Columnist fascinated by Sydney’s ghosts.
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.