Olde Angel Inn is a haunted inn located in Niagara-on-the- Lake, Ontario, home to the angry Ghost of Captain Colin Swayze, a British soldier killed there during the War of 1812.
The Olde Angel Inn was built on the site of The Harmonious Coach House, an 18th-century inn that existed when Niagara-on-the-Lake was known as Newark. The Harmonious Coach House was an important gathering spot for politicians, military personnel, and literary celebrities who played key roles in the politics of Upper Canada. But the fortunes of the area changed in the War of 1812, when British and American forces fought. At least one soldier died of wounds in the inn.
In May 1813, American troops sent the British into retreat when they captured Fort George and Newark. The Americans swept through, burning buildings and killing British soldiers. According to lore, Captain Swayze did not retreat, but stopped one night at the coach house to have a romantic liaison with the innkeeper’s daughter, with whom he had fallen in love. The Americans arrived while he was there. Swayze hid in the cellar. The Americans found him and killed him with bayonets, and then burned the coach house down.
In 1815, John Ross rebuilt the coach house and named it the Sign of the Angel Inn for his wife. The inn resumed its prominence as a social center. In 1902, Newark was renamed Niagara-on-the-Lake. The inn served in various capacities as a library, apothecary, billet for military troops, and dental office. In 1992, the inn was acquired by the Ling family. “Olde” was added to its name to emphasize its age. The building has been restored.
Ghost stories circulated as early as the 1820s, shortly after the inn’s reconstruction by Ross. Phantom footsteps and the sounds of dining and talking emanated from the dining room. Table settings were mysteriously rearranged at night. Most of all, the ghost of Swayze was believed to roam about the cellar. Lore arose that the ghost, angry at having been killed and longing for his lost lover, would remain harmless as long at the British fl ag was flown over the inn. Ross hoisted the Union Jack. He never confirmed nor denied the stories, perhaps astutely so, knowing that the gossip would probably fuel business.
Phenomena continue to this day. Crashes, movements of objects, and footsteps are heard in the cellar and in the dining room and objects move of their own accord in the kitchen. Table settings are disrupted. The cellar remains a focal point of activity; whistling is heard in addition to other noises.
Guests have reported seeing the APPARITION of Swayze peering at them while they are in their beds. He seems to come up into their rooms through the floors; his lower torso disappears into the flooring. The Union Jack still flies over The Olde Angel Inn as an appeasement to the restless ghost of Swayze.
- Belanger, Jeff. The World’s Most Haunted Places. Franklin Lakes, N.J.: New Page Books, 2004.
The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007