Hamilton, Ontario, Canada | Address: 51 Stuart Street - MAP

THE CUSTOM HOUSE

Over 160 years of active history & changes makes for interesting ghosts.

Featuring the oldest known ghost in Hamilton and more ghost stories than we can feature here.

Expert stone masons built a beautiful testament to the prosperity of Hamilton in the 1860's. At the height of port traffic, this building stood guard over a shoreline that has since reseeded into the harbour.

For over 160 years The Custom House has stood watch from current day Stuart Street. It's housed many different energies over the years, each lending to stories of ghosts that make up its character today.

Over the years it's been...

  • a custom house to tax goods coming into the city
  • a school, the first YWCA in Hamilton, a homeless shelter
  • a macaroni factory
  • and a museum

This lineup of unique uses creates a place so different in the paranormal world. It's no surprise this place is strongly haunted.

The Dark Lady

Believed to be an account of the oldest known ghost in Canada. Written by Alexander Wingfield, a one-time landing-waiter at The Custom House.

Also an accomplished writer of songs and poems, he would pen "The Woman in Black" in 1873.

The ghosts – long ago – used to dress in pure white,
Now they’re got on a different track, -
For the Hamilton Ghost seems to take a delight
To stroll ‘round the city in black

Pat Duffy, who saw her in Corktown last night,
Has been heard to-day telling his friend
That she stood seven feet and nine inches in height,
And wore a large Grecian Bend.

A “Peeler” who met her, turned blue with affright,
And in terror he clung to a post;
His hair (once a carroty red) has turned white,
Since the moment he looked on the ghost.

Her appearance was frightful to gaze on, he said, -
It filled him with horror complete;
For she looked unlike anything, living or dead,
That ever he’d seen on his beat.

Her breath seemed as hot as a furnace; besides, -
It smelt strongly of sulphur and gin,
Two horns (a yard long) stuck straight out of her head,
And her hoofs made great clatter and din.

Her air was majestic, and terribly grand,
As she passed, muffled up in her veil;
A bottle of “ruin” she held in each hand,
And she uttered a low, plaintive wail;

"There is rest for the weary, but no rest for me;
I cannot find rest if I try,
Three months and three days I have been on the spree;
(Mr. Mueller, ‘How’s that for high?’)

“I have mixed in the world, both with ‘spirits’ and men, -
Once more with the spirits I’ll go.”
She stopped, took a sniff of the “ruin”, and then
She popped into the cellar below.

He could hear her again, crying out from her den –
“To-night you will see me no more;
But I’ll meet with you Saturday evening at ten,
By the fountain that stands in the Gore.”

Many historians agree that the poem was not about a ghost, but about fighting the demon of alcoholism. What nobody can deny is the focus this has created on a truly haunted building.

Running into the "Dark Lady"

James & the Shadow --
A former tour guide with the Ghost Walks, James, was mentally preparing for his tour. Sitting on the floor in a back corner of a back room, he first noticed the shadow on the wall.

It rose up as if forming into a shape. He was shocked to see a woman standing in the stream of light coming from the hallway. He looked around the opposite corner and nobody was there, no person that could physically cause this shadow.

James was frozen in that corner for over a minute before the shadow disappeared just as the coordinator came in to summon him for the tour.

A night of possession --
During Ghost Hunts inside The Custom House, the host Daniel would always end the evening with a seance.

On one occasion, the energy was negative and strong. During the seance, Daniel heard a gasp from behind him. A young girl (around 18 years old) was shaking. Not like she was cold, it's the kind you might do if you were sick, something uncontrollable.

Daniel saw this before hearing another gasp. Another young girl was shaking. The seance was ended and on-site psychic were called on to help. Both girls were fine.

Fast forward a couple months and we find ourselves inside a unpleasant building. The energy was much worse right from the start. Daniel was locked out when the dead bolt lock turned on its own, and the entire night was filled with tension and a strange lack of communication.

We were all worried about the seance that night, but went ahead with it anyway.

Daniel was talking about the evening's results, when he heard that familiar sound. A gasp from one corner, another from behind him and another. Three girls (around 18 years old) were all affected at the same time.

Daniel ends the seance and lets the psychics go to work. However, this time would be different.

He gathered up a small circle of willing participants (no younger girls) with the goal of using a Ouija Board to find out why the Dark Lady was causing such strife.

Communication begins and Daniel has just one question... "Why are you so angry?" The answer, "P-o-e-m". She doesn't like the poem by Alexander Wingfield. We had read it on every single Ghost Walk for almost a decade.

Daniel promised we would never read it in the building again, ending the session. Then a gasp is heard. He spun to see a 16-year-old girl had snuck into the circle. She ran out the front door and vomited.

All Hunts since the promise were much more positive until the last one in 2015.

Dark Lady judges kids --
In 1997, two separate days would create an interesting history of the ghost of this dark haired woman in the building.

It started when a local politician came into The Custom House for a speech. He told the volunteer, Israel, a story.

"When I was a kid in the 70's. I played hooky from my school, the one on MacNab. I walked around to Stuart Street and was going by the Custom House.

"I looked up and saw a woman looking down at me. She had dark hair, and I could see the top of an old fashion looking dress.

"What disturbed me most was the look of sheer anger on her face. Oh, and she was transparent. I could see right through her.

"I swear the woman just vanished while I stared at that window"

The politician finished his speech and left without ghostly incident. Israel thought he'd heard the last of this, until 2 older women visited the museum one afternoon in the same year.

They started talking to Israel, and the subject switch to the ghosts. One of the women started.

"Funny you mention the ghosts. We had an experience. Back when we were kids, in the 50's, the two of us and a third friend decided to skip a half day of school. We went to the one on MacNab.

"We walked around the corner and were coming down Stuart Street, when we notice a woman..."

Israel, cutting her off: "On the second floor?"

Woman: "Yes"

Israel: "She had a disturbing look of anger on her face?"

Woman: "Yes"

Israel: "And you could see through her?"

Woman: "Yes"

Two different dates in the same year of 1997. Two separate experiences from different generations all talking about the same ghost in the same manner.

Hard to believe this is a coincidence.

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The Custom House, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada