life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

Local Bed & Breakfast
Serves Up the Occasional Ghost

by Renka Gesing

Ghosts were the furthest thing from his mind when Wayne Strong purchased the house at 1104 Monmouth Road at Richmond Street in Olde Walkerville. Wayne, a labour relations and business improvement consultant, had planned to open Ye Olde Walkerville Bed & Breakfast in 1996 simply as a financial investment.

Now, in the words of one of his guests, the B&B business, the house itself and its history is a “passionate hobby.” Part of that hobby now includes researching the family who originally built the home, and especially the life of one person from the home’s past – someone who seems happy to occasionally wander through the home and make herself known to special people who, according to Wayne, “have a gift.”

After check in, each guest of the elegant manor, which was built around 1903, receives historical information about the Walkerville area and also gets a tour of the building highlighting the detail of restoration efforts. Invariably Wayne is asked if there are any ghosts on the premises. “My answer is always I don’t know,” explains Wayne. “I haven’t seen anything move, no shadows, no encounters of any sort. I possibly don’t have the gift to communicate with the here after, but I know there’s something beyond just this.” As far as believing in ghosts, Wayne says he’s open to it.

“I mean there are documented experiences of ‘ghosts’ which inhabit homes. The book, ‘Life after Life’ details out-of-body experiences, and police departments bring in psychics to help them solve crimes. Surely there’s something to all that.”

And, if he had any doubts, they dissipated after two certain guests visited. Britt-Marie Karlberg arrived with her husband one day last year to the Walkerville B&B, her first visit to North America from Sweden. Partway through the usual tour, Wayne thought Britt-Marie asked the usual question. Her husband, who was more fluent in English, explained to Wayne that she was telling him there is a ghost in the house, not asking him if there were any.

The next morning, Britt-Marie revealed a dream to Wayne about a woman who was living in the house, who appeared to her as a kind woman with long, dark hair; wearing a long, white, flowing dress; between 35 to 55 years old. She felt the woman was either a family member, maid or worker at the home and died in the month of March or April.

The “ghost” told Britt-Marie she is very happy in the house and is pleased with what Wayne has done to the home. And she somehow shared her name to Britt-Marie; it sounded like Maggie, Magee, Macghee or Mackee. “She kept rolling these names out; all a variation of Maggie and Magee and Mackee,” recalls Wayne.

In Wayne’s earlier research of the house, he discovering that a Robert Leishman had purchased the land from E. Chandler Walker (Hiram Walker’s son) in 1903. He also discovered that Robert was a machinist at London Bridge and that his wife Mary worked at Hiram Walker’s. He had paid little attention to the detailed history until Britt-Marie revealed her experience. With renewed interest Wayne re-read the file. In the Windsor Directory of 1903, which listed all family members living at each address, he found Maggie Leishman, one of the eight Leishman’s living in their previous home at 224 Monmouth – Robert & Mary Leishman and their six daughters. While Wayne remained slightly sceptical, he provided this information to Britt- Marie, who agreed to try to reconnect with her visitor.

Wayne Strong in Corinna's room, where Maggie made her first appearance
Who's that Girl? (Montage by Chris Edwards)

The next morning Britt-Marie told Wayne that there is something to do with a large pile of dirt on the south side of the building, and reconfirmed that the woman had some connection to the home.

Spurred on by this information, Wayne continued his research. He found a newspaper article noting that Robert Leishman died at his residence May 25 1923, survived by his widow and six daughters, one of whom was Mrs. William McGhee. The name McGhee jumped off the newspaper page and by process of elimination, Wayne concluded that this was Maggie.

“This was what she was trying to tell me,” Wayne recounted. “Britt-Marie nailed it. How could she have possibly known the history of this area? She was pronouncing the full name all the time – the ghost’s name is Maggie McGhee.”

But this was not the only time Maggie made an appearance. Carol Malewicz, a local teacher, stayed at the B&B last December while in between house moves. As she related to the Times: “I was sitting in the main living room, and just had a sense of needing to look up. She sort of floated across from the front door, reddish hair, white, silky, very flowing type of gown. I saw her a second time in the dining room.” As was the case with Britt-Marie, Carol had no previous knowledge of Maggie or of the Leishman family.

Wayne is obviously now intrigued and convinced that Maggie indeed resides at the B&B and he continues to try to uncover what happened to her, when she died, and where could she be buried.

The Times managed to track down a relative of the original Leishman family, Phyllis Gervais, who was also born in Walkerville. “Maggie was my aunt,” recalled Phyllis, surprised that Maggie should have made these appearances. “She was older when she died. She did suffer with her heart. Old Doctor [Clare] Sanborn attended to her for years and years. I used to go visit her quite a bit. She was nice, quiet lady.”

Phyllis believes Maggie is buried in the Windsor Grove Cemetery, but has no other information.

Wayne Strong would like to know more about the life of his “ghost” Maggie and why she has chosen to “haunt” his B&B. If you know anything, either drop a line to the Times, or contact Wayne at Ye Olde Walkerville Bed & Breakfast, 1104 Monmouth Road, Windsor, N8Y 3L8, phone 254-1507 or email



©1999-2015— Walkerville Publishing — All Rights Reserved