Canadians are, by and large, a rational, measured bunch. We know perfectly well that the Northern lights aren’t caused by invading aliens. We’re also aware that Moncton’s famous hill isn’t actually magnetic.
Yes, well … for a country that enshrines the highly reasonable value of “peace, order, and good government” in our constitution, we have a surprising number of (supposedly) haunted spots from sea to sea to sea—so with Halloween close at hand, we thought we’d give you a cross-country tour of Canada’s creepiest places.
Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta
Move over, Overlook. Stephen King’s famous setting for The Shining (inspired by a stay at the real-life Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado) has nothing on the majestic, 125-year-old Banff Springs. From the dancing ghost of a young bride who tumbled down the hotel stairs to her death on her wedding day, to the spirit of a bellhop named Sam who loved the hotel so much he didn’t let death put an end to his job, ghost stories have been pouring out of the Banff Springs almost since it opened. Particularly grisly stories are associated with the curious absence of room 837.
Although the staff at the hotel apparently credit the wealth of stories to an enthusiastic former public relations director and deny any paranormal activity, this hasn’t stopped guests and ghost enthusiasts from speculating and sharing spooky experiences.
Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper, Alberta
Ghost stories, steep stairs, and scenic Alberta hotels seem to go hand-in-hand (see Banff Springs Hotel, above). At Jasper Park Lodge, there are two legends of ghosts haunting the stairways where they met their demise—one a chambermaid at Point Cabin, the other, an older man (along with, possibly, his wife) who haunts an older part of the hotel and reportedly pushes people down the staircase where he fell and broke his neck.
Hatley Castle in Colwood, BC
Military cadets getting their blankets pulled off in the middle of the night? No, it wasn’t a bizarre hazing ritual—it was one of several ghosts said to haunt Hatley Castle, built for James Dunsmuir, former premier and lieutenant governor of British Columbia, in 1908. Later turned into a military college, and now the administrative centre of Royal Roads University, the castle is well-known for its paranormal activity. The castle is reportedly haunted by the ghosts associated with the Dunsmuir family, including James Dunsmuir’s wife, Laura—who is thought to be the blanket-puller—and a love-lorn maid who died after throwing herself out a third-storey window. The castle is a popular stop on ghost bus-tours.
Olde Angel Inn in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
A grisly—if accidental—murder dating back to the War of 1812 gives the town its most notorious haunted site. During an American raid on the town in 1812, British soldier Captain Colin Swayze hid from the advancing forces in a wine barrel in what is now the basement of the Inn. Unfortunately, US troops decided to search the barrels—using a bayonet. According to accounts, his ghost, which has a tendency to spook guests in the washrooms, isn’t disruptive unless the Union Jack is taken down from the Inn’s front door.
The Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick
Famous when it was first built for its restorative saltwater baths, The Algonquin Resort is also well known for its ghostly attractions. Guests and employees have reported seeing several ghosts, including two believed to have been former workers at the hotel. One ghost, an older woman, is frequently seen rearranging the silverware in the hotel’s dining room, while another shows guests to their room, tells them about the hotel, then disappears without collecting a tip. Rooms 308 and 373 have been the location for various sightings—although, with the hotel undergoing a major renovation in 2012, these rooms may now just be the stuff of legend.
Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia
Site of the iconic Peggy’s Point Lighthouse, Peggy’s Cove is also the home of a ghostly lady dressed in blue. According to legend, she was an immigrant whose children were still living in Europe. Although she had remarried, she missed her children so much that she regularly walked along the rocky shore of the Cove, looking out towards the ocean. Her new husband, in an attempt to cheer her up, tried to dance for her on the slippery rocks—but fell to his death. Afterwards, she reportedly walked into the water close to where he died and disappeared. Today, she has been seen standing on the rocks as if she is about to jump—but when someone tries to help, she disappears.
La Corriveau Forest in Saint-Joseph-de-la-Pointe-de-Lévy, Lévy, Quebec
Marie-Josephte Corriveau, better known as la Corriveau, was hanged for the murder of her two husbands in 1763. Following her execution, her body was wrapped in chains and displayed in an iron cage at Pointe-Lévy for more than a month. Her ghost—which appears still in its cage, or simply as a skeletal collection of rags—is said to haunt the area where her body hung, luring travellers from the road and begging them to take her to a witches’ sabbath on the Île d’Orléans.
The Moose Head Inn in Kenosee lake, Saskatchewan
The Moose Head Inn is a haunted spot that’s a little newer than some of the other entries on the list. Built in 1960 and used as a dance hall for 30 years, it was bought in 1990—and then the weirdness started. Objects like glasses, ashtrays, and knick-knacks would disappear, the owner would hear bangs and crashes late at night, and doors would open and shut for no reason. Following a seance, a medium determined that three ghosts haunted the building—one of whom was one of the former owners, Archie Grandison. Once the current owner agreed to take care of Archie’s widow, the disturbances slowed down and, once she died in 1999, the activity stopped completely.
Have you experienced any haunted places in your Canadian travels? Let us know in the comments!