Things to Do

Terror at Every Turn

Now that the evenings are suitably dusky and with Halloween fast approaching, in order to fully get into the spirit of this spooky season, my husband and I visited (and survived) the Haunted Mansion in Kensington. It was terrifying!

Dr. Jack slowly pulled the curtain open and welcomed us inside his dark and eerie manor. In the corner of my eye I could see an old television in static transmission, with a white figure trying to crawl out. There were other ghouls, spiders, and skeletons lurking in the room.

Back in 1890, Dr. Jack told us that he left London, England, and rolled into the small town of Kensington by train, to take up residence as a surgeon. Lonely for the old world charms, he constructed the Tudor style manor. It housed his doctor’s practice and a well needed inn, called Whitechapel, for the town.

Dressed in a long black coat, top hat, and tightly gripping a stick, Dr. Jack questioned if we would stay the night at the inn. We both nervously laughed and replied no. We heard the rumours…

Some say that Dr. Jack could cure all sorts of ailments. People begged to be a part of his experiments while staying at the inn. He was seen as a pioneer in the area of health by creating the first blood bank in Atlantic Canada.

However, the unexplained disappearance of Dr. Jack’s assistant, Eugene Splicer, along with other guests, prompted suspicion and an investigation was launched.

The investigation came back inconclusive.

Visitations to the inn slowed. Over the years Dr. Jack became buried in his work. He was rarely seen in town. Reports say he aged very well. Then in 1956 there was a devastating ice storm. It caused all power to be lost in the building… And Dr. Jack, well, he vanished too.

The property changed hands and identity several times. Its history was laid to rest. All until the current owners decided to resurrect this old Tudor style building, in 2001, and capitalise on its past.

In late October, 110 years after Dr. Jack started his construction, the first annual Halloween – Nights of Fear was held at the mansion. Islanders flocked back. During the renovation, various bones and surgical instruments were unearthed.

In 2006, the mansion was declared open to the public. People started making their own discoveries…

Disappointed by our refusal to stay the night, a trapped door creaked open. Dr. Jack waved us through. My husband is not one to scare easily, so I gripped his hand. We entered the dark corridor and I heard Dr. Jack mutter under his breath that he hoped to have us for breakfast…

Around every corner there were thrills and scares. One room had a tap slowly oozing out blood, sharp surgical instruments scattered across a table, and bloody footprints.

Some of these attractions, like a giant rat caught in a trap, were predictable and others had us both screaming at the top of our lungs.

Distracted by a shaking floor, smoke being blown or a loud bang, a masked figure would then suddenly appear and we would almost jump out our skins!

At various points we found ourselves sprinting down the dark and narrow hallways as a ghost (perhaps an old guest?) or werewolf lurked behind. Eventually my husband and I were so on edge that we tip-toed along, peered scarily around corners and even dared each other to go first through the trapped doors or into the dark rooms.

Whoever said Halloween is just for kids has clearly not visited this haunted mansion, at night.

The Haunted Mansion plays on all types of fears, including claustrophobia and disorientation. A highlight for me was the rotating vortex tunnel. I felt like I was being rolled upside down, my balance was everywhere, and just as I was almost out, a masked figure leapt in the tunnel and chased me back down.

Our experience was hilarious in parts, and scary as hell in others. The actors really got “into character,” and probably had a good laugh at our expense.

We went deep into the cellars beneath the mansion, with its recreated narrow foggy streets of London, and were then chased out into the elaborate grounds. Everything was jumping out at us from left, right, and center. It was definitely worth the money, especially to see my macho husband scream like a girl!

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