Escape Room Festival

First-ever Escape Room Festival held at Fort Malden National Historic Site


By Jonathan Martin


Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada has held its first escape room festival.

The festival featured eight escape rooms – interactive, narrative-based puzzle rooms – and participants were allowed to pick five to escape from.

Fort Malden interpretation officer Alex Dale organized the event and he said he had wanted to expand the escape rooms already offered by Fort Malden but wasn’t sure how to do it without disrupting the historic site’s other programs.  He said the best course of action seemed to be to simply “have a day of fun” and bring the area’s escape room aficionados together all at once.

Dale put together some all-new escape rooms with help from his staff.  He said creating the puzzles for the rooms is challenging but rewarding.

“I like to keep things tactile,” he said.  “I want to engage people by forcing them to interact with their environments.”

Dale also brought in three professional escape room companies to plan and operate four of the eight offered at the event.  Hidden Trail Escape Room, Breakout Kingsville and Exodus Windsor Escape Room showed up, riddles in hand, to confound the day’s parkgoers.

Dustin Vermast is one of the co-owners of Breakout Kingsville.  His room, specially created for the day by managing director Adam Cole, brought participants into the tent of a mid-1920s era traveling magician.

Eventgoers were promised a magic show, but the magician, Mr. Hocus, was nowhere to be found. In his place was a letter promising access to his magical secrets – and a future of riches and renown – if whomever found his letter could solve his puzzles and open his chest.

Christopher Slickboer tries to figure out the combination on a lock in Breakout Kingsville’s escape room at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada last Saturday. The escape room was one of eight at Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada’s first escape room festival.

Unfortunately for those who are proficient at puzzle-solving, Mr. Hocus is a dark magician.  The only things in his chest were pieces of evidence that incriminated whomever touched them.

Those who beat the puzzles lost the game.

The tent Vermast brought to Fort Malden is one piece of a larger narrative, according to Cole.  Mr. Hocus has two other rooms dedicated to him at Breakout Kingsville’s actual facility.

For Cole, this room was an opportunity to further explore the character he has built a universe around.  Hocus’ newspaper clippings, the photos on his armoire, his knickknacks and decorations and personal effects – even his choice of music – all said something about the man Breakout Kingsville dreamed up while fully-immersing the player into that dream.

For Vermast, as much as it was about the art of expanding an ongoing narrative universe, it was also about breaking into a new market.

“We’re here as a bit of a marketing piece,” he said.  “We want to educate the public about how awesome escape rooms are and, as a county business, it’s important that we draw on the Windsor folks who are here today.”

It seemed to be working.  Dale said the public response was “overwhelmingly positive.”  All 46 time slots were sold out.  He said he wants to have another festival in the future and will use this one as a learning experience.

“This was a pilot,” he said.  “There were a few logistical issues to iron out, but we’ll learn from those and will hopefully make this an even bigger festival next year.”

Fort Malden will host its annual Canada Day celebration on July 1.  Its “free admission day” will take place Aug. 4, with a murder mystery following that evening.

Escape Room Festival coming to Fort Malden this Saturday



By Ron Giofu


Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada is hosting its first-ever Escape Room Festival this Saturday.

Fort Malden and Parks Canada want to know “Are you the sharpest tool in the shed? When the clock is ticking, can you decipher the clues to solve the puzzles and escape in time? Can you escape from one room? Can you escape from five?!”

Escape rooms are described on Fort Malden’s website as “a physical and mental adventure game” where “players must solve a time-limited series of challenging puzzles and riddles to escape the room. Players must escape the room before time runs out – and time matters!”

Those up to the challenge of solving multiple escape rooms can go to Fort Malden between 10 a.m.-8 p.m. with the cost being $34.50 per person for five escape room experiences. It is an all ages event.

Teams of six will have 15 minutes to solve the clues and escape the room.

Participants will have the opportunity to win door prizes and vote for the People’s Choice Award for “Best of the Festival.”

Fort Malden National Historic Site of Canada is holding an Escape Room Festival June 16. (Photo courtesy of Fort Malden’s website)

Mobile escape rooms from across Windsor-Essex County will be at Fort Malden and the public is invited to bring friends and solve as many of the escape rooms as they can.

Advanced registration is underway and to register, please phone Fort Malden National Historic Site at 519-736-5416. You will be asked to select your top five escape rooms and Parks Canada states that teams of two to six are asked to register together.

Staff will do their best to match the public with their selections.

There are a limited number of spots available, first come, first served.

Escape rooms include “Confined to the Barracks (presented by Fort Malden National Historic Site), “Cottage Fever” (presented by Fort Malden National Historic Site), “Disarm the Bomb” (presented by Hidden Trail Escape Room), “Legend of Hocus” (presented by Breakout Kingsville), “Recipe for Escape” (presented by Fort Malden National Historic Site), “Skullduggery in the Scullery” (presented by Exodus Windsor Escape Rooms), “The Cell” (presented by Hidden Trail Escape Room) and “The General’s Last Word” (presented by Fort Malden National Historic Site).

Local food trucks will be on hand as well while The Friends of Fort Malden will be presenting a “beer garden” to visitors that are 19 years of age or older.

There will also be musical entertainment by Rob Bondy and Endadaday, Allison Brown, Sara Fontaine and Hogarth, Hoppe & Borshuk with guest Phil Kasurak.

For more information, call Fort Malden National Historic Site at 519-736-5416, e-mail or visit