Halloween! Do you know who really liked scary stories? Victorians.

For a long time, newspapers were more than just places to get updates on current affairs. They contained serialized fiction, moral instruction, philosophical meanderings, action, adventure, advice, and How-Tos on everything from cleaning to dancing. They also contained tidbits of tales to terrify the reader.

Of course, we still publish scary stories in newspapers today – though usually only around Halloween.

Our collection of Ontario newspapers contains hundreds of issues from the long 19th century, in which people in the Victorian era were always sure to get a scare or two. Here, for example, from the Markdale Standard in 1885 (from the Grey Highlands Public Library collection):
“A veritable haunted house” in Seymour with “all sorts of supernatural sounds.”

For a longer serialized story, “The Haunted Ship,” start at this 1875 issue of The Northern Advance from the Barrie Public Library collection:
“An indistinct fear, an awe, that chilled my blood, seized me” – from “The Haunted Ship.” 

Here are a few more of our favourites – the “strange story of Mrs. Glendenning’s husband” from The Whitby Chronicle in 1879:

And another story of nautical nerve-wracking, from the Newmarket Era in 1855:

Of course, if you like some science with your supernatural, there are always stories of creepy occurrences unmasked, too:
From the York Herald, 1874.

Spend some time searching or the Ontario Community News portal and see what spooky stories you can scare up!