In keeping with the spirit of Halloween Week, I’ve been reminiscing the past few days of the things that spooked me as a child. Considering I ended up being a teen who loved all things haunted and supernatural, it’s kind of funny to recall that I was really a 'fraidy-cat kid during my elementary school days.
I was the girl who stuck her fingers in her ears and shouted “LALALAICANTHEARYOU” when other kids tried telling scary stories at sleepovers. At a friend’s Halloween party, her uncle dressed up as the Devil and tore through the house to the delighted screams of the other kids, while I cried and they had to call my mom to come pick me up. I remember going on a camping trip with my class, maybe Grade 4 or 5?, and freaking RIGHT out when the girls in our bunk room decided to try out Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror.
And then, there was this little problem called Ghost Hill.
You see, I live in a small town about an hour away from “the city”. The main artery leading out of town towards the city is called Highway 148. And it is home to a rather creepy stretch of road called Ghost Hill.
Back then, I was quite sheltered in our small town, and trips to the city seemed to be rare. Few and far between. We were more likely to head for Renfrew, Arnprior, or Pembroke – going the opposite direction, away from Ottawa/Gatineau region. Yet, I had often heard about the hill – kids love to tell scary stories, you know – and so even though I didn’t travel it often, I knew it well.
It’s a windy little stretch of highway, with a marshy area at the foot of the hill, and an old stone church (which has since been converted to a house) at the top. The bush is dense on either side of the road, twisty branches reaching across the road overhead to almost create an eerie canopy.
And when you’re coming down the highway and you hit that steep hill at just the right speed, you can feel your stomach do that funny little drop and feel the hairs raise on the back of your neck. The sort of things that happen on rare –and creepy – occasions.
I went through a phase as a child when Ghost Hill scared the bejeesus out of me. People said the church at the top of the hill was haunted. They claimed ghost cars would come straight at you and drive right through you. Someone even told me once that back in horse and buggy days, a man had accidentally mistaken his friend for a cow charging at him, and shot him, and now that “man-cow” roamed the hill, just waiting to charge out in front of a car and scare them.
They often said you should drive over that stretch of road as fast as you possibly could, or who knows what might happen to you.
Likely fueled by the tormenting tales of my school friends, I grew to dread going anywhere if I knew I had to go by Ghost Hill, especially if it was after dark. I literally remember begging my mother, if I knew we were going to the city, to please please please take a different route.
I know now that there are ways around Ghost Hill. You can always cross to Ontario via the Quyon Ferry, or if staying on the Quebec side is your preference, there’s the herky-jerky-pot-hole-filled Mountain Road that can be taken to get around it.
But I can also see why my mom would lie to me and promise we’d go another way, then take the more direct Ghost Hill route anyway, despite my fears.
See, I was a pretty unobservant kid – still am, actually – so I’d trust my mom’s word when she’d vow that we wouldn’t go by way of Ghost Hill. And then I’d sit perched in the back seat and remain completely oblivious to my whereabouts, until we got to the point where I’d realize, Holy crap on a cracker, we are AT GHOST HILL!!!!!
My mom isn’t a very ghosty sort of person. She doesn’t like scary stories, and she rolls her eyes at tales of the supernatural. She used to laugh at me and my fear of Ghost Hill. Literally laugh at her terrified little girl. Imagine!
I’m not sure how or when it ended, but somewhere along the way, I got over my fear of Ghost Hill. Probably after I realized nothing bad ever happened to me when I was traveling it.
No ghost cars, no weird happenings, no haunted man-cows roaming the ditches.
Many people from our area commute to work in the city every single day of the week, and I imagine they pass this section of highway much the same as I do now – without the bat of an eye, without even a second thought as to where they are on that long drive each day to and from work. Nothing to even make them think of the fact that they are going over Ghost Hill.
Except for that tiny little tummy flip that happens every now and then, when you hit the steep hill going at just the right speed…