The mountain that moves once moved so much that seventy to ninety people were buried underneath it. On 29 April 1903 Turtle Mountain in Alberta had a rockslide that sent 90 million tons of limestone rolling down the side. It became one of Canada’s most deadly and largest slides in history. Now, as the eastern part of Frank, Alberta remains covered in limestone, it is an eerie and desolate place to visit. With the amount of bodies never recovered and the tragedy that occurred, reports of hauntings in the area are considerable.
Native Nations of
the Blackfoot and K’Tunaxa called Turtle Mountain, “the mountain that moves.”
It was said that they would not even camp near this mountain because of how
unstable it was. Yet, when colonization began, settlers saw that Turtle Mountain
was also rich in coal, a resource that was integral to the development of
Alberta. The town of Frank was then built right beside the mountain and a mine
was placed inside.
The structure of Turtle Mountain is incredibly unsafe. Limestone and coal are weak in structure and movement of the mountain caused an inverted V shape where water ran through. This opened up more fissures and gaps where water would freeze and unfreeze, causing more internal pressure. Added to the weak structure, the mining activity did not help the integrity. The winter of 1903 had significantly high amounts of snow and in April 1903 it was unseasonably warm, causing the huge amounts of snow to melt. On 28 April 1903 all the water refroze and the pressure inside the mountain was too much. The mountain broke and a rockslide occurred.
Seventy to ninety
people were buried and most remain buried to this day. Twenty-three people
survived, many of them children. The eastern part of Frank was buried, two
kilometres of track of the Canadian Pacific Railway was covered and the coal
mine completely caved in. The Frank Slide, as it is known, remains as one of
the most devastating avalanches in Canadian history. People, such as Lillian
Clark, had her entire family buried. Adults threw their babies to the surface
while they were being buried. Gladys Ennis, who was twenty-seven months old,
was one of these babies. Her mother had cleaned out the mud from her mouth and
nose before passing away. Gladys Ennis was the last known survivor of the Frank
Slide, having passed away in 1995.
As with any
tragedy, spiritual activity in the area is high. There can be a very eerie
feeling when driving passed a landslide where people remain buried. People have
reported seeing strange grey mist over the debris. Others have talked about
ghostly figures who wander the rocks. It is said that they are apparitions of
people who had survived the slide and are still trying to find their buried
loved ones. Whatever the case, Turtle Mountain is a place that is both
beautiful and creepy.
The slide that
buried up to ninety people was one of the deadliest in Canada. While the
primary reasoning for the avalanche points to the geological structure of the
mountain, weather and human activity within it also are high secondary factors.
Ghost inhabit the area as tragedy makes it difficult to move on. Now, Alberta
has a monitoring program to record the mountain that moves to ensure that
something like this does not happen again.
The Province of Alberta has a less
established written history and because of this, it can be difficult to find
any tales of hauntings and ghosts. From the Maritimes to Ontario and in British
Columbia there are massive amounts of history, written history that is, that
was recorded. Especially when colonization began, there tends to be a lot more
stories of hauntings. The colonization of Alberta began a bit later than the
East Coast and British Columbia and so we see that ghost stories don’t pop up
until a bit later.
This isn’t to say that Alberta lacks
in any way. The culture and landscape of this prairie province is phenomenal.
It is a beautiful place to visit. It is, however, just a bit more difficult to
find well established and told ghost stories. There is one in particular that
catches the eye and that is the story of the Galt Museum in Lethbridge.
Lethbridge was a city built on the
coal industry. Most people who live there worked for the Alberta Railway and
the Coal Company. The Coal Company was founded and owned by the Galt family,
who were also considered one of the founding members of the city itself. The
Galts had an enormous role to play in the development of Lethbridge.
Due to the coal industry and the
influx of settlers on the land, there was a need for a hospital or a health
centre of some kind. People, mainly workers, were being treated privately,
which was costly on the individual’s part. So, Sir Alexander Galt invested in
making the first public hospital in his city to treat his workers and others.
In the 1890s a hospital was built and it was named the Sir Alexander Galt
The hospital had around sixty-five
beds and it was quite small. In 1908-10 there became a greater need to expand
as more and more regular citizens began seeking health care. An addition of a
new wing was initiated by Sir Alexander Galt’s son, Elliot Torrance Galt, and
it was opened by Sir Wilfrid Laurier on 1 September 1910. At this time the Galt
School of Nursing was also opened to educate and supply more nurses. By 1930,
another thirty-five beds were added to accommodate the growing population.
However, in 1955 a brand new
municipal hospital was opened in Lethbridge. The Galt Hospital became a
long-term rehabilitation centre for the next ten years. Afterwards, a part of
the building became known as the Galt Museum while the other part became the
Lethbridge Health Unit. Now, the building is mostly the Galt Museum.
The Galt Museum was established
before it was moved to the old Galt Hospital. It was created in 1964 as the
first civic museum of the area. It was curated by George McKillop and held in
the former Bowmen Elementary School. Up until 1971 it was run by The Lethbridge
and District Historical Society. It grew until it could no longer fit its space
and the old hospital needed a new use. So, the museum was moved into the old
Galt Hospital and was called the Galt Museum.
But, as with many old hospitals, the
buildings of the Galt Hospital are considered haunted. As a place where lives
often end and sorrow lingers, hospitals are considered hotspots for ghosts and
hauntings. The old Galt Hospital is no exception.
The first possible haunting is a
ghost named George. It is believed that George was a sixty-year-old farmer from
outside of Lethbridge in a town called Magrath. His full name was George Benjamin
Bailey. He had come to the hospital to get his appendix removed in the 1930s
and when he was wheeled into the elevator he had only gotten in halfway when
the doors closed on the bed and the elevator began to rise. The wheels were
caught on the outside and the nurse was not able to pull the bed fully into the
elevator. George slid headfirst off the bed to the bottom of the elevator
shaft. Surprisingly, he didn’t actually die immediately. He was up walking and
laughing about what had happened that day. He did, however, die a few days
later from head injuries.
The second possible haunting is in
the old children’s ward. There are two possible ghosts: Sarah and Alexander,
who are also thought to be of native heritage. It is unsure who they are or why
they are there but they like to wave at people walking outside from the
upstairs window when the museum has long since closed. There are times when
people hear the laughter and chatter of children while they are in the
People have also reported lights
turning off and on, footsteps in the hallways and hearing conversations coming
from empty rooms. The most off putting is the reports of shadow people watching
workers do their job.
Is the Galt Museum haunted by old
patients of the hospital? People are positive that George at least haunts it.
Old hospitals can hold a lot of heavy energy and tragedy within it, so
hospitals are known as prime locations for hauntings. The Galt Museum may hold
more than artifacts from the past, it may also contain the people from the past
There is a creature that has terrorized many villages across Europe before it made its way over the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. This creature hides among regular humans during the day and most nights but on the nights of the full moon, it cannot hide any longer. It attacks livestock and takes the form of a giant humanoid wolf. In English it is the Werewolf, in French it is called Le Loup-Garou. In 1700s Québec le Loup-Garou was considered a very real fear and now it is considered an old French legend.
Le Loup-Garou terrorized the area of
Québec for years but 21 July 1766 the Québec Gazette reported a werewolf attack
at St. Rock, near Cap. Mouraska. Le Loup-Garou took the form of a beggar,
asking for work and promising to do things that he could not do. Then at night
a loup-garou would terrorize the village, destroying livestock all around the
area. 2 December 1767 le Loup-Garou had returned, this time in Kamouraska and
Québec City. Le Loup-Garou allegedly caused considerable destruction to the
city and when the citizens attacked it and hurt it, le Loup-Garou just came
What happened after that? Did le
Loup-Garou die? Were the citizens victorious?
No one seems to know. It was as if
the creature just disappeared. It was never reported again in a major newspaper
but rumours of it surrounded the province of Québec.
Now le Loup-Garou has become a
folktale in Québec and there a two popular stories involving a Loup-Garou.
Interestingly enough, both versions involve a man named Hubert who ends up
being the werewolf.
The first tale of le Loup-Garou
comes from a small unknown village. In this village there was a miller by the
name of Joachim Crête. Crête hired a stranger, who had shown up at his door,
named Hubert. Hubert was a reliable hard-worker who did not ask for too much.
After work every night the two of them would drink and play checkers, they were
known for being too excessive in their drinking. Afterwards, Hubert would leave
the house into the dead of night. Crête wasn’t suspicious of the behaviour, but
he did think it was a little odd.
Then a loup-garou began mauling
sheep around the town. Hubert asked the miller what he thought of these stories
and Crête just laughed, calling them silly rumours. It couldn’t be more than a
pack of wolves.
But one night the mill broke. The
miller and Hubert went to fix it but the mill just wouldn’t budge. The miller
lost track of Hubert and went back inside, deciding to fix the mill in the
morning when they had light. Then a huge black dog, the size of a human, with
massive fangs and glowing red eyes entered his house. Crête called for Hubert
and the dog responded. It was at that moment that the miller believed his
worker to be le Loup-Garou.
Crête fell to his knees to pray and that is when Hubert sprang on him. The miller grabs a sickle from the wall and cut off le Loup-Garou’s ear, as this is considered one way to kill a loup-garou. The beast disappeared and Hubert reappeared moments later, but he was missing an ear. The miller was hit with realization and Hubert fled from the area, never to be heard from again.
The second tale begins with a hunter and trapper named Hubert Sauvageau (French for savage) and his apprentice André. The two of them make a camp in the woods with a stranger name Léo. Rumours of a loup-garou were prominent at the time and Hubert asks André if he knows how to spot one and what to do if faced with one. Hubert tells him what he should do and gives him a good luck charm. If a werewolf attacks, André is to throw the good luck charm at the white spot in the middle of his head. The three of them tuck into their beds to go to sleep. Hubert leaves the camp when he believes the other two are asleep, but André is woken by Hubert’s movements.
There is howling and rustling in the forest around the camp and a massive white wolf appears. It drags a deer passed André and the sleeping Léo. It begins to eat the deer near the camp. As dawn comes, the wolf gets up and goes into the forest with Hubert reappearing moments later, instantly going to sleep in his bed.
André is convinced that his mentor is le Loup-Garou and wakes up Léo, telling him everything he had seen. He shows Léo the carcass of the deer but there are no tracks around it. It is said that a loup-garou never leaves tracks behind. Léo becomes convinced and they discuss what to do.
When Hubert awakens, the other two of them confront him. He admits that he is le Loup-Garou but he would never hurt them, they had proof of that last night. But Léo is not convinced and says Hubert can’t make any promises. Hubert asks them not to tell but Léo says he cannot keep it a secret and that he would kill a loup-garou if necessary.
The next night le Loup-Garou comes back and goes to attack Léo. André throws the good luck charm at the spot on le Loup-Garou’s forehead, drawing blood. It turns back into Hubert who thanks André for freeing him of the curse.
What do the Quebecois believe makes a person a loup-garou?
Well, it is said that anyone who misses their Easter duties seven years in a row is immediately cursed to be a loup-garou. In some cases, the only way to save this cursed person is to know who they are in their human form and draw its blood when they are a loup-garou. Or as previously stated, cutting off an ear of a loup-garou will destroy. A loup-garou can be very dangerous if it is not saved or killed.
In the area of Québec, it was truly believed that a loup-garou was terrorizing them and mauling the livestock. Whether it was a loup-garou or just a pack of wild animals is unknown for people who believe in the supernatural. Now le Loup-Garou lives as a folk legend in Québec culture. So when you go out in the wilds of Québec always be aware of the natural and supernatural dangers that lurk in the trees.
Québec City is
known for its beautiful old buildings and a feel of old European style
buildings in North America. The buildings have been restored and maintained for
several hundreds of years and it is impossible to tell what is actually older
than the 1900s or what has been restored. Québec City, and Québec itself, has a
strict cultural policy and maintaining its heritage buildings is incredibly
important. Old Québec has been through a lot: fires, the English siege and the
occupation of the English. The landscape and buildings have changed, but even
if they are new buildings, the ghosts that are said to haunt the area have not.
There is one place in particular that is considered very haunted: Place Royale
and the surrounding area of Lower Québec.
In the early
1600s Samuel de Champlain began construction of the first habitation of Québec.
It was built near the Saint Lawrence River to become an important trading post
for the Kingdom of France. The habitation had buildings surrounded by a moat to
keep it safe. It was during the building of this first habitation that an
assassination attempt on Champlain was made and an act of treason against the
French monarchy was planned.
locksmith of Québec, Jean Duval, along with four other men from the settlement,
planned to kill Champlain and offer the Québec post to the Basques and
Spaniards. Champlain was warned by a sailor and he invited the five men to his
ship. They were all arrested and thrown in jail. Duval, being the leader, was
punished immediately. He was hung and then beheaded. His head was put on a
spike in the middle of the habitation so everyone around it, or living above,
would see it. It was left as a warning to not go against Champlain and the King
In the 1630s to
the 1640s the site around the habitation grew and the moat was filled in. The
growth included a town square called Place du Marché, later to be known as
Place Royale. In 1682 a major fire destroyed most of what is considered Old,
Lower Québec. It was after that time that new fire regulations were implemented
in hopes to sedate any future fires. Buildings were rebuilt, but this time with
stone rather than wood.
In 1686 Intendent
Jean Bochart de Champigny thought that Place du Marché was the perfect place
for a royal square. A place dedicated to King Louis XIV, the Sun King, like one
that would be found in France during the time. Champigny had a bust of the King
erected in the middle of Place du Marché, hoping it would become the Place
Royale of New France. In the end it did, but just not at that time. The bust of
King Louis XIV was removed as it was causing a disruption in the traffic. It
was erected once more in the 1930s when France gifted a new bust of King Louis
XIV to Québec City.
Place du Marché
was still considered a prime spot for a Place Royale. It was the square where
everything and everyone was. Merchants were there, booths set up, decrees were
posted by the King’s Storehouse and even executions were held in this little
square. For Monseignor François de Laval thought it was perfect and wanted to
build a church. In 1688 the church was finally built under the eye of
Monseignor de Saint Vallier, it is called Notre Dame des Victoires. After this
it was finally considered a Place Royale.
were destroyed during the English siege of Québec City in 1759 and many
buildings have a noticeably British influence in architecture. Some of the
buildings still hold a French taste to them. Even if the architecture is newer,
the haunted feeling still surrounds the area of Lower Québec. It is in Place
Royale and around Notre Dame des Victoires where people feel the most haunted.
They feel as if the people who were executed there still watch them during the
night. Even if the architecture has been renovated and restored, or is
completely different from the 1600s, the ghosts who wander the square have not
changed. Many believe Duval is one of these spirits lingering in Old Québec. With
a city as old as Québec it’s not a wonder that something from the past has held
every rural area has a legend involving a Lady in White spirit. A Weeping Lady.
A reason not to pick up hitchhikers. A vengeful spirit. These ladies haunt the
area and surrounding areas where they died. Sometimes they can be terrifying
but sometimes they are nothing more than an urban legend fueled by historic
events or the fact that violence against a woman by men closest to her is so prevalent
it is not unlikely that she might be murdered by them. In Canada, the most
popular and well-known is La Dame Blanche at Montmorency Falls in Québec.
Dame Blanche’s story starts in 1759 in the town of Côte-de-Beaupré. Tensions
between the French and the English were very high. In Europe the two countries
were engaged in what would be known after as The Seven-Years-War. This war
spilled out of Europe and onto the North American continent, namely in Canada.
lovers refused to let the tension and war disturb their romance. The lovers
were Mathilde Robin and Louis Tessier. The two of them fell deeply in love.
They would always take walks along Montmorency Falls and had planned to have
their wedding there. When they finally got engaged, Mathilde sewed herself the
most beautiful, white wedding dress. There did not seem to be anything that
would ruin their day. But, as most ghost stories begin, what was supposed to be
the happiest day became a day of tragedy.
31 July 1759 the English attacked, under the command of General James Wolfe,
Montmorency Falls. The women and children hid in the forest while the men helped
the French soldiers, led by Commander Louis-Joseph de Montcalm. The Battle of
Montmorency Falls lasted a few days and the French came out victorious. It was
a happy day for everyone but Mathilde.
the men returned Mathilde searched for Louis but she could not find him. She
ran to his farm thinking maybe he had gone home first. He was not there. She
asked all the men and the soldiers but no one had seen him. That was until Montcalm
came to her and told her the news. Louis had not survived. He had died at the
foot of Montmorency Falls.
Mathilde ran to her home and put on her wedding dress. She went to the falls
where she was supposed to get married, where Louis had died and where just days
before they had taken their romantic walks. Crying and heartbroken, she jumped
from the top, killing herself.
veil was caught by the wind and settled onto a new rock, just left of
Montmorency Falls. There, it turned into a new waterfall called The Veil of the
Bride, or more commonly known as Chute de la Dame Blanche, after Mathilde.
Mathilde is seen wandering the area of Montmorency Falls, crying for her lost
love. She is known as La Dame Blanche as she is seen dressed in her white
wedding dress in the mist of the falls. She does not interact with the living
and it is warned that the living should not interact or touch her or else they
will die a gruesome death.
the Battle of Montmorency Falls in 1759 was a real battle and happened just before
the Battle of The Plains of Abraham, there is no evidence of Mathilde or Louis
being real people during this time. This suggests that it is just a legend from
a pivotal point in Canadian history. A legend of a heartbroken woman and the
effects of war on loved ones. It is the creation of Québec’s, and possibly all
of Canada’s, most popular White Lady story.
is a White Lady, a Weeping Woman or a Woman in White exactly?
Ladies are common legends in rural areas and are most often linked to a local
tragedy. In the case of Mathilde, the tragedy was the French loss at the Plains
of Abraham and the Seven-Years-War to the English and the effect of war on
Ladies are called this because they dress all in white and are either
semi-transparent or fully transparent. White is both symbolic of death and
purity in Western culture. White is the colour of bones and ash. White is also
what brides dress in when they get married. It is thought that White Ladies are
only seen in white not just because they have died but also because they are
innocent. The events surrounding them are what led them to die, but they are
often pure being who was gone before their time.
are two common types of White Ladies. The first are the most common, especially
in the media. These ones are the ones who are betrayed by a lover or a male
close to them. They are either killed by the male or commit suicide because
they were betrayed. The second are ones who have died of broken hearts and are
seen weeping at the scene of their death. While the first usually seeks
revenge, the latter is often just trying to find her lost love. It is due to
the first one that White Ladies can be seen as harbingers of death but usually only
to the people who are similar to those who killed her. An example, if a man
cheated on his wife and she killed herself, she would exact revenge only on
unfaithful men. Only men who bear some resemblance to the person who had
initially hurt her.
Ladies are very active spirits and are often seen haunting their grave sites or
trying to find their loves. Commonly they are found on the side of the road or
in hotels. Generally, they do not like scaring or harming the living but of
course there are vindictive ones who will scare and harm and like it. They can
be exorcised from their place of haunting but sometimes they just pretend to be
exorcised and will resurface when the coast is clear. They are very attached to
Robin is considered to be one of these spirits. She died of a broken heart and
is considered a local legend seen dressed solely in white. She is never harmful
but is just seen weeping at Montmorency Falls. She may not have been a real
person but her story has come from a time when tragedy was striking and crucially
changing New France. Thus, she has become an important figure of what war can
do, not just to soldiers but to those left alive.
Oral traditions are important and our ability to listen, truly listen, to another person as they talk to us is something that is incredibly valuable. It can be respectful to truly listen to someone as it means you are learning about the person who is talking, their worldview and the wisdom they contain about topics you may never think about.
Words and writing contain a wisdom
as well and there is a lot that can be learned from written stories. An oral
story is different. It is personal. It is someone in front of you, someone
real, who has feelings and lives as you do. To hear someone tell a story is to
be a part of their life, their teaching and to provide them with an open,
listening mind. It is in this way that oral traditions are important.
There is time, effort and care put
into telling and listening to stories. A person can copy what is written and
place it in another book or on the Internet. A voiced story cannot be truly copied.
It is personal, it holds nuances specific to that person. It is not something
that can be duplicated.
Before Europeans colonized Canada
the tribes that lived across the land told their legends orally. They had
writings, drawings, pictograms, but the heart of the culture was the spoken
word. It was important to listen to the Elders and take in every word. It was
spiritual and it was respectful. The tales told were told with a reason and
were part of the life. While tales were changed from tribe to tribe, maybe just
in the spelling or in a critical part of the legend, they still held a
significant weight for the tribe it was being told in. Stories change but the
feeling, the spiritual emphasis and the cultural importance remains.
It was during the process of
colonization, and later assimilation, that Native tribes lost stories. Being
punished for speaking their mother tongue or being stolen from their tribes and
lands, legends could not always be passed down to the next generation. Now, in
the age of the Internet and an emphasis on academia, to fit in we read, write,
type and regurgitate information from one site to the next. It is difficult to
just sit down and listen to a story when reading alone is easier. Is it better?
I cannot answer that as it would be hypocritical of me as I type and share a
story online, but it is a thoughtful question.
The Beothuk was a tribe that was
wiped out from disease and killing. They are now extinct. Almost all of their
legends and culture is gone. Finding a religious or spiritual legend from the
Beothuk is next to impossible. It is as if they have been erased and that is
devastating. It is due to this that I have chosen a story from the Mi’kmaq.
What had happened to the Beothuk should never happen to any other people or
So now, I want to tell a legend from
the Mi’kmaq, specifically the Loon People of Newfoundland and urge us to go and
listen to the people living around us so memories and culture are not lost. To
hear from them is to not speak for them, but to listen. Listen to the culture
around us and open ourselves up. There is a lot to learn. I write this now, not
to take the story from them and to tell it my own way, but because I feel the
importance of it and I want to share what I have learned in my own research. However,
seek out primary sources, what I share is not exact and the memories are much
more precise coming from a primary source.
The Story of Glooscap and Winpe
In Mi’kmaq culture, the hero of many stories is The Great Chief – Glooscap. Glooscap was brought to life by Creator, a being who transcends the binary of man and woman, Creator is all. Creator struck the land of Wabanaki – the Atlantic Seaboard and home to the Mi’kmaqs, Malecites, Penobscots and Passamaquoddies – with lightning. Glooscap was formed, in the shape of a male human, out of the sand. Creator sent a second bolt of lightning and Glooscap was given life. He could see the world around him but he could not move, so he asked Creator to allow him to learn about his new world. Creator sent a third bolt of lightning down and freed Glooscap, allowing him to move. In another tale he is said to have come to Wabanaki on the back of a turtle. In any tale he comes to Wabanaki to watch and learn about the world around him.
Glooscap relied on the respect and
wisdom from his relatives and Elders. In doing so, they gave him great
spiritual strength. He passes this knowledge onto the Mi’kmaq and becomes the
central figure and hero in their legends. From tribe to tribe stories of
Glooscap are told.
Winpe on the other hand was a being of evil. In the majority of tales Winpe is portrayed as a man, however sometimes she is a sorceress. He is a sorcerer and the ruler of the Northern Sea. Winpe is most likely a giant. Winpe left suffering wherever he went and he was jealous of Glooscap who was more powerful than he was. Winpe either challenges Glooscap to a battle and then steals Glooscap’s family or just kidnaps his family outright. In the beginning of this tale, Winpe puts Grandmother and Marten in a large canoe and paddles away with his two captives, luring Glooscap into a challenge.
Glooscap calls out for his dogs, who
Winpe has now shrunken down to the size of mice, and Grandmother sets them in a
dish and floats them back to Glooscap. Glooscap waits, it is unsure for how
long, before he is able to go after his family. He goes to the water and chants
for a whale. The largest one, Bootsup, comes to the surface and Glooscap gets
on top. Bootsup carries him across the bay where there is a teepee with a man
and a woman. They tell Glooscap of Winpe’s evil doings and tell him to eat
cranberries around Winpe as it will help him to see a trail of Winpe’s magic.
Glooscap gets off Bootsup’s back and
continues on his journey. He comes across an old camp of Winpe where an old
woman is now camping. She complains of Winpe and the cold and begs Glooscap to
help her make a fire. Before he sets down to help her, he eats a cranberry.
Seeing that she is one of Winpe’s witches, he puts her in a deep sleep. After,
he continues on his way.
He meets two beautiful women. The two
of them try to seduce him and slip a magic noose around his neck. This noose
would take away his power and strength. While his dogs were still the size of
mice, they could grow as large as bears. The two dogs magically grew and
protected Glooscap from the maidens.
Glooscap may have met many more
obstacles along the way, it is not really certain. When he finally got to
Winpe’s camp he was angry to see how his family had been treated. Winpe was
cruel. Grandmother and Marten sat in tattered clothes and Winpe has starved
them. Glooscap tries to free his family without the sorcerer seeing him but he
is unsuccessful. When Winpe sees him the two of them begin a battle, or a game
of tokohon. Glooscap wins and destroys Winpe to not allow evil onto the world
and his people. Glooscap takes tokohon to teach his people, later it is renamed
The people of K’Taqmkuk –
Newfoundland – rejoice as Winpe is finally gone and they are freed from his
cruelty. They serve a large feast to Glooscap and his family, treating them
royally. As Glooscap and his family leave he tells the people of K’Taqmkuk to call
him if he is needed. The call is the call of a loon. This is why the
Newfoundland people are called the “Loon People” and how the Mi’kmaq learned
Arcturus Publishing. “How Glooscap Conquered his Enemies (Mi’kmaq).” In Native American Myths and Legends. London, Ontario: Arcturus Holdings Limited, 2017. Accessed April 3, 2019. Google Books Edition.
Augustine, Stephen. “Mi’kmaq Knowledge in the Mi’kmaq Creation Story: Lasting Words and Deeds.” Micmaw Spirit, (April 8, 1977). Accessed April 3, 2019. www.muiniskw.org/pgCulture3a.htm
Partridge, Emelyn Newcomb. “How Glooscap Conquered His Enemies.” In Glooscap the Great Chief and Other Stories: Legends of the Micmacs, 247-256. New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1913. Accessed April 3, 2019. archive.org/details/glooscapgreatchi00part/page/247
What is now a popular seafood restaurant on Canada’s East Coast used to be a school, a warehouse and even a funeral home. The popular restaurant in Halifax, Nova Scotia is called: The Five Fishermen Restaurant. This restaurant is said to have a lot of paranormal activity and there are a ton of restless spirits lingering in it. For a building that is approximately 200 years old and has played a role in some of the greatest human tragedies of the twentieth century, it is not a wonder why people believe this restaurant to be haunted.
The building that now holds The Five
Fishermen Restaurant is located on Argyle Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It
was first used as a school – The National School. The school opened its doors
in 1818 by parishioners of Saint Paul’s Anglican Church. The most interesting
aspect of this school was that it was the first school in Canada to offer free
accessible education. The parishioners put an emphasis on teaching religion and
giving education to poor children in the area. It was not long before the
school could not keep up with the growing population and the number of children
being enrolled. The school moved into Dalhousie College and the building is
said to have been bought by Anna Leonowens.
This is where the history of this
building begins to get a bit hazy. It is said that Anna Leonowens bought the
building in 1903 for her school of arts and stayed there for 54 years. However,
this would contradict the story that it was a funeral parlour in the early
1900s. All the sources point to Leonowens’ having purchased the building but
there are no concrete dates, so it will be included in this, although
highlighted that there are some issues with this part of the story.
Anna Leonowens was the former tutor
to the King of Siam. She is widely known, not just in Canada, for her ability
in the arts. She bought the old National School and turned it into The Halifax
Victorian School of Art. It was incredibly popular and had to move when it
became a part of The Nova Scotia College of Art. Or possibly before that. The
history of this art school is particularly unclear during this time.
It is known that after The Halifax
Victorian School of Art moved, John Snow and his family purchased the building
a turned it into a funeral home – The John Snow and Company Funeral Home. This
parlor had a significant role in two great human travesties of the time: the
sinking of the Titanic and the
Halifax Explosion. It was April 1912 when the Titanic hit an iceberg and went down. While many ships had tried to
save the bodies of those who perished, many third class passengers and crew
members were not brought back to shore, they were put back into the sea because
of the lack of embalming materials. It was only really the rich who made it to
John Snow’s Funeral Home to be prepared for funeral services and only about
fifty-nine actually made it back to their families to be buried. Those who were
brought to Halifax and could not be identified, approximately 129, were buried
in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery.
It was 1917 and the First World War
was raging in Europe. Halifax, being a port city, was a major port for the war.
Troops, supplies and munitions would be shipped from Halifax over to Europe. It
was a busy time in the ports of Halifax. In the morning of 6 December 1917 two
ships, the Norwegian Imo and the
French Mont Blanc collided. The Mont Blanc was filled with highly
explosive munitions: pitric acid, TNT, high octane gasoline and gun cotton. The
pitric acid set ablaze instantly and the crew abandoned ship. They tried to
warn people but onlookers just began to crowd. The Halifax Fire Department was
quick to respond but it was too late. The Mont
1, 800 people were killed. 9, 000
people were injured, 200 of them blinded. Almost all of the northern part of
Halifax was destroyed. The sound blast could be heard miles away. John Snow’s
funeral parlour’s windows shattered, but the company stayed opened. They
conducted the funeral services for those who had died in the explosion. They
did approximately thirty to forty funeral services a day and coffins were piled
high outside their parlor. It is said that after this disaster, the ghost
stories really began.
In 1975, The Five Fishermen
Restaurant opened and there have been no shortages of hauntings in the
restaurant. In fact, it is said to have a high amount of activity. Glasses will
fly off shelves, cutlery will fall off tables, sinks will turn on by themselves
and the swinging doors to the kitchen open and close by themselves. There are
cold pockets in the air and people feel ghosts moving through them. Some
employees or late night guests hear voices and their names being called.
There have been sightings of
apparitions. Once an employee saw just a grey mist in the form of a person
floating towards her, she did not stay long to find out what it was. The second
was a full body apparition of a man. The employees thought he was a customer
and went to help but he vanished before their eyes.
In the restaurant there is always
tapping and crashing noises that the employees have mostly gotten used to.
Sometimes there are things you just cannot get used to and that is physically
being touched by a ghost. An employed had reported being touched on the
shoulder by a ghost but when they looked around no one was there. Another
reported being brushed on the cheek by something. When she went to serve a
table they asked who had slapped her as she had a red handprint on her face
where something had brushed her cheek. Confused, she said no one had slapped
her, no one had actually even touched her. These are just a few tales from The
Five Fishermen Restaurant.
What had begun as a school is now
considered one of the most haunted restaurants in all of Canada. Considering it
had been a funeral home to two devastating events, especially the Halifax
Explosion where almost all of the victims were dealt with by The John Snow and
Co. Funeral Home alone. The sudden accidents and deaths linger on in the area,
and inside the restaurant. While it is said that the most activity happened
before and after during the open hours, there are times when both customers and
employees witness the hauntings of The Five Fishermen Restaurant.
Newfoundland was the last province to join Canadian Confederation in 1949, but it was one of the first areas to hold colonizers. Newfoundland, in particular St. John’s, was a rough place to live in the nineteenth century. There was a low population, alcohol was cheap, there were always people arriving and leaving, and unwanted bodies were piling up in the streets with no one dealing with them. No one until Nancy Coyle prepared and buried the unknown and discarded. It was not long until her good deed turned against her and she was called a sorceress, shunned by the society she had been helping. Although the 1840s have been over for a long time, no one is really certain if Coyle has left with it.
In the early 1800s, St. Johns had a
small population and relied heavily on a single industry economy – the fisheries.
Landowners were often absent and no one wanted to pay municipal taxes, so,
Newfoundland and St. John’s were reliant on their colonial government to take
care of things. The military garrison and the clergy were essential for keeping
peace and taking care of the citizen safety. Only a handful of police constables
had even been hired in 1812, were paid from tavern licenses and had minimal
responsibilities. The military was also essential for fire control, even though
a voluntary fire brigade had formed in the 1820s with compulsory payments from
landowners and businesses. Their equipment was poor, only getting slightly
better in 1846 when private brigades developed, tied to churches and business,
who helped pay for the equipment. Newfoundland had no real social structure
during this time and without it, it was hard to properly give care to its
citizens. It was not even until 1855 that Newfoundland was given full
St. John’s was a particularly
difficult place to live in the early nineteenth century. The social help and
authority was severely lacking. One significant social service missing was
morgues and a place for preparing and burying the dead. Burying the dead was
left to families and for those who did not have families, well, they just began
piling up. No one wanted to deal with them. The bodies mainly belonged to those
who had died on ships – there were a lot of foreign vessels where the dead did
not have their family on it or just could not be identified, so they were left
on the street. Prisoners who had been executed, or died in prison, had no one
who wanted or could bury them and no morgue, so they were piling up. Patients
from insane asylums who had passed in the mental hospital’s care, were dumped
on the street, no one took care of them. These were the common bodies left on
the streets of St. John’s.
In 1840 the Colonial Government
hired Nancy Coyle, with a standing salary, to prepare the bodies for burial.
Coyle was skilled at her job and would prepare them right in her own home. Some
said she was so skilled that she could bring people back to life.
While there is some truth to people
“coming back to life,” it was more likely that the people waking up had been knocked
out, drank too much, had sick or something else that may have been
scientifically unknown at the time. The population at this time was also
incredibly superstitious so they pointed at her and called her a sorceress. It
was not long after the first two bodies “came back to life” that she was
ostracized from St. John’s society.
The first body to rise again was a
Dutch sailor who coffin she had been nailing closed. He woke up suddenly and
sat up. Stunned and not knowing what else to do, she gave him a drink of
whiskey and he went on his way. The second one was a mental patient from the
insane asylum, John Murphy. She had laid his body on the table in her parlor,
intending to work on him the next day, before heading to bed. Unable to sleep
due to the noises coming from that area of her house, she went to investigate.
It was John, he had woken up. As soon as she opened the door, he fled from her
house. For days after he was seen walking the streets of St. John’s yelling and
talking to himself.
Once these two events transpired,
Nancy was no longer welcome with the living. She died friendless and alone in
her house. All the time she spent on unwanted, discarded bodies, no one did the
same for her. No one even really knows what happened to her body and if she was
buried, she does not have a marked grave.
Now she is said to just wander.
People see her wearing an old-fashioned red cloak, going through the cemeteries
of St. John’s, most often of Trinity Church. Sometimes she can even be seen
pulling a hearse drawn by a horse. These are the places she supposedly haunts. It
is said that even in death she continues to watch over the people buried in the
cemeteries. She never interacts with the living, not since being ostracized,
her only concern seems to be the dead.
Nancy Coyle cared for those who had
no one else left to care for them. It was a time in Newfoundland that lacked
basic social necessities to offer proper services for their population.
Individuals often did the work that present day governments oversee. In Coyle’s
case, the work she did made her an outcast. She lived and still “lives” taking
care of the unwanted and forgotten. Something no one gave to her.