I arrived 15 minutes early for a meeting at Fort la Reine. My task? To get a sneak peak at the upcoming Ghost Walks, happening October 21 and 28. While waiting, I decided I would check out some of the building exteriors. It was broad daylight – what could go wrong? Maybe it was Halloween on the brain, but I only lasted about 5 minutes before retreating back to my car. I kept hearing noises – was it movement within the creaking structures? Or just a groundhog?
When Fort la Reine began to open for the day, my impromptu tour guide Tracey explained that the many buildings may indeed be haunted (if you believe in that kind of thing, at least) – confirmed by mediums, sightings and many strange occurrences. Fort la Reine’s collection of buildings and artifacts from the 1600’s to 1900’s set the scene perfectly for the upcoming Ghost Walk, but fear not – this Halloween event is suitable for all ages (and all levels of bravery)!
Enjoy some family friendly fun
Designed with families in mind, The Ghost Walk has plenty of activities that keep in the spirit of Halloween without being too frightening for the little ones.
Hang out in the haunted village for sweets and be amazed by “spooktacular” performers from the Teakle Family Circus (7:00 pm) who will dazzle audiences with juggling, hooping and plenty of sibling antics. Stick around to see The Sacred Flames fire dancers light up the night at 8:00 pm, while the Parlour Magic Show in the charming General Store will be going all night long.
Families will also want to spend some time in the main building to check out creepy crawlers like toads, snakes and bats and to get creative with a Halloweens crafts stations. Kids will love wandering through the family-friendly buildings and areas where cobwebs cover creaking antiques, a witchy animatronic cackles and stirs her cauldron and a skeleton pirate sits atop his shipwreck in the fog (complete with ocean sound effects).
Don’t leave before entering the fort itself, where food trucks and vendors will be stationed with late night treats!
…Or walk to your doom
With paranormal activity reported in 4 of the 25 buildings, Fort la Reine is oh-so-suitable for a horrifying Halloween haunt. Tweens, teens and older can take the rare opportunity to experience the museum at night and explore the scarier side of the 5 acre site where horrifying werewolves and the roaming undead lurk behind every corner.
We recommend starting your scare-fest with the mild side of the Ghost Walk but don’t be surprised if you catch a fright at the spookier buildings like the (gulp) dreadful Dentist’s Office.
“Explore the Undead Forest” and dodge zombies, before catching a ride on the Van Horne Car, also known as the “Train to Nowhere”. By my scaredy-cat judgement, I suspect the Van Horne Car will be among the most thrilling stops on the Fort la Reine Ghost walk. The business train car is claustrophobic, with a narrow hallway that turns off to the bedroom of Sir William Van Horne, which happens to be one of the four reportedly haunted spots in the museum, with interpreters opening up the train only to find the clothing (left on the bed as part of the exhibit) in complete disarray. Shiver.
The “Full Moon Zone” is where the werewolves howl, while the “Machine Maze” is a disorienting trip through agricultural hell, where dozens and dozens of tractors block the way out and lead you deeper into the maze. If you ever find your way out, end the night with a monster mash dance party, complete with a Ghostly DJ.
Location: Fort la Reine Museum, 2652 Saskatchewan Avenue East, Portage la Prairie
Hours: October 21 and 28, 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Admission: $10 Adults | $8 Students/Seniors | $5 Child (5-12) ,$25 Family (2 Adults, 2 kids/youth)
All the details have been put in, so don’t miss it in Portage la Prairie – 45 minutes west of Winnipeg on Hwy 1A!