‘Ghosts of Years Gone By’

Photos and Story by Clarington Tourism

If you have ever walked through an Ontario Provincial Park at dusk, just before the campfires are lit, you may have sensed something nostalgic that seems to stir up intrigue of settlers and pioneers past. Tales of ghosts seem to warrant telling at this twilight hour!

Darlington Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Ontario, had just that in store for us last night during their Annual “Ghosts of Years Gone By” Spirit Walk.

Along with 150  visiting guests, we enjoyed a beautiful August evening walk with Park staff, student interpreters in period costume, and perhaps some spirits of early founding residents to this area.

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Starting out east from the Log Cabin nestled along the shoreline of Lake Ontario, we followed the winding path to the beautiful outdoor Park Amphitheatre  

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Our Guide led us by lantern through a network of dirt and paved paths  throughout the Park’s four trails.   We were greeted rather spontaneously by a number of spirited  historical characters. Our first encounter was the 1794 loyalist settler Roger Conant, who was busy burying gold in Robinson Creek.

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As we bade our farewell to the Conant family and continued on our journey, even the lamp could not cast light on where we were headed next…

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We met a young settler girl along the way who enlightened us with tales of her daily pioneer chores.

Then, the striking sound of howling wolves moved us quickly along to the shelter of the log cabin!

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Inside we learned of early settler life for the Trull, Burk and Conant families.

These two generations of women were busy churning butter, grinding herbs and telling tales as they sat beside the fieldstone fireplace.

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With night falling and the sun setting low upon the beach, it cast an eerie pink glow as the mist rolled into the Bay

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The group travelled more tightly together now.  Young children bravely embraced the dark, but were cautioned by their teasing parents and grandparents to ‘watch for ghosts!’

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Part of the Park’s early Darlington history includes a small family cemetery; we were directed to it by flashlight

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Along the way we met some odd relics

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The crowd seemed to become more quiet the farther we travelled down the trail to the cemetery (even the parents!)

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Announcing their displeasure of our presence at their gravesite,  Samuel Burk and his wife Mary Van Camp gave account of their right to rest in peace!

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It was time to return to the Park store and bid farewell, when one last character appeared and met us with a blast! He was determined to protect us from ‘ravaging wolves’ and created quite a stir when he mistakenly directed his threat upon  some of our leashed pets.  After his self correction and then a wrestle with stuffed wolf, he ran off into the deep, dark forest.

After applause, we said goodnight to our new ‘old’ friends, and the children were happily off to bed at their campsite!

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THANKS TO ALL THE STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS AT DARLINGTON PROVINCIAL PARK FOR SUCH GREAT ENTERTAINMENT!

If you missed this evening of ghostly tales and are dying to attend a Spirit Walk, there are ghosts aplenty appearing in nearby Bowmanville  the month of October.  Join Clarington Museum and their  ghostly guides on Thursday evenings as they lead you across the museum grounds and through historic downtown Bowmanville sharing other worldly accounts from the town’s early history!

Or experience a cemetery walk in Bowmanville  on Sept 21st

Call 905.623.2734 to reserve or email info@claringtonmuseums.com 

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