Read after dark!
Autumn is a time of golden leaves, a pumpkin harvest, and, of course, mystery! It is in the fall, October 31, Halloween is celebrated, recently a popular holiday around the world, in which it is traditionally believed to decorate their homes with mystical symbolism and dress up in costumes of all kinds of evil spirits.
And since it's a Canadian custom to prepare in advance (home decorations and outfits are already on sale in malls!), here are 13 Canadian ghost stories that will give you goosebumps.
1. The Ghost of the Mackenzie River
One of the oldest ghost stories in Canada, dating back to the 1850s and once widely known in Europe. Augustus Richard Pierce was a fur trader and postmaster of Hudson's Bay in Fort McPherson (Northwest Territories). When he died suddenly at age 33, a man named Roderick McFarlane transported his body by dog sled hundreds of miles south to Fort Simpson.
When wild animals threatened the sled, the dogs surrounded it and barked frantically to protect the body. Along the way, a voice came from the coffin, ordering the dogs to keep running.
Later, McFarlane and his companion reported that while they were trying to sleep, they felt a sudden presence of a ghost and felt so terrified that they could not speak.
2. Ghosts of Calgary City Hall
Strange occurrences within the walls of Calgary's Historic City Hall have been reported more than once. Locals are well aware that ghosts of men and women sometimes stroll through the old building.
The man is believed to have been an inmate who died in police custody more than a century ago in prison cells in the basement of the building. The basement prison block was used from 1911 to 1914, during which time two men died in custody. The credibility of these incidents has been acknowledged in Alberta.
The ghost of a woman was seen on the old stairs of City Hall. The identity is unknown, but some say she could have been a female prisoner or the wife of a municipal councilman.
3. The Great Amherst Mystery
Sometimes ghosts take possession not of houses but of people. The Great Amherst Mystery of the late 1870s describes the events at a cottage that once stood in Amherst, New Scotland, on the corner of Princess and Church Streets, where young Esther Cox, sickly and heartbroken, was tormented by a poltergeist.
The horrific and inexplicable abuse of 18-year-old Esther was a well-documented mystery. An evil, invisible force had held sway over the girl in her family home for a year. In the bedroom she shared with her sister, a strange noise would appear under the bed. Then Esther's body would begin to twitch and ache and swell. She would fall into a trance and say things she couldn't remember later. The bedclothes would fly to the floor, and a strange knocking sound would be heard throughout the house.
One day a scratching sound was heard from behind the bed. When those present investigated, they found a message carved into the wall: "Esther Cox, you are mine to kill."
Witnesses of paranormal activity were not only family members, but also neighboгrs, scientists, clergymen, doctors, and police. The girl was believed to be tormented by a poltergeist or an even more sinister force.
Fortunately, the evil spirits subsided and eventually stopped appearing after Esther got married and moved to New England.
4. Christie's Mansion Mistress
Mr. Christie first came to Toronto in 1848. He was then still a teenager, but had already spent several years as an apprentice to a baker in his native Scotland. When he arrived in Canada, he took a job at a bakery in Yonge, near Davisville. He spent his nights baking bread and in the mornings pushing a handcart to the nearby village of Yorkville, then still owned by the municipality, to sell his wares. Business went well. A few years later he became the owner of his own company. When he died of cancer in June 1900, William Mellis Christie was one of Canada's most famous businessmen
His mansion stood in one of the most prestigious locations in Toronto: across the street from King's Park on the corner of Wellesley. There he died, and his son Robert inherited everything: the money, the business, and the mansion.
That was the end of the happy story of Christie's house.
Robert had a mistress. And all the time he lived in the mansion with his family, she was there, too! He hid her in a secret room behind the wooden panels in the library and called it "Room 29". Everything was arranged to keep the woman in there: there was furniture, a restroom, and a bathtub, and the butler brought food.
In time, Robert began to lose interest in his mistress, and she continued to sit lonely in the room, listening to every rustle. Unable to endure this torment, the woman hanged herself from the rafters using a sheet.
Robert secretly removed her body under cover of darkness and buried it somewhere in the grounds of King's Park. Some say guilt drove him insane: business suffered, he was forced to sell the mansion to the university, and he soon followed his father to his grave.
Christie's mansion is now one of the Regis College buildings. They say you can still see the ghost of that woman there. And formerly, if a man entered Room 29 at night, the door would shut behind him, and it couldn't be opened until morning. Now that room is gone: it's been turned into a kitchen, not hidden behind a secret entrance.
The identity of Robert Christie's mistress has not been established, and her body has never been found.
5. The Phantom Bride of Banff Springs
The legendary Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta holds many secrets, but the most intriguing is the tragic story that unfolded right in the lobby of the building. In the 1930s a young bride was descending the hotel's tall marble staircase leading to the reception hall. She tripped and fell down and crashed to her death. It is said that the cause of her fall was that her dress caught the candles lighting the stairs and it caught fire.
Shortly after this tragic incident, it was documented that hotel guests who had never heard the "ghost bride" story reported seeing a woman in a white wedding dress walk down the stairs and disappear into thin air. Others reported seeing a woman in a burning dress standing on the stairs and then abruptly dissolving, leaving a light frost in her wake. There were also rumors that the bride appeared at night in the ballroom and danced there alone.
Unfortunately (or fortunately), there has been no recent evidence of a ghost, but that doesn't mean the bride won't reappear.
6. Northumberland Ghost Ship
Northumberland Strait separates Prince Edward Island from the mainland. And if, on a foggy night, you happened to be on its shore and saw a three-masted ship engulfed in flames that disappeared a moment later, congratulations: it was the most famous ghost ship in Canada.
It arrives at all times of the year, but is most often seen in spring and fall. Most sightings occur at night, as dusk approaches or an hour before dawn. Its appearance used to herald the approach of a storm.
The ghost ship has been mentioned in print for more than a century: stories about it appear in Roland H. Sherwood's 1948 Parade of Stories, a book about seaside legends, in which he claims that the ship has been seen for more than two hundred years. A rather lengthy description can also be found in Helen Champion's 1939 travel book On the Island. Thanks to these books, the ghost ship gained popularity and began to be mentioned regularly in newspapers from 1939.
It can still be seen today, and residents continue to share rumors of the fiery vessel's appearance. If you are near the strait, don't miss your chance to meet it!
7. The Baldoon Mystery
This is another Canadian ghost story that is hundreds of years old and has a special place in the country's history.
The Baldoon settlement was formed between Wallaceburg and Chatham in the southwest Ontario in the early 1800s and consisted of Scottish immigrants. The community unfortunately settled on a swampy area, and malaria wiped out many of the first residents. Others despaired because of poor farming conditions and left. But John McDonald stayed with his wife and young family to try to succeed.
Soon after that, terrible things began to happen. The women were working in the barn when three poles from the roof inexplicably fell to the ground, nearly hitting them. As they lay in their beds, the family repeatedly heard someone walking around the house. The baby's cradle swayed violently, and not even the efforts of the three men could stop it.
Stones often flew through the windows, as evidenced by the many visitors to the house. The family marked the stones and threw them into the river, but a few minutes later the same stones returned through the glass. In desperation, McDonald boarded up the windows, but the stones flew through the boards. Fires broke out without explanation, sometimes as many as 12 at a time.
It became clear that someone or something wanted the family gone. So they moved to a relative's house nearby, but ghosts haunted them there as well.
As news of the strange events spread, people began to come to the house to personally verify the rumors. Some eyewitnesses were so astonished that they gave testimony that has survived to this day.
In 1830 the incidents ceased: it is said that the head of the family performed a ritual that helped exorcise the spirits.
Years later, people came to see the haunted house, and soon Baldoon's Mystery became one of the most famous ghost stories in Ontario, leaving the small Scottish settlement with a lasting legacy.
8. The Grey Lady of the Citadel
The story, full of romance and drama, took place on November 14, 1900. Miss Cassie Allan, a young girl, was engaged to a soldier from the Citadel. On her wedding day, Cassie waited at the altar for her groom, but he never showed up. The carriage driver drove up to the Citadel to pick up the groom, only to hear from the guard that the husband-to-be had shot himself, finding no other way to hide from his past. The driver went to the church to break the news to the bride, who refused to believe him and went into a terrible tantrum. What happened to her next is unknown, the only thing that is clear is that she has never been able to accept the truth and is still searching for him in the Citadel grounds.
According to security guards, the Grey Lady, smelling of roses and wearing a 19th-century dress, walks the floors of the Citadel Army Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and can still be seen today. In the mid-1980s, one guard spotted a woman in an old-fashioned gray dress in a third-floor window. Another guard, standing at the second-floor balcony, reported seeing "a woman in a long white dress on the veranda walk under it, turn the corner of the building, and disappear."
But these fleeting encounters don't compare to the story told by Hal Thompson, an officer who works with visitors to the Halifax defense complex:
"The most striking observation of the Gray Lady happened to an employee who sat on a chair at one end of the building and greeted visitors as they entered. One day a woman in a white dress entered, and mistaking her for a tourist, the man stood up to greet her. When he looked up, however, she was gone. After that he saw the woman several more times, always in the same white dress and disappearing before he had a chance to talk to her."
The story of the Grey Lady is very popular, and her image is depicted in a set of stamps issued by the Canada Postal Service.
9. Spirits of St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon
Patients and visitors to St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan have a good chance of meeting a ghost. More than one ghost roams the corridors of the old hospital. Both staff and patients have reported paranormal phenomena, such as doors opening and closing spontaneously, loud footsteps and whispers. Patients reported hearing children running and laughing at night when staff said there were no children in the building. The abandoned operating room on the second floor is especially eerie. And it is said that the spirit of a nun who worked in the hospital decades ago walks the hallways of the basement.
10. The Spirit of the Artist
Tom Thomson was an unofficial member of the famous Canadian art collective known as the Group of Seven. In 1917, while canoeing in Algonquin, Ontario, Thomson tragically drowned, though no one knows exactly how it happened. Eight days after his death, he was found floating face down, entangled in fishing wire, near a point in the northeast corner of the lake. Having no coffin, the locals sent for him to be brought in from town; while there was nowhere to hold the body, they simply left him in the water and tied him to the pier for another day.
There are many theories about his death, and they all come to a dead end. Thomson died a few days before his 40th birthday, he was in good health and was just beginning to gain popularity as an artist. The conclusions of the coroner at the time, who did not perform an autopsy but ruled that it was an accident and drowning, were later disproved. To this day, the true cause of death is unknown.
Thomson was buried on July 17, and on that day each year his ghost can be seen floating in a canoe. Canadians seek him out and love to come to the lake, which local businesses do not hesitate to take advantage of. Thomson's ghost is the best advertisement for the place.
11. Saskatchewan Psychiatric Hospital
Sounds like Saskatchewan has the most interesting treatment facilities! Here's a story about another one. The small town of Weyburn used to be home to one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Canada. It was closed, and after the 1960s it was used as a nursing home, then in the late 1990s and early 2000s as offices for Heath Region employees. Scary stories about it everyone in town probably knows.
People fortunate enough to have been there say they have never been there alone. One Internet user wrote:
"I swear it was one of the most haunted places in Canada. Water taps opened by themselves, windows slammed right in front of you. You could hear tables being dragged across the floor. Ask anyone who lived in Weyburn, they must have a story."
The building was demolished and new houses were built on the old site. Some owners of the new houses claim to hear tables being dragged across their floors in places where no one is present.
12. Vancouver Woman in Black
Gastown is one of Vancouver's oldest neighbourhoods and the most haunted. The old Spaghetti Factory, for example, is haunted by as many as four ghosts, the Hotel Europa is haunted by at least two, and the chef's ghost often hangs around the famous Lanternman Pub. The Waterfront Station, built in 1915, is haunted, according to locals, and has seen a girl dancing to old-time music, and an elderly woman who glows and scares the guards at night.
But one of the area's favorite visitor spots is Gaoler's Mews prison. Behind the building is a cobblestone courtyard where the hangman's scaffold once stood. More than 40 people were publicly executed there in the mid-1800s.
The popular Irish Heather pub was located in Gaoler's Mews for several years, and now the L'Abbatoir restaurant is located there. This place has at least 3 ghosts that mere mortals have encountered.
One of them is a woman dressed in black. Sometimes she can be seen behind the restaurant, gliding down the cobblestone walkway from the hangman's scaffold. Keeping her hands on her stomach, she walks south to the end of the passage, where she floats through a wrought iron gate leading to Blood Alley. Beyond the gate she disappears. Some suggest that it is the spirit of the widow of the man hanged in the courtyard, and she will forever mourn her lost love.
One night at the Irish Heaser, a contractor was repairing the men's room on the first floor by himself. He left his tools in the hallway at the back of the pub, next to the bathroom door. But when he went to get the tools he needed, all the tools were missing. He looked around and eventually found them neatly stacked by the main entrance.
The kitchen staff said that when left alone in the pub, they repeatedly heard a woman's voice calling to them. Of course, no one was around.
A girl who works as a guide in the Gastown area told her story:
"During about a third of the tours I do, as soon as we turn into an alley, one of the women in the group grabs her stomach or starts throwing up. I've also seen a black shadow that looks like the hem of a skirt floating from around the corner where we're headed."
13. Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
It's hard to imagine Canada without the lighthouse ghost story. Gibraltar Point is the oldest remaining lighthouse on the Great Lakes and the second oldest in Canada. It was built in 1808 and guided ships into Toronto Harbour from what was then a sandy peninsula until it was decommissioned in 1958.
It's been 207 years since lighthouse keeper J.P. Rademuller disappeared from his post, but the whereabouts of his remains remain a mystery.
Legend has it that on a cold night in 1815, the day after New Year's Day, Rademuller, a German by birth who was said to be brewing his own beer for sale, was murdered by soldiers eager to get drunk for free.
It is assumed that, wanting to hide the evidence, they threw the ranger's body out of the lighthouse. According to another version, his body was dismembered and buried in different places. It was never found.
The incident was reported in the 1815 issue of the York Gazette, and although several soldiers were accused of the crime, no one was ever brought to trial.
Ever since, the caretaker's silhouette has been sliding across the sand in the moonlight, the lights begin to flicker in the windows, and bloodstains appear on the stairs.
...These are not all the stories Canadians have to tell. Like any country with a rich history, it is full of mysteries and riddles. Believe it or not, it's up to everyone, but instead of guessing, it's better to come and make sure in person, prepare a map, drive around all the places and ask the locals.