October 27, 2023
Places with a haunted past.
Our team has travelled all over Canada for various projects. Some of the places we’ve been to have quite a history and some are in or surrounded by areas steeped in spine-chilling tales. Journey with us on this mini-series of Halloween haunts from our travels.
The Smoking Hills, Northwest Territories
On the shores of Cape Bathurst in the Western Arctic, the bleak Smoking Hills have smouldered for centuries, sending sulphuric soot billowing over the Northwest Passage. A place of fire and brimstone, the area is underlain with oil shales that spontaneously ignite when exposed to air. Just to the east is the community of Paulatuk – the name of which means, appropriately, “place of coal.”
The Rapids of The Drowned, Northwest Territories
The name’s no joke. Where the vast Slave River crashes into the Precambrian Shield just shy of Fort Smith, it explodes into a maelstrom of house-high waves, log-eating whirlpools and galloping currents. The features have names that range from the sublime to the ridiculous – like Rollercoaster, Rockem Sockem, and Land of A Thousand Holes.
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
One of the most famous Ghost Stories from Peggy’s Cove is that of the “Lady in Blue”.
According to legend, Peggy’s Cove was named after the only survivor of a schooner that ran aground and sank in 1800… a young girl by the name of Margaret, and was taken in by one of the local families. Locals called her “Peggy “or “Peggy of the Cove”, and some say she married a local man and settled in the fishing village, before moving to North Dakota.
As the story goes, there was a woman who had traveled from Europe to Canada, hoping for a better life for herself and her two children. Unfortunately, she didn’t have enough money to bring her children with her, but hoped to earn enough money to be reunited with her children. Settling in the Village of “Peggy’s Cove”, she married a local man, who was very kind to her.
One day, she was sitting on the rocks daydreaming of her children, and was very sad because she missed them so. Her new husband soon joined her, and seeing that she was feeling down, he tried to cheer her up, by singing and danced on the rocks. As he was dancing, he slipped and fell on the rocks, killing him instantly. The locals found him later, but there was no sign of her. Some say that she likely felt responsible for his death, and she took her own life by falling in to the sea.
Even to this day, some people have seen the mysterious “Lady in Blue”. It has been said that she looks poised to jump into the sea, and when someone tries to help, she disappears. Sadly, reliving that fateful moment over and over again.
Is the “Lady in Blue” the only spirit who still haunts the rocky shore? I seriously doubt it. Peggy’s Cove has seen countless deaths throughout its history, from people getting to close to the waves, and swept out to sea, to the Swissair 911 disaster in September of 1998.
Bedford Basin, Nova Scotia
Bedford Basin is an enclosed bay that forms the northwestern end of Halifax Harbour, and it’s haunted by a phantom rowboat. The sound of someone rowing has been heard on foggy nights, although the boat is never seen. Legend has it the ghostly sound is all that’s left of a dory full of fishermen who perished when their boat capsized.
L’Auberge St. Gabriel, Quebec
Old Montreal restaurant L’Auberge St. Gabriel is reported to be one of the most haunted places in Canada. The restaurant came in fifth place nationally with its reports of a little girl from the 19th century, among other ghosts haunting the halls.
Built in 1668 by a French soldier, the building has had many tenants but has predominantly served as a place for folks to eat, drink and spend the night. It was in fact the first auberge in Canada to receive a liquor license way back in 1754.
Some people say there is a ghost of a little girl who was burned in a fire and she can be heard playing the piano from time to time. Other guests say that they feel “cold chills” inside the narrow, stone-walled venue, even during the hottest days of summer.
Chalmers United Church, Ontario
Build in 1890 the Chalmers United Church is a good example of Romanesque architecture, with a large tower and soft rounded windows – an impressive building in a pretty city.
But visit there in the evening, when the streets are quiet and the buildings are shrouded in darkness, and the church gives off a decidedly scarier energy. Maybe it’s the looming tower or the pale exterior that seems to reflect the moonlight. Or maybe it’s the terrifying ghost that lurks in the organ section, haunting and taunting generations of unsuspecting organists.
This church’s ghost stories are infamous enough that it is one of the stops in a local ghost tour, Haunted Walks.
The Empress Hotel, British Columbia
The luxurious Fairmont Empress is one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria, British Columbia, and it’s no wonder that some of its distinguished guests have decided not to leave.
A regular sighting from both guests and staff is a slender man sporting a mustache and holding a cane walking on the staircase to the lower lobby and down hallways. He’s apparently the ghost of the architect, Francis Rattenbury, who helped build the hotel. Rattenbury’s spirit is said to have returned to the Fairmont Empress after death, hoping to hear the people’s praise once again for his architectural masterpiece.
Other reports include a maid continuing her daily duties on the sixth floor, still cleaning after her death. A vision of a young girl has also been seen, as well as the apparition of an employee who reportedly had taken his own life in the west tower of the building. Guests have reported an elderly woman in pajamas knocking on their door, and when they try to help her find her room, she leads them toward the elevator before vanishing.
Tune in to our Instagram account @republicarch for daily instalments of more terrorizing tales.