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The Amherstburg Asylum


This story is going to be a little different than my others. Usually I tell a little history of the area and then tell my story of my experiences. This time I will tell you my experiences first, because I did not fully know the history of this place before I experienced my encounter with the spirit/spirits of the Asylum.

As a very young child in grade school I joined Cubs (the younger version of Scouts) as a Cub Scout we would often go camping or have sleepovers at public buildings. This particular time we stayed at the old Amherstburg Asylum. At the time we were told it was an old orphanage... Which is also true. (The building has been many things over the years. It has been part of the Fort Malden buildings for many, many years. It was properly known as the Fort Malden Lunatic Asylum.)

So we stayed there the night and all slept on the floor of the main level. The building resembles a very large colonial house of the pioneer times. It is a two and a half story brick house with old wood floors, many wooden windows and a steep old grand staircase. The house is broken up into many rooms. As an old house it seemed harmless. So there were 20 of us Cub Scouts with a few leaders staying over the night. As a young boy I did not have many nightmares. (I guess I was a happy kid.) But this particular night I did.

The night was not a good sleeping night. The house was filled with strange noises (creeks and clunks). I guess this is typical of an old house but the sound of running footsteps upstairs seemed to bother all of us (even the leaders). Several boys had trouble sleeping and I can remember a few of them saying that boys were out of bed and running around. The leaders would do a head count with a flashlight and all would be accounted for.

I can remember it wasn't until really early in the morning that I actually got to fall asleep. Between the noises and the leaders getting up to check the reports of kids out of bed, sleep finally came. But so did a disturbing nightmare. I dreamt that the house was full of kids that were wondering around confused, angry and crying. They would walk around as if trapped and stop to look at us (the Cubs) sleeping. Many of them had bleeding eyes, vicious bruises on the sides of their heads or black tongues. It was a really creepy dream.

The next day I slept all day once I got home. The visions of the kids in the Asylum stayed with me for a few days and then I eventually forgot about it.

Many years passed and I was now in high school. This is when I learned that the building was once an Asylum. I wanted to check it out, but the building was closed to the public, and only open to tours on special occasions. I did not dwell on it since there were many other things to investigate in the area.

Well, more years passed and I eventually got a job, wife and kids. Fifteen years passed and I found myself back in Cub Scouts as a volunteer leader. My son was now a Cub and, like the good ol' days, we did a lot of sleepovers. I was excited to hear that we were sleeping over at the Fort. I thought the kids would love sleeping in the army barracks and the whole trip would be good.

Little did I know that we were not sleeping in the barracks. We were, indeed, sleeping in the Asylum. This was mildly disturbing... Actually, quite the mind grinder... (to keep the vernacular clean). Instantly a warning flag popped up in the back of my head, but the years had placed a thick layer of cobwebs between my memories and my mind. (I had forgotten the impact of the whole experience I had as a youth).

The minute I walked into the building it all came back to me. The place was set out of time. It seemed time had not passed in here and it was identical to what it was when I was a kid. Knowing more about the building this time, I was a bit freaked by the still air and the feeling of a presence sensing that I had returned. Being an adult, I quickly swept away those thoughts and focused on the time at hand.

So, I had returned to the Asylum. Now I was the leader and we had about 12 kids sleeping on the floor. Of course the kids did not sleep. They heard the noises and were scared. (Someone must have let it slip that they were in an Asylum...hum...I wonder who it was...) Well, the running footsteps were back and other leaders started to comment on them. We did a head count and all the kids were in their sleeping bags. Some of the kids said they saw other kids out of bed and running around in the halls. So as leaders, we took turns checking on the kids through the night. I have to admit, I was really unnerved when I found myself walking through the Asylum halls and rooms at night with a little pocket flashlight. With every turn I took, I half believed I would see a horrified ghost child. But I did not see anything. (Thank God, because my wife would have left me if a returned home without the kid.)

I did manage enough courage to go upstairs to seek out the source of the footsteps. The second floor had several small rooms with the dim moonlight flooding into each of them, casting shadows across the floors. The rooms were mostly empty but all had a few items in them, a single chair or table. They all had old wooden floors that showed the markings where a table once was, or the legs of a bed. The second floor was eerily still... Actually that's when I noticed that the running footsteps had stopped. I had a very cold chill and the strong feeling that I was the focus of attention. So I backed out slowly and returned to downstairs. The other leaders asked me what I saw. I told them the truth... Nothing. But none of them were willing to go upstairs on their turns to patrol the area.

Needless to say it was a long night and I did fall asleep early in the morning and I did again have the nightmares of the wondering kids with bleeding eyes and black tongues. When I woke in the morning, the daylight made the building feel peaceful. I quickly swept away the nightmare as a lingering fear from the nightmare I had as a kid. I actually felt silly that I had gotten all worked up. Well, the Cub Scouts were in rough shape from the sleepless night and the kids were very groggy. Breakfast was being served outside at a picnic table. The conversation around the table was, of course, the creepy noises. I was barely paying attention to the kids' conversations when I overheard one of the Cubs complain about dreaming about kids with bleeding eyes. (I think I nearly dropped the pancake I was flipping.) More kids talked about having the same dreams... Not all the kids but 5 or 6 (about half the group) ...Even one of the leaders said he too dreamed of zombie like kids... So this set my freak level quite high and I was very glad once the day was over and parents were picking up their kids.

Of course... I was one of the last leaders to leave and on the way out I stopped and had a brief conversation with the groundskeeper? (I actually did not know who he was or why he was there, he just appeared and started talking to us about the Asylum.) He asked if I stayed in there overnight. I said yes. He said, "I'd never sleep in there." Of course I asked why... He said, "Too many bad spirits... I hear them running around sometimes when I am here late in the afternoon. So I asked him, "Do you believe it is haunted?" He told me, "Yes."

He was about 80 years old. He said his great aunt was committed to this Asylum as a child and that is what brought his family to Amherstburg. He said when she came out of that place she was never the same. His father (the aunt's brother) said she was like a zombie and often cried when she looked at the place (being that they had moved only a few houses away across the street). He also told me that this Asylum was one of the first to use shock therapy and lobotomies in Canada. He said the doctor was a forerunner of science and would perfect his practice on new patients. The doctor talked his grandparents into moving to Amherstburg to help their daughter with the promise of a cure through new science. The conversation continued as my awe in his words deepened with every syllable. He continued... He said that the whole asylum was shut down only after about 10 years of use because the town was so upset over the treatment of the troubled kids that they chased the doctor out of town. The asylum was later converted into an orphanage and eventually surrendered to the town. Well, needless to say, the information from this nameless old man left me speechless and very troubled.

A couple of more years passed and I had forgotten again of the disturbing memories of the Asylum. It was movie night and I was watching Sucker Punch... The scene came up where they punched a steel spike into the brain of people through their eye socket... That's when I realized that, that is what a lobotomy was. And finally that is when it all came together for me... (ok I am slow). The kids with the bloody eyes were victims of a lobotomy. The ruises on the heads were the shock therapy... The black tongues... Well, I still don't know. But it all became a lot more real to me once it all added up.

So I did some research. The Asylum operated in the mid 1800s for only a decade. There were about 240 patients there at one time. They were worked as a free labor force. The patients ranged in age from 13 to 55, even mix of male and females. They used hydro therapy (cold/hot water submersions) shock therapy, lobotomies and drug therapy to treat all kinds of mental illnesses.

In my research I will have to say not much factual data is actually out there but I was surprised to find conditions that they considered treatable mental illnesses (especially in women). Many women that were locked up as patients were people that were perfectly sane (normal). Examples are women who had gotten pregnant before marriage or overly active, irregular menstrual conditions, women that were attracted to other women, people who had medical problems like fainting or seizures. Talking disorders or twitches and ticks. Many people who were imprisoned for dept or crimes were able to get an insanity plea so that they could be treated and possibly released. Apparently there is a list out there of all the inmates and their dispositions (released or deceased) and there is very few that make the released list.

I find this period of history the most disturbing as the instruments and infirmaries were very sanitary and wholesome appearing in intent... But the shady basements and reality was quite different in a horror film sort of way.

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The following comments are submitted by users of this site and are not official positions by Please read our guidelines and the previous posts before posting. The author, old_dude, has the following expectation about your feedback: I will read the comments and participate in the discussion.

Bee_Beans (6 stories) (41 posts)
6 years ago (2018-01-19)
Wow, Old-Dude. What an excellent post!

I did some digging on the Fort Malden Insane Asylum and found the following:

" Dr. Fischer was the head physician for the course of the asylum when he started at the age of 25. Dr. Fischer would take 20 male patients from Toronto who were the "most industrious and quiet". These patients would be used in the process of turning the fort into an asylum such as putting in fences to contain the patients when they arrive. One major attraction for Fort Malden is that when all of the patients arrived, there was two of the original 20 that vanished without a trace. " -

Adds to the atmosphere of the asylum, doesn't it?

Some nice pictures on that site too.

The8Ms (2 stories) (21 posts)
6 years ago (2017-11-30)
So I was just reading this story when my power went out... Yeah that was fun. 😳
Kindly_refrain (16 stories) (193 posts)
7 years ago (2017-01-19)
Old_dude, I've been waiting for you to appear. I have read your accounts about a year ago, when I stumbled on to this site. I've thoroughly enjoyed your very spooky and amazing accounts, not just for the occurrences, which mostly were out of your control, but your excellent story telling.

I am a fellow Ontarian and visited Fort Malden for the first time in 2015. I was in the building you describe here but my thick as a brick sensing apparatus did not pick up anything (of course it was daytime).

I would love to see the areas you describe in your other accounts as well.

I was also at Casa Loma as a school kid; believe it or not it was done up in a Disney theme with an image of Mickey Mouse at the end of a long dark basement hallway.
old_dude (16 stories) (111 posts)
7 years ago (2017-01-19)
Well it has been a long time since I have been to the Asylum. We recently had a tour of the old fort and I went into the Asylum. It has been a long time and the building is now significantly different. It has been gutted and turned into a tourist museum. Walls have been removed, some built. If you tour it you can make out some of the original shapes and flow of the rooms. You can see the staircase but it is employee only access. I have to admit I don't remember the front entrance building attached to the front of the building. I don't even remember seeing it built. But it looks as if it has been there a long time...? I was only in there for a few minutes long enough to see the changes. Seems quiet and settled. Upstairs has been left somewhat intact. I guess nothing lasts forever. It's a pity our history is restored by turning original historic buildings and places into modern businesses. I recently visited Castle Loma in Toronto. As a kid I was able to go into the hidden passages, see the basement rooms tour all the rooms of the house. Walk along the passages that led into the attic. It was amazing. Now the castle has only a few rooms left. All roped off. Most of the passages and rooms have been torn out and modern offices installed. The central area has been hogged out to provide a handicap elevator. The whole basement is a tourist shop. The underground passage to the carriage house has not been maintained and will soon be removed from public access... Too bad they don't consider maintaining it or even restoring it. But I guess the high dollar rules! Too bad so sad!
old_dude (16 stories) (111 posts)
7 years ago (2016-09-29)
Creek road lol I know that place well... One of the first stories I wrote for this sight was rejected. (I was not very clear or good at my story telling skills) The story involved a barn party, A beer run, getting lost in the back woods of Essex county, getting chased by a mysterious car. The night ended in me and a few friends hiding in a corn field in the middle of the night. But we did see a ghost lady. Creek road ends at big creek near knapps Island. In the fog late at night we all saw a woman dressed in pioneer times cloths walk across the foggy waters of the creek pass over the road and into the creek on the other side. She moved fast and unnatural she carried a lantern. We all saw her... And years later my wife saw her...
LaurenAKK (7 posts)
7 years ago (2016-07-13)
I guess lots of people don't believe in paranormal things like this. You would think that if they did, they would stop having sleep overs here. I was in Girl Guides since I was about 5 or 6 up to about 13. I have no idea how old I was at the time, but we had a sleepover in the barracks part of Fort Malden which I guess it where some inmates also stayed; not just in the main building. So glad we didn't stay in the actual asylum but this place did still give me the creeps. I didn't know anything about the asylum until about a year ago but just the thought that soldiers lived in there during the war and probably died in there gave me the chills. I know we learned lots of stuff about the war and about Fort Malden while we were there but not once did the asylum come up. Either almost everyone in this town doesn't know about it, or they didn't want to share the information with a bunch of kids. Either way, glad I didn't know about it at the time. Would've been a whole lot scarier sleeping there.
Tweed (33 stories) (2463 posts)
8 years ago (2016-05-09)
Hi Swytak,

Quite astonished to read your comment because as a complete coincidence I've been reading all Old Dude's experiences for the past few days. There's another of his featuring a white ghost horse many of the locals have encountered, which I think you should read. Definitely read Old Dude's other experiences about Texas Rd, he gives an in depth history of the locations which I'm sure will answer some of your questions. I hope he visits the site still and reads your comment, sounds like you two could compare a few notes. 😊
swyntak93 (1 posts)
8 years ago (2016-05-09)
Dear old_dude,
I too live in Amherstburg. I was wondering if you know of any strange phenomenon surrounding creek road. My great aunt and uncle whom both recently passed owned a farm out on that road, and I often go out there still to up keep the property or just sit and enjoy the quiet. Tonight I was out there and I was startled by a deer or some four legged animal walking across my field of vision but by the time I'd lit a cigarette the animal was gone. I sat thereally for an hour, at first to see if I could catch a glimpse of the deer a second time, and then because I began to hear movement in the trees and bushes around me. Right before I left I caught movement among the trees, and a pair of yellow irredecent eyes staring out at me from the trees, at about head height to that of a man. What scared me though was the intelligent way the thing went behind a tree and peered out from behind it. I'm only 23 so I don't know the history of Amherstburg by the time I got to explore Texas road it was mainly swamp that my friend and I got lost in, and I never knew there were satanic cults back there. I'd appreciate it if you got back to me
ms_st0308 (6 stories) (66 posts)
9 years ago (2014-06-26)
I know I'm months late to commenting on this story, but it was so interesting I had to put my 2 cents in. 😉 Mental health treatments have a sad and dark history, but people really believed these awful treatments worked. It just goes to show how little we knew about the mind not so long ago. I have worked in mental health for the past six years, and there is still a great amount of stigma related to those who seek treatment and even those who provide treatment. My own parents had a difficult time when I chose to work in this field due to the "mystery" that has always seemed to surround it.
girlie (15 stories) (426 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-28)
I think that there should be some why to get those ghost to the other side. They seem terribly sad that they are still there.
I feel bad for them. It reminds of of the conditions from season two of American Horror Story.
Very sad.

old_dude (16 stories) (111 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-28)
the history of this building is greatly down played in our community. As it has had many uses over the years most people just know of it as an old house that is part of the fort. The fort is a park and is used for many fuctions. They only have a few buildings and this one is big enough to hold larger groups of people. I would not let anyone stay there now knowing what the place really was. However at the time I did not really know. (as a kid) (as a dad I knew, but I thought we were staying in one of the other buildings... Once I got there I was kind of put off, but just whent with the rest of the group.) after talking to the caretaker/guy (after we had already slept there) I discovered the details of the place... Now I would never stay there again... I hope they no longer let people stay there. But I think the powers to be would tell you there is nothing wrong with the buiding.
Griff84 (5 stories) (289 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-28)
My apologies, I was thinking of trepanning, which is equally as barbaric.
Unexplained (2 stories) (122 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-27)
An excellent recounting of experiences with striking parallels to the Canadian film, 'Grave Encounters'. Not sure if this inspired your story, but the elements you have added to your recounting were stronger and much more convincing.

If these experiences are genuine, personally, I don't know if I would have put children into a disturbing place such as this and I am not familiar with the cubs or scouts movements nowadays and the decisions that get made for site visits but are those who make decisions on visiting such sites aware of the paranormal disturbances there?

I am not very religious, but I think (out of respect for those who suffered in that asylum) it would be prudent to consider contacting a priest who may be able to visit the site, to conduct a mass and bring rest to these tormented spirits.

The doctor must have been a complete psychopath and should have faced charges of abuse but rarely does this happen, even today when cases like this occur.

Thanks for sharing this.

Triskaideka (2 stories) (388 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-26)
Bismuth can react with sulfur to create a black residue -- if the patients were given some sort of medication containing bismuth, the sulfur on their tongues may have reacted. Sometimes people today experience this when they take Pepto Bismol. It's also possible that the convulsions from electrotherapy caused patients to bite down on their own tongues and/or lips, causing bruising.

This was definitely a very fascinating story. One of the most fascinating and creepiest I've read so far. I'm so saddened by how "different" people were and are treated by medical science. Like guinea pigs. 😢

Transorbital lobotomies had to be one of the most disgusting and disturbing inventions in history. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for higher level thinking. It gives us the ability to form moral and ethic value, and make responsible decisions. To just pick through above the eyeball and swirl the brains about to destroy them... (shudder)

Electroshock therapy does rarely help people in modern times, as do some lobotomies. But it took SO many people, so many patients, so many test innocent and non-consulting individuals to develop these procedures. It's really no wonder that an asylum like the one you visited would harbor such negative energies.

Even if I've never personally seen a ghost, I have absolutely no doubt that you and others had such terrible experiences and dreams in such a location. Sometimes the history of a location can be so dark, it affects everyone, even those who aren't especially spiritual or empathic. It's fun to explore these terribly dark things in videogames and books, but in person, no one can help but feel a chill to the very core.

I agree with the others that a blessing upon the place could be beneficial for any spirits who remain. Again, I may have never encountered any ghosts, and I may not believe in them, per se, but I think if there's even the slightest chance that some poor innocent spirits remain at that dark place, they deserve to be set free. I'm glad you and everyone else escaped unscathed. I hope someone returns to cleanse that place of the darkness that has devoured it.

Thank you for sharing your story!
allesgute154 (3 stories) (254 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-26)
[at] old_dude, the story takes my scary-meter up several notches. Like Nectarvore, even I wonder why this place was not made off limits for excursions/stay-overs by Cubs/Scouts. I would also respectfully like to ask you why you didn't object to staying there with your child when you came to know about this. Anyway, I'm glad nobody was seriously hurt in this encounter.
shehbaz (1 stories) (5 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-26)
I m not sayin that this story is fake but it reminds me of movie grave encounter (very scary movie) 😊
Swimsinfire (11 stories) (556 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-25)
Jeeeez that is sad. You know what's sadder is that they still do that s [at] *t. A hippy friend of mine had a neighbor who was a psychiatric nurse tech. He said they still do shock therapies, labotomies, and worse. And a labotomy isn't to relieve pressure (would to God that was all), it's to remove part of the frontal lobe of the brain. Oooyeah buddy. Gotta be a way to help the child souls pass to the light where they're loved. Another great story.
Nectarvore (1 stories) (226 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-25)
The procedures described sound like they're positively medieval. No wonder there's restlessness. I wonder if what you experienced was like an energetic blueprint of the trauma, a residual haunting as such... Or an intelligent haunting. It would be an act of kindness and mercy to have the place blessed.
Nectarvore (1 stories) (226 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-25)
This is one of the most chilling stories I think I've ever read on here. Seriously Old dude, that is something else. Child ghosts always make me sad. No way would I let my son sleep in a place loaded with that much dark history... Doesn't anyone in the Scouts hierarchy dismiss venues based on spook factor? I guess the building is heritage listed or something... Wow.
notjustme (19 stories) (852 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-25)
old_dude - thanks for the wonderful story. Sad and unfortunately the place will probably never be fully blessed by anyone or anything. Thank goodness all those horrific methods are now illegal. Sickening how they treated people like objects.
I am very interested in asylums and this caught my interest from beginning to end.
Vonboeckmann (guest)
10 years ago (2014-04-25)
Yes Griff84
Arsenic was used in meds. I would be I interested in your find. You are right. Not much has really changed especially the attitude towards mental illness. Until the stigma is faced...let's just say there are still medication horror stories today. It is an area that needs great improvement.J
Vonboeckmann (guest)
10 years ago (2014-04-25)
Hi old Dude
I can answer your black tongues...ECT. No premed. They were abused. The patients were often be resistive. Bite their own tongues when convulsions even breaking teeth. Abuse is rife in mental health especially with medication trials and some horrid staff. Not all just some. The stigma is still alive. It was "a trend"in the 50s to control woman that suffered hormone disturbances with ECT. They were forced to have more children. Today some of these woman are living shadows of their former selves. Mental health has a dark history.
I believe your story Thankyou regards J
Griff84 (5 stories) (289 posts)
10 years ago (2014-04-25)
old_dude, this is an outstanding post and easily one of my favourite.

The treatment of the mentally ill was always one of brutality and violence, and an out of site out of mind mentality. As medical science progressed in the 1750 - 1900, it was widely believed pressure on the brain was a main factor in the 'crazy behaviour', hence the lobotomies to 'relieve the pressure' almost like blood letting as a form of medicine in previous decades. Obviously this is not the only form of therapy (torture) inflicted on these poor souls, unfortunately they faced a lot worse, it is no wonder they still wonder around upset and scared.

I am positive an oral medicine was given to patients which caused discolouration to their tongue, it was something like lead balls or arsenic, I will have a look to see if I can find out and let you know.

Thanks for sharing

😊 😊

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