16 Church Hill
Status: Heritage Church and Graveyard
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The Anglican Church dates back to 1699 here with two churches built on this site previous to the cathedral that stands today.
This parish is not only the Mother church of the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador but also the oldest Anglican Parish in all of Canada.
Previous to the churches this land was used for public hangings until 1750.
The cornerstone for the cathedral that stands here today was laid August 24, 1843. This construction was seriously hampered by the St John’s fire of 1846 rendered all the stone brought over from Ireland unusable.
The cornerstone was rededicated on September 29, 1847 and the nave of the church was finally consecrated in September of 1850.
In 1892 another, worse, fire tore through the city almost completely destroying it. Only the exterior shell of the church survived and it, again, had to be rebuilt. It reconsecrated in 1905 and is now considered one of the best Gothic Revival structures in the world.
The graveyard is south of the cathedral and borders Duckworth Street. It is estimated there are 8,000 people buried there; the majority of them with the benefit of a gravestone or any other marker.
A young man who was working as a stoneworker when the nave was being rebuilt after the fire of 1892 fell from the scaffolding to his death. He was buried in the graveyard but seems to have been uncomfortable with the idea of leaving the job unfinished.
Shortly after his death his former co-workers began seeing him on the job site again. He even showed up in a photo taken of all the stoneworkers after his death in front of the church. This photo can be seen below; the ghostly workman is on the far left and seems to be semi-transparent.
The ghostly is still seen occasionally today wandering the church grounds.
In the late 1800’s the body of a man was discovered in a lane in the downtown area. He was foreigner and thought to be a sailor from one of the many ships that docked as St John’s had become a major port.
Unable to identify him it was decided to bury him in the Anglican Graveyard. Either he wasn’t Anglican or just didn’t like the plot he was given but the man let his displeasure known decisively.
When the gravediggers came to fill in the grave someone began knocking from the inside of the casket. The casket was immediately taken back out and opened.
A doctor came and verified the man in the casket was indeed dead.
Back into the hole in went but as soon as they began filling it in the knocking began again. You can imagine how the gravediggers must have been feeling.
The casket was brought up again and again the doctor confirmed the man was dead as dead can be.
So back into the hole again and again the knocking began again. This the doctor – who stayed on site – wouldn’t allow the casket to be brought up again.
The knocking continued and still continues to this day. They are not constant and only happen from time to time but there are reports up to 2023 of people still hearing the knocking. If you’re really lucky maybe you will too.
Other Reported Activity: misty apparitions floating through the graveyard and church grounds; disembodied voices and whisper heard at the church’s nave; electrical disturbances; unexplained mists; light anomalies and feelings of being watched.
Status: Former Execution Site; Numerous Drownings; Natural Wonder (Pond); Urban Legend
This pond is extremely dangerous; please keep your distance from it’s edge especially at night when distances can be deceiving.
For over 2 centuries there has been a legend that this pond is bottomless. That legend has since been proven incorrect as the bottom has been found; however, the legend persists.
Nearby Gibbet Hill was formerly used as an execution site in the 18th and 19th centuries to hang pirates and other criminals. The pond is said to have gotten it’s name from the executed criminal’s bodies being thrown in it after the hanging.
The executions were public and the site was chosen because it can be seen from the ocean as a warning to any others tempted to turn to piracy.
The name may also come from the large number of drownings that have happened in the pond. There are strong currents in the pond that have pulled even the best swimmers under to their deaths.
Many believe it is far more than currents pulling the unwary to their deaths.
Signal Hill being the first line of defense again an attack from the sea the area has also seen a number of military engagements.
The pond is said to be haunted by the spirit of an Indigenous Chief who either fell into the pond and drowned by accident or was thrown in the pond by his people for his crimes. This legend predates European colonization.
To this day people report seeing the apparition of the chief eternally wandering the shores of the pond.
He is said to hate the living and is known for reaching up for the depths and grabbing those swimming above dragging them down to their watery deaths.
Ghostly hands are also said to reach right out of the pond and grabbing people on the shore to drag them to their deaths.
Some time in the 18th century a pirate Captain – fearing capture by the British – decided to bury his treasure on the shore of Signal Hill. One young crewman – seeing his chance to escape the pirate life despite his life debt to the Captain – volunteered to go ashore and bury the treasure.
The Captain, however, was aware of the man’s plan to escape and beheaded him on the spot. The man’s body and head were buried with the treasure. The ghost of the young man – who still haunts the area – was thought to have been the perfect guard until they returned; they never returned.
The apparition of a headless man is still seen in the area. He is said to appear to anyone who gets close to the spot the treasure is buried in.
On Boxing Day of 1869 the son of Sir Frederick Carter, attorney general for Newfoundland at the time, went for a walk after dinner with 2 female companions. When they neared Signal Hill they heard frantic screams and discovered 2 young girls had fallen through the ice.
Mr Carter jumped in and tried to save the girls. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful and both he and the 2 girls drown to death in the pond.
Ever since – especially around Christmas time – the phantom screams of the girls are heard after dark. Others have reported seeing the 3 ghosts replaying the tragedy over and over in the water.
In both 2015 and 2017 a lone woman drove her car into the pond and drown.
It is unknown for these were suicides or accidents or, perhaps, like many other haunted bodies of water the pond has the ability to call victims to it even from a distance.
251 Lemarchant Road
Status: Former Salvation Army Maternity Hospital; Former Nurses Residence; Former Nursing School; Abandoned
Opened in September 1923 by the Salvation Army, Grace Hospital was Newfoundland’s first maternity hospital. It was first built for the benefit of unwed poor mothers who had nowhere else to go. Those wonderful single mothers we all sanctify, without whom many of us wouldn’t be here without, who so often face(d) judgement and distain both now and in the past.
When the hospital first opened it only had 22 beds but had quickly expanded to 100 beds and added a children’s ward by 1929. The site was chosen as the second nursing school in the Province and Mary Southcott was brought in to create it – she had created the first one and had just left her position as the nursing supervisor at St John’s General Hospital over a conflict with her methods.
In the 1950’s the facility was expanded to 200 beds and they began taking in more patients than just pregnant mothers. In the 1960’s the hospital was updated and the nurse’s residence – which is all that remains of the campus now – was added.
In 2000 it was decided by the Provincial Government that a further expansion of the Health Sciences Centre would be cheaper than updating Grace. Grace was closed and slated for demolition.
In 2008 most of the campus – including the main hospital with its iconic smokestack, the 2 residences on Pleasant Street and all the out buildings constructed in the 1920’s were razed to the ground.
Only the nurse’s residence remains on the site now with an estimated cost in the millions to just remove all of the asbestos. It will be much longer before there is nothing here to remind us of a facility that faithfully served part of the population that had no where else to turn for almost 80 years.
Reports of paranormal activity date back to before the hospital closed, through the demolishment and into today.
There are reports of an apparition in what was the main hospital parking lot clearly not animal or human as it had no legs or anything visible below its waist. It wonders where the parking lot once was and has been known to stop and let out a mournful loud howl into the night. It is most often seen in the so-called dead hours between 230am and 430am.
A nurse leaving work in the dead of winter saw a woman walking toward the building. What immediately grabbed her attention is that the woman was not wearing any winter clothing and it was a bitterly cold night. The woman disappeared around a corner and the nurse followed thinking it could be a wandering patient. When the nurse rounded the corner, the woman was nowhere to be seen; only footprints in the snow that led to a solid brick wall before suddenly stopping.
A member of the demolition crew in one of the residences kept seeing someone peeking out of the doorframes in his peripheral vision. The workman eventually walked toward the room he was seeing things from only to find an empty room – no furniture and no one. After returning to work the person started peeking again. This time he got a good look – good enough to identify a small boy in a hospital gown who was floating above the floor.
Other Activity: apparitions of former patients and staff many of whom have reacted to the living; disembodied voices; unexplained noises including phantom footsteps, screams, babies crying, breathing, laughing, knocks and loud bangs; light anomalies; shadows watching from and moving past the empty windows; electrical disturbances; cold spots; an eerie feeling that permeates the area the entire campus once sat on and feelings of being watched and not being alone.
6 Cathedral Street
Status: Former Freemason Lodge; Theatre and Arts Building
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This Victorian brick building was built in 1894 with insurance gained from the first Masonic Temple in St John’s that – due to it’s wooden frame – burned in the Great Fire of 1892. Sir William Whiteway – who was both a Freemason and the Prime Minister of Newfoundland (Newfoundland was it’s own Country until joined Canada in 1949) – laid the cornerstone on August 23, 1894.
The Freemasons held their first official meeting in the building on November 1, 1896 but did not consecrate the structure until April 23, 1897.
The last Masonic meeting was held in June of 2007. In 2018 the Freemasons opened the Grand Lodge of Newfoundland and Labrador in Mt Pearl; the former lodge in St John’s no longer has any ties to the Freemasons.
In 2008 the building was bought and turned into theatre for a local theatre company.
In 2020 it was put up for sale again after the Covid pandemic left the theatre strapped for cash. In 2022 it was purchased, and the theatre company became the tenants.
The building is currently undergoing restoration.
There are no ghost stories from the time the building was a Masonic Lodge. Of course, the Freemasons are a very secretive society, so that is to be expected. No Freemason would be spreading stories about ghosts in the lodge.
There is only one story of anything possibly paranormal happening and that took place in 1999 at a wedding.
Weddings were not something that happened very often at a Masonic Lodge but, in this case, the groom’s grandfather had been a long standing and well respected member. He passed away before his grandson got married.
When the presiding judge came out to start the ceremony, he lit a candle before getting to the bride and groom. Midway to them the candle suddenly went out for no apparent reason; the judge returned and lit the candle again and again it went out as he started toward the couple soon to be married.
After the ceremony it was noticed there were 2 photos of the groom’s grandfather at either ends of the room. The judge had been standing right between the 2 pictures each time the candle had mysteriously went out.
The theatre company inhabiting the building now is very open to the paranormal activity and the haunting.
Since the theatre company took over there have been reports of paranormal activity.
One delivery person bringing boxes of files upstairs met a man on the stairs who he asked where to put a box only to have the man ignore him. When he turned to ask the man again the “man” simply faded away into nothing right before the startled guy’s eyes.
He left the building immediately and refused to enter it again.
The disappearing man has actually been seen by many people since 2008 indicating he’s probably not a new haunting.
The disappearing man is usually reported in work boots and a rain coat.
The pipe organ in the building has been reported as playing on it’s own.
Disembodied voices and other unexplained noises are often heard in the building. This phenomena is most often reported by people in empty rooms.
The caretaker of the building has reported that doors will lock on their own and windows will close on their own.
10 – 20 King’s Bridge Road
Status: Heritage Residential Property; Multi-Unit Residential Building
There is very little history on this structure other than it being a historically valued heritage property.
The house was built in 1883 for a father and son; William and James Pitts. William started a successful mercantile business which was taken over and expanded by his son. Heritage records from the city indicate both father and son made contributions of cultural and religious importance.
At some point the 3 story structure was converted into apartments.
This building is said to be haunted by it’s former residents.
The apparition of an elderly woman dressed in black – nicknamed “the old hag” - has been reported as appearing at the foot of people’s beds watching them. While there are no reports of her ever acting in a threatening way toward the living people say she gives off a very frightening and disturbing presence.
Most of the reports are from people who wake to find her staring at them which probably adds to her reputation of being overly scary.
“The Old Hag” has been seen throughout the building; meaning in all of the separate apartments now that the building has been divided up.
Other Reported Activity: shadow figures; disembodied voices; objects moving on their own; lights turning on and off on their own; doors opening on their own; phantom footsteps; light anomalies; empathic sensations of uneasiness and fear and feelings of being watched and not being alone.