Original Dundas District School article written by Suzanne Bourret
From Hamilton Spectator Article
Veronika Lessard is certain she is sometimes watched while she works.
Tony Vermeer has heard people talking and has seen shadows of people in a building that’s empty.
Lessard and Vermeer are custodians at Dundas District School on King Street West in Dundas. Many people who attended it, built in 1929, believe it is haunted.
There are two issues contributing to the spooky stories of this old school. On Christmas night in 1934, 18 people were killed when two trains collided near the Dundas station on the side of the escarpment just above the school. The basement of the school was reportedly used as a makeshift morgue.
As well, a group of five caretakers at the school made a pact some 20 years later that whoever died first would come back to haunt the others. It was Russell’s idea, says John, the foreman at the time who still lives in Dundas. (Russell’s family and John have asked their last names not be used.)
And it was Russell who died first. He was the clown of the group who loved to play practical jokes. And he was also responsible for the third floor of Dundas District School where he kept it, “as if it was the parliament buildings. He was a perfectionist,” says John, who worked at the school for 18 years and admits he heard some queer stories from other custodians over the years.
Lessard started working as a custodian at the school six years ago.
“The third floor was my floor to do,” she says. “The first time something strange happened was one night when I left my bucket of water to go down for supper with the other custodians on the first floor. When I came back, the floor in 306 had been totally washed and the bucket had been left in front of the door right across the hall from where I’d left it!
I thought, ‘Gee, I wouldn’t mind if this happened more often’.”
The other custodians told her it was Russell.
“One night, about 11:30, Tony and I were heading out the door to go home when we heard the voice of a little old lady from the top of the stairs saying, ‘Help me’. We sure left in a hurry.”
But the most dramatic incident happened to Lessard one night last winter during the March Break.
“I was coming up on the third floor in 305, the computer room. I was up on a ladder cleaning the lights. I heard the clanking of keys and I thought, ‘Oh, Tony is just out to tease me.’ So I said, ‘Tony, is that you?’ But there was no answer. The jingling of the keys went on a couple of more times.”
“Then Tony came in to help me and said it wasn’t him. We both heard the jingling again. I said, ‘Well, it couldn’t be you because you’re here with me.’ Then I said, ‘Whoever it is, show me who you are’. That’s when I saw a shadow of a tall, lanky man walking by the door in the hall jingling his keys and smiling at me. He had the biggest smile. I’ll never forget that sight.”
Tony Vermeer has had his share of strange events, too.
“One night I saw five people walking down the back stairs. Another night I heard someone walking overhead all night. I went up to the third floor where the lights had all been turned off and the lights were on.”
Neither Lessard of Vermeer are fond of being in the basement where the auditorium is now located. ”
I was down there one night mopping and I saw shadows moving. Then I couldn’t move my mop. It was like someone was standing on it. So I told them to get off it. I got my job done real quick.”
Heard Whistling – –
Both of them have heard whistling.
And motion detectors record showing movement when no one is in the school.
“Once in a while I get the cold willies and I want to get out. But it’s exciting and fun to work here. You have to have a sense of humour,” says Vermeer.
Principal Peter Greenberg scoffed at all the stories until his own strange experience. It occurred three weeks after he started the job last September.
Greenberg came to the school to catch up on some paperwork one Saturday morning about 7:45.
“A security guard outside told me there had been a break-in because the motion detector had gone off. The police searched the second floor and found nothing. There was a heavy dew on the ground but there were no foot prints anywhere. I went across the street for some breakfast, then came back and started to work in my office.
“Then I heard locker doors banging and clanging so I called the police and left the building. About six squad cars turned up and I went into the school with this huge policeman. We heard glass breaking and all kinds of noise coming from the third floor. He was sure there were four or five kids up there trashing the place.
“We walked up the stairs and got up to the landing and the noise was still going on. He got out his can of pepper spray and told me to get behind him. As soon as he opened the door to the third floor all the noise stopped. No one was there and nothing had happened.”
It was completely bizarre, says Greenberg, who admits he was a little spooked for the next five or six Saturdays.
Submitted to The Ghost Walks from Kay
While walking her dog in the fields behind Dundas District, Kay took a break, sitting under her favorite tree. She felt uneasy, like somebody was watching her. Turned and looked towards the school as her dog did the same.
The dog barked as third floor lights started flickering. He kept barking, pulling Kay towards the school. She pulled him away from the field, back to the sidewalk in front of the school.
Kay thinks it was the caretaker, Russell, reaching out or showing anger. She was trespassing in the Dundas District field.
She knew about Russell because Kay attended Dundas District in the early 1990’s. Was always scared of the third floor, the basement and the school’s famous ghost.