Many people have asked us about the ghosts on our Historic Burlington Ghost Walks so here is some of the history and accounts of the places we visit on the tour. The Paletta Lakefront Mansion is not on the Ghost Walk but we do private tours and investigations at the Mansion. This is the eighth page from our Ghost Tourism Files.
Burlington Ghost Walks>Joseph Brant Museum >Haunted Soldier Statue >Emma's Back Porch >Magnetic Hill > GhostFiles: Case Study - Paletta Lakefront Mansion
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
"The Ghost of Dorothy"
The Burlington Estate, originally known as the old McNichol House is located on 4250 Lakeshore Road betwwen Appleby Line and Walkers Line. In 2001, the house and surrounding lake area has been transformed into a beautiful city landmark, now called Paletta Lakefront Park and Mansion. It stands on 14 acres of land once owned by Laura Secord.Laura Secord lived to the age of 93 and never had her picture taken, always avoiding the camera.This is why a silhouette was used in place of a photo to promote her.
What's the most fascinating thing about the Mansion is it's second floor where 2 bedroom suites were combined into one to create banquet and meeting space in the new Great Room-known as the haunted room. Though the owners don't like to admit, staff, tour guides and visitors all claim the Paletta is haunted and has been for years ever since the days when Dorothy McKay and her mother Edythe McKay lived here.(photo on right shows a night shot of the front entrance of Paletta with ghost orb appearing by right main floor window). The presence felt by most people is the daughter of Edythe Merriam McKay who built the mansion in 1930 as a summer house. Young Dorothy McKay (later Dorothy McNichol) had a strong affinity with the family cottage where she kept numerous cats, held her wedding celebrations here and lived during the summer months until 2 years before her death in 1985. It seems after her death Dorothy has now come back as a child like ghost with her mother who both haunt and linger on after death very much attached to the house and it's memories. One of the first sightings of a ghostly apparition was about 12 years ago, when a young girl was exploring the then run down vacant Mansion with her father. The father was startled when his daughter was talking to someone or something about kitty cats. Though the man saw no one else in the upstairs room, the child insisted she was speaking to a woman in a night gown and also saw a young girl about her age playing and running around including hearing the sound of a cat. (Dorothy was known to have up to 14 cats as pets). The room they were standing in was the original bedrooms of Dorothy and her mother, Edyth which faced looking out to the lake. The rooms were later combined to form one large room for banquets.
Photo on left is a figure appearing in the upper floor window which looks very much like a child. (Photographed by Patricia Hogge-2001).This photo was taken from a magazine on the Paletta and then the magazine was pulled and never published again. Is this the ghost of Dorothy seen forever looking out to the lake from her once bedroom window? The child ghost, Dorothy has come up in conversation again recently at a Donor's Gala Banquet held in the Great Room -the haunted room when a crystal ceiling light started to flicker than flash on and off repeatedly, then shut off altogether. Some of the attendees at the banquet included Gord Tait and his wife Barbara, who knew all about the lighting in the Mansion, since they voluntarily spent the last year removing, restoring and re-installing every light fixture in the mansion. When the lights went out, they were horrified. The story of the Mansion's ghosts grows more intriguing now that Patricia Hogg and Patrick Cross have captured ghostly images on film. Holding a photo print of the mansions exterior, Patricia points to a silhouette in the upstairs window of the sun room looking out to the lake off Dorothy's old bedroom. It had form, like a small figure moving. The picture now takes it's place in a photo album at Paletta Mansion's Guest House alongside the photos of Burlington Artist-Robert Bateman. Other reports since the opening of the Mansion for banquets and weddings, report people seeing an image of a Butler all smartly dressed in 1940's style suit with bowtie appearing at the front window beside the entrance to the Mansion and greeting people as they near the front door. Several times, the front door to the Mansion has opened mysteriously on it's own, even though it needs to be open by a lift latch on the handle. The mansion has a large attic. This was originally designed with 5 small bedrooms in mind, it was primarily used by the McNichol girls as a "play and dress-up" area and storage space for the house. It is now used for offices for the staff and is not accessable to the public. In a few occassions, the staff here have heard sounds of young girls voices and footsteps walking around the attic, yet when they go to look, no girls are there.
Photo on left was shot at night, same upper floor window, only this time a ghostly face appears staring out (middle of window) as the curtains were opening and closing on their own.(This photo was shot by Patrick Cross with witnesses who saw a moving face and figure in the window with the window curtains closed then open again on their own. Ghost "orb" also appears beside the window). Other witnesses have claimed seeing ghost balls of light outside at night around the circular driveway front entrance. At one time, horses and carriages were driven to the front entrance to drop off it's guests for the many summer galas that were hosted here. The Dollhouse, an original playhouse was built for Dorothy and other children, came fully equipped with electricity and running water. It is the only known heritage childrens' playhouse left in Ontario to still be standing today. The Dollhouse is also known to have its share of "spooks". Being haunted by a ghost of another child crying in the back of the Dollhouse, saying, "help me" and asking where his parents are. It is not known who this other child ghost is. The Mansion is also known to have a ghost of a maid and young child appear in the library coming through the wall and then fade away seconds later. The bridge surrounding the outskirts of the Lakefront Mansion also known as Shore Acres, is known to have ghosts appear of Indian Spirits heard talking around and under the bridge. Mohawk and Objibway Indians were known to hunt and fish in this area by the creek in the 1800's when Indians and British Troops were travelling on their way to and from Fort George and Niagara On The Lake. Indians at that time were part of the British Forces fighting the Americans up on Lake Erie.
Newspaper stories include a November 16, 1996 article published in the Hamilton Spectator then known as the McNichol House, titled: "Ghosts Caught In The Middle?" by Alana Perkins. It mentioned a Mrs. Donovan-Neale who was one of the first people to experience ghosts on the second floor. The Burlington Post also featured an article, on July 23, 1997-"McNichol Has Starring Roll", where the McNichol House was used for the set of a movie, titled: "Moonlight Becomes You" with actress Donna Mills. The Hamilton Spectator next published another article on July 31, 1997-"Movie Crew Inspires Resident To Help Save McNichol Mansion", which was about saving the McNichol House landmark and restoring it. (These articles are only on display in the Gatehouse at the Paletta Mansion).
*Special appearance of Robert Bateman-Famous WildLife Artist with Patrick Cross-Burlington Mall, November 12th, 2004. Both are strong supporters of the Paletta Mansion's Shoreacres and Wetlands parkland area for the conservation of wildlife.
Captured!Photo-The Ghostly image of a little girl in middle of photo believed to be Dorothy appears in the Library with a ghost cat by her foot. Photo taken on Paletta's Grand Opening Day, July of 2002 *This is the only known photo to capture the ghost of Dorothy.(photo by Patrick Cross-copyright 2002)
(Photo on left is another night shot of the Paletta's front entrance. If you look closely, you can see a figure appear on the left in the main window what looks like a Butler staring out, again the figure was moving around at 2:00 am when no one was inside the Mansion). Today, the Paletta Mansion has a variety of elegantly, appointed rooms most with fireplaces and beautifully decorated to reflect the Victorian Theme from it's heyday as a fine meeting place.The banquet rooms can accomodate groups of 20 for breakfast meetings and dinners up to 100 guests for banquets and wedding receptions. There is also a modern elevator to the rooms upstairs should you not wish to take the stairs. One of the first people to book the mansion was Doreen McRitchie of Burlington for a Toast Master's Club Meeting on January 16th, 2001. The Paletta Park with Shore Acres Creek running through it is home to wetlands for bird watching, waterfont nature trails, cycle paths for bicycles and a glorious panoramic view of the lake which has formal gardens and terraces for outdoor celebrations. Tours for the Mansion at Lakeshore Road, can be booked by appointment only by contacting Jennifer Kaye or Adrian at 905-335-7600 or 905-632-7809. Burlington Ghost Walks does not walk to the Mansion on our tours since it is 2.5kms from Emma's Back Porch Restaurant-our first stop on the Ghost Walk tour.Ghost Walks run from May to December weather permitting, reservations are encouraged since we get very busy starting in the Fall.
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Photo below is of a ghost orb caught on film in the main hallway entrance, Paletta's Grand Opening Day in July of 2002.
Next photo below is of a white ghost orb caught on film travelling by the side wall of the front of the Paletta, 12:45am, July 6, 2002. Many orbs have been seen with a lot of ghost activity happening late at night including lights go on and off upstairs when no one is in the building. *Exclusive Paletta Mansion Ghost Photos by Patrick Cross-June, July 2002*
Click on the photo to see recent updated ghost photos of Paletta Mansion
Visit our other Ghost Files history pages with hauntings in Burlington
Burlington Ghost Walks and Tours - copyright protected 2001-2013 All photos, text, research copyright Patrick Cross - paranormal researcher, Information supplied courtesy of staff and owners of Paletta Mansion. Reproduction by written permission only