruntled British politician. With a disappearance that almost ended Freemasonry, the lover’s public execution and standing up to slavery with violence. This tour includes a leisurely walk through Ontario’s oldest cemetery, stories of Niagara’s daredevils and a hidden historic fort.

Owen Sound: Self-guided Cemetery tours

Greenwood Cemetery, “The People’s Cemetery,” is home to many of Owen Sound’s luminaries, from political leaders, ship captains, and Victoria Cross winners to remarkable women, African Americans, athletes, pioneers, and religious, business, and medical leaders. It was established in 1858.

The four self-guided walking tours available are Tour 1, 2, and 3 in Greenwood Cemetery and The People’s Cemetery tour. 

Ottawa: The Beechwood Stroll

The Beechwood Cemetery Stroll is a guided historical tour through Beechwood, the National Cemetery of Canada. 

Tours are given on the last Sunday of each month, rain or shine, and begin at 1 p.m. Tours start from the Beechwood National Memorial Centre, located just off the Beechwood Avenue entrance.

The Beechwood Cemetery Stroll is led by trained volunteers and focuses on local history and notable features and sections within this National Historic Site. The tour is free of charge, and is family friendly. The route for the Stroll is a gentle 1.5 hour walk and is wheelchair accessible.

Penetanguishene: Meet the Spirits of St. James on the Lines

Tour St. James on the Lines Cemetery by lantern encountering many spirits of Penetanguishene’s past. Discover the significant history of the church. Light refreshments to be served after your tour.

Tickets are $10 per person for this one-night-only event, happening October 14. There are two start times to choose from; 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. At the time of this writing, the 8 p.m. tour is sold out, but there are a few tickets left for the 7 p.m. tour.

Toronto: Toronto Cemetery Tours

Re-living history through guided tours of Toronto’s beautiful, historic cemeteries. Cemetery tours are announced regularly on their Facebook page. 


This is just a small selection of the cemetery tours being offered this year in Ontario. Some events will be announced closer to their event date and may be a one-night-only affair. I would recommend searching often for cemeteries near you so you don’t miss out on a fun opportunity. The other option is to do your own self-guided tour, by doing the research beforehand on historical, infamous, and famous graves. 

Have you been on a cemetery walking tour? What was your experience? I would love to read about it in the comments.

Thanks for reading!