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
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
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.
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!
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.