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The Galt Museum

The Galt, 2016 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            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.

Galt Museum, June 2016 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            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 Hospital.

            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.

A Part of the Old Galt Hospital, 2016 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

            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 building.

            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 too.

The Front of the Galt Museum June 8, 2016 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

Bibliography

 “Galt Hospital Hauntings.” Galt Museum and Archives (October 31, 2009). Accessed April 12, 2019. www.galtmuseum.com/articles/2009/10/galt-hospital-hauntings.html

“Galt Hospital – 100 Years.” Galt Museum and Archives (September 11, 2010). www.galtmuseum.com/exhibit/galt-hospital-100-years

“Galt Museum and Archives.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 12, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galt_Museum_%26_Archives

Parks Canada. “Sir Alexander Galt Hospital.” Canada’s Historic Places. Accessed April 12, 2019. www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=11623

Richardson, Harriet. “Galt Hospital, Lethbridge, Alberta.” Historic Hospitals (March 3, 2018). Accessed April 12, 2019. historic-hospitals.com/2018/03/03/galt-hospital-lethbridge-alberta/

Sutherland, Joel A. “Ghosts on Display.” In Haunted Canada 7: Chilling True Tales, 600-642. Toronto, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2017. Amazon Kindle ebook version.

Vonkeman, Anine and Growson, Belinda. “The Galt Museum & Archives in Lethbridge – Engaging Events, Archives, Artifacts, and… Ghosts?” Suncruiser Media (April 15, 2014). Accessed April 12, 2019. suncruisermedia.com/Home/rv-travel/the-galt-museum-/

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Place Royale

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.

Plan for The Settlement of Québec, 1613 – illustration found on Library and Archives Canada

The secondary 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 of France.

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.

A Painting of Place Royale – Crédit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-33-650

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.

Notre Dame Des Victoires Cathedral, 2019 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

Many buildings 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 on.

Bibliography

Cadeau, Carman. “How to Not Kill Samuel de Champlain.” All About Canadian History (May 23, 2017). Accessed April 9, 2019. cdnhistorybits.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/failed-assassination-of-samuel-de-champlain/

CBC “The Plot Against Champlain.” Le Canada: A People’s History/Une Histoire Populaire (2001). Accessed April 9, 2019. www.cbc.ca/history/EPCONTENTSE1EP2CH4PA5LE.html

Couvrette, Sébastien. “Place-Royale: Where Quebec City Began.” Encyclopedia of French Cultural Heritage in North America: Québec from Past to Present (2007). Accessed April 9, 2019. www.ameriquefrancaise.org/en/article-653/Place-Royale:_Where_Quebec_City_Began.html

Grignon, Marc. “Place Royale.” The Canadian Encyclopedia (February 7, 2006). Edited March 4, 2015. Accessed April 9, 2019. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/place-royale

“Habitation de Québec.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 9, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitation_de_Québec

Heritage Québec. “Place-Royale: Birthplace of French America.” Ville de Québec: l’accent d’Amérique (2019). Accessed April 9, 2019. www.ville.quebec.qu.ca/en/citoyens/patrimoine/quartiers/vieux_quebec/interet/place_royale.aspx

Marsh, James H. “Samuel de Champlain and the Founding of Quebec.” The Canadian Encyclopedia (July 2, 2013). Edited March 4, 2015. Accessed April 9, 2019. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/champlain-and-the-founding-of-quebec-feature

Sutherland, Joel A. “The Hangman’s Knot.” In Haunted Canada 4: More True Tales of Terror, 101-104. Toronto, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd, 2014. Amazon Kindle ebook version.

Trudel, Marcel. “Duval, Jean.” In Dictionary of Canadian Biography Volume 1, 1966. Revised in 1979. University of Toronto/Université Laval. Accessed April 9, 2019. www.biographi.ca/en/bio/duval_jean_1E.html

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La Dame Blanche

Almost 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.

La 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.

View of Montmorency Falls from Lévis, 2019 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

Two 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.

On 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.

As 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.

Devastated, 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.

Her 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.

Location of Chute de la Dame Blanche and Chute Montmorency from Google Maps, 2019

While 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.

What is a White Lady, a Weeping Woman or a Woman in White exactly?

White 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 women.

White 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.

There 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.

White 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 their hauntings.

Mathilde 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.

Bibliography

Duranti, Krista. “The Legend of the Woman in White.” Exemplore (November 26, 2018). Accessed April 7, 2019. exemplore.com/paranormal/The-Woman-in-White-A-Legend

Evans, David. “Chute Montmorency.” The Canadian Encyclopedia (February 7, 2006). Edited March 4, 2015. Accessed April 7, 2019. thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/chute-montmorency

Fédération des Québécois de souche. “Légende de la Dame Blanche.” Fédération des Québécois d’origine (March 27, 2013). Accessed April 7, 2019. quebecoisdesouche.info/legende-de-la-dame-blanche

Grand Québec. “Legende la Dame Blanche.” GrandQuebec: Le Québéc dévoile ses mystères (July 2, 2017). Accessed April 7, 2019. grandquebec.com/legends-du-quebec/legende-dame-blanche/

Iles, Judika. “White Lady (1).” In Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods and Goddess, 1006-1007. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 2009.

Sutherland, Joel A. “La Dame Blanche.” In Haunted Canada 5: Terrifying True Stories, 699-737. Toronto, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2015. Amazon Kindle Edition.

Tison, Marie. “The White Lady of the Montmorency Falls.” La Presse (March 10, 2014). Accessed April 7, 2019. https://www.lapresse.ca/voyage/destinations/quebec/201403/10/01-4746265-la-dame-blanche-de-la-chute-montmorency.php

“White Lady (Ghost).” Wikipedia. Accessed April 7, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Lady_(ghost)

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The Five Fishermen Restaurant

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.

Citadel and Harbour in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1914 – photo by Library and Archives Canada

            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 Blanc exploded.

Damage caused by the Halifax Explosion at the north end of Campbell Road in 1917 – photo by Library and Archives Canada / C-003625B

            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.

Coffins Outside John Snow & Co. after Halifax Explosion – photo by Nova Scotia Archives and Records

            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.

View of Halifax Harbour and Dartmouth in 1914 – photo by John Woodruff/Library and Archives Canada/PA-

Bibliography

Bundale, Brett. “Ghost Stories from Halifax Restaurant That Once Served as The Titanic’s Morgue.” Global News (May 8, 2017). Accessed March 29, 2019. globalnews.ca/news/3434202/eerie-encounters-at-the-five-fishermen-a-historic-halifax-eatery/

Halifax History. “Five Haunted Places in Halifax That You Have to Experience.” Discover Halifax (October 11, 2016). Accessed March 29, 2019. discoverhalifaxns.com/haunted-halifax-spookiest-things-to-do/

History.com Editors. “The Great Halifax Explosion.” HISTORY (July 20, 2010). Updated August 21, 2018). Accessed March 29, 2019. www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-great-halifax-explosion

“History of Five Fishermen.” The Five Fishermen Restaurant. Accessed March 29, 2019. www.fivefishermen.com/history/

Horodyski, Kate. “The Story Behind Canada’s ‘Ghost Restaurant’ The Five Fishermen.” Culture Trip (September 26, 2017). Accessed March 29, 2019. theculturetrip.com/north-america/articles/the-story-behind-canadas-ghost-restaurant-the-five-fishermen/

Kernaghan, Lois and Smulders, Marilyn. “Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University.” The Canadian Encyclopedia (October 31, 2012). Updated by Daniel Baird, December 9, 2016. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/nova-scotia-college-of-art-and-design

Matthews, Diana L. “The Recovery Effort.” A Look Thru Time: Looking Through the Cracks of Time (April 24, 2012). Accessed March 29, 2019. alookthrutime.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-recovery-effort/

SamR and artsytari. “Five Fishermen Restaurant.” Atlas Obscura (2019). Accessed March 29, 2019. www.atlasobscura.com/places/five-fishermen-restaurant

“Sinking of the RMS Titanic.” Wikipedia. Accessed March 29, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_the_RMS_Titanic

Sutherland, Joel A. “Dining with the Dead.” In Haunted Canada 4: More True Tales of Terror, 80-84. Toronto, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd, 2014. Amazon Kindle ebook version.

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New Paranormal Blogs

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.

Levis 2018 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

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.

Lobby of the Royal York Hotel 2015 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

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.

Why blog about ghosts, hauntings and spirits? History is important and the history of Canada is important.
On the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park 2018 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations

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!

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The Royal York Hotel

            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.

Royal York Hotel 1957 – picture by Canada. Dept. of Interior / Library and Archives Canada / PA-049725

            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.

Fairmont Royal York 2018 – original picture by Piercing Moon Creations

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.

Bibliography

Fairmont Royal York. “Hotel History.” 2019. Accessed March 24, 2019. https://www.fairmont.com/royal-york-toronto/hotelhistory/

Historic Hotels Worldwide. “Fairmont Royal York: History.” 2019. Accessed March 24, 2019. www.historichotelsworldwide.com/hotels-resorts/fairmont-royal-york/history.php

Maritime History of the Great Lakes. “160 Die in Ship Fire in Toronto Harbour.” In The Toronto Daily Star. Toronto, Ontario, September 17, 1949. image.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/7542/data?n=1

McLennan, Susan. “The Noronic Fire – Toronto’s Greatest Disaster with the Greatest Loss of Life.” In reimaginepr. Accessed March 24, 2019. www.reimaginepr.com/the-noronic-fire-torontos-disaster-with-the-greatest-loss-of-life/

Sutherland, Joel A. “Hotel Hell.” In Haunted Canada 5: Terrifying True Stories, 1095-1139. Toronto, Ontario: Scholastic Canada Ltd., 2015. Amazon Kindle ebook edition.

Toronto & Ontario Ghosts and Hauntins Research Societ. “The Royal York Hotel.” 2015. Accessed March 24, 2019. www.torotoghosts.org/index.php/the-city-of-toronto/public-building/111-the-royal-york-hotel-

Wikipedia. “Fairmont Royal York.” Accessed March 24, 2019. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairmont_Royal_York

Toronto Skyline 2018 – original photo by Piercing Moon Creations