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Paletta Mansion - Burlington Ontario
Paletta is a beautiful lakeside park that sits on the shores of lake Ontario in Burlington Ontario. The mansion and the land were formerly known as the McNichol Estate up until the recent renovations when its name was changed to Paletta.
It is now owned by the city of Burlington and is open as a park daily until 11.00pm. The history of the land is just as interesting as the many ghost stories that are told about the house. Dating back to 1806 the land was owned by Canadian legend Laura Secord. The British Goverment in a lottery awarded her the land.
Between the years of 1810 through 1912 the land changed hands many times until in 1912 two men bought it by the names of Cyrus Albert Birge and William Delos Flatt. Cyrus had a daughter named Edythe Merriam Birge. It was Edythe that built the house somewhere between 1929 and 1931 after her father had passed on.
I have found that there are three different dates recorded as to when the mansion was actually built.
Edythe married a man by the name of James John MacKay and together they had a daughter who they named Dorothy. James died in 1959 and not to long after in 1960 Edythe also passed on leaving the house and the grounds to their daughter. Dorothy married a man by the name of John Wallace McNichol. This is why it was known for many years as the McNichol Estate.
Dorothy owned the house and land until sadly she passed away in 1987. The estate remained in the family for three years after her death until 1990 when the city of Burlington bought the estate from Dorothy's children.
The house is made up of four levels, the basement, the main floor, the second floor and the attic. Also on the land there are two other houses, the gatekeeper's house and the wonderful dollhouse. The stables are also still standing today.
Although the entire estate is of interest historically, the real gem to this place is the dollhouse. This children's playhouse is said to be the only one of it's kind in Burlington. In its heyday it came fully equipped with electricity and running water. During the renovations undertaken by the Burlington Professional Firefighters Association, the dollhouse was moved from its original location a few feet to the west. The tour guide told us that Edythe and Dorothy would spend many hours in the sunroom doing cross-stitch and watching the children playing in the dollhouse.
She also told us that Edythe was a very clean person and the house had many cupboards to try and keep the house looking neat and tidy. An interesting point the tour guide also shared with us is that the house was so well kept that even the telephone was kept in a cupboard to keep it tidy.
I have heard it reported that the house as well as the dollhouse is said to be haunted. We have been researching the estate for about three years now; I have asked many questions of past and current staff as well as doing on-site investigative work. The pictures that you see are pictures that I took of the estate before the renovations were done. Our findings are that we have not come across anything out of the ordinary while we have been there. We have taken many rolls of film and have gone through many audiotapes. Hours upon hours of research so far has shown us that although this is a fantastic estate that has a great view of lake Ontario and well worth a visit for her architecture and history, it has not been proven to be the paranormal hot spot it is rumoured to be.
We would like to thank the staff of Palleta for their gracious assistance, and the City of Burlington.
For further information: http://cms.burlington.ca/English/About-Paletta-Lakefront-Park.html