I have been working on a lot of new blogs recently and they all have two things in common, they have to do with the paranormal and Canada. I had sat down to read some ghost stories and watch YouTube videos about ghosts, the paranormal and spirits and I noticed that while there is so much, often of the same story, there are not really a lot of stories from individual countries. Mainly I found the focus to be on America or Britain. So, I sat down and started to read all I could about the paranormal in Canada. I picked up the Haunted In Canada series by Joel A. Sutherland (an amazing read by the way) and from there I just got entranced. I knew what I wanted to do.
I began diving into the paranormal, looking up ghost stories around me or places I have already been to. The first few tales that I have blogged about have been about places that I have come in contact with. I felt like this was the perfect way to start. Then I decided I wanted to share them because for me, it was something I wanted so maybe there are others who feel the same way. Who doesn’t want to learn about a few ghosties in their area.
I began with Marie Josephte Corriveau because I was reading Haunted Canada 4 while laying in my room in Lévis at 10 o’clock at night. I was totally freaked out. I had heard about La Corriveau when I was in Québec City but I never realized she is said to haunt Lévis. After the initial spook I decided to look up her story and I found out so much I had not known. I found out her history, I found out about the history of her time in 1763, I found out about military law and so much. I felt like I was getting back to what I loved – studying History. So while it was a ghost story, it was also an insight to how Canada was at the time.
The next was the Royal York Hotel. I chose this one because I remembered being stuck in Toronto for a night because it had been such a bad snow storm. I was unable to get back to Thunder Bay. When you’re stuck and your flight gets cancelled at night, Porter would give you a voucher to stay at the Royal York Hotel. So, that night I had to find my way to the Royal York, in the dark, in a city I didn’t know and I was honestly so freaked out. When I got inside the Royal York I was even more freaked out. Right in the lobby there were busts of clowns. They were arranged in a circle, inside glass boxes and there were just so many of them. I don’t really like clowns, they creep me out. Added to the fact that I was staying in a hotel that had a very eerie and creepy feeling to it. I joked that it looked like it was something out of a horror film. Imagine my surprise years later reading up on it and finding out about the travesties that are said to haunt the place. I wasn’t surprised, but I wasn’t comforted.
The last one was something very important to me. The Sleeping Giant in Thunder Bay. It is so important that I have it tattooed on me. I lived in Thunder Bay for about four years and the first time I had ever gone there I felt like it was home. It was where I belonged. I was told I had family up there and my great grandfather had come from Fort William, Thunder Bay. The first story I had ever heard of the area was the one of Nanabijou. I couldn’t see it that day, it was a crazy snow storm. But after that, during my years of University, I would hear that tale many different ways from different people. I would sit out on The Bluffs or at Waterfront park and just look out onto Lake Superior. I never felt more calm then just meditating with The Sleeping Giant in view. When it was time for me to leave and begin the next journey of my life, I couldn’t leave The Sleeping Giant behind. I got him tattooed on my arm.
All of these places for my first paranormal blogs were important parts of my life. Some of them had bigger roles than others but still, they had played some part of my life. I needed to learn more about them, plus I have this History degree, why not use it to study history. I loved looking into these tales. I loved learning more about the time and about what it is that makes these so supernatural. It is honestly amazing.
I decided to share these tales to fill a gap. To spread more Canadian History, ghost tales and to learn more. Every week I plan to do this. Monday is ghosts. People who have died but have not passed on. Wednesday is haunted places. What is it that makes these places so spooky? What happened during their time? And Friday is a legend or a spiritual being. I want to know about the tales of this land before European colonization and I want to learn about spirit animals, spirits and just tales of how things came to be. So here it is, Piercing Moon Creations Ponders about the supernatural!
Whenever you take a trip to Northern Ontario, the main hub is Thunder Bay. This city is made out of two older cities: Fort William and Port Arthur, amalgamated in the 1970s. Fort William is one of the oldest and first fur trading posts in Canada and North America, and it has only grown since that time. Before colonization began, Thunder Bay was home to many tribes of Algonquin people.
Sitting at the most Northern part of Lake Superior, it serves a beautiful view of the largest Great Lake. The most impressive sight that can be seen from any hill in Thunder Bay it that of The Sleeping Giant. A formation of land that looks like a giant who laid down in the water and fell asleep. Now, rocks, trees and other life live upon this giant who has never gotten up. It is a wonderful sight to behold.
The tale of this giant is old and if
one has been to Thunder Bay, they have likely heard of Nanabijou and the silver
mine resting at his feet. There are variations to the tale but this is one of
the popular ones. The legend tells how this particular formation of land came
There was a powerful and benevolent
god, Nanabijou (or Nanna Bijou or Nanabozho) who loved the Ojibwa tribe of the
Great Lakes region. He watched over them and helped them in their times of
need. One of these times was the arrival of Europeans, whitemen, in the area
who had begun setting up trading posts and seeing what resources could be
gleaned from the land. With them, the Europeans, brought disease and alcohol,
both having long-lasting and detrimental effects to the native population of
Canada. It was during this difficult time that Nanabijou offered a gift to the
Ojibwa tribe, a gift that the Europeans must never learn about or it would turn
to a curse and Nanabijou would turn it to stone.
The gift was silver.
The Ojibwa people began mining the
silver. They produced such finely crafted items with the silver better than all
of the Algonquin tribes in the area. Others began to be envious of this. The
ones who were the most envious were the Sioux.
The Sioux went to the Ojibwa camp
and began to torture and kill the Ojibwa but the Ojibwa refused to give up
Nanabijou’s gift. Figuring that they could not get the information by force,
the Sioux decided on a different tactic. They sent a scout, disguised as an
Ojibwa tribesman, into the camp. He sat and listened, finally learning the
location of the mine. Once he had found out what he had come for, he left,
stopping at a trading post on his way.
Having nothing to pay with, the
scout traded a piece of silver which excited the two Europeans working the
trading post. To find out where the scout had gotten the silver, and where they
could get more, the Europeans gave him alcohol. Once drunk, the Sioux scout
divulged all of the secrets and immediately the two Europeans set off to find
the silver mine.
Nanabijou was not blind and he knew
exactly what was happening. As soon as the Europeans knew where his gift was
located he sprang into action. Angry and disappointed Nanabijou created a
massive storm from Lake Superior. Waves became taller than hills and the wind
whipped trees from the ground. Water filled the Europeans boat, killing them.
Then, Nanabijou laid down, arms crossed over his chest and the mine under his
feet away from everyone. There, Nanabijou lays to this day, protecting his
The Ojibwa knew what had happened
instantly and gave their thanks at being allowed to access what silver they
had. The “whitemen,” however, still try mining to this day.
To mine Silver Islet is a massive
undertaking as the mine is 384 metres deep and beneath the dangerous and cold
waters of Lake Superior.
In 1870 the Montreal Mining Company
sold it to Alexander Sibley of Silver Islet Mining Company. They had a rough
start but once William B. Frue became lead engineer they knew to build a
breakwall to protect the islet and had pumps that were to continue running at
all times, pumping water out of the mine.
The mine became so deep that the
timber supports could not handle the rock weight and they had to leave a thick
silver vein running down the mine leading to the roof to help drag the rocks
up. After thirteen years mining came to a halt. The mine needed coal badly to
keep the pumps going and a shipment of coal needed did not arrive. The pumps
ceased and the mine flooded. After that, other attempts were never really made
to reopen the mine. So, the mine closed and Nanabijou still rests with the mine
at his feet.
While this legend also holds some
fact to it and artifacts from this tribe have had silver, there does not seem
to be any from the stated islands themselves. The story of The Sleeping Giant
is possibly just a version of a much older story that can no longer be traced
to its origins. It is an incredibly important tale of the area and it is part
of the history. There is no denying that the Sleeping Giant is a beautiful
sight and it lays protecting a silver mine and the tribes of Lake Superior.
When one thinks of a haunted hotel
in Canada the first name on their tongue is usually the Fairmont Royal York
Hotel, or just The Royal York. Whether this hotel is actually haunted is quite
contested but the hotel is one of the oldest and grandest in Canada. It is a
beautiful and breathtaking site, inside and out. It is an icon and it is a large
part of the history of Toronto.
The Royal York was originally a
small, brick hotel called Ontario Terrace. It was made by Thomas Dick, a
lake-boat captain, in 1843. After which, ownership, name and shape changed
several times until Captain Dick repurchased it in 1862 and named it Queen’s
Hotel. Sometime after, it was bought again by Thomas McGraw and Henry Winett,
who were both well-established hoteliers. For sixty-seven years it was a major
part of the now booming city. It was so much a part of Toronto that when it was
set to be demolished by the Canadian Pacific Railroad there was a massive
protest. No one wanted to see it go.
McGraw had passed away in 1901 and
Winett in 1925. Winett’s state sold Queen’s Hotel to the Canadian Pacific
Railroad who had seen the opportunity of constructing a magnificent hotel
across from Toronto’s Union Station. It was a perfect idea for a railway
company, so they demolished Queen’s Hotel and created The Royal York with
construction beginning in 1927. Construction finished in 1929 and it stood as
the largest hotel in the British Commonwealth at the time. Even now it is a
breathtaking sight. At the time of its opening it boasted twenty-eight floors,
1,000 guestrooms with radios and private baths (a real luxury at this time), a
12, 000 book library, ten elevators, one and a half acres of public rooms,
thirty-five telephone operators for a sixty-six-foot switchboard, a golf
course, a twelve bed hospital, its own bank and the largest kitchen in all of
Toronto. It was fabulous and grand and the first person to ever be registered
as a guest was Lord Willington, the Governor General of Canada at that time.
Over the years many renovations have
been made. New wings have been added, increasing the ability to hold more
guests. A health centre and a pool have also been added. It has held a great
deal of famous people such as Tina Turner, Eartha Kitt, Ray Charles, Liberace
and so many more. And of course Queen Elizabeth II and others from the Royal
Family have stayed at the Royal York.
So, what is it that makes people
believe this hotel is haunted?
Well, anything with a significant
amount of history will find things attracted to it. Rumours, gossip, legends,
stories and sometimes even spirits.
One of the most common spirits seen
are a man and his wife. On their wedding night, after the festivities, the two
of them went to their room on the eighth floor where the man proceeded to
bloodily murder his wife while she slept. After, he killed himself. He is said
to be seen wandering the halls of the eighth floor and some staircases, while
she is stuck, tragically, haunting the room she was murdered in.
Another spirit that is commonly seen
is a former employee of the Royal York who hung himself in a stairway
connecting to electrical and maintenance. Sometimes when he is seen, he does
not appear to have any legs and people are left wondering – what exactly
happened to his legs?
There are times when the ballroom is
a flurry of activity, even with no one inside it. Spirits are said to be
dancing, twirling around their partners and having a lovely evening. Sometimes
guests, whose rooms are close to the ballroom, will complain of the
festivities. They hear loud music and partying, but, there was no event
happening at the time.
When the SS Noronic went up in flames in 1949 The Royal York’s hospital was utilized as so many people were injured and there was not enough room in the nearby hospital. Taxis from the hotel became makeshift ambulances, hurrying victims to the hotel’s hospital and the regular hospital to be treated. It is said that about 139-160 people died in this devastating fire and many who did not die were left injured. It is also assumed that after this time more spirits had begun to be reported. Children are heard running up and down the halls, laughing and playing. Author, Christopher Heard, noted this during his time living at the hotel. Although no one has seen a full body apparition of a child, they just tend to be quite noisy.
The Royal York Hotel has had its fair share of tragedy. It has held death as accidents, murder and suicide. It is said that when a life is taken suddenly and in such a devastating way, their spirits linger with so much unfinished business. Since they are no longer living, they cannot finish their business and are stuck to haunt or relive the same moment over and over. While it remains an icon and a beautiful landmark in Toronto, it is also considered one of the most haunted places in the city.
The city of Québec is one of the
oldest cities established in Canada by colonizers. Québec City was founded in
1608 by the French and since that time, it has played a significant role in the
formation of Canada as it stands today. For a city that sits at over four
hundred years old, it is not a wonder that it holds a great deal of history and
tales of hauntings. One haunting in particular has captured the minds of
citizens and visitors alike. It is the story of Marie-Josephte Corriveau, or La Corriveau. Marie-Josephte Corriveau
was a young woman who was found guilty of the murder of her second husband and
was sentenced to death in 1763. While her story has become inflated with magic,
witches and dozens of murdered husbands, the tale of her life and execution
seems like a normal story of the law doing its job – right or wrong. That does
not mean her story lacks anything interesting but it is the idea that she lives
on after her execution that makes it just that more eerie.
Marie-Josephte Corriveau was born in
Saint Vallier, Québec in 1733 to Marie-Françoise Bolduc and Joseph Corriveau.
Out of the ten children birthed, Marie-Josephte was the only one to survive to
adulthood. Not much is known about her childhood, except that her father had
enough wealth for his child to live comfortably. Her story really began at age
sixteen when she married her first husband Charles Bouchard, a farmer from
Saint Vallier. Together they had three children, two daughters and a son. Most
people agree that they had an average marriage with some arguments but
generally a happy one. So when Bouchard passed away in 1760 no one really
thought much of it. Although it was a bit of a surprise that fifteen months
later she got remarried to Louis Etienne Dodier, another farmer from Saint
Vallier. At this time in history a woman relied heavily on a man to provide for
her, so Marie-Josephte was desperate to remarry for the sake of her children.
However, her choice of suitor proved to be a poor one.
Dodier and Marie-Jospehte had a very
problematic relationship, Dodier was said to be extremely abusive towards his
wife. Marie-Josephte had even begged to be allowed to separate from her husband
to no avail. Two of her three children even went to live with their
grandparents, who also disliked their daughter’s new husband. Joseph Corriveau
is especially noted for his immense disapproval and dislike of Dodier. Joseph
and Dodier had many altercations and people of Saint Vallier considered them to
both be very violent men. The British officer, James Abercrombie, in command of
the occupying British troops often took the side of Dodier, the Corriveaux had
become a thorn in Abercrombie’s side. They always seemed to be making trouble,
not that Dodier was much better.
In early 1763 things came to a
climax and Dodier was found dead in his stable. His head was caved in and he
had lacerations all over his face. While rumours immediately spread that
Marie-Josephte and Joseph were somehow involved, it was swiftly ruled an
accident. Dodier was said to have had his head kicked in by one of his horses.
Captain Jaques Corriveau, nephew of Joseph and peacekeeper for the area, wrote
a report to give to Abercrombie, who immediately disbelieved it, it was all too
suspicious for Abercrombie. Also Dodier was buried hastily on 28 January 1763,
only a day after he was found dead, this added on another layer of suspicion.
Abercrombie did not let the issue lay and investigated further into Dodier’s
death. It was ruled foul play when Abercrombie talked to a regimental surgeon
who stated that the wounds could not have been made by horse hooves, especially
ones who did not have horse shoes like Dodier’s. There was no doubt in anyone’s
mind that Marie-Josephte and Joseph Corriveau were the ones involved. The two
of them were arrested and sent to a jail in Québec, where they would await an
English military trial.
1763 marked the year when New France
was handed to Britain at the conclusion of the Seven-Years-War and citizens
were now tried by a court structured similarly to English law. Since British
military occupation began in Québec around 1760 citizens were tried in martial
courts by the British army. It was not until 1764 when news that New France was
officially under English rule that civil courts, modelled after English civil
courts, were established. Due to this, Marie-Josephte and Joseph were tried in
a military court in front of thirteen officers.
It took eleven days to come to the conclusion that the two of them were guilty. According to both Captain Corriveau and Claude Dion, a labouror for Dodier, Joseph had told them ‘some kind of misfortune would befall Dodier soon.’ Dion also stated Marie-Josphete had said something similar, to which, Dodier had responded by slapping her several times in the face. A cousin of Marie-Josephte, Isabelle Sylvain, was also asked to be a witness but committed perjury and was subject to thirty lashes and branded with a P on her hand. All the evidences and witnesses pointed to Joseph being the murderer and Marie-Jospehte being an accomplice solely due to gossip about her offering to pay soldiers to beat up her husband, telling Dodier she preferred Bouchard and being a drunkard. Although neither one could be placed at the scene of the murder. Joseph was found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. Marie-Josephte was found guilty of being an accomplice and sentenced to sixty lashes with a cat of nine tails and branded with the letter M on her hand. It seemed as if everything was wrapping up with a neat little bow on top.
Until the night before Joseph’s
execution. He confessed that he did not murder Dodier, it was his daughter who
had done it. In exchange for the truth he was to be set free with no
punishment. So began a second trial where Marie-Josephte confessed to hitting
her husband twice in the head with an axe while he slept. After, she begged her
father to help her drag Dodier to the barn where it would look like an
accident. Charges were dropped against Joseph and Marie-Josephte was sentenced
to hang and then to be gibbeted as a warning. This was a sentence from English
law, usually only reserved for males committing petty treason. Since Québec was
under military law and during this time a woman was considered subservient to a
man in both civil and criminal law, it seemed like a fitting punishment for
her. Not only that but it seemed as though the British wanted the French to
know that they were now in charge, crimes would not be tolerated.
Marie-Josephte was executed around 18 April, 1763 on the Buttes-à-Nepveau
beside the Plains of Abraham.
After being hung, Marie-Josephte was
gibbeted in a “cage” that she had to pay for, at Pointe-Lévy, present day
Lévis. Her cage was more like a metal harness that measured about five feet in
length and was used to hold her body straight. Her body hung at a crossroads in
Lévis between Bienville and Lauzon, most likely present day Rue Saint Joseph
and Rue de l’Entente, for about thirty-eight to forty days, less than what was
sentenced. Her corpse was likely removed due to complaints about the sight of
her blackened and peeling skin, her hair falling out, and animals picking at
her. It was a grotesque sight mixed with an even worse smell, so her body was
taken down. She was buried, cage and body, in the cemetery by
Saint-Joseph-de-la-Pointe-Lévy Church. Her story seemed to lay forgotten, only
ghost stories and rumours surrounded her until 1849 when work on the cemetery
began. Her cage was unburied and put in the church’s cellar for storage. After,
it was to be reburied but what happens next is a bit hazy and not at all
It is said that the cage was stolen
by the P.T. Barnum who brought it to his New York Museum. It was later acquired
by The Boston Museum with a place card that simply read “From Québec.” After,
the cage ended up in yet another museum, this time it was in Salem
Massachusetts. Société d’histoire de Lévis negotiated with the museum and
brought the cage back home to Québec where is sits on display at the Musée de
la Civilisation to this day. Thus, the conclusion of Marie-Josephte Corriveau
and her cage is here, but her story lives on, inflated and intertwined with the
Marie-Josephte Corriveau, or La Corriveau as she is generally referred to, is said to not rest in peace. At the crossroad where her body was left to rot people are said to hear sounds of metal scrapping, bones clattering, and moans. Sometimes they even hear their name being spoken by a female voice, begging them to carry her across the Saint Lawrence River. Not only are there sounds but there are physical sensations such as cold spots, the smell of decay, feelings of being watched and being rushed at by someone with decaying hands. All of these combined with the rumours and elaborations of her story have made a sensational tale. People claim she has had more than just two husbands, who she killed and was only caught after Dodier. They claim she has done many more crimes and added more and more gruesome details to her stories. Some also consider her a sorceress or a witch, especially after her cage ended up in Salem, saying she killed her many husbands for magic. While her story happened a long time ago and accusing women of witchcraft is common, there is no denying that she is considered a charged murderess and possibly a restless spirit.
The haunting of La Corriveau may be contentious but there is no arguing that she
remains one of the most famous murderers and murder stories in the city of
Québec. It is a tale that is told and retold again and again. Warnings of a
ghost are whispered to each other when walking in Old Québec and Old Lévis.
There may have been a time that Marie-Josephte Corriveau would not have been
punished so harshly, she was subject to the laws of her time. Now her story and
possibly her spirit live on to tell their tale in the streets of Québec and
Murray and Boissery, Beverly. “The Many Trials of Marie-Josephte Corriveau.” In
Uncertain Justice: Canadian Women and
Capital Punishment, 1754-1953, 39-59. Toronto, Ontario: Dundurn Press,
2000. Google Books version.
“Legislation, Magistrates and Judges: High Law and Low Law in England and the
Empire.” In The British and Their Laws in
the Eighteenth Century. Edited by David Lemmings, 59-79. Woodbridge,
Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2005. Google Books version.