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All Hallows' Eve at Black Creek Pioneer Village


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Toronto: October 20, 2011... The city's best Halloween venue, Black Creek Pioneer Village, will present a special All Hallows' Eve on Saturday, October 29. All Hallows' Eve is a rare opportunity to visit the beautifully recreated 1860s village at night - the perfect setting for a spine-tingling Halloween experience. Several of the historic homes at Black Creek are said to have their own ghosts and visitors will have a chance to enter those buildings and hear their stories firsthand. Numerous authentic traditions from the past, including ghastly medical procedures, wakes, phrenology and body snatching will come back to life that night. Performances by Vladimir, International Grand Illusionist and Master of Levitation, will be offered on the main stage, and visitors will have the opportunity to taste a special new pumpkin ale, brewed for the event at the Black Creek Historic Brewery.

"The great thing about All Hallows' Eve is that everything here is real," said Karell Pfeiffer, special events coordinator at Black Creek Pioneer Village. "The buildings, and everything in them - including their stories - are authentic, and come to us from an age when spiritualism had captured the popular imagination."

"Death was then a part of daily life," explained Pfeiffer, "and people developed methods of coping with loss that would seem macabre to us. Jewelry was created from hair snipped from the corpse of a family member or friend. A deceased child might be seated in a pose and photographed as if they were alive. Many people tried to contact the dead in séances."

Real Ghost Stories
Visitors can explore haunted Village houses and hear (true) ghost stories, such as the tale of Michael Stong, who died of his wounds from a horrible hunting accident. The Stongs were the first family to settle on the banks of Black Creek in the early 1800s. Their original house still stands today. Six generations later, the Stong family has moved out into the world, but it is said that the spirit of Michael Stong lingers on in the old family home.

Wakes and Burial
Wakes, where family and friends would take turns sitting with the deceased for a few days, were also an important tradition from the era, held both to honour the deceased, and to make quite sure that they were really dead.

"Fear of being buried alive was very real," said Pfeiffer. "That led to some bizarre inventions, such as a coffin with an iron spike, positioned to pierce the heart of the corpse.

Body Snatchers
Body snatchers really existed in the 1860s. Usually these were medical students or researchers who needed cadavers, or, disquietingly enough, just the heads of the dead for study. "Phrenologists" studied the shape of the skull believing that its features allowed them to predict, for example, the propensity towards criminality in children, or whether a person was inclined towards benevolence, or financial success. At All Hallows' Eve visitors can have themselves examined by a phrenologist who will pronounce on their character. Visitors may even spot a body snatcher at work in the cemetery.

All Hallows' Eve takes place at Black Creek Pioneer Village on Saturday, October 29th, 2011. The event runs from 7:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. All Hallows' Eve is suitable for anyone over the age of 12 who is looking for a memorable Halloween experience. Admission is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Parking is $7. Member prices are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door. Parking is free for members. Information on membership is available at

Black Creek Pioneer Village is located at 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, Toronto, (one block east of Jane Street, south off Steeles Avenue, right next to York University).

Tickets for All Hallows' Eve are available online at


About Black Creek Pioneer Village
Black Creek Pioneer Village is unique in Toronto: a place where visitors can step into another time and experience life as it was in early Ontario. Spanning more than 30 acres of pristine country landscapes, the Village is a living history experience featuring heritage buildings originating in communities across south central Ontario that has been faithfully furnished with original furniture and artifacts to re-create a rural 1860s Ontario community. Historic interpreters in period dress bring the experience to life, demonstrating how people lived, worked and played, and answering visitors' questions. It is located in north Toronto, close to the intersection of Highway 400 and Highway 7. It is owned and operated by Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA). Funding for Black Creek comes from the TRCA's provincial and municipal partners, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the City of Toronto, admissions and sales, and through donations to The Living City Foundation (formerly The Conservation Foundaton of Greater Toronto). For more information, visit


Media contact:
Eric Philpott
philpott | communications
(905) 773-6651