ot­tawa will leave you haunted — and not just by your tax re­turns

Where Ottawa - - CONTENTS - by chris lack­ner

By­town’s Bo­gey­men

“By­town, the first name of the city, was con­sid­ered to be one of the most dan­ger­ous places in North Amer­ica,” ex­plains Jim Dean, cre­ative di­rec­tor of Haunted Walks, speak­ing about the rise in vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing mur­der, dur­ing the Rideau Canal’s con­struc­tion in the 1800s. We show­case Ot­tawa’s dark past in­clud­ing ghostly restau­rants, haunted mu­se­ums, and spir­ited es­tates.


This restau­rant serves up a fa­mous ghost, her­itage ar­chi­tec­ture, and a tan­ta­liz­ing menu — mak­ing it the per­fect haunt for the liv­ing and the dead.

The pre­vi­ous long­time ten­ant, Fri­day’s Roast Beef House, could have in­serted the word Haunted into its of­fi­cial name. Dr. James Alexan­der Grant built the three­storey mas­ter­piece in 1875, prac­tised his craft on-site, and was even ru­moured to main­tain a morgue in his base­ment. To­day, the only surgery be­ing done in the old Grant House is by tal­ented chefs.

Owner Stephen Beckta: “Most of the sto­ries come from be­fore Beckta moved in. They in­volved see­ing a fig­ure in the win­dow or staff hear­ing cough­ing

[Dr. Grant was both asth­matic and loved to smoke cigars]. When we took oc­cu­pancy, I left a glass of cham­pagne on the man­tle in an heir­loom Grant fam­ily glass. It was par­tially gone [the next morn­ing] and we’ve been haunt­ing-free ever since, so [Dr. Grant] likes us in his space… One time we had a prob­lem with lights flick­er­ing, and we thought it might be the ghost, but it turned out our dim­mer switch was faulty.”

The Court­yard Restau­rant

Ap­pe­tiz­ers and ap­pari­tions, to­gether at last! Lo­cated in the By­Ward Mar­ket’s Claren­don Court, a cob­ble­stoned hotspot for ghostly ac­tiv­ity, the build­ing is said to be haunted by Mrs. Evans, a woman who re­port­edly died dur­ing an 1872 fire when the site was an inn.

Cyn­thia Ver­boven, se­nior

events co­or­di­na­tor: “Few priv­i­leged staff have had the op­por­tu­nity to en­counter our res­i­dent ghost. One em­ployee, while burn­ing the mid­night oil, re­ported see­ing a ghostly ap­pari­tion stand­ing next to the third win­dow of the Loft Room on the sec­ond floor. Others have re­ported ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­treme chills and an over­whelm­ing sen­sa­tion to flee the build­ing or the sound of tin­kling glasses when left alone in the din­ing room. Some have even seen salt shak­ers move swiftly on their own across the ta­bles!”

Château Lau­rier

Rail­way ex­ec­u­tive Charles Melville died on the Ti­tanic en route to the grand open­ing of the land­mark ho­tel. He never got to see the com­pleted French Gothic-style build­ing he com­mis­sioned, and his name has been linked to su­per­nat­u­ral phe­nom­ena — re­ported by both fa­mous guests and staff — ever since. “It would make sense that he be­lieved in this project so much, that he was so pas­sion­ate for it, that he would want to see it through,” ex­plains Creepy

Cap­i­tal au­thor Mark Les­lie.

Wil­liam Lyon Macken­zie King

The spec­tre of the for­mer prime min­is­ter and avowed spir­i­tu­al­ist haunts two fa­mous build­ings open to the pub­lic. He in­her­ited Lau­rier House and is said to have con­ducted séances on-site with ev­ery­one from his mother and his dog to fa­mous per­son­al­i­ties like Leonardo da Vinci and Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt. The ghost of Macken­zie King him­self is as­so­ci­ated with his Gatineau Park re­treat, Macken­zie King Es­tate, where Les­lie’s book de­scribes sight­ings of a glow­ing, spec­tral fig­ure.

Juan Sanchez, site man­ager of

Lau­rier House: “Every sum­mer at least one of our em­ploy­ees has some su­per­nat­u­ral ex­pe­ri­ence: the sound of some­one sneez­ing when no one was around, doors open­ing… ob­jects be­ing moved. King owned a crys­tal ball, [which] is hooked up to its own alarm sys­tem. For a few weeks

in June [2016], the alarm was be­ing trig­gered in the mid­dle of the night. On sev­eral oc­ca­sions, the alarm com­pany was called, the ball was in­spected and noth­ing was de­tected. The next day the same thing would hap­pen. Per­haps the spir­its were try­ing to get in touch with us!”

Car­leton County Jail

(now the Ot­tawa Jail Hos­tel)

Pa­trick Whe­lan — al­leged as­sas­sin of politi­cian D’Arcy McGee — was ex­e­cuted on-site in 1869, tak­ing claims of in­no­cence to his deathbed. He wasn’t the only one. “The jail is rec­og­nized as one of the most haunted build­ings in North Amer­ica, and new re­ports con­tinue to come in,” says Haunted Walk’s Jim Dean. “Sev­eral years ago some new­ly­weds joined us on a tour of the old jail and took pho­tos of each other in­side some of the cells. After tak­ing a photo of the hus­band, they no­ticed the face of an­other man with an old­fash­ioned hair­cut in the photo.”

Ma­cabre Mu­se­ums

The Cana­dian Mu­seum of Na­ture is nor­mal by day, but Creepy

Cap­i­tal’s Les­lie says the site’s su­per­nat­u­ral na­ture re­veals it­self at night. Se­cu­rity guards have re­ported un­ex­plained sounds and ac­tiv­ity — from cold spots on the fourth floor to el­e­va­tors mov­ing and doors open­ing of their own ac­cord. Les­lie says one fe­male em­ployee re­ported see­ing the faint out­line of a man form­ing in a mir­ror be­fore pass­ing through her body, and even day­time vis­i­tors have al­legedly had the un­canny feel­ing of be­ing watched. But it’s likely just an­other Casper; Les­lie sug­gests the ghost could be that of orig­i­nal ar­chi­tect David Ewart. But given the an­cient ar­ti­facts and relics that have been housed on-site over the years, who knows what forces may have tagged along with an ex­hibit? The mu­seum’s cas­tle-in­flu­enced de­sign is prac­ti­cally a ghost wel­come mat.

Dan Smythe, head of the mu­seum’s me­dia re­la­tions:

“Per­haps the spirit of Sir Wil­frid Lau­rier graces the mu­seum. When the Par­lia­ment Build­ings burned in Fe­bru­ary 1916, Par­lia­ment moved into the mu­seum for four years. Un­der Lau­rier’s lead­er­ship the mu­seum was built; when he died on Fe­bru­ary 17, 1919, his body lay in state in

the mu­seum’s au­di­to­rium. An es­ti­mated 50,000 peo­ple passed by to pay their re­spects.”

Fit­tingly, the By­town Mu­seum is the old­est — and one of the most haunted — build­ings in the city. Eerie ex­pe­ri­ences range from the sound of foot­steps on an empty stair­case to ob­jects seem­ingly mov­ing of their own ac­cord. Les­lie sus­pects “some of the ghosts at the mu­seum are the spir­its of those that died build­ing the canal.” Nearly 1,000 labour­ers, mainly Ir­ish and French Cana­di­ans, lost their lives due to ac­ci­dents and dis­ease, in­clud­ing malaria.

By­town Mu­seum

Cana­dian Mu­seum of Na­ture


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