Welcome back. Are you brave enough to handle more haunting tales of ghostly terror?
Two years ago, you blanched at the ghost bride of Alberta’s Banff Springs Hotel. Last year, the Headless Brakemen of Vancouver’s Gastown left you feeling lily-livered. If you liked those and other spooky stories of the supernatural, the final instalment in our Haunted Canada series will send another dose of deathly chills down your spine.
Dive into a new set of Canadian ghost stories, if you dare, and try to shake off the uneasy feeling that some things cannot be explained.
Read on to learn more about the five terrifying tales featured on this year’s crop of creepy stamps. They’re sure to raise your spirits.
Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, Toronto, ON
When the curtain goes up at Toronto’s Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre, you never know who will be in the audience. Staff and patrons have witnessed all manner of apparitions in its elaborate lobby and theatres, including seats that fold up and down on their own and a female ghost who appears in Edwardian dress, as was fashionable when the facility opened a century ago. After the building was restored in the 1980s an on-site séance reached a spectre named Sam, who refused to allow any other spirits to come forward. Talk about upstaging the cast!
Phantom Bell Ringers, Charlottetown, PEI
In the early morning of October 7, 1853, a bell began to toll over Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. A sea captain who was out walking thought it was a ship’s bell, although it seemed to come from the direction of town. Mystified, he made his way to the harbour, where the mail steamer Fairy Queen lay at anchor. The ominous toll sounded again, this time clearly from town. Its source, he soon discovered, was the Kirk of St. James – but it was no time for the church bell to be rung.
On the church steps stood three women, with a fourth peering down from the belfry – all dressed in ghostly white. The sexton, who had also arrived to investigate, saw the threesome climbing up to the tower and rushed to get the church keys. By the time he returned, and the two men had vaulted up the steps, they found only the bell – which was still vibrating.
At noon the Fairy Queen left for Pictou, Nova Scotia. Later that day, word came that the steamer had sunk in stormy waters with seven lives lost, including four women. Three happened to be members of St. James’s congregation. Were the apparitions the four women soon to perish in the frigid waters of the Northumberland Strait? And was the ominous ringing of the church bell – which sounded, to a seasoned captain, like a ship’s bell – forewarning their tragic fate?
The Hag of Bell Island, NL
The marshes near Dobbin’s Garden on Newfoundland and Labrador's Bell Island are home to a female spirit that strikes fear into local residents. She appears only to a person who is alone, usually a farmer. The first hint of her presence is a foul smell that seems to emanate from the swamp itself. She first appears as a beautiful woman in a white cloak, but as she approaches she turns into a frighteningly ugly and deformed old hag. Her overpowering stench paralyzes her prey, who struggles to draw a breath. She crawls ever closer, covering her victim with her cowl, always whispering the same terrible words: “No one came to help me when I died in that swamp. No one will help you. Now taste what I tasted, smell what I smelled as my life was taken from me."
No one has ever died from her attacks. Victims are found hours later in Dobbin’s Garden, unconscious and reeking of death.
The Lady in White of Montmorency Falls, QC
Legend has it that residents of Île d'Orléans, east of Québec, have for centuries spoken in hushed tones about the tortured spirit of La Dame Blanche (the Lady in White) of Montmorency Falls. Believed to be the ghost of Mathilde Robin, the ethereal figure and plaintive moans of the Lady inWhite still haunt the rushing waters where she plunged to her death.
In 1759, in the middle of the Seven Years War, Mathilde had found true love in Louis Tessier, a local farmer who was devoted to spending the rest of his days with her. Little did they know, on the evenings when they climbed to the crest of falls to watch evening settle on Île d'Orléans, that their time together would be all too brief.
While Mathilde was putting the finishing touches on her wedding gown, a fierce battle broke out between the French and the invading British forces. Although the French soldiers managed to repel the attack, Louis was among those who died in the fighting.
Overwhelmed with grief, Mathilde donned the white gown her beloved would never see and cast herself into the falls. It is said that those who see the spirit of La Dame Blanche near her watery grave at night should keep their distance: her gown was meant to be touched by her true love only and unimaginable harm will befall anyone else who comes near it.
The Dungarvon Whooper, Renous, NB
According to legend, the cook at a logging camp near the Dungarvon River kept his life savings in a money belt that he wore at all times. One winter morning, in the thin light of day, the loggers tramped off to the woods. When they returned they found the cook lying dead on the floor, his money belt gone. The camp boss claimed the cook had suddenly taken ill and died. While a snowstorm raged that night, the lumberjacks buried the cook in a shallow grave at Dungarvon Springs. Returning to camp, the loggers heard dreadful whoops and screams coming from the grave. They packed up and hightailed it out of camp, never to return. Some years later, a priest was brought in to quiet the grave. Despite his prayers, people in the Miramichi area still claim to hear the unmerciful whoops of the Dungarvon Whooper when they are outside around dusk.