DISCOVER THESE HAUNTED SITES IN THE OUTAOUAIS!
What if we told you that the Outaouais is no slouch when it comes to the supernatural? That it harbours secrets and strange phenomena all over its territory? Yes, the Outaouais is haunted, and not just one night a year …
Every year, Halloween is when everyone secretly (or not so secretly) wishes their home/office/neighbourhood were haunted, if only for one night. Considering the time, energy and money people put in to make their environment as scary as possible–to set the mood for the party guests or the little trick-or-treaters–, it would be a lot more economical (and, let’s face it, more authentic) to have a real ghost pacing in your attic or slamming doors at the end of the hallway. And you wouldn’t need to hang a smiling plastic vampire face or an articulated cardboard skeleton on the door.
1. PHANTOMS AT THE MACKENZIE KING ESTATE
William Lyon Mackenzie King is a fascinating figure in Canadian politics! Besides being Canada’s longest-serving prime minister, he contributed in a way to the creation of Gatineau Park, notably by bequeathing his estate to the Canadian people.
But at Moorside Cottage, Mackenzie King had some rather unusual political advisers: his grandfather, William Lyon Mackenzie; his mentor, Wilfrid Laurier; and his mother. There’s just one problem: they were all dead! They say he even talked to Pat, his dead dogs (yes, he had three dogs named Pat).
It’s also said that some visitors to the Estate’s cottages have felt a presence, and that it’s not uncommon to see, through the window of Kingswood House, objects that have been moved—in a locked and vacant room.
In late summer, the Haunted Walk of Ottawa organizes tours of the Estate.
2. LA LÉGENDE DU LAC DES FÉES
The Lac des Fées, located in Gatineau Park, also have his scary story! A young Algonquin girl named Ik8é (no idea how to pronounce an 8 …) had two suitors who were crazy about her. It seems that each had his charms, because Ik8é couldn’t decide which one to marry. The two suitors were valiant warriors, and an enemy attack being imminent, Ik8é’s father suggested that she marry the one who returned safe and sound from battle. Sadly, both men died on the battlefield.
Devastated, Ik8é threw herself into Lac des Fées. They say that in the evening, the spirits of her suitors still walk the shore in search of their beloved, while she is condemned to watch them for eternity, invisible to their eyes.
3. THE SYMMES INNKEEPER’S DAUGHTER
Today, the Symmes Inn is a regional history museum, but originally (in 1831) it was the Aylmer Hotel, built by Charles Symmes (the founder of Aylmer) as a home for his family, who came from the Boston area. One of his daughters, Hannah, was probably suffering from a rare disease, and her father would confine her to an upstairs room when he entertained friends and associates. It seems that one evening, she froze to death up there …
Museum staff report hearing footsteps on the second floor, and the museum coordinator says she heard a little girl say, “Goodbye!” as she was locking the door one evening.
The Bytown Paranormal team, which investigates supernatural events, has been to the Inn three times. It seems the little girl is quite shy, because it wasn’t until the third visit that they were able to record her …
4. A MYSTERIOUS PRESENCE AT THE PINE LODGE IN BRISTOL
The Pine Lodge is a beautiful wood-frame resort hotel in Bristol, Pontiac. It has a golf course, and it’s ideal for receptions. A few years ago, its Halloween activities were a big hit with the public, but it seems that once all the decorations and makeup had been removed, terror didn’t get the memo and a real spirit stayed behind. The following winter, the team from Bytown Paranormal (yes, them again!) visited the lodge to try to capture a recording of the spirit.
In a room on the third floor, one of the team members felt a presence. Though it didn’t speak, everyone present felt the temperature drop from 15° to -3° in a matter of minutes … Apparently, a temperature drop is typical in the presence of spirits (think Sixth Sense), but no one had ever experienced such a dramatic change. What’s going on at Pine Lodge???
5. OTTAWA, HAUNTED CITY!
Our Ottawa neighbours have lots of stories! There’s the former county jail (now a youth hostel), said to be haunted by the ghost of Patrick James Whelan, hanged in 1869 for allegedly assassinating Thomas d’Arcy McGee; and there’s the Museum of Nature, whose long-time employees all mention the west wing, where a man has been seen walking around long after closing time … Is it the museum architect, who took his own life on the premises? Is it the ghost of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, whose coffin lay in state here after his death? Nobody knows …
There’s also the Château Laurier, whose fifth floor is said to be haunted by Charles Melville Hayes. Hayes was in England to prepare the opening of the Château built by the railway company of which he was the president. His return trip to Canada ended on April 14, 1912, as he was one of the 1,500 people who lost their lives in the sinking of the Titanic. People say he returned to live in the hotel he never got to inaugurate …
The Haunted Walk of Ottawa is the best way to discover the strange legends and stories of our capital city. Guided tours start from the Haunted Walk office at 46½ Sparks Street (at Elgin).
Credit top photo : Shawn Kent