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'Eerie': Shanty Bay mansion plays central role in new horror movie

'We went and explored it and I fell in love with it,' Campton Manor director says of Woodlands home, which once belonged to Titanic survivor

A Shanty Bay mansion with ties to the Titanic disaster is a centrepiece of a new horror movie released this week.

Campton Manor stars Canadian actors Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil) and Kenneth Welsh (The Day After Tomorrow), as well as Jason London (Dazed and Confused). Filmed just north of Barrie in Oro-Medonte Township in 2018, the movie was released March 19, 2024 on Video On Demand. 

Director Cat Hostick explained the movie is about an author who takes it upon himself to investigate several deaths that happened at the home on New Year’s Eve many years prior.

2022-04-14 Arthur Peuchen
Arthur Godfrey Peuchen was one of the few male survivors from the Titanic disaster. | Image photo

“He finds himself in his own ghost story as he tries to unravel the mystery of what happened that night,” she said.

The Shanty Bay property was chosen because of its location, as well as how well it fit the era in which the film is set, Hostick noted. 

“We were looking for a really beautiful mansion that had an eerie element to it and was near water,” she said. “Our producer had found this location.

"It's a renowned and really beautiful home up there. We went and explored it and I fell in love with it and thought it was perfect," Hostick added.

Known initially as Woodlands, the stately 38-room Victorian Gothic cottage sits on 70 acres along the shores of Lake Simcoe.

It was purchased in 1907 by Maj. Arthur Peuchen, who was one of 30 Canadians aboard the Titanic when it set out on the fateful maiden voyage from Southampton, U.K., to New York City. He was one of the few male survivors from that day, which saw more than 1,500 passengers killed.

The home, located at 2981 Ridge Rd. W., offered so much of what the producers were looking for, Hostick said.

“It was so interesting. It was huge and there was this whole back part of the house that had all of these antiques in it from the time period we were shooting the movie in, which was so bizarre,” she said.

“It was meant to resemble an abandoned house that had been unoccupied for many years since the deaths occurred."

The front entrance way boasted a large main hallway with a curved staircase and a round dome on the ceiling as well as a mural depicting the Titanic, Hostick added. 

“It was just really creepy. The moment I walked in, it was very grand. It was a bit of the architecture of the house, the elements of shooting in that time period … it all just worked," she said. "The wallpaper even had that very unique (design) which is very hard to find.

"A lot of people reno their houses, but this was all kept intact. They tried to keep it true to the time period in which it was built.”

During filming, a number of “weird and ghostly” things happened, she added.

“The first day we were there, the weirdest thing happened. We were all sitting, discussing, in a different room, the location and what we liked about it. The producer was on a phone call and all of a sudden, from his phone, the song My Heart Will Go On starts playing — the song from the (movie) Titanic!”

Hostick says the producer claimed he had no idea how the song started to play, as he didn’t have it on his phone to begin with.

“It was the most bizarre experience," she said. 

Hostick said shooting Campton Manor was the first time she’d been part of a production in the Barrie area, adding the entire experience was “extremely positive."

“I love making horror movies and I loved the cast we had to work with,” she said. “It was such a peaceful place to film and the people were really nice. I feel like in Toronto, people are used to film crews everywhere and don’t like us as much ... and there are great locations, so I would definitely come back.”

Actors Jason London and Shawn Roberts film a scene from the movie Campton Manor, which was shot in Oro-Medonte in 2018. | Image courtesy of Vortex Media