13 Frightening Facts You Didn’t Know About Canada
From the screaming tunnel of Niagara Falls to the phantoms of Old Montreal, the Great White North has more than its share of spooky lore and legends. To get you into Halloween spirit—and bring you out in goosebumps—we’ve rounded up 13 scary things you didn’t know about Canada.
1. Canadian Lake Monsters Abound
You’ve heard the tales of curious travellers flocking to Scotland in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the famous Loch Ness Monster. But did you know that Nessie isn’t the only sea monster mystery worthy of attention? Turns out, Scotland’s elusive serpent has plenty of Canadian competition. Native Canadian legends and current day believers speak of lake monsters playing hide and seek in British Columbia (Lake Okanagan’s Ogopogo), Manitoba (Lake Manitoba’s Manipogo), Quebec (Lake Champlain’s Champie and Lake Memphremagog’s Memphre).
2. Stay the Night in a Haunted Jail Cell
Night terrors or sweet dreams? Take your pick at HI-Ottawa Jail Hostel. This imposing building in the heart of Canada’s capital served as the Carleton County Gaol from 1862 to 1972. Hidden behind its dank walls lie many secrets and apparently, several ghosts. Many prisoners spent their last days here locked behind bars, and a select few even gasped their final breaths from the hangman’s noose. Today, the former jail’s gallows still shock and terrify visitors, but don’t let a little spookiness get in the way of a good night’s sleep. Travellers can catch forty winks in a private or shared jail cell, and enjoy the meals, pub, and Wi-Fi that this unique hostel offers.
3. There are Plenty of Scary (Sounding) Places in Canada
Canada has some creepy-sounding communities lurking within its borders. Travellers may feel their hair stand on end when passing through the chillingly-named Bloodvein River, Poison Creek, Burnt Arm, Destruction Bay, Goblin, Skull Creek, Hatchet Cove, Bone Town, Gore Bay and Coffin Cove. Brrr!
Check out these 50 Canadian Towns With Quirky Names!
4. Crime Always Spikes on Halloween in Canada
Police services across Canada report a general increase in the number of criminal incidents on October 31st. In 2010, for instance, there was a 51 per cent increase in weapon-related offences, trespassing, disturbing the peace and indecent acts. Looks like there was more tricking than treating going on during All Hallows’ Eve.
5. Phantoms of Old Montreal
Old Montréal is beloved around the world for its beautiful architecture and quaint cobbled streets. It’s also notorious for its plethora of supernatural residents. Tortured souls who met their untimely demise through misadventure, criminal events, or public executions are said to wander the streets and sights of Old Montréal including Saint Gabriel’s—the city’s oldest inn—home to the ghost of a little girl who perished in a fire, and Place Jacques Cartier where the decapitated ghost of murdered prostitute Mary Gallagher searches for her lost head.
6. Grab a Drink with a Ghost
Calgary’s Hose and Hound pub is the HQ for ghostly monkey business. Serving as a fire hall from 1907 to 1952, the building played host to Calgary’s first fire chief, Cappy Smart. The chief adored animals and kept a horse and monkey on site as part of his menagerie. After an unprovoked attack on a small child, Barney the monkey was put down. Following Barney’s death, the establishment became a hotbed of paranormal activity. Firehouse and pub employees have witnessed objects sailing through the air, slamming doors, electrical disturbances and other unexplained mischief-making within the structure’s walls.
7. There is One Job That’s Always in Demand in Canada
In 2010, Canada had 13,684 people working in the funeral industry. Between 1996 and 2006, the number of female funeral directors and embalmers almost doubled: in 1996, 720 women worked in this profession as compared to 1,365 women in 2006. Some jobs come and go. For job security, join the funeral biz.
8. Werewolves Stalk La Belle Province
A 19th century Québec legend warns residents about the frightful loup-garou—a vicious, snarling werewolf prowling through the province’s dense forests. According to French-Canadian folklore, loup-garou creeps through the darkness searching for a hearty meal of unsuspecting hunters and trappers.
Explore the World’s 8 Creepiest Places!
9. Bone-chilling Shenanigans in the Hockey Hall of Fame
The screams and cries bouncing off the walls of the Hockey Hall of Fame building aren’t coming from Toronto’s disgruntled Maple Leafs fans. The creepy noises, flickering lights and window slamming are the work of a ghost named Dorothy. In 1953 when the structure was a bustling branch of the Bank of Montréal, 19-year-old Dorothy worked as a teller. After a love affair gone wrong, the despondent woman shot herself in the 2nd floor bathroom. Since her suicide, phantom footsteps, eerie noises and even a ghostly pat on a shoulder have left visitors and employees spooked.
For more on the hauntings at the Hockey Hall of Fame, check out the Toronto Star’s report!
10. The Burning Ship of Northumberland Strait
Countries around the world have tales of unearthly ghost ships sailing along their shores. Canada’s spine-tingling watercraft goes one better—it’s fully engulfed in flames from bow to stern. Blazing its path along the Northumberland Strait between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, the multiple-masted schooner seems to appear when a storm is on the approach.
11. Goblins Patrol in Droves
In 2011, there were 3,723,644 little witches, goblins and superheroes swarming Canadian streets seeking either tricks or treats. A similar horde of candy hunters will be on the prowl this year, so be sure to stock up for their invasion.
12. Niagara Falls’ Screaming Tunnel
No, the screaming tunnel isn’t a new amusement park ride to entice Niagara Falls tourists. The 125-foot long passageway was originally constructed in the early 1900s as a path for railroad cars. Today, it stretches beneath train lines that connect Niagara Falls to Toronto and New York City. According to local legend, if you enter the tunnel after midnight and light a match, the flame will mysteriously extinguish while screams of a young female ring in your ears. This unsettling paranormal activity is reportedly connected to the grisly death of a young girl who was set ablaze inside the tunnel.
Check out the 10 Best Haunted Walks in Canada!
13. Beware! Spooky Skeletons Underfoot
A stroll through Kingston, Ontario’s McBurney Park isn’t your typical walk in the park. Underneath the grassy surface lie thousands of buried bodies. In 1819, the land was the Upper Burial Ground, and served as a resting place for Kingston’s dead until 1864. By the 1880s, city officials had constructed a park on top of the burial plots to make the area more appealing to the area’s growing residential population. Unfortunately, the dead had other ideas. Over the years, gravestones and bones have popped out of the ground at McBurney Park, spooking unsuspecting visitors and earning the area a fitting, yet freaky, nickname: Skeleton Park.