Local hauntings – Maison Trestler
PHOTO COURTESY MAISON TRESTLER
Dating back to the 1800s, this historic home on the shores of the Lake of Two Mountains is said to be haunted by a spirit named Catherine among others revealed in a 2010 séance.
Over the next few weeks, in the spirit of Halloween, we will review some of the local supernatural folklore. Anyone with an interest in the occult knows about the most infamous haunted houses in Vaudreuil-Soulanges but local legends tell much more than just ghost stories. The area is also known for its tales of werewolves, sorcerers, pacts with the devil, cursed battlegrounds and other spooky things.
This week we’ll revisit Maison Trestler, arguably the region’s most popular haunted house. Over the years many people have reported seeing strange happenings at the venerable 18th-century mansion. Psychics and ghost hunters have come to the sprawling home in Vaudreuil-Dorion to investigate or try to communicate with the spirits of the dead said to still linger within its walls.
Many of the stories have grown in the telling, most notably that of Catherine Trestler, daughter of Jean-Joseph Trestler who built the house. According to Robert Payant, local raconteur, folklore expert and author of Le Légendaire du Haut-Saint-Laurent, one of the most notorious supernatural events to occur at Maison Trestler is the sound of beads, supposedly coming from a broken necklace, falling down the main staircase.
Louise LeBlond-Vallée, general manager of Maison Trestler, says this story is unsubstantiated but the legend says Catherine had a necklace made of the beads that were once used for trading with natives and that the necklace broke, possibly when Catherine fell down those stairs, spilling the beads down the long stairway. There are many tales of misfortunes associated with Catherine’s life – enough for anyone to believe that she came back to haunt the house where she suffered so greatly.
IMAGE COURTESY MAISON TRESTLER
“We have to be careful,” says LeBlond-Vallée. “Many things have been said about Maison Trestler, and many turn out to be false. Poor Catherine, there are so many incoherent stories of her death. Some stories say she fell down the stairs. Others say she hung herself. She did not die in Maison Trestler.” The records show that Catherine fell out of favour with her father who disinherited her for falling in love with a commoner. She lived out her life in Les Cèdres where she is interred. Whether she actually came back after her death to haunt her father’s house is speculative but legend says that on nights when wolves howl at the full moon, Catherine’s spirit comes back to the world of the living to haunt the home of her estranged father who never forgave her.
There are stories of other spirits roaming the old house. Some talk of a native spirit making his rounds and reassuring visitors in a whispered voice. Leblond-Vallée could not authenticate those stories, but she tells of the seance she held with a medium in 2010 where she made contact with three spirits haunting the house. “One of the entities we contacted was a black slave who agonized while being held captive in a chest at the house. He is still here,” Leblond-Vallée says. She adds that the ghost of Iphigénie Trestler (who married politician Antoine-Aimé Dorion) hasn’t moved on. Lastly, another descendant of Jean-Joseph Trestler, his great-great-great-grandson, whom Leblond-Vallée says she actually knew, is also haunting the house.
Payant tells perhaps one of the strangest happenings at Maison Trestler, which was witnessed by many guests. During a special event, one of the dinner guests raised his glass to Catherine, for all practical purposes invoking the ghost of Catherine by asking her to manifest herself. As if in answer, bricks fell out of the hearth for apparently no reason. This story is confirmed by Leblond-Vallée.
PHOTO BY JOSEPH MITCHELL
Leblond-Vallée notes that the ghostly happenings at Maison Trestler have more to do with strange sounds being heard than actual ghosts being seen. Staff members mention hearing the sound of a heavy object being dragged along the floor, or the sound of a rocking chair where there was none. Visiting students have also reported lights turning off by themselves. There is also a report of an employee seeing a ghostly shadow in the wake of the falling bricks incident.
But the seance held in 2010 is the event that stands out the most in Leblond-Vallée’s mind. “I spent the night there. It shook me up,” she says.
I worked at Maison Trestler as a teenager back in the ’80s. I often had to wander its darkened corridors in the late evening. I never heard any strange noises, but one evening I thought I saw a shadow move against the darker backdrop at the top of the stairway. Was it my mind playing along, or the ghost of Catherine watching me go about her house?