Colum­nist fas­ci­nated by Syd­ney’s ghosts.

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - Ken Chisholm The Cen­tre Isle Ken Chisholm lives in Syd­ney and has writ­ten plays, songs, re­views, mag­a­zine ar­ti­cles. He can be reached at the­cen­ter­

This sum­mer, I have been tasked to lead a day­time ver­sion of Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety’s pop­u­lar ghost walk.

In my own de­fence, it is very hard to tell a scary ghost tale out­side in the mid­dle of a sunny day when the sky is blue and the breeze is balmy. But that as they say is show­biz.

This week, as part of the Syd­ney Wa­ter­front Fes­ti­val, the Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety is of­fer­ing its ghost tours ev­ery evening. It’s an en­ter­tain­ing and in­for­ma­tive evening out and there have been oc­ca­sions when ghostly pres­ences have made them­selves known, send­ing some tour mem­bers run­ning and scream­ing into the night. Just say­ing.

There are a lot of ghosts in Syd­ney’s north end and how and why they took up res­i­dence there tells the story of our town. Ev­ery block has at least one spook-in­hab­ited res­i­dence, of­ten more.

As I tell the vis­i­tors on my tour, the ghosts in­clude par­ents pro­tect­ing their lost chil­dren, con­victs left to die un­mourned, wives hanged with their lovers for mur­der­ing an un­sus­pect­ing hus­band, and fa­thers aveng­ing their wronged daugh­ters.

Some­times the story can be too brief. Some houses have ghosts but no­body knows who they were or what their story was. To me the point is Syd­ney’s north end is so filled with the rem­nants of the dead, liv­ing res­i­dents sim­ply ac­cept their pres­ence as they would any other neigh­bour.

To re­serve a spot on the Ghost and Leg­ends Tour of His­toric North End Syd­ney, call 902-539-1572. The tour costs $13 per per­son and is a chills filled 90 min­utes rec­om­mended for those 10 years and older. It starts at 7 p.m. at St. Pa­trick’s Church Mu­seum on Syd­ney’s Es­planade and ends there with strong tea, sweet Cape Bre­ton treats and maybe a last story from a tour mem­ber.

Speak­ing of dead things and the Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety, the so­ci­ety

and the Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity de­part­ment of bi­ol­ogy have joined forces to cu­rate a new nat­u­ral his­tory exhibit — What Re­mains — in the so­ci­ety’s new head­quar­ters in the Royal Bank build­ing on the cor­ner of Char­lotte and Townsend streets in down­town Syd­ney.

The exhibit fea­tures fos­sils from Cape Bre­ton’s ge­o­logic past, in fact, from way be­fore even di­nosaurs roamed the Earth. Many of th­ese spec­i­mens came from the Cameron Zoo­log­i­cal Mu­seum at CBU.

Austin Cameron was a Cape Bre­toner and a pres­ti­gious nat­u­ral bi­ol­o­gist who, in the clos­ing years of his long ca­reer as a sci­en­tist and aca­demic, worked in the 1970s at the Col­lege of Cape

Bre­ton, as CBU was then known.

While fa­mil­iar to stu­dents study­ing science at the univer­sity, very few other folk have en­joyed ex­am­in­ing the fas­ci­nat­ing ob­jects.

The exhibit also in­cludes a va­ri­ety of birds nests and their eggs, skulls of var­i­ous crea­tures that vis­i­tors are in­vited to try to iden­tify, and any­one can try their hand at the cam­era lu­cida (Latin for “light cham­ber”) which pro­fes­sional bi­ol­o­gists use to “trace” ac­cu­rate draw­ings of their spec­i­mens. It is a hand­son exhibit.

The exhibit runs un­til Oc­to­ber and is open to the pub­lic free of charge, Mon­day to Fri­day,

9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Satur­day, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

There have been re­ports of the oc­ca­sional vis­i­tor wan­der­ing into the old bank look­ing for the ghost of an old ATM.

Fi­nally, as part of the Wa­ter­front Fes­ti­val, the Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety is of­fer­ing a Harry Pot­ter Wizard­ing Fair from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Thurs­day and Fri­day at St. Pa­trick’s Church Mu­seum.

All the lovely items from the Pot­ter-verse will be avail­able: af­ter the Sort­ing Hat sorts you out, visit di­agon Al­ley and wand shop, en­joy some Honey duke’s Can­dies, but­ter beer, Quid­ditch matches and those who ar­rive in cos­tume will be el­i­gi­ble for a prize even “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” would covet.

For groups of four or more peo­ple who would like to do the po­tions ex­per­i­ments, mes­sage Kate­lyn Mac­In­tyre Landry on Face­book to book a time. Maybe “Nearly Head­less” Nick will show up.


This poster gives a taste of the Old Syd­ney So­ci­ety’s Ghost and Leg­ends Tour of His­toric North End Syd­ney be­ing of­fered nightly dur­ing the Syd­ney Wa­ter­front Fes­ti­val and weekly dur­ing the rest of the sum­mer.

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