History of Fort Niagara
The Castle of Old Fort Niagara was built in 1726 by the French. Then taken by the Americans, then the British, and back to the Americans again after the War of 1812.
For a more detailed history, see Old Fort Niagara official page. We’ll focus on the ghost!
America’s Oldest Legend
The British had taken Fort Niagara by force in 1759. The story of the Headless Soldier was told as the French walked out. Then passed along to the Americans, told today by tour guides, and of course on the Ghost Walks of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
A Fight – –
The legend tells of a winter party in the Castle. The French invited native women from a nearby village, and about halfway through two drunk soldiers noticed a beautiful woman standing alone.
Seeing the competition, they had to prove who was the better man.
Swords drawn, fighting back and forth and neither man could gain the advantage even though both were very drunk.
One forces the other back to a spiral staircase. Climbing backwards, the other tries to keep balanced but slips, exposing his torso.
A kick to the chest and he lands back first on the stones, watching helplessly as his friend and fellow soldier drives a sword into his chest.
Getting rid of the Body – –
Looking down on what he’d done, the soldier knows punishment for this was dead. He had to get rid of the body.
“Dismember it!”, his own drunken voice said. Chopping at the neck until a head rolls off. Picks it up by the hair and throws it far into Lake Ontario. Then back to start on the arms when he heard it. Footsteps from upstairs.
Picked up the corpse and looking around the room for anything. He saw it… the Castle’s indoor well! He dropped the body into the darkness.
Ghost Story (not featured on the tour) – –
A former manager named Ray was a big believer in the ghosts of Old Fort Niagara. He had many experiences over the years, but one night stood out, all starting with Ray locking up Castle.
He had turned the lights off before walking out. Down the path, Ray stops to see ground lit up around him. Turning to see a light was on. Looked like the second floor chapel.
Ray goes back in, looks around the building and in the Chapel to see it’s still empty. Turns the lights off again, then out the door and down the path when the grounds light up again.
Ray spins to see light from the Chapel and two other rooms. He runs back in, looks around, turns them off, and hurries down the path as everything is lit up again.
Proving his strong belief in the ghosts and desire to get home, Ray stomps back into the building. Swings open the light panel and touches the switches before yelling into the empty Castle,
Ray flips the switches and walks down the path. The mischievous, yet respectful ghost leaves the lights off.