1st article ever written —
Bellevue Mansion was the subject of Daniel’s (owner and tour guide at The Ghost Walks) first article. It was written in 2001, not long after the mansion was demolished.
His first time writing about ghosts. It led to the creation of Haunted Hamilton and in a way, to the Ghost Walks.
How I heard about Bellevue — by Daniel
“Ironically, I first hear about Bellevue Mansion in Hamilton while living in Toronto back in 1999. My ex and I moved in together while she attended school for one year.
“We didn’t know anyone in the big city, so quiet nights were spent around the TV in our Danforth area one bedroom. We got stir crazy and a bit dangerous.
“One night we broke out our Ouija board, purchased from a garage sale for $0.25. Set up the board with a microcassette recorder sitting on the table a few feet away.
“Starting, I said, “Spirit, are you here?”
“The planchette dragged slowly to “Yes”. I, being less patient in my youth, stopped the session. My ex suggesting we listen to the tape.
“Silence, a bit of static, my voice asking for spirits and something else. A man’s voice, not mine, tight against the mic whispered, “Yeeesss”.
“That night we slept with the lights on.
“The next day I searched the Web for anyone who could explain what happened. Found a forum belonging to the pioneers of the ghostly in Canada… the Toronto Ghosts & Research Society.
“I put up a message. Ignored by the admins, but answered by another visitor who said, “I’m a producer”. He and a friend were creating a ghost show for TV. They wanted to hear our EVP, the ghostly voice.
“We met at a noisy Toronto pub. The producers took the recorder into a quiet room, then returning to politely tell us, “it’s a fake”.
“Accusation aside, we liked them. The conversation got deep; their love of ghost stories shown. The subject of Hamilton reached, we told them it’s our hometown. They praised the city’s ghost stories and then told us about a house.
“Saying, “It’s nothing like we’ve ever seen”. Legends of demonic possession causing a father to murder his family, and a son from a later family doing the same. Both killers hanging from the widow’s walk by their own hands.
“We were excited and intrigued to see this house.
“My ex asked, “where is it?”
“A quick chirp, “We want to be the first ones. To expose it. Sorry”.
We Found It
“We found it two weeks later. Not difficult for born and raised Hamiltonians.
“Bellevue mansion, located on the mountain at the end of Concession, edge of Sam Lawrence Park. The house abandoned for 20 years. Only local kids experiencing its history, until the day we visited.
“Many have questioned this, but I swear to all readers… the wood covering the front door was open (you can see in the photo). No force was used to access the house.
“We wandered through for a couple hours, taking turns with the camera, photo after photo.
“Leaving that day, we swore to return. This would never happen. In the Summer of 2000, a landowner defied the city and demolished Bellevue in the middle of the night.
“I visited the next morning. A once beautiful mansion now piles of wood, debris and limestone in the muddy earth. Contractors loading rubble into pickup trucks.
“We had to tell the story. We had a duty, owning the last photos ever taken. This became my first ghost article and the reason Haunted Hamilton was created.
“Bellevue never left my mind. I often think what could have been done with such a place. Enhancing local tourism, and in the realm of ghosts. This, we’ll never know.”
Bellevue was loved
A Quick Bellevue History
His name was John Bradley. An Irish immigrant rags to riches story. Would become a developer in the growing Barton Township (now Hamilton).
Starting with the Court House Hotel, then accumulating land and buildings in the emerging core.
John fought as a lieutenant against Mackenzie’s 1837 Rebellion. Just like Isaac Buchanan (Auchmar) and Allan MacNab (Dundurn), both darlings of local history. And just like them, he’d go into politics, eventually serving on the Board of Police.
In 1849 he built his family’s oasis away from the busy core. At the precipice of Hamilton Mountain, he erected Bellevue Mansion.
Described as Neo-classical, just like Dundurn Castle. A very similar design to Whitehern Mansion (featured on the Downtown Ghost Walks), including an identical grand staircase.
- Bradley and family stayed until 1862
- Bellevue is sold it to George H. Gillespie
- In 1878 the Bradley family returns via John’s grandson
- In 1883, little Bradley sells it to Joseph Pim
- Pim adds the iconic widow’s walk, also known as a “belvedere” — this is where the connecting street gets its name
- In 1926, rented by Elsie Buchanan (Issac’s youngest daughter). It’s from this time we get a great quote from Elsie’s adopted daughter Deb about living in Bellevue at Canada Day
- “A gracious lawn stretched from the front door to the edge of the mountain with a flag pole right at the edge. While we were there, there was a very special July first celebration – for some reason, it had had to be postponed and that year they had all the bells and whistles – and we had the perfect place to watch – not only the fireworks all over the city but the Strongman Road below us had been closed off for the Civic display. As well as the usual rockets etc they lit different colours of Railway flares. Very impressive. Another different memory was standing at that same place on a Sunday evening and listening to the bells from some Carillon in the city, playing hymns. A song we were learning in school at that time was so appropriate “Those evening bells – those evening bells, how sweet the song their ringing bells.”
- R.H. Innes buys it in 1935 and stays 36 years, restoring the house
- In 1971, sold to developer Clair Sellens who plans a redevelopment
- Mr Sellens’ plan doesn’t work and the house is abandoned.
29 years later (2001), after being designated a heritage site, Bellevue Mansion is sadly demolished in the middle of the night.
**Thanks to the wonderful Fan Page called Auchmar for Bellevue’s connection to the Buchanan’s
What about the murders?
It’s only a legend —
Legend states a father was possessed by demons haunting the house. Just like the story of Amityville, one night he wanders the house with an axe. Room to room, swinging it down on his sleeping family.
Then up to the attic with a rope, fashioning a loop, and hanging under the widow’s walk.
Another family moves in. The son possessed by this demon, changing a child into a killer. The boy visits death on his siblings and parents before also hanging from the belvedere.
Research was done by Daniel while writing that original article. No account of a family being murdered happened in this house. Definitely not two families.
There is a CHCH documentary. Filmed many years back and detailing the legends. However, the price for a copy was too high.
If anyone has this documentary or knows what it contains, please contact us
The clairvoyant —
A local psychic visited Bellevue Mansion years before Daniel. A friend suggesting it after hearing the legends. Her goal, feel the energy.
Standing outside, she focused on the front door. A panoramic view of Hamilton to her back. Movement caught through a second-floor window.
A woman stared down at the psychic. She noticed the woman’s blazing red hair. The spirit running from one window to the next, and back, before disappearing back into the house.
A couple minutes passed before a man with brown hair stomped out towards the psychic. Coming closer, anger across a face that met hers, just inches away when he screamed and vanished.
The cautionary Ouija tale
Told to us by a friend of the Ghost Walks. About a girl close to this friend. We’ll call her Mary (not her real name).
One night, Mary, her boyfriend and some friends visited Bellevue Mansion.
It’s Halloween and stories of the house were famous. What better time, as the veil to our dead is thin. They wanted to know the ghosts of this legendary mansion.
Their best method… the Ouija board, a dreaded divination tool.
That night they entered the house around 11 pm. The kids explored for about an hour. Mary never forgot her disgust, seeing such a beautiful place so decayed. The worst was the back room, filled with mouldy debris from a collapsed ceiling.
The witching hour reached as the clock stuck 12. They gathered on the living room floor. The Ouija set and all four put two fingers on the planchette.
Mary’s boyfriend summoning the ghosts of the killers, the father and little boy. Nothing. Again calling out, they sat in silence as minutes passed with nothing.
About to end the session, the kids heard a light knocking from the ceiling. Like shoes pacing on the second floor.
Quiet and still, the knocking got louder, the walls were vibrating down to the floor under them. It became deafening as the house seemed to shake around them. Everyone ran for the door.
Mary tripped to the floor, looking up to see her friends running. She yelled out, her boyfriend turning as Mary reached out. A pressure tightened around her ankle, like a hand gripping hard as a vice. The ground dragged against her arm as Mary was being pulled backwards.
It released, she screamed and looked up to see her boyfriend was gone. Mary sprinted out and away from Bellevue Mansion.
At school the next day, Mary refused to talk about what happened. She broke up with her boyfriend.
Read about Hamilton’s Whitehern Mansion, a haunted house similar in design to Bellevue Manison