Spooky spots in Hamilton: Albion Falls

This post is part of a series for October 2019.

It’s October, and that means it’s also spooky season; Halloween candy, Halloween memes, Halloween TV specials. But are you content just to watch Beetlejuice over and over until the month ends? Or are you also curious about real ghosts?

Spooky Spotlight: Albion Falls

While today it’s known for its picturesque waterfall and great hiking trails, the area around Albion Falls (also known as Albion Mills, or the village of Mount Albion) was one of the earliest settlements in the Hamilton region. A lot of people don’t know this, but behind the Falls’ Instagram-ready nature scenes lies a creepy history of tragedy, death, and hauntings.

From accidental falls to attempts to hide murdered bodies, if the rocks at Albion Falls could talk they would share some of the spookiest stories in southern Ontario. The most famous of these is the suicide of Jane Riley in the early 1800s.

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According to local lore, Jane was madly in love with her childhood friend, local boy Joseph Rousseau. They courted briefly and had a deep, intense romance before Rousseau asked her to marry him. But unfortunately, because Rousseau was from a wealthy family and Riley was poor, their romance was frowned upon.

Upon hearing of the proposal, Rousseau’s mother was indignant and insisted that he call it off. She despised Jane so much that she invented rumours about her, harassed her, and constantly tried to get Joseph to leave her. Eventually, Joseph sided with his mother and called off the engagement.

But instead of cutting Jane off cleanly, Rousseau instead began courting other women while Jane still thought they were together. He was often seen flirting with other local girls, and was once spotted with a well-known call girl.

Jane always stood up for Joseph when confronted about it, staunchly professing his loyalty and good character. “He would never do such things. He loves me,” she would say. But as much as she denied it, deep down she must have known the truth.

Eventually, Jane Riley went insane. She was often seen wandering the woods alone, barefooted with her hair tangled and knotted, dirt smeared across her face and clothes, covered in small cuts and bruises from trees and rocks and shrubbery. She would scream and wail at the sky incessantly, only pausing to whisper to herself. The townsfolk found it deeply disturbing, but everyone was too scared to reach out to her.

One day, workers at the ravine beneath the Albion Falls saw a shadow appear at the top of the falls. The shadow leapt feet first over the edge. It was Jane Riley. The men reported that as she fell, the wind got caught in her dress and slowed her down like a parachute before she smushed it down and accelerated as she met the rocks below.

Joseph’s mom expressed regret soon after, but one day a few years later, she randomly screamed that she felt Jane touching her and immediately dropped dead. Since then, there have been numerous reports of a young disheveled girl roaming the area and weeping. To this day, locals still report hearing crying on quiet nights.

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