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Murder, mystery, intrigue: explore ‘the dark side’ of Galt

'People are intrigued by the dark side of things. It’s almost like being in on a little secret'
20220712 Dark side of Galt Walking Tour BL 1
Rebecca Smithers and Phil Klassen-Rempel from MacDougall Cottage Historic Site will lead the 'Dark side of Galt Walking Tour’ on July 29.

Any city is bound to have more than a few ghost stories.

Hidden behind the old stone and quaint facades, are mysterious stories that delve into Galt’s darker side.

One such story is Galt’s Chocolate Box Murders.

In 1888, boxes of poisoned chocolate were sent to various locations in Galt. As a result, a young girl died after ingesting the chocolate.

Investigating the case, was Inspector John Wilson Murray. His character formed the basis of the drama series, Murdoch Mysteries that explores the world of William Murdoch, a detective who pioneers innovative forensic techniques to solve some of the most gruesome murders.

“Murdoch Mysteries is based on John Wilson Murray, from Galt. And the series has been filmed here as well,” said Rebecca Smithers from MacDougall Cottage Historic Site.

Smithers along with Phil Klassen-Rempel from MacDougall Cottage, will lead the Dark side of Galt Walking Tour’ happening on July 29.

People are invited to throw on their comfy walking shoes and take a stroll through the past, to explore stories of disasters, hauntings and other unsavoury events that make up part of Galt's dark history.

“We’ve done ghost walks in past, and we’ve taken this idea, adding some other gruesome and darker stories as well,” said Michelle Bartlett head of content and experience at McDougall Cottage historic site.

“People are intrigued by the dark side of things. It’s almost like being in on a little secret. It’s titillating! That’s part of the interpretation on the walk, to ask ourselves, why are we so intrigued by these kinds of things?”

Klassen-Rempel said the besides just fun, the tour reminds people that history is not sanitized.

“History isn’t clean. There’s good and there's bad,” Klassen-Rempel said.  

Smithers said public history generally points to the 'glory' as seen in various statues throughout the city.

“But it’s important to remember that it’s about the other things in life too,” Smithers said.

The tours begin at 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. sharp and run for approximately 90-minutes, departing from, and finishing up at McDougall Cottage.

Tours may include hills, stairs, and uneven terrain. Participants should dress for the weather. Phones are recommended, but not required, to access photos of the sites. No washroom facilities are available during the tour.

Pre-registration is required for those 14 years and older.

“We will also be collecting stories so if anyone wants to add their own story that they would like to share, we would love to hear them,” Bartlett said.

“People want to know about the ghosts and the seedy side, so what does that say about us? Whatever it is, we are drawn to it.”

MacDougall Cottage is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission entrance is by donation.

The current exhibit at MacDougall Cottage is Resiliency: Shared Stories of Strength and Survival, features a multimedia journey of shared personal stories of resiliency and offers resources and strategies to help the community bounce back from life’s challenges.

For more information and to register for the Dark Side of Galt Walking Tour, visit here.


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Barbara Latkowski

About the Author: Barbara Latkowski

Barbara graduated with a Masters degree in Journalism from Western University and has covered politics, arts and entertainment, health, education, sports, courts, social justice, and issues that matter to the community. She joined CambridgeToday in 2021
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