The Golers lived together in two squalid shacks in a remote wooded area south of the community of White Rock, outside the town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Similar to mountain clans, they were isolated from most of the residents of the farming district and most of the nearby towns.
The adults, some of whom were mentally deficient and/or handicapped, had little schooling and rarely worked. The children were generally forced to perform any menial chores (such as preparing food or removing trash). Garbage was simply thrown into the attic, until it was completely filled, and then the adults would make the children haul it all out.
In 1984, one of the children, a 14-year-old girl, revealed the details of a long history of torture and abuse (physical, sexual, and psychological), to a school official. According to further details uncovered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, this abuse and forced incestual relationships had been taking place for multiple generations.
A number of Goler children were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, cousins, and each other. During interrogation by police, several of the adults openly admitted to engaging in many forms of sexual activity, up to and including full intercourse, multiple times with the children. They often went into graphic detail, claiming that the children themselves had initiated the activity.
Eventually, sixteen adults (both men and women) were charged with hundreds of allegations of incest and sexual abuse of children as young as five. The lives of the Goler clan were further explored in the 1998 book On South Mountain: The Dark Secrets of the Goler Clan by Canadian journalists David Cruise and Alison Griffiths. Donna Goler, one of the abused children who was removed from the Goler household (when she was 11), has become an outspoken activist for stricter child abuse laws, and for stronger protection of children from convicted child molesters. A year after the book On South Mountain: The Dark Secrets of the Goler Clan was published, she began a long fight to revise the Criminal Code, saying that it failed to protect the young relatives of convicted child molesters.