Location: Port Perry, Ontario
Appearance: White, yellow, or red ball of light that sometimes split in two. The light moved down the Ghost Road toward the observer before winking out or moving away. Some reported the light passing through their vehicle, or their car being gently rocked.
- The light is said to be the spirit of a young man on a motorcycle who was decapitated in an accident.
Other explanations: Perhaps car headlights.
Additional notes: At one point, the town erected a “Ghost Road” street sign, but it was stolen. In the late 2000s or early 2010s, a large amount of the vegetation around the road was pared back and the road was improved, making the adjoining roads much easier to see. It seems as though this may have done away with the ghost light.
The Scugog Island light appeared by a farmer’s field on a length of road near Port Perry, Ontario from approximately the 1970s through the mid-2000s. The road is nicknamed Ghost Road and is marked as such by a short, squat boulder with graffiti on it. The light was most often reported as a single white, yellow, or red ball of light that sometimes split in two. The observer parked at one end of the road and the light would appear to venture some distance towards the viewer before winking out or moving away again. Some witnesses experienced their car being rocked gently or, rarely, the light passing through their vehicle.
The apocryphal tale associated with the Ghost Road is typical. Sometime in the 1950s or 1960s, a young man sped down the road too quickly on his motorcycle and either smashed his head on the large boulder at the end of the road or crashed into some barbwire, whereupon he lost his head. His spirit wanders still, doomed to repeat his midnight ride over and over again.
Over the years, I received quite a few reader comments related to the Scugog light. The most interesting was from a woman who reported a notation in genealogy documents of her ancestors; the note, perhaps from the late 1800s, referenced Scugog Island as the “island of the devil lights.” This would seem to make the ghost light there quite old, but unfortunately there is no other documentation to support any sightings before the 1970s, so the note may be a coincidence that refers to something else entirely.
In the late 2000s or early 2010s, a large amount of the vegetation around the road was pared back and the road was improved, making the adjoining roads much easier to see. It seems as though this may have done away with the ghost light, as I could find no accounts of it appearing within the last ten years. Nevertheless, I visited the site in 2017. Following is a photo of the “boulder” marking the beginning of the Ghost Road.
(1) Date received: Thu, 24 Dec 1998
Has anybody in your society ever heard of the Ghost of Scugog Island? Here’s as much background as I can give you. Please feel free to post the following italicized information on your site.
Scugog Island is a large island in Lake Scugog—large enough to contain a number of farms and a couple of villages. You can get there by car: take Ontario Highway #7 east out of North Toronto, Ontario, Canada about 60 kilometers to the town of Port Perry, Durham Region. Pass through town on #7, across the Lake Scugog Causeway out to the island.
The story behind the ghost, as I have heard from the locals is thus:
On or about Hallowe’en, 1963, a teenage boy about 16 or 17 was riding home from his girlfriend’s house one night through a farmer’s field. He was riding a motorcycle, generally believed to be a Harley-Davidson “enduro”-style dirt-bike, equipped with both a headlight and tail light. The rider failed to spot a taut length of barbwire, which decapitated him… or so the story goes. I have never been able to substantiate it; this is the local legend.
The ghost appears in a farmer’s field on Scugog Island. The field is at the bottom of a dirt road, which ends at a T-intersection at one of the concession roads. Go north on the dirt road about 1000 yards from the T-intersection, turn the car around so that you face south. Cut the motor, and turn off all the lights. You’ll see the ghost better that way, and it is a courtesy to all the other local ghost hunters. Then, wait.
In the farm field at the bottom of the road, the ghost will appear as the headlight of a motorcycle bouncing over rough terrain. It will be moving towards you, which is to say north and east. Suddenly, the headlight will “seem” to go out, you will see the flash of a red tail-light, and that will be it. The apparition comes and goes in about 60 seconds.
The headlight appears to be pure white, not unlike a standard HMI light. It does not throw a beam, and the purity and quality of the light seems to be unaffected by rain, snow, or fog.
I have attempted to photograph the apparition several times, but have never been quick enough on the draw to catch it. I have seen a photograph, however, published in my hometown paper, the now-defunct Oshawa Times (Thompson Newspaper Chain) in the summer of 1982. The apparition looks like a small, white hole with perfectly clean edges, in the night photograph.
Local authorities have tested every conceivable theory, including shutting down traffic in both directions on Ontario Highway #35 (to the south and east of the site) to stop potential reflections from the lake which may be the cause. None of them have ever even come close to explaining the apparition.
As far as ghost appearances go, you can practically set your watch by this one. It can be seen up to 275 nights a year, generally between the hours of 2300h and 0200h. The apparition can appear anywhere from one to ten times a night (the luckiest I have ever been is four appearances in one night, and I have only been disappointed on one night). Best time of year: The month directly before Hallowe’en, and the month directly after. N.B.: on Friday and Saturday nights, the local teenagers go up there for bush parties, so beware of rowdies and skeptical Durham Regional Police patrolmen.
Getting close to the apparition is difficult. A friend went hunting one night in a 1971 Chevrolet Nova packing a 396cid V-8 racing engine; this car had quarter-mile numbers that would turn the NHRA green with envy. Upon sighting the ghost, he slammed the car into gear. At 140 mph, he still couldn’t get close enough to the ghost to get a good look at it.
However, one night I was up with a carload of friends. After about an hour, another carload of spectators gave up, and left by driving south towards ground zero. When they reached the stop sign at the T-intersection, the ghost appeared right in front of them. Judging by the panic of brake lights, reverse-lights, and the spinning of tires, these people must have gotten a really good look. Unfortunately, they didn’t stick around to answer my questions.
Our ghost rider doesn’t seem to have a name, and the 1963 fatality doesn’t seem to have been reported in any of the newspapers of the time. All I know is what me and my friends have seen with our own eyes on any number of occasions.
That’s as much as I can tell you. Should any of your members or website visitors know anything else, please contact me by e-mail.
(2) Date received: Thu, 1 Apr 1999
This story has become part of Durham’s “urban legends.” I was teaching a Native Studies course at a Durham Regional high school recently and our students were given the opportunity to correspond with a group of high school students on Baffin Island. Part of their assignment was to relate “legends” with which they were familiar. Of a total of 14 students, I had at least five retellings of the “Scugog road ghost.” Additions to the story which were included in the writings I received included an eerie voice and seeing a headless corpse. I hope that you find this information useful or at least marginally interesting.
(3) Date received: Unknown
I thought I’d shed some light on this one; I’ve been going to ghost road since I was 15 years old (1985) and my sister before that (1980).
I don’t know when this guy died, some say 1976, 1963, some say motorcycle, skidoo, who knows. One thing is certain; he was decapitated.
If you go to this place, and park 300 -1000 feet before the stop sign, shut off your lights, and flash them a little and wait, you will see a light that shines right at you. It lasts a little while, flickers and goes out. It does not move. It’s a weird light as it doesn’t look like a car headlight, but a pale, bright light without the brightness if you know what I mean.
I’ve been there alone in the middle of a storm and saw it. If this is a hoax, then someone has put a lot of effort into it over the last 25 years. This is also a popular party make-out spot.
(4) Date received: Sun, 31 Oct 1999
As I read through the article “Scugug Island Ghost,” dated Dec 24, 1998, I could not help but think I had heard this story before. After some diligent searching, I located a similar, yet different version of the same story. I will attempt to recount it as told in a book entitled Ontario Ghost Stories by Barbara H Smith, Lone Pine Publishing 1998, pp 206-208, as best I can. The story goes like this…
A young man riding his motorcycle at excessive speed, lost control of his motorcycle, and was thrown and killed. The apparition now rides the road relentlessly, with great regularity and predictability. The ghost is so predictable that a team of local college students has both photographed as well as videotaped the specter (she fails to mention, however, who these college students are, what college they attended, or where the photographic information is today). The photo and video tape apparently have striking detail; apparently certain physical features of the ghost can be made out.
(5) Date received: Sun, 4 Jul 1999
I was not sure if my initial e-mail went through, as we had some power fluctuations the night I read about Scugog Island. I have a direct ancestor who was born on Scugog Island, and there is a notation with our family research that no one was ever able to explain until now.
My ancestor was born in the 1850s, and there is a handwritten notation with the family group sheets, that she was born on “…the island of the ‘devil’ lights.” No other mention was ever made, nor has any ever been found as to who made the notation or when the original notation was made, possibly in the late 1800’s?
(6) Date received: Unknown
I too have seen the phenomenon on several occasions over the past couple of years. The likeliest explanation? There is a road on the mainland that forms the same “line” with the “haunted” road. Although they are separated by a field (and water? I haven’t looked at a map recently), they are parallel and in line with each other. Although I haven’t conducted any real investigative work, I imagine that the light is in fact traffic as it moves along the other road.
I do plan to test this hypothesis one day. A trustworthy cohort with a phone would stand at the point where the other road begins, and I’d wait on the haunted road.
I have seen a book on Ontario folklore/ghosts at a Chapters that mentioned the college that carried out a field study, and which took some video footage of a light, but I can’t remember its title. A photo from the footage is reproduced in the book–it shows a blob of light that has a vague humanoid form. It’s not very convincing, in my opinion, for the reason that it doesn’t exhibit proper human proportions. It’s more of a blob with “limb-like” bulges, if memory serves.
P.S. I have an LS1-powered Camaro SS that may be able to catch the specter where the Nova failed!
(7) Date received: Wed, 22 Dec 1999
Scugog Town Council, located in the community of Port Perry, actually named “ghost road,” located off of the first concession south of Blue Heron Casino, as “Ghost Road”. When they put up the street sign, people took off with it as a souvenir. The town gave up due to the expense of replacing it.
(8) Date received: Wed, 1 Mar 2000
I have also been to Ghost Road on several occasions. Usually we go and see the light drive back and forth in the field.
On one occasion, however, a couple of the people I was with started taunting the ghost. I, being a big baby, got freaked out and wanted to go. We sat in the car trying to decide what to do. It got really quiet, not even the sounds of crickets. The hood of the car started to glow a green color. And then it was as though a car drove past us, something lit up the sides of the road, yet we were all alone with the lights off. We all split after that to change our pants.