Truth or scare? How about a little bit of both. Canada is seriously spooky. And we’re not talking about its politics. In towns scattered across the country, there are ghostly hauntings all year round in places ranging from railway tunnels to a former tuberculosis hospital. Go ahead and visit them, if you dare.
Canadians love to get our scare on, it seems. Hamilton, Ottawa, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Winnipeg, Kingston, St. John’s, Vancouver are a few of the Canadian cities with ghost walks. They're meant to be good fun, of course. Dramatic tales of murderers, serial killers and discontented lovers from the spirit world create chills and nervous giggles among listeners.
But not all is fun and frivolity when it comes to ghosts. Some people take paranormal phenomena very seriously. Armed with EMF metres (to indicate the presence of electromagnetic energy fields -- the footprints of the spirit world, if you will) and cameras, they go boldly where spirits from another dimension have been spotted, supposedly trapped in a state of limbo between the living and the dead.
Check out PSICAN (Paranormal Studies & Investigations Canada), an umbrella group of investigators who will probe sightings and pass along its findings. No amped up urban legends, or storytellers in period costume here. Just the cold, hard facts. For example, in 2010, the group looked into an unusual case from Ajax, Ont., where what was spotted was not in human form, but of a monkey. Turned out a local family had one named Chico as a pet more than 70 years ago and his ghost still swing in the trees.
The lesson here is that no matter where you go, look and listen. That blast of cold air, an eerie feeling, unexplained noises and the goose bumps on your arm may be telling you that you’ve been joined by an unexpected travelling companion nearby.
Where to find some of Canada's most haunted destinations
Queen’s Park, Toronto
Before it was home to the Ontario legislature, the grounds of Queen’s Park belonged to a psychiatric hospital. Rumour is,<a href="http://torontoist.com/2012/10/torontos-haunted-hot-spots-or-should-that-be-cold-spots/" target="_blank"> three former female inmates roam the current building in their ghostly form</a>. Other spirits have been spotted in the Lieutenant Governor’s suite and a scowling man in a red military uniform is believed to haunt the main staircase.
Tranquille Sanatorium, Near Kamloops, B.C.
In 1907, the expansive Tranquille Sanatorium, a mini, self-sustaining community, opened to treat tuberculosis patients; then became a mental hospital before closing for good in 1983. A series of underground tunnels run under the decaying, crumbling complex. Today, frequent sightings of glowing orb and paranormal activity have earned it a reputation as<a href="http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20130827/KAMLOOPS0101/130829877/-1/kamloops/" target="_blank"> Canada’s most haunted place</a>. Book a nighttime tour (<a href="http://tranquillefarmfresh.ca/" target="_blank">through tranquillefarmfresh.ca</a>), a fitting prelude to nightmares.
Room 202, Fort Garry Hotel, Winnipeg
Do you mind having a roommate for the night? Some hotel guests avoid the notorious room 202 and request suites as far away as possible, while others embrace the idea of having an entity for company and ask for it.<a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/haunted-hotel-175741421.html" target="_blank"> Housekeeping staff has reported blood oozing down the walls in the room</a>. Former guests say a figure in a cloak stood at the end of the bed watching them. A long-ago suicide and a murder in the grand hotel built in 1913 may be the root of this evil. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimj_wpg/" target="_blank">Lil_Zebra</a>
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
The rocks upon which the lighthouse sits are picturesque, yet potentially deadly. In 1800, a woman named Margaret watched in horror as her new husband slipped and suffered a fatal head injury. She took her own life shortly after. Tourists have said they see a <a href="http://hauntednorthamerica.net/all-locations/all-locations-canada/peggys-cove/" target="_blank">woman wearing a blue dress</a> about to jump into the sea. The lesson here: Be careful on the rocks.
Montmorency Falls, Quebec
Here’s another downer love story... a woman engaged to a soldier and happily prepares for their nuptials. But her finance's called to war and killed in the battle of Montmorency Falls in 1759. A year later, she puts on her wedding dress and jumps into the falls. Her body has yet to be recovered. Now, visitors say they’ve seen the Lady in White through the mist. Urban legend, wishful thinking, or too much wine?
Delta Bessborough Hotel, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
This elegant hotel built in 1935 is known for friendly staff, some of which never retire. Word is,<a href="http://www.saskatoonspecials.ca/saskatoons-most-haunted.html" target="_blank"> a former employee fell to his death, down seven stories onto the marble floor of the main lobby</a>. His spirit, dressed in a gray suit and fedora, lingers on, greeting guests silently with a warm smile.
Fortress of Louisbourg, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Fort Louisbourg has oodles of history. Once a military cornerstone of New France, this historic site now marks its 300th birthday this year. Some say at least four spirits roam this Parks Canada site. The cries of a baby pierce the silence of the evening hours; a sea captain steps in to stop visitors from falling down stairs; a weeping nurse and a violent entity which locks doors in the bakery and moves 300-pound industrial bread holders. Say hi to all of them during a <a href="http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/louisbourg/activ/crepuscule-dark.aspx" target="_blank">Louisbourg After Dark tour</a>. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/braydawg/" target="_blank">BRAYDAWG</a>
The Blue Ghost Tunnel, Thorold, Ontario
Green slime, unexplained noises, and a demonic energy. Welcome to the Merritton, a.k.a The Blue Ghost, Tunnel in Thorold, Ontario, not far from the Welland Canal. Ghost hunters say that <a href="http://www.ghostwalks.com/blueghosttunnel-article.htm" target="_blank">the men mangled and killed during the building of the canal haunt this tunnel</a>, closed permanently in 1915 after being used for just 39 years. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/alisonpostma/" target="_blank">Rumalowa</a>
The Keg Mansion, Toronto
Built in 1868, this grand house on Jarvis St. was once the home to Toronto’s most elite families, the McMasters and the Masseys. The Keg bought it in 1976 to turn it into a restaurant. Ghostly encounters have occurred <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/haunted-toronto-a-paranormal-primer/article559802/" target="_blank">around the central staircase and the second floor women’s washroom</a>. Hearing phantom footsteps and seeing a male ghost child playing on the stairs may be included gratis with your steak dinner.
Hotel Fairmont Vancouver
Her name was <a href="http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2011/10/haunted-vancouver-fairmonts-hotel-vancouver-famous-lady-in-red/" target="_blank">Jennie Pearl Cox</a>, but around the hotel, she’s known as the Lady in Red. She was a regular at the hotel in the 1930s and 1940s. After her death, she never checked out. Her ghost has been seen passing through elevator doors, especially on the 14th floor. Staff says she’s a nice apparition. The hotel even named a cocktail after her.
Up Next: More Haunted Destinations In Canada
The Haunted Walk in Kingston
You can't miss them. Dressed in black capes and holding lanterns, guides of the <a href="http://www.hauntedwalk.com/kingstontours.php">Haunted Walks</a> through the Limestone City as well as Fort Henry look the part as they take guests on a stroll to see the places where tragedy happened. They claim to have converted the biggest of skeptics, so beware!
Fairmont Empress in Victoria
One of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria, there's almost too many spirits reportedly haunting this place to count! A lost woman, ghoulish little girl, a chambermaid and a carpenter who hung himself from the rafters are all said to haunt the landmark hotel.
St. Louis Ghost Train in St. Louis, Saskatchewan
Although the tracks are no longer there, a mysterious light appears in the area after dark. There are a number of paranormal and natural theories as to why it happens, but the legend about a railroad worker who lost his head on the tracks and searches for it by lantern light is the most bone-chilling.
Fort York in Toronto
This red-coated guard is giving a tour to students but there's also been reports of a guard (who is not among the living) who haunts the fort's barracks. Some claim a female spirit hangs around the officers' quarters too. Visitors to the fort can take part in the After Dark Lantern Tour between Oct. 23-27 to get the ghoulish details.
Plains of Abraham in Quebec City
The site of a battle between the French and British empires in 1759, the area is allegedly haunted by soldiers who perished in the clash. <a href="http://www.ccbn-nbc.gc.ca/_en/index.php">Ghoulish walks</a> are taking place on the site Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and on Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. as well as 9:30 p.m.
Vogue Theatre in Vancouver
Everyone likes to be entertained but if you run into one of this theatre's two resident ghosts, it will be a night you won't forget. One spirit reportedly opens doors in the dressing area, while the other one has been spotted in the theatre's seats. His attire? A tuxedo.
Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta
A top pick among travellers for its history and the Canadian Rockies as a picturesque backdrop, this property attracts guests of the living and non-living! From a bellman named Sam who disappears when guests ask for help to a bride who allegedly fell down the hotel's staircase to her death, this hotel has its fair share of spirits. Is it just us, or can the same be said for many Fairmont properties?
Popular for its cultural, art galleries, boutiques and restaurants, a visit to Montreal isn't complete without exploring the older part of the city. But with anything old comes the possibility of ghostly spirits. According to Trip Advisor, there's been reports of a prostitute looking for her head in the area.
It operated as a jail for a century, so there's no wonder guests of this hostel report paranormal activity from prisoners who never left. From sounds of crying at night to clothes reportedly being scattered around unexplained, this place isn't for the faint of heart. Credit: <a href="http://www.hihostels.ca">HI-Canada</a>
Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto
According to a report by Hotels.com, this historic hotel has a few guests that are, um, permanent. The eighth floor is said to be haunted by children's voices, and there's also a man in a purple jacket who haunts the grounds.
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