This location is owned by Parks Canada and open to the public. Ghost Tours are available with access to many areas restricted to the General Public such as the old prisons for about $12 CDN or $200 for a private tour.
A total of four forts have stood on the top of Citadel Hill with the first, second and final ones being called The Citadel – the third was called Fort George. The first one was established in 1749 – the same year Halifax was incorporated – and built primarily as a response to the threat of the French fortification Fort Louisburg (also haunted - see the Nova Scotia main page) which a recent treaty between England and France had returned to France.
This original citadel was part of five forts built to protect the Protestant population against raids from the Catholic French and their Native allies. The French made many raids against the forts in what is now known as Father Le Loutre’s War.
The European Seven Years War was called the French and Indian War in the North American colonies. The British fortified their rule over the area with the Expulsion of the Acadians forcing out the French settlers. A number of Acadians were taken prisoner during the expulsion and held on St George’s Island in Halifax Harbour. Between 1757 and 1759 there were numerous raids by the French and attacks on the forts.
The second fort – the first one that was intended to be permanent – was established just in time for the American Revolution. It was designed to be the primary protection for Halifax in case of both French or American attacks. When completed it contained 72 guns and 100 troops and provided the British Royal Navy with their most secure base in eastern North America.
The fort – with all its power – was one of the primary reasons the Colony of Nova Scotia remained loyal to the Crown instead of joining the 13 Colonies in their revolt. At the time Nova Scotia was called the 14th Colony and very sympathetic to the American cause.
Although there was a naval battle in the waters outside of Halifax Harbour neither the French nor the Americans ever attacked the Citadel. After the Americans proved victorious in their revolution the fort was abandoned and is reported to have been in ruins by 1784.
The third citadel was named after King George III and was built due to direct threats of the French and the USA once again. It strongly resembled the final Citadel that still stands today but relied much more heavily on earth works rather than stone. The first possible threat – French Revolutionary War – resulted in no attacks but provided the incentive to build the fort.
The second threat – War of 1812 against the United States – it also suffered no attacks. General historical opinion, though, is that it served as a strong deterrent against American forces who would have laid siege to Halifax had the fort not been there. By 1825 – with the threats ended – this fort, too, was in ruins.
The final Citadel was constructed between 1828 and 1856. With the French threat permanently removed it was specifically designed to protect again American ground attack; and more than capable of shelling any naval intrusion into the harbour.
The American attack, of course, never came as Britain and eventually Canada – became allies of the United States. The fort would never see military action again but it would play more parts in history.
It was put on high alert during the US Civil War due to the possibility of international incidents and the possibility of the war spreading outside of the US borders.
The fort was used to garrison British soldiers until 1906 when they were replaced with Canadian soldiers until the end of the First World War.
During the World War I it was part of one of Canadian history’s darkest chapters. It was used to imprison German immigrants to prevent them from spying for the German Empire.
During the World War II it was used to protect Halifax – which was a major mustering point for convoys to Britain - from an attack by Nazi Germany. It provided temporary barracks for the soldiers and coordinated the city’s air defenses.
On a side note Canada was only fired on once in World War II and that was on the other coast. A Japanese submarine surfaced off the coast of Vancouver Island and fired one shell at Victoria, British Columbia. Fort Rodd responded by firing at the Japanese but it is surmised they missed as the wreckage of Japanese sub has never been found on the sea bottom.
After the Second World War the fort was allowed to decay yet again – this time by the Canadian Government. Its location being worth its weight in gold as downtown Halifax began to grow it was almost torn down to create a parking lot but was saved by concerned citizens.
A museum moved into the fort in late 1950’s before going to it’s permanent home. At that time the fort was also being used partially as a historic site. By the 1990’s Parks Canada – who had taken over the ownership – had restored the fort back to its Victorian Era grandeur and The Citadel as we know it today was born.
This location is, arguably, the most haunted location in all of Canada.
The Grey Lady
The grey lady is seen in the Cavalier Building most often. She is thought to be Cassie Allen who was supposed to marry a soldier stationed at the fort in the early 20th century. Apparently, Cassie’s fiancé had a deep dark secret; namely another wife in an asylum in Bermuda. Another soldier discovered this and a fight ensued. It would seem that the secret was true as the fiancé was found the next day having hung himself.
Cassie lived her life and didn’t pass away until the 1950’s but never got over her lost love and his dark secrets. It is thought she has returned to the fort – perhaps looking for a better outcome to her Fairy tale.
The Grey Lady has her own stamp in Canada and I actually have one of them on my wall.
One fort visitor saw a soldier in the old barracks and followed him through a door only to find herself completely alone. The problem was there was no other exit from the room. She asked about the man assuming he was an employee. No one was dressed in the uniform the man was in on staff that day.
A little girl likes to follow the ghost tours around playing the tour members.
This location averages over 200 reports of paranormal activity per year.
Other Activity: Apparitions of soldiers are more common than you’d think. There are also apparitions of other former residents of the fort – much like the grey lady and the little girl – including family and workers, unexplained mists, shadow figures, doors and windows opening and closing on their own, objects moving on their own, electrical disturbances, unexplained light phenomena, phantom sounds of shouts, laughter, voices foot steps and breathing. feelings of unease, being watched and not being alone, touches, tugs and pulls by unseen presences and many others.