Have you heard of these mysteries?
Unexplained footsteps. Sea serpents. Flying rocks. Uncover some strange but true stories from South Eastern Ontario! Mysterious tales add to the intrigue of visiting the region and exploring local haunts. Keep these stories in mind the next time you’re visiting South Eastern Ontario with your travel companion!
The Local Bermuda Triangle
Did you know that a stretch of water near Prince Edward County is awash in mystery? A small stretch of water off the shores of Prince Edward County has played host to shipwrecks, airplane mishaps, strange sightings and even disappearances. Known as the Marysburgh Vortex, it got some media attention over the summer, when Global News identified more than 300 ships that have met their watery end there. Also, at least 40 airplanes have plummeted into the water. Altogether, that’s a higher concentration of shipwrecks and planes crashed than in the legendary Bermuda Triangle.
Reeling In Some Big Ones
The St. Lawrence and Kingston area has long since been known for sightings of sea serpent type creatures. Thousand Islands Life Magazine notes that a sea serpent was documented numerous times in the mid-1800s on the States side of the St. Lawrence River across from Gananoque. Could it be the same one that got to be famous around Kingston? Between 1833 and 1933 there were hundreds of sightings of a sea serpent near Kingston in Lake Ontario. It even earned the fabled creature a nickname of Kingstie. Stories swirled about the snake-like beast at least 40 feet long, with a ridge along its back and sharp teeth. Almost all people who saw the serpent said they thought it was a log, floating on the surface of the water – until it started to move. In 1913, the steamer, America, was reportedly sailing around Bell’s Point at the head of Wolfe Island when the passengers and crew spotted a large creature which they guessed to be almost 20 feet long. The stories have long since faded into lore, but newspaper articles at the time heightened fears so much that ladies refused to even dip their toes into the water to avoid an imagined attack. Those must have been some long summers!
Years later, a mammoth fish of a different sort was apparently hooked in the Bay of Quinte area. In the book, Strange but True Tales from Eastern Ontario, it notes that in 1952 a father and son duo were fishing in the Bay of Quinte area and reeled in a giant sturgeon weighing in at more than 200 lbs. and measuring seven and a half feet!
UFOs In SEO
Back in 1915, the 1000 Islands region had a UFO invasion that is largely unexplained. According to the Historical Society of Ottawa, and as historically reported in The Globe, on Feb. 14 of that year, Brockville’s Mayor, Allan Donaldson and three police officers saw two aircraft lights passing over the St. Lawrence River and moving in the direction of Ottawa. As they moved across the river, they dropped fireballs into the water. Then a third and fourth flying machine passed over Brockville. The Mayor of Gananoque had heard two unknown aircraft overheard, too, just moments before. That prompted Mayor Donaldson to report to the Prime Minister Robert Borden, telling of the unidentified aircraft crossing the St. Lawrence and heading towards Ottawa. Borden leaped into action as only six months previously Canada became involved in the First World War and local tensions were high. The Chief of the Dominion Police ordered the lights of Parliament Hill extinguished and blinds drawn in the city for fear of an air raid. In the following days, it came to light that celebrations across the border had set off fireworks with fire balloons. However, the public stayed skeptical. According to the book, Mysteries of Ontario, tales soon came east from north of Toronto about hovering “aeroplanes” over residential areas and from Guelph about three soundless lights passing over the agricultural college – on the same day as the Brockville sightings.
Lake On The Mountain
It shouldn’t be possible. But the turquoise water of Lake on the Mountain is exactly that: a mysterious lake on the top of a mountain. Sitting almost 62 metres above the Bay of Quinte, the pool of water is a real head-scratcher. Gorgeous views from several platforms and picnic areas made this provincial park a popular spot, but many visitors don’t realize that the Lake has a rare constant flow of fresh water – and it’s not fully understood where it comes from! The County even notes that the lake defies all known geographical and geological theory, a natural curiosity with a constant flow of clean, fresh water with no apparent source.
Find What’s Lost
Phantom footsteps and the spirit of a little girl wandering the property – with so much emotion and intrigue wrapped up here, it’s a small wonder people have documented supernatural experiences at The Lost Villages Museum. This park-like setting includes 10 heritage buildings, moved and restored to Ault Park near Long Sault from The Lost Villages. The real buildings commemorate places, families, businesses, and close-knit communities that were displaced in the name of progress for the St. Lawrence Seaway and International Hydro Electric project. The communities were inundated with water on July 1, 1958 when the land was purposely flooded by the government for the newly created St. Lawrence. According to information from The Haunted Walk, which has held events at The Lost Villages Museum previously, four of the buildings have unexplained reports of strange shadows, moving objects, phantom voices and the sound of footsteps coming from empty rooms. Perhaps more than just the buildings were relocated!
Did you know that if you have a keen eye and know where to look, you may see ancient Indigenous pictographs near Brockville among the 1000 Islands? Iron oxide illustrations on rock faces occur across the Great Lakes region, with several historically noted around Brockville. A book delving into such paintings from across Ontario in the 1960s, noted one in the Brockville Narrows, “just inside the shield formation of the Thousand Islands on a granite wall.” It’s located at Hillcrest, west of the city, and depicts a 12-inch reddish human-type figure without a head near a shallow cave, according to an article published by Thousand Islands Life. Another more visible pictograph is located at the Fulford property on a limestone rock face featuring a canoe with six occupants and something below the canoe which has been interpreted as someone overboard, according to the book Mysterious Brockville 2.
Dive Into Mystery
Exploring what lies beneath the smooth surface of the water is as intriguing as it gets. South Eastern Ontario is known as a haven for freshwater scuba diving enthusiasts as real-life shipwrecks rest at the bottom of the St. Lawrence River provide fodder for the imagination. Fresh-water wreck diving allows an unforgettable underwater experience as ships of all sizes have sunk at various times during shipping, commercial and recreational use – some with a shady past. Dive in to see a unique perspective on the underwater sculptures at Centeen Park on Brockville’s shoreline. Get in touch with a local diving company to explore further and learn more about shipwrecks here.
This Rock Sure Rolled…
During the building of the Rideau Canal, rock was either excavated by hand or by using explosives – in this case, by gun powder. According to Rideau Canal historian and researcher, Ken Watson, blasting was the only way to excavate the upper lock pit at Kingston Mills in the solid bedrock during the winter of 1831. Knowing that, picture this: Robert Drummond, the contractor in charge of building the locks and dam at Kingston Mills, was eating lunch in his home about 600 feet from where they were blasting at the upper lock. Some other men joined him only to be interrupted in the most terrifying way: with a 700 lbs. rock flying through the side of the house! Remarkably, no one was injured. Unpredictable black powder aside, the question still remains – how did such a heavy rock travel more than 600 feet from the upper lock pit to rip through his house?
South Eastern Ontario is full of intrigue and awe waiting to be discovered! What are your strange but true tales?