October 27, 2020
With European settlements dating back to the early 1600s, the Maritimes are full of attractions, buildings, and landmarks that, as you can imagine, carry lots of history, legends, and stories with them. And sometimes, these stories go unexplained. It’s no coincidence that in many cities and towns across the region, one of the most popular things to do is go on a ghost tour. Are the accounts true? Are they tales woven and expanded upon over time? Stories told just to spook? That’s for you to decide. Brace yourself for some more of our favourites…
A beautiful 1920s era vaudeville house, the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, NB, is home to laughter, smiles, and entertainment as players take the stage in plays and shows year-round. But sitting in the audience, you may get a little more than you bargained for and bear witness to a performance of another kind. And with reports of sightings of not one but TWO ghosts, you’ve got yourself a double bill. Maybe you’ll spot the ghost of volunteer firefighter Alexander Lindsay, who died while fighting a fire in 1924 when the stage collapsed. He’s often sitting in one of the empty seats of the theatre. And if you don’t see him, you may feel his cool breeze blowing through the building as he brushes by. Or maybe you’ll see the ghost of a little girl in the ticket booth. She lost her life after falling down the stairs of the then movie theatre. Regardless of whether you believe or not, you’re in for a real show.
A man walking around with a rope, looking for something. Waves of cold. Feeling like you’re being watched. These are just some of the reports from visits to the Charlotte County Courthouse in beautiful St. Andrews by-the-Sea, NB. Built in the 1840s, the oldest courthouse in Canada is believed to be haunted by the ghosts of convicts executed at the nearby county jail (or gaol as it’s known). As was the case with local courthouses of its time, it was also a place where the community gathered for elections, fairs, and official visits. While cases are no longer heard here, the courthouse is still recognized as a National Historic Site and Provincial Heritage Place — as well as a ghostly hotspot!
The Dungarvon River runs through the central New Brunswick town of Blackville, NB, alongside the Bartholomew River. It’s beautiful, serene, peaceful. And as some say, haunted. According to local folklore, a young Irishman named Ryan working as a cook in a lumber camp was murdered and later buried in the woods during a raging storm. As the story’s told, Ryan’s ghost haunts the forest in that very spot to this day, making loud ghastly whoops and screams. The woodsmen who found him and buried him were first to hear the fearful noises that fateful night. They left the camp terrified and never returned. What do you think? Does Ryan’s ghost linger in these woods, or is it merely a story told to scare you from venturing too deep into the forest he is alleged to haunt?
Would you stay overnight in an allegedly haunted 18th-century fortress and hunt for ghosts? That’s exactly what visitors did during the Great Louisbourg Sleepover. When your history reaches back to the early 1700s and has seen the ravages of everything from bloody battles to devastating diseases, there’s lots of potential for eerie apparitions and unexplained stories. Ghosts of original settlers, a haunted doll in one of the homes, an 18th-century woman yelling French profanities at tour groups. And after a storm disrupted the grave of 42 soldiers, there were even more chilling sightings. This beautiful National Historic Site in Nova Scotia is well worth a visit, ghost or no ghost. But if you do go, even if you don’t believe, maybe don’t touch the doll in the DeGand House.
The vessels of Northumberland Ferries have made countless crossings across the Northumberland Strait over the years between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. And so it’s fitting that one of the most popular Maritime ghost stories takes place not in a building, but out on the water. There have been reports of sightings of a phantom ship on the Strait since 1786. The vision of the three-masted ghost schooner in flames moving swiftly across the water, sails blowing even with no wind, is apparently so vivid that numerous boats and ships have called for help or even headed towards it in the hopes of rescuing the souls on board. However, it always disappears before they arrive. There have been sightings year-round, even in the dead of winter (pun completely intended) when the ocean is completely frozen over. Was it the ship of an English Admiral that caught fire and sank off the coast of Pictou Island? Pirates? Whatever the source of the story, it’s been sighted by local residents, mariners, and travellers for decades. The next time you cross the Strait, be sure to keep your binoculars handy.
Mysterious images on security cameras. A soldier in uniform walking into one of the rooms in the old prison area only to simply vanish. A man in a red cloak. Voices, unexplained noises, sudden gusts of wind in closed-off rooms, and an eerie feeling of being watched. And perhaps most disturbing of all, a little girl said to follow groups along on ghost tours. There have been numerous reports of unexplained happenings and ghostly appearances at the Halifax Citadel. Perhaps not surprising for a historic fortress that guarded prisoners and kept watch over the city for so long. Some say the Halifax Citadel is Canada’s most haunted historic site. Take a tour or meander through passageways on the ghost walk…if you dare.
Lovers of local beer brand Keith’s say, “Those who like it, like it a lot.” And it would appear that no one takes that to heart more than the famous founder of Keith’s Brewery himself, Alexander Keith. A popular fixture on the local pub scene, toasting to a smooth glass of Keith’s is a staunch Maritime tradition, and the brewery itself is a popular tourist attraction. The famous local politician died in 1873 but take a tour of the famed brewery, and you may spot the legendary brewmaster still keeping a watchful eye on his business. We’ll drink to that!
For even more spooky stories and terrifying tales, check out these ghostly delights!