It’s officially Halloween month, so to get into the spirits, let’s take a trip into Haunted Halifax! Halifax is one of the oldest cities in Canada, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of stories about things that go bump in the night. From benign ghosts in cathedrals to remnants of catastrophe, keep your Halloween hometown this year in Halifax.
Citadel Hill is a beautiful place, perfect for hanging out on a beautiful day or walking on any day (really great for exercise during quarantine). But after dark you might find a more supernatural type of company. There are so many spirits spotted here that they have their own ghost tour after dark to see the highlights.
One of the oldest forts in Canada, you’ll find enough ghost stories here to fill a dozen postcards.
Address: Citadel Hill, Halifax
Alexander Keith’s Brewery
This brewery is home to great beer, a nice restaurant, and…potentially the ghost of the founder? Visitors over the year have seen Alexander Keith floating around the place. He seems to be harmless—he probably just misses the smell of the brewery.
But there’s another presence reported, with footsteps heard where there are no feet, and the face of a man in the mirror who just might have died a violent death…so there’s at least two.
And maybe even more if you have enough of Keith’s finest brews.
Address: 1496 Lower Water Street
All Saints Cathedral
Like the Brewery, All Saints Cathedral is home to the spirit of one who worked there. In this case, the ghost appears to be a former dean. Also like Alexander Keith, this ghost appears to be harmless. He tends to hang around the altar of the Cathedral, probably making sure that everyone’s following proper procedure.
I wonder if you’re really quiet at night you’ll hear him going over sermon notes.
Address: 1330 Cathedral Lane
Chebucto Road School
The Chebucto Road School is now the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts, but the ghosts don’t seem to mind the name change. Built in 1864 as a school for the children of Halifax’s North End, it was a school until 1975. However, in 1917 the school had a more somber role.
After the Halifax Explosion, the children were sent away and the building served as a first aid centre, a morgue, and a funeral home. Representing three stages of the journey from wounds to death, it’s no surprise that ghosts appear to haunt the building.
When I was a little girl I went to the Conservatory for music classes, and while I never saw a ghost, there were definitely times when I was waiting for my mom and there were no other humans around…there were very weird noises around.
Address: 6199 Chebucto Road
The Five Fishermen Restaurant
You should come to this restaurant for the food alone—it’s one of the oldest and best seafood restaurants in Halifax. However, it wasn’t always a restaurant. It started as a public school in 1818, but it was turned into a morgue after the Titanic sinking and the Halifax Explosion, a story with unfortunate similarities to the Chebucto School.
A popular spot for ghost hunters and foodies alike, the atmosphere might get a little spooky if you happen to see the ghosts of those who never truly left the building. I wonder if they get the employee discount?
Address: 1740 Argyle Street
If you live in Halifax, the real ghost might be this building without scaffolding and construction—but it’s over a hundred years old, so it makes sense that it needs some TLC. Besides, the construction is to restore the west wall, which was moved two whole feet by the Halifax Explosion.
It really is a beautiful building, and there’s a long military history dating back to the Riel Rebellion and the South African War. It was a place to recruit soldiers, and then for these new recruits to receive military training before they shipped off to war, some never to return. There is one soldier, however, that should never have come. After returning from World War One, he discovered his wife’s infidelity and took his own life. His ghost roams the building, still in uniform and carrying a lantern late at night.
Address: 2667 North Park Street
The Halifax Club
The Halifax Club was built for the elite of Halifax in 1862, but this ghost story is for all to enjoy. An old man who was a member of the Club would meet regularly with a ‘lady of the night’, as Steve Vernon calls her, and then spend the rest of the evening at the Club. However, he died one night, and in order to preserve her lover’s reputation, the woman contacted the club, and several members brought the man to lie on the steps of the Club to appear that he died there. T
here’s no news articles to back this story up, which makes it a ghost-ghost story. But there’s no denying the stories from generations of members since, who have smelled the scent of the gross tobacco that the old man was known for, present throughout the Club.
Address: 1682 Hollis Street
Halifax Ghost Walk
With all of these ghost stories, it’s no surprise that there’s a whole ghost walk dedicated to visiting these sites, and more! The Ghost Walk takes place just after dark and takes you through downtown Halifax and back in time to see the ghosts memory and folklore have created. It’s a tradition in Halifax and if you’re new to the city and you want to get spooked, head for the Old Town Clock. When the hour strikes, prepare to be scared…
Address: Meets at the Old Town Clock
The Henry House
I love the Henry House, and if you want a great place for atmosphere and pub food, this is the place to go. There’s no particular grim history to the building—first a private home, it then became a home for retired sailors, and since 1968 it’s been a restaurant. There are still spirits however—and some of them are in the spirits! Well, the beer taps, but that’s close enough (otherwise I couldn’t make that pun).
Beer sometimes pours without a human hand to open the tap, a kitchen maid and a strange woman have been spotted, and sadly there’s a young girl ghost who died from whooping cough. She was the daughter of a Navy League man, and there’s a picture of her and her family in the entrance of the restaurant.
There’s no real menace in any of these stories, just a reminder that the paranormal be found anywhere, even at this cheerful restaurant.
Address: 1222 Barrington Street
The Neptune Theatre has created fond memories for the people of Halifax since it was built in the early 1900s, whether from their live theatre performances or their camps that introduce children to the fun and passion of acting. Some of those memories appear to have lingered on. For example, the seamstresses of the theatre have reported seeing a male figure and watching cones of thread being thrown across the room by invisible hands.
The most ironic story belongs to the ‘ghost light’—a light left burning in theatres in North America after the shows have ended for the day, partly for security and partly to comfort any actors who linger on the stage.
One night an actor stayed behind to clean…and the ghost light illuminated an actual ghost, who performed a dance for the actor and a ghostly audience. So there are some paranormal benefits to night shifts at Neptune—you might get to enjoy a ‘private’ performance.
Address: 1593 Argyle Street
St. Paul’s Anglican Church
Unlike the benign ghost of All Saints Cathedral, the haunting at St. Paul’s has sadder origins. Like many ghost stories in Halifax, it’s tied to the Halifax Explosion.
The story goes that the organist of the church was practicing that morning, and when the explosion happened the poor man lost his head (literally) through the window. Though this window’s been replaced several times since the Explosion, the silhouette and face of the man can still be spotted, looking out a city that’s changed quite a lot since his death.
Address: 1749 Argyle Street
This ghost story is special because the man was only a guest to Nova Scotia’s shores, yet he appears in the same inn he stayed in the nights he began his 1882 tour of North America. His performance in Halifax was panned, partly because everyone expected the man to give a more gaudy and energetic performance. He hadn’t written any of his most famous works yet, but he’d done enough to disappoint Haligonians. That didn’t stop him though, and death didn’t stop his return to the Waverly Inn, where he’s often seen reading or hovering outside the room he supposedly stayed in. He’s a friendly and quiet ghost, and I’m sure he’d appreciate you reading one of his many works.
Just look under W for Wilde—Oscar Wilde.
Address: 1226 Barrington Street
By: Adrienne Colborne