Ontario, Canada – October 1999
What Horrors Hide in the Ottawa Valley???
(Aside from the marauding Liberal caucus)
Since it’s near Halloween, this article is about the scariest place in all of Ontario: the Ottawa Valley!
Man-eating bears! Polish vampires! Gawking Francophones! Gigantic sea-monsters! Drugged-out hippies! Radioactive rhubarb! Deadly bacteria! All 100% true! (with just a bit of my characteristic hyperbole).
The Ottawa Valley is in the Canadian Shield, a rocky, hilly area that can be desolate. With little local economy and little reason to keep people, the population has been shrinking for the past few decades. Towns and villages are sparsely populated and far from major urban areas. We all know what this kind of isolation does to people.
For one, they start to develop some bizarre traits. Like the weird “valley accent” that sounds remarkably like the cast of “Blair Witch” (seriously).
Just a few days ago the Ottawa Valley was in the news with a scandal that rocked our nation! Hideously deformed radioactive rhubarb have been found in Pembroke! Says one yokel, “It was unusually large rhubarb, but I don’t think it was mutant or anything like that”, Still, I wouldn’t put that in my pie!
But the Atomic Killer Rhubarb is but one of the bewitching and bewildering sites…
Monster Tour of the Ottawa Valley:
Vampires of Wilno
A small Polish hamlet hidden in the hills of the Shield has stories of vampires preying on the residents. Apparently, these stories are circulated more by the media, than by the locals. The truth, however, should never get in the way of a good story, especially around Halloween.
Seamonsters in Cobden Lake
Mussie, a monster like Nessie of Loch Ness. Some doe-eyed yokels claim to have spotted the monster in Cobden Lake. Though it may have been a couple of fisherman drunk on Labatt’s mistaking one of those water noodles or a shameless tourist ploy or a real live leftover from the Paleolithic era – you decide.
Killaloe hippies a la Charles Manson.
Well maybe not. For some reason, 60’s hippies started a few communes up in Killaloe and they have still survived with names like “Higher Ground” and “Farthest Out”. The village gift stores sell some of their "crafts" no doubt made of hemp.
Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories contaminating the Ottawa River. The pioneer of Canada’s nuclear program. They’ve been leaking radiation into the river for years now. This might explain the ample weirdness afoot in Renfrew County.
It actually is very interesting to tour one of these things. I went on it and enjoyed it. Until the end when we had to go through the radiation detector. I was the only one on the tour to set the alarm off. I had to get sweeped Karen Silkwood fashion.
Gawking freaks of Chapeau, Quebec. A town out of the Twilight Zone. Quebec is just across the river from Pembroke, and generally they are fine people there and very familiar with Ontarians. Not so in Chapeau. When we drove through town (searching for a chip wagon as a matter of fact) every single local stared at us. The kind of stare that suggests they have a third eye in the back of their head and we’d better watch out or I will use its powers against you. We left promptly without ever getting the french fries we so craved.
While in this part of Quebec, be sure to tune into the local radio stations. The French they speak there sure isn’t taught in any class. Instead of "oui" pronounced like our "we" imagine a duck with a sinus-condition quacking out "WAH!" Truly bizarre.
Fossils of creatures that are over 500 million years old have been found in the Bonnechere Caves. Who knows what subterranean mysteries still lurk within when the busloads of tourists are not present??
A note about Eganville: I was in a local restaurant (called Bo-Peep’s) and ordered a cheese sandwich for about $5. No sidedish of fries, and the sandwich was processed cheese on Wonder bread. I’m still mad, 8 years later!!!
Ghost town of Khartoum
The only earthly presence left of Khartoum is a street sign and a shack. What is in the shack that drove out the good folk of Khartoum? Is it a poltergeist or perhaps just a way stank outhouse?
Brudenell is another ghost town. It has some abandoned buildings and a 19th century cemetery.
Magnetic hill of Dacre
What supernatural force is it that defies Newtonian physics to propel cars up that hill? Surely it is the devil’s handiwork! My Dad and I had to try it about 4 times in his Escort before we noticed the “dramatic illusion”.
Evil itch at Golden Lake
Pretty little lake but don’t swim there, something lurks in those waters – the evil itch. A horrendous bacteria infestation will claim any victim foolish enough to swim in its waters. The heinous rash that results causes disfigurement and compulsive itching.
Ontario’s largest military base, the only big one left now that our military is gradually being channelled completely to Quebec. These military folk, having had their fill of rules, regulation, and regimen unleash themselves on the neighbourhood bars. Trouble regularly ensues.
My brush with terror came when we visited Alqonquin Provincial Park. Black bears have been known to kill unwary campers (thought admittedly it’s more often people’s fault rather than the bear’s). A famous Canadian said that you are not a real Canadian unless you have seen a bear in the wild.
Well I saw not one but two bears – and lived to tell the tale! The fact that we were in the car, probably reduced the danger factor greatly. Nonetheless, the brush with the deadly beasts was exhilarating.
The scariest thing of all, however, is that I am getting married on the 23 of this month in Scarborough and to think she’s from this area!!! (Check out my Wedsite)
If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our North America Insiders page.
Autumn is here in Ontario, which means that there are few days left to enjoy the outdoors before winter arrives in November.
With the Fall colours being so stunning, this is truly the most beautiful time to come to Ontario. I guarantee you won’t regret it!
TIP: generally the further north you go, the more intense the colours.
Whether it’s a hike in one of our provincial parks, a drive in the country, or a stroll through a city park, the colourful foliage is everywhere. It one of the great things about living in Ontario.
Due to the colder weather (and lack of tourists) things are starting to slow down even in the urban centers. There’s always lots to see and do if you look for it.
The Ottawa Valley Celebration of the Flaming Leaf is "one of only two places in the world which has the unique combination of climate and topography to create such brilliant fall foliage".
This is from their travel brochure, but now I’m dying to know what the other place is (New England?). Please email me if you know. Anyway, the colours really are incredible and would make the best long weekend getaway.
Kitchener – Oktoberfest
The largest such festival outside of Deustchland. Kitchener, nee Berlin,
changed its name due to WW2. The original festival started in Munich to honour the 1810 marriage of King Ludwig I. Now it is a festival to wurst, lederhosen, beer and mass drunkenness. (Oct. 8-16)
Niagara-on-the-Lake is the hot spot for October:
Ghost Tours of Niagara – I honestly heard somewhere that Niagara-on-the-Lakes has the most ghosts-per-capita of all places in Canada (undoubtedly Census Canada tracks this). This tour promises terrifying accounts of real life ghosts stories of the area. (Weekends to Oct. 31)
Or for a cheaper ghost tour just come to my apartment and meet my ghost, Jane. She doesn’t do tricks on demand, however. But she has been known to make noises, throw things, open doors, steal things, and freak the cat out (okay and us too).
Hillebrand Estates Winery – Grape Stomp. Tour the vineyards and handpick your own grapes. Go wine-tasting. But that’s all so blasé! If you really want to get visceral with vin then take of your socks and shoes, pull up your pants and wade in to the vats and start stomping.
I want so bad to go there and live out the scene from “I Love Lucy” with my fiancée! Good non-clean fun. BTW, the resulting extract, I’m told, is not for sale. Though it sounds fun, I could do without someone’s psoriasis in my sauvignon. (Oct. 2-3)
The Shaw Festival is still running “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier! A clever suspense story, it has gotten good reviews. Plus that Miss Danvers character is evil incarnate. (to Nov. 28)
Voted the “People’s choice most popular event in Ontario in 1998”. Granted it is was a hokey regional magazine that picked it. Still over 50,000 people are expected to come out for this. I’ll bet it’s to see the "underwater pumpkin carving" and "seed spitting" contest. (Oct. 2 -3).
Windsor – Pumpkin Fest ’99
These giant pumpkins shows are really trendy in Ontario. There are even more communities that host pumpkin contests. I guess Ontarians have that Texan complex for big things. My fiancee’s uncle even grows these giant things. (Oct. 23-24).
Ontarians obsess over the weather. Come share our obsession and find out the climate of places like Wawa and Moosonee.
I suffer from a fatal case of wanderlust. After trying the real world for a few years, I decided to return to school to study the Internet. I currently live in Toronto, but I am from Guelph, ON. I have also lived in Ottawa, Key West, Florida, and Stuttgart, Germany.
I will soon be finishing the Internet program and will have to face
the real world.
If that is not enough, I am getting married Oct. 23. My side is an Irish and Scots heavy-drinking, hard-partying background compared to her God-fearing, tea-totaling, Mennonite relatives. It should be interesting.
Check out my past articles for some further tips, such as dining, attractions, and continuing festivals.