Ghosts Parapsychology

Secret City Adventures stirs up evil at haunted Black Creek Pioneer Village

You’ve probably heard of Escape from New York, but have you heard of Escape from Black Creek?

Secret City Adventures has pulled together an escape game for one of Toronto’s most haunted locations. They’ve been providing escape games at Black Creek Pioneer Village since 2017, but “Where Dark Things Dwell” beefs up the supernatural tension.

Ten teams of six are trapped in a cursed Black Creek where a witch asks for your help. It’s up to them to lift the curse and save the villagers from a ghastly evil before the final bell tolls — all by lantern light.

Senior Designer and Creative Manager Kevin Parnell said the history of the location appealed to the game design, one that had already explored such foreboding Toronto locales as Casa Loma.

“That’s what we had experience doing at Casa Loma: using a bit of real history and incorporating that into our escape rooms and puzzles. So, Black Creek was a natural fit and extension to what we were already doing,” he said during a June conference call with him, Jesse Gazic and Bryan Weiser.

Instead of being enclosed in the stone walls of a fortified mansion, they were in a puritan space that lent itself to a Fear Street: Part 3 – 1666 vibe.

“When you walk around that space at night, it just automatically lends itself to an eerie sort of vibe where you already feel like something is lurking in the shadows with all those old buildings, lanterns hanging around,” Parnell added. “Even the smells put you in a different mindset and take you out of reality.”

Although Game Designer Jesse Gazic has not experienced the paranormal at Black Creek, staff have shared their stories about the location.

Bryan Weiser has been privy to the stories and revealed that during a staff meeting at night, one of the members said they saw a woman behind one of the houses.

“They swore they saw this person just standing behind the second house where the smokehouse is,” Weiser said.

Another instance had them walking down the mill path toward the schoolhouse, and the night staff swore they saw a man in a top hat outside the halfway house.

“These happened after hours when there was no other staff there on site. It was just the two of us locking up the entire village,” he added.

Photo courtesy of Secret City Adventures
Many of the buildings on the grounds of Black Creek Pioneer Village have their own ghostly stories

A history of hauntings

One of Canada’s most revered names of spooky history, Terry Boyle, wrote extensively about Black Creek Pioneer Village in Haunted Ontario 3, published by Dundurn Press.

Many of the buildings on the grounds, including the cemetery beside the Fisherville Church, have their spectral tales.

The Stong Homestead, the Richmond Hill Manse, Burwick House, Flynn House, Halfway House Inn, Roblin’s Mill, Blacksmith shop, Dominion Carriage shop and the Cabinet Maker’s shop all have the stories that have accompanied them in their moves to the northern Etobicoke location.

It is said that the 18-year-old son of the original owner of the Stong homestead hasn’t left the location. He was accidentally shot during a hunting expedition and subsequently died in the upstairs bedroom.

A former reverend is said to haunt the Richmond Hill Manse, along with a young boy in suspenders. The shadowy form of a woman is seen inside the Burwick House, and Mrs. Flynn, the former homemaker of the Flynn House, is said to bolt the lock on the back door, preventing unwanted visitors from entering.

Whether you escape the game or not, there is a pretty good chance you might just run into a resident spirit.

Where Dark Things Dwell” runs from June 18 to November on Fridays and Saturdays.

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