The Inn at the Falls lies among the beauty and majesty of the Muskoka River and Bracebridge Falls. Sitting right next to the falls allows guests of this Victorian hotel to enjoy the advantages and delight that Mother Nature has to offer. Located in Bracebridge in the heart of the Muskokas, this hotel has a depth of history that can rival that of any historical location in Ontario as well as possessing intense beauty and peacefulness. Surrounding the Inn are tiered decks and gardens overlooking Bracebridge Falls where guests can enjoy their meals on the patio and enjoy the splendor of their vacation. John Adair originally built the house that is now known as the main inn in 1876. Although Adair never actually occupied the house, he sold it in 1877 to William Cosby Mahaffey who was appointed the first District Judge of Muskoka/Parry Sound in 1888. Mahaffey and his family continued to call the structure home until his death, which took place in London, England following surgery on July 11, 1912. The house remained in the Mahaffey family even after the Judge's death until 1926, after which the building was used as an apartment building and then later a youth center. After the youth center left the building it became vacant and fell into disrepair. In 1943 the house was restored when ownership was transferred to Ernie and Marion Allchin. The Allchins turned the house into an inn, which was aptly named Holiday House. The inn was damaged by fire in 1955 and the building was again restored and continued to carry on business as an inn. The inn has changed hands twice since but has been restored to its former glory by the current owners. The inn boasts three ghosts who have been affectionately referred to as Bob, who has been seen many times in the kitchen, Sarah who has been spotted several times in the dining room and Charlie who frequents the upstairs section of the inn. Walking through the inn, one is filled with a sense of history and even romantisism. It is one of those "must visit" locations that you will treasure for years to come. Give them a call and reserve a room, you will be glad you did. Our special thanks to Inn at the Falls manager, Samantha Bigley and her staff for allowing us to explore the inn's history and ghosts.
When we first arrived in the room to unload equipment, we were not in room 105 ten minutes when Anita felt a hot sensation on her right leg as if someone were holding a lighter to it. She then got a poke in the head although nothing and no one was immediately near her at the time. At precisely 8:00 p.m. the clock radio went off (previous guests most likely set the clock for 8:00 pm.). There had been reports of the clock radio going off by former guests although the radio had not been plugged in in those instances. We decided therefore, to unplug the radio to see if it would go off on it's own as was previously reported, albeit this never did happen while we were there. Steve proceeded to set up two video cameras, which were plugged directly into two separate television monitors so that we could watch the monitors as the video was recording. The video cameras were run continuously while we were at the Inn. We have looked over the tapes sporadically and have not spotted anything we cannot explain. However when we have caught up we will review them more intensely (16 hours of tape) and report any findings to you. We asked if anyone was or would be in any of the rooms surrounding room 105 the night we were there, and were assured that there was no one else booked into any rooms on that level. There was a couple booked into a room at the opposite end and other side of the hall which was also down three stairs on the other side of a glass fire partition which separated it from the level where room 105 was located. It was getting very late and we had not had a chance to have any dinner so we left the video cameras running and proceeded downstairs to ask about finding something to eat. We met Samantha and Kevin at the front desk and asked if it was possible to still get something from the Fox and Hound Pub downstairs. This led into further conversation about the ghosts of the inn and downstairs pub:
Samantha: Glad that you are here because the last couple of weeks have really been unusual
Dee: What's been happening
Kevin: At the beginning of the week there was someone booked into room 105, when they checked out the next morning they complained about all the activity in the hall, they commented "you must have been busy", but they were up there by themselves, so...... Last night I had my first sort of casual experience here, I was checking out things, doing my close [when] there was a bunch of bangs and stuff coming from the kitchen, freaked me out anyway. I went to investigate. It sounded like an electric popping noise, ya know, and there was something falling off the shelf, but there was nothing on the floor and it happened maybe 3 times.
Krystal: How much time in between?
Kevin: They were all in one area of the kitchen. Later when the kitchen closes I can show you.
Dee: That would be great. Are there any other areas besides the kitchen and room 105 that show activity?
Samantha: The pub.
Kevin: Janice has had it in the cooler, the walk-in cooler.
Samantha: We had one guest that got a kick in the butt leaving his room. The guy comes down to the front desk here and demanded to know who kicked him. He was alone, there was nobody upstairs.
Kevin: There is definitely energy in the building. Down in the pub usually at the end of the shift, at the end of the night once in a while you are certainly conscious of the energy there.
Dee: What time does the pub close at night?
Kevin: Tonight it will close around 11:30 pm, 12:00am
Samantha: Jackie gets the same feeling, the last week in particular. Generally speaking most of our staff has been here quite some time, Jackie has been here almost 10 years, she's serving downstairs now. For the most part, things happen and we kind of just accept it, that they're here, but for the last week, the energy has just been (illegible).
Krys: Has anything changed over the last week? Has there been a pick up in business for the season or anything else?
Kevin: Well they are building next door.
Samantha: They started blasting about a month ago. (Note: the building site is over rock)
Dee: When did you specifically notice the rise in activity here?
Samantha: It's been really about, what; less than 2 weeks (looking at Kevin)?
Kevin: About maybe 10 days, 2 weeks. Nothing gets mentioned for the longest time, weeks on end, then there will be something, you know, someone will start talking about it. It's definitely sporadic.
Krys: Do you know what the cause would be? What are the stories behind the activity?
Samantha: Well we know some of them. One of the guests that were staying upstairs had to come down the following morning and had inquired as to how the pregnant woman was feeling. She was walking the hallway and she looked to be in some discomfort, so they inquired as to her well-being and they were alone up there. There were no other guests. We heard that she had once inhabited the house and she fell when she was pregnant, down the stairs. She has been seen in the dining room, as well, by a server that said she sees her quite frequently.
Judge Mahaffey has been seen here and he was one of the original residents of the home till 1878, 1888. One of the employees recognized him from his photograph and she has seen him in the dining room. She has seen him twice downstairs and each time he was dressed differently.
Kevin: I have a question. When he was ill he went back to the U.K. and that's where he died and where he is buried. Why would he still be here?
Dee: It could be his love for the place, fond memories; they will tend to be drawn back. He probably had fond memories here and would therefore tend to come back. It does not have to be specifically where anyone died.
Samantha: We think we have a few different people haunting here. The only voice anyone has heard here has been a woman's voice. I've heard my name. Lynn (not her real name) has been here a long time and she's heard her say hello to her a number of times.
Steve: How long have any of you worked here before you started to experience anything? A couple of years; a couple of months?
Samantha: I was here probably four or five months, then just little things started happening.
Kevin: For me it's been a year in July.
Steve: So you [too?] experienced something right away then?
Kevin: No yesterday was the first sort of thing, but till then nothing was tangible till yesterday. Enough that it sort of freaked me out.
Samantha: We had a previous office manager that worked here about 16 years and she always told us that she was a little bit more sensitive to these things than the average person and she had seen Judge Mahaffey 3 times. She started about 5:30 in the morning and open up the dining room and there would be candles lit and these would be 8-hour votive candles, and they would be cold as if they had just been lit and in the kitchen, she would find candles lit. She had the most experiences.
Kevin: There are stories in [room] 105 about a wet dog smell and the weight of the dog or the weight of something on the bed when they are sleeping.
Samantha: I had a lady in the past couple of months say that she had seen a dog in there. We have pictures and articles here that you can look at if you like. Cathy had seen Judge Mahaffey about 6 inches off the ground.
Dee: Have any of the floors been altered, do you know, since the house has been built?
Samantha: I don't know.
Kevin: The pub would have been the stable back in his day.
Dee: So there could have been a sub-floor.
Kevin: No, you can see where ground level is. *** (See below)
Dee: Usually in a stable there is a sub floor and the wood planks would be about 6 inches off the floor for drainage from the stables.
*** When we looked through the newspaper clippings etc, that Samantha loaned us we later discovered that the floor of the pub downstairs was indeed lowered approximately 8 inches during one of the many renovations the inn received, which would most likely account for a witness seeing the Judge walking above the present floor.