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Sep. 21, 2020 | Monday
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Scandal & Gossip Tour a museum highlight
File photo

Julia Sacco

Special to The Lake Report

Mysterious underground passageways, a Canadian spy, and tales of love and scandal. 

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum's "Virtual Scandal & Gossip Tour" last week showcased some of the town's most eclectic history.

The presentation, conducted online via Zoom, was led by producer and writer Barbara (Babs) Worthy, who took viewers on a trip around town with a detailed PowerPoint accompanied by great storytelling.

A recording of the tour can be viewed on YouTube or via a link among the webinars on the events page of the museum's website,

The hour-long adventure began at the old Parliament Oak Public School, detailing stories of mysterious tunnels and prestigious property owners.

“There is a myth that under Parliament Oak School there is a tunnel that leads all the way from Regent Street to King Street,” said Worthy.

“It was believed by some people that it was part of the Underground Railroad.”

This was followed by tales from areas in NOTL including the Brockamour Manor and the Angel Inn, as well as stories about prominent people in history, like Mary Osborne, the Servos family, The Rowleys,  Charles Camidge, the Freemasons and more. 

Worthy told viewers stories of love, scandal and jealousy attached to each building and person.

“In mid-September 1826, Batavia resident William Morgan went missing mysteriously.”

“Later in 1826, William Morgan’s book appeared and it revealed many secrets about the Freemasons,” Worthy said, highlighting the rumoured kidnapping of Morgan to Fort Niagara.

She completed the tour with the story of Catherine Pool, a Canadian spy during the War of 1812.

“Laura Secord was not alone in her bravery. Catherine Pool would walk up to those border guards and give those Yankees a smile,” said Worthy.

“They let her go almost anywhere she pleased, with more than just bloomers under her skirt …”

* The Niagara-on-the-Lake Museum remains busy with events and more weekly virtual presentations.

Upcoming presentations include John Henry's "The Cayuga and her consorts: Remembering those beloved Niagara-to-Toronto steamers” on Aug. 20 and Scott Finlay's "Ten Things That Will Save Your Life in the Trenches" on Aug 27.

To take part in more experiences, check out the museum's website.