MELROSE, N.B. – Along Route 16, the highway that takes you from Aulac to the Confederation Bridge, sits a stately, century-old home that, if its walls could talk, would certainly have many stories to tell. The large two-and-a-half storey house, dominated by a turret that juts from its centre, has had many uses throughout its history – from its early beginnings as an institute for the elderly and then as a home for patients with dementia to its later years as a post office and a general store.
“It’s been so many things,” says Julie Henwood of Port Elgin.
This coming weekend, the home will serve as the setting for the Port Elgin Regional Home and School Association’s annual Halloween haunted house fundraiser, welcoming guests into its folds.
Henwood, treasurer of the Home and School Association and the lead organizer behind the Halloween ‘spooktacular’, says she was thrilled when her friends from Winnipeg, who own the home but only live here for a couple months in the summer, gave her approval last year to host the event there. Given the home’s fascinating past, she says the location seemed so fitting.
“It really is a creepy house.”
– Julie Henwood
Tiffany Alder, also a member of the Home and School Association who has been volunteering at the house to get it ready for the upcoming event, agrees the home certainly has an eerie presence about it. There have been rumours it may perhaps be haunted and some community members have even refused to go into the house because of stories they’ve heard.
The volunteers, however, have been spending nearly all of their free time since September in the home, decorating and planning each of the rooms meticulously, devoting hours upon hours after work and on weekends to bring this all together.
“I absolutely love this. Halloween is my thing,” says Henwood.
This year’s theme is Twisted Tales and will bring visitors into a world of fairy tales unlike any they’ve ever seen. From creepy takes on traditional favourites, like Hansel & Gretel and Alice in Wonderland, to spine-chilling scenes from the more modern-day Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid, there’s something for all ages at this year’s event.
The house will also include the usual haunted fare such as an asylum, a clown room and a zombie lair.
Henwood says heading into the last few days before this Saturday’s opening, the volunteers are putting the finishing details on everything – from paint touch-ups to making sure the sound system and lights are working in each of the rooms.
All of this is obviously a lot of work but, for Henwood, it’s all worth it in the end.
“I love the looks on the kids’ faces when they come through.”
The haunted house is one of the Home and School Association’s biggest fundraisers of the year, with proceeds going to the playground equipment. Last year’s event raised in excess of $1,000.
The haunted house fundraiser will be held this Saturday, Oct. 28, at 3716 Route 16 in Melrose, with two time slots available – 2-5 p.m. for the less scary version for younger children (“when the kids go through the lights will be on”); and 6-9:30 p.m. for the ‘if you dare’ version.