Friday May 25, 2018: Ghostly Encounters at Century Manor, Hamilton's Asylum for the Insane (NON-FICTION)
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The last remaining building of Hamilton's Asylum for the Insane, Century Manor, peeks out from behind the nearly $600 Million dollar St. Joseph's Healthcare West 5th Campus location at the corner of Fennel and West 5th on Hamilton mountain.
The beautiful old Victoria Gothic structure has sat vacant for more than twenty years, as if in defiance of the updates happening on the surrounding grounds.
The inside of the building, of course, holds many memories, and perhaps many ghosts whose stories yearn to be told despite most of the rest of the world having forgotten the building's unique legacy.
The hospital originally opened in 1876 on 529 acres of a beautiful and lush landscape on the brow of the Niagara escarpment overlooking the lower city of Hamilton below. An adjacent farm, an onsite butcher, baker, tailor, fire hall, chapel and ice rinks made the properly completely self-sustaining. The hospital housed nearly 1000 patients and employed nearly 120 staff members before it was closed in 1956.
The last remaining building of this complex, the one now known as Century Manor, has been the subject of many stories over the years, including tales of those doing photo shoots or filming who experienced eerie noises such as screams, dragging metal and a bedpan that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
A former security guard (named Martin to protect his identity) who worked in the vacant buildings of the abandoned hospital decades ago, relayed the story of how, one night he encountered enough strange things that he walked right off the property and refused to return.
One of them was, during a patrol, he was walking down a long corridor and could hear the echo of voices coming from behind a door at the end of a long dark hallway. Thinking that he had perhaps discovered teens who had broken into the building for a thrill, he approached the door, opened it up, and was shocked to see two nurses dressed in period style uniforms. They were engaged in a deep conversation, and, as he stood there, mouth agape, they turned to look at him.
"See," the one nurse said. "I told you he would find us."
Martin backed out of the room and closed the door, uncertain as to what he was seeing and hearing.
When he regained his composure and opened the door again, the room was completely empty.
Later that same evening, still confused and uncertain about what had happened, he was walking through a long stretch of corridor when he felt what he described as an intense wind pressure building in the hallway and sucking the air in a way that was pulling at him.
As he felt the pressure continue to rise, he felt something pushing hard against his back, and he took that as a sign that he was not welcome there by some powerful unseen presence.
He immediately left through the closest door, walked to a nearby pay phone, called his boss and said he would be quitting, because he didn't want to return to the building.
There have been discussions of renovating the heritage building and using it as residences for nearby Mohawk College, but those plans have not yet been realized.
One, of course, wonders at what new stories might arise when new residents join the existing ones in the historic Hamilton building.
* The article above was derived from content from the books Haunted Hospitals and Haunted Hamilton
Mark's non-fiction writing appears in the following books from Dundurn, Canada's largest independent publisher.
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