For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to go on Kingston’s famous Haunted Walk. I love playing tourist, especially when it’s close to home. Almost every time I am downtown during the summer months, I spot one of the cloaked guides leading around a group of visitors by lantern, and I imagine what spooky tales are being told. I suppose my imagination may have built it up a bit too much, as my recent adventure on a Haunted Walk did not meet my wild expectations. Don’t get me wrong, the tour was good, but it wasn’t spooktacular. Now before I go any further I want to make it perfectly clear that I’d still recommend the Haunted Walk to Kingstonians and tourists alike, however expectations must be managed.
We easily purchased our tickets online, and because of the size of our group, we received the student rate ($11/person) for the original Haunted Walk. Our party of about a dozen folks was running very close to being late, but despite showing up just on time, our group had already traveled to the first destination just behind City Hall. We caught up with them in no time, just before our guide started into the first, mildly spooky story. The lesson here is that the Haunted Walk sticks to their schedule, which is a good thing to take into consideration when you’re planning your outing.
The walking tour wound itself through the Sydenham Ward, while the total distance covered over an hour and a half did not exceed 3km. We made at least half a dozen stops in front of various destinations including St. George’s Cathedral, the Hochelaga Inn, and Rosemount Bed and Breakfast. While these destinations served as fantastic backdrops for the spooky narrative, I mistakenly assumed that we would venture inside one or two of these venues. Sadly, insider access is not a part of the walking tour. In between destinations, our sizable group conversed with one another, however it would have been a nice touch if our guide had of pointed out random spooky things here and there to make the trip more interactive.
Our guide proved to be a great storyteller. She knew her script quite well, and it was filled with interesting historical facts. That said, if I was to measure the amount of bone chilling content, I would have to give the Haunted Walk a low ranking. There were no possessed children who required exorcisms, nor headless horsemen harassing the townsfolk. Instead we were presented with former mass burial sites, medical students turned grave robbers and lore that’s been perpetuated by drunkards. While our guide promised that all of the stories had been confirmed as authentic, perhaps the lack of reasonable embellishment is to blame. I mean honestly, there’s only so much you can say about what lies beneath a puddle in a parking lot.
In the end, I came to realized that Kingston’s ghostly past is a bit bland. Even so, despite a few criticisms, I’d give the Haunted Walk second chance. However, next time I’ll likely opt for the Ghosts of the Fort walking tour, or maybe even the Haunted Pub Walk.
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