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Formed by the last Ice Age as it retreated Bedford Basin is surrounded by the most populated area in Eastern Canada.
The Basin is about 5 kilometres wide and 8 kilometres long quite deep in places.
It forms the northwest end of Halifax harbour. It was named after John Russell, the 4th Duke of Bedford.
A boat full of fisherman flipped over in the Basin resulting in all the men drowning. On foggy nights – like the one the men drowned in – the phantom sound of oars and a boat sliding through the water can be heard. But no boat ever appears.
The Basin is also said to be haunted by members of the original Aboriginal population, French and Canadian soldiers – probably from the Halifax explosion in The Narrows – as well as numerous other victims it has claimed over the centuries.
Reported Activity: shadowy apparitions, disembodied voices, numerous types of unexplained noises, light anomalies, touches, tugs and pulls of unseen presences and feelings of not being alone, not being wanted and being watched.
1740 Argyle Street
Status: Former School; Former Mortuary; Restaurant
This building was originally built in the early 19th century as a schoolhouse by the St Paul’s Church of England. This was the first school in Canada to offer free education.
After the population of students grew too big for the building it was bought by Anne Leonowens – the once governess for the King of Siam and the writer of the King and I – who created the Halifax Victorian School of Art.
The art school also grew too big for building fairly quickly and it was taken over by John Snow & Co for use as funeral home.
In April of 1912 the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg and sank resulting in over 1,000 deaths. Many of the bodies fished out of the Atlantic were brought to this building so final arrangements could be made.
On December 6, 1917 there was another world shaking disaster with the Halifax Explosion resulting in over 2,000 deaths. Every funeral home – as well as schools and churches – were used to store the bodies until funeral arrangements could be made. There were 30 to 40 funerals a day here.
The building is now one of the most famous upscale restaurants in the city. It is also one of the most famous locations in Canada and the world.
Staff are no longer allowed to stay in the building after hours alone due to the number of incidents that have happened. The ghosts are not dangerous or malevolent but they are mischievous and can you a nasty shock especially if you’re all alone.
All of the staff and many of the patrons of the restaurant have witnessed paranormal activity. Some of them have become so used to it they barely give it a thought.
Objects often move by themselves including: glasses flying off shelves, cutlery falling off tables, taps turning on and off on their own, lights turning on and off on their own and doors opening and closing.
A grey misty apparition has been seen on the stairs as well as floating outside the windows – the second story windows – and has even been reported to tap on the windows seemingly wanting attention.
Another misty apparition has been seen floating through the kitchen.
Disembodied voices are very common including hearing your name whispered. One staff member went into the private dining room – the Captain’s Quarters – upon hearing a man and a woman arguing inside. When he entered the voices stopped and there was no one else in the room.
Apparitions have been seen going into that same private room but when followed no one is found in the room.
At 3:00pm the ghost of a man described as having long grey hair and wearing a long black coat has been seen by at least 2 staff members. Once reflected in a mirror shortly after an ashtray mysteriously fell and broke and once on the landing by the front entrance.
A young woman has been seen floating over the staircase to the third floor bathrooms. In the women’s washroom there are numerous reports of hearing someone crying the next stall yet it is completely empty.
Many staff have felt taps on the shoulders only to turn and find no one there as well as brief cold spots as if someone had passed right through them. One hostess felt brush against her face only to find a red handprint on her cheek as if she had been slapped.
Other Activity: numerous EVPs, knocking sounds some responding to questions by the living, light anomalies, electrical disturbances and feelings of being watched and not being alone.
54525 Sackville Street
Status: Historical Fort and Monument
Public and Private Paranormal Investigations are Available
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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) 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 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 – also suffered no attacks. General historical opinion, though, is that it served as a strong deterrent against American forces 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 – which has been restored to its Victorian Era grandeur – 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 attack from 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 – 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.
Status: Natural Wonder (Beach); Burial Ground; Only Accessible by Boat
This is the biggest island in Halifax Harbour.
The island was used seasonally by both the Mi’Kmag and Acadian aboriginal tribes previous to the arrival of the Europeans. The French were the original invaders whose Navy was looking for a place to building a fortified harbour; they would event choose where Louisburg now stands.
By the time Halifax was founded by the British in 1749 the island – then known as Cornwallis Island - was used as a base of operations for fisherman.
In the 1780’s Peter McNab purchased the island and so began many generations of the McNab family living on the island as well as a change to the island’s name.
Maugher Beach is more commonly known as Hangman’s Beach because the British Navy – in the Napoleonic Wars (early 19th century) – would hang the bodies of executed mutineers on this beach. This served as a warning to crewmen on board the naval ships what would happen if they didn’t behave.
The bodies of at least 200 victims of cholera who died on the SS England were also buried near Hangman’s Beach. The beach is also where the island’s lighthouse was built.
The ruins of numerous British fortresses can also be found on the island as well as the remains of houses, an abandoned picnic ground, a pop factory, an abandoned Victorian garden and the graves of the island’s early settlers.
In World War II gun batteries and searchlights were installed on the island and an anti-submarine net was strung between the island and the mainland to prevent enemy submarines from entering Halifax Harbor – which was a major staging area for convoys to Britain.
Fort McNab – the former World War II emplacement – National Historic Site on the island remains a possession of the Federal Government. The rest of the island – less a small area privately owned – functions as a Nova Scotia Provincial Park.
Transparent apparitions of both the mutineers and the cholera victims are seen walking on the beach and in the forest beyond.
These apparitions are occasionally reported elsewhere on the island and even include reports of them entering the homes of the island’s few residents.
The apparition of a full horse and carriage is also reported racing across the beach.
Other Reported Activity: disembodied voices; light anomalies; feelings of being watched, not being alone and not being wanted.
Status: Natural Wonder; National Park; Limited Access
It is thought that the Portuguese Explorer, Joao Alvares Fungunde, first explored this island in the early 16th Century. In the end of the same century the French attempted the colonization of the island with convicts; this attempt would ultimately fail.
In 1801 the province of Nova Scotia established the first permanent population on the island with the establishment of a life saving station. In 1872 2 lighthouses were built on the island that provided safe passage until the advent of modern navigation.
One of the first Marconi stations was built on the island in the 20th Century – since then the Canadian government has built a weather station here. This island is so desolate and removed from mainland Canada that only 2 people can claim the honour of being born here.
The same cannot be said for those who have died both on the island and in the seas surrounding it. Before the lighthouses were constructed there were countless shipwrecks near the island; there are many who claim that the wrecks number in the thousands.
It is sure thing that hundreds of bodies have washed up on the island’s shores and that many survivors tried to eek out a living deserted on the island until their deaths. The island’s population of feral horses is thought to have come from a Spanish Galleon that sunk near the island while shipping horses to the New World.
Sable Island is part of the City of Halifax despite being 290 kms (180 miles) from the city.
Sable Island is protected under the Canada Shipping Act and permission must be granted by the Canadian Coast Guard before any attempt is made to land on its shores. The island only has 5 permanent residents now (all of whom work for the Canadian Government) but its populations swells in the summer with researchers.
It said that a woman’s corpse once washed up on the beach and that a treasure hunter came upon her. Her body was bloated and obviously a victim of drowning off the coast so the hunter thought nothing of relieving her of her wedding band.
Unable to tug it off he took out a knife and cut off her finger to get the ring. Once her finger was cut off she began to scream and the hunter slashed her throat. The blood split from her is said to give the sands of the island their rusty red colouring. The woman’s apparition is still seen on the island and still holds up her bloody hand screaming for justice. She has also left phantom footprints on the beach.
The apparition of a man rowing a boat is witnessed off the coast of the island; legend says he is still trying to complete a mission of great importance.
The apparitions of countless sailors are seen all over the island, some still guarding treasure that they buried centuries ago.
Disembodied voices, screams and moans are heard both on the island and in the surrounding waters especially when the fog rolls in.
6385 South Street
Status: Student Residence
This building is Dalhousie’s first – and logically oldest – residence. Until the mid-2000’s it was a female only residence.
It was originally constructed – many additions have been made since – in the 1920’s to provide female students with a safe place to live. Most landlords at the time did not want to take in female tenants.
During this time one female student – other versions of the story identify her a maid – was named Penelope.
Penelope fell in love with an older man – possibly a professor – and became pregnant as a result. Her lover quickly disavowed Penelope and left her as an unwed pregnant woman; a very bad position to be left in during the early 20th century with a huge unfair scarlet mark on your reputation.
Left with little choice she climbed to the 4th floor of the residence and hung herself from the rafters.
Now it must be said that there is no historical records of anyone named Penelope from that time or of anyone hanging themselves. Records were easily altered and buried in that time so. . .
Either way every year more students tell of encounters with Penelope in the building.
The University only has records of stories of Penelope since the 1990’s.
Penelope could be a tulpa or the ghost of a girl driven to suicide in the 1920’s. At this point her origins don’t really matter in the long run. As many people will tell you she is very much real to those who encounter her.
It is also universally said that well Penelope could give you a good fright she is not someone to be afraid of.
When she does appear as a full body apparition – very rarely – she is described as a young woman in a blue dress and is almost always walking across a room.
She has also been seen as a shadow figure in the middle of the night often appearing in student’s room, which could of course frighten people.
Either way there is no history of her interacting with the living beyond the occasional glance that may or may not directed toward someone specifically.
Other Reported Activity: a breeze of cold air with no apparent source; footprints that lead to a wall before disappearing; phantom sounds of an organ and feelings of being watched.