In culture after culture, people believe that the soul lives on after death, that rituals can change the physical world and divine the truth, and that illness and misfortune are caused and alleviated by spirits, ghosts, saints ... and gods.

STEVEN PINKER, How the Mind Works


Friday, October 31, 2008

10 Ghostly Mysteries of Canada


No.10 - The Walker Theatre's Ghostly Performers

Winnipeg, Manitoba

Inspired by a prominent Chicago theatre, Corliss Powers Walker's extensive 2,000-seat theatre opened in 1907 and would prove influential in shaping Winnipeg's artistic history. Walker would also create a series of theatres across the country. By the time he stopped working at Winnipeg's theatre in 1933, the seeds had already been sown for a haunting.

Stage actors Laurence Irving and Mabel Hackney drowned in 1914 and ever since they've been apparently engaged in ghostly singing, shouting and stage performances. Recordings have documented the sounds, and the ghostly twosome is known to hold impromptu performances to this day.



No.9 - The Hatley Castle Ghost

Victoria, British Columbia

The building now known as the Royal Roads Military College was originally a castle replica built by the former Premier James Dunsmuir in 1908. Known for its popular social functions, the house was eventually bought by another family in the 1930s. They soon began seeing the ghost of a young man killed in an earlier war.

When the building became a military college, the young ghost remained and he was joined by the ghostly Laura Dunsmuir. She would regularly mess up blankets, drop kitchen pots and watch the soldiers, all in an alleged effort to save them from a wartime death.



No.8 - The Haunted Five Fishermen Restaurant

Halifax, Nova Scotia

One of Canada's earliest schools in 1817, this historic Halifax building became

an art school and eventually a mortuary. As fate would have it, the mortuary was present during the sinking of the Titanic and the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

In 1975, the building became the Five Fishermen Restaurant, and while the food is great, so are the ghosts. Staff and paranormal investigators have recorded strange knocks, seen fast shadows ducking behind the bar, and felt taps on the shoulder. The ghosts have remained mostly invisible, except for an old grey-haired man who enters the bar during the l ate hours.



No.7 - The Banff Springs Hotel's Hidden Room

Banff, Alberta

The opening of the Banff Springs Hotel introduced tourists to the wonders of the Canadian Rockies. What these visitors didn't know, however, was that the hotel was built with a hidden room that only the construction crew knew about. Undiscovered until 1926, the area around the room was blamed for housing spirits and frightening guests.


The 1928 re-opening of the hotel removed the room, but spirits have continued to linger. A ghostly bellhop named Sam offers to open doors for guests and a long-deceased bride haunts the bridal suite and re-enacts the living moment when her dress caught on fire.

No.6 - The Great Amherst Mystery

Amherst, NovaScotia

After an attempted sexual assault in 1878, Esther Cox was victimized by an alleged poltergeist. The attacks began as noises and progressed to the point where Esther was experiencing seizures and continual pain. A death threat even appeared on her bedroom wall.


Actor and psychic investigator Walter Hubbell stayed with Esther's family in an attempt to save her. It was determined that the poltergeist was several spirits, most notably that shoemaker Bob Nickle, but no one knew why Esther was targeted. After going to jail for arson (which she blamed on the poltergeists), Esther was released and the spirits let her be.


No.5 - The Dagg Poltergeist

Clarendon, Quebec

The Daggs were a peaceful family in a Quebec farmhouse in the late 1800s. After they adopted a Scottish orphan named Dinah, a poltergeist began to harass them. Smashed windows, strange fires and moved objects were commonplace, and finally owner George Dagg asked journalist Percy Woodcock to see the events for himself.

Woodcock, Dagg and 15 others watched as the poltergeist started multiple fires, moved kitchen jugs through the house, and tossed stones through windows. Each witness signed documents stating that they had seen the poltergeist and after creating a sufficient spectacle, the spirit left the Daggs alone some three months later.

No.4 - The Baldoon Mystery

Wallaceburg, Ontario

Between 1830 and 1840, John McDonald bought a lucrative patch of Ontario land. He immediately got offers to resell it, especially from an old woman who wouldn't take no for an answer. McDonald refused, only to be plagued by supernatural activity like crashing poles, unknown footsteps and bullets flying through his windows.

Fearful, McDonald visited a psychic who told him to wound any strange birds lurking nearby because it would also wound the perpetrator. McDonald noticed a black headed-goose and after hitting it with a rock, he noticed the next day that the old woman from earlier was now suffering from a broken arm.

No.3 - The Wynyard Ghost

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Major Wynyard was a British officer serving in Canada during the American War of Independence. On October 23, 1823, Wynyard was having dinner with his fellow officers when a ghost entered. The other men were afraid, but Wynyard recognized the spirit as his brother. The spirit waved and disappeared before the men noted the date and time of the appearance.

Following the incident, Wynyard received mail from his family in England. A letter informed him that his brother had died two days to the hour after his ghostly appearance in Canada. With multiple witnesses and written documentation, this ghostly tale refuses to go away.


No.2 - Peter MacIntyre's Cemetery Visit

Tracadie, Prince Edward Island


Peter MacIntyre joined some men for an evening of drinking and fireside chats. One man told the others about a spirit that was haunting the Scotch Fort Cemetery. MacIntyre wasn't afraid and offered to go the cemetery alone and put a hay-fork in front of a grave to announce his visit.

The next morning, Peter was found dead at the graveyard with a clear expression of fright and his hay-fork stuck through the back of his jacket. Did one of the men set him up? Was an angry spirit responsible for his death? No one knows for sure.


No.1 - The Haunted Mackenzie House

Toronto, Ontario

William Lyon Mackenzie was Toronto's first mayor. Politics ran through his family as his great grandson William Lyon Mackenzie King eventually became prime minister. During Mackenzie King's tenure, his great-grandfather's old house was up for demolishment, but he agreed to keep it standing as a museum.

The Mackenzie House still stands, but it has been haunted for over 50 years. Ghostly sightings of the old mayor and his wife have been described in detail, as have sounds of his old printing press and his master piano. For visitors, it's now a classic museum that is filled with history and supernatural spooks.

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