Old, drafty buildings with creaky floorboards, people who up and disappear, strange objects with a mysterious past.
Sounds like the beginning of a good ghost story, right?
THE CAVALIER BUILDING AT THE HALIFAX CITADEL
Dating back to the mid-1800s, the Halifax Citadel has housed thousands of soldiers, visitors and reenactors over the years as both a military fort and tourist attraction.
According to Hal Thompson, visitor experience product development officer, there are a few visitors to the fort who seem to have never left, including the Cavalier Building’s resident ghost: the Grey Lady. The Cavalier Building was built in the 1850s as barracks and was later used as an internment camp during World War One. Today, the building has several museum displays, a café and a tourist information booth.
According to Thompson, the most vivid sighting of the Grey Lady happened to an employee who would sit in a particular chair at one end of the building and greet visitors as they came in. One day, a woman in a white dress entered the Cavalier and thinking she was a tourist, the man got up to welcome her. However, when he looked up she was gone. He saw the woman a few times more times after that, always wearing the same white dress and disappearing before he had the chance to talk to her.
According to research done by another Citadel staff member, the Grey Lady is Cassie Allen. Allen was supposed to marry a solider who was stationed at the fort in the early 1900s. The night before the wedding, Allen’s fiancé and another solider got into a fight about the legality of the wedding, as it was revealed he had a wife who was in psychiatric hospital in Bermuda.
After the fight, the fiancé hung himself in one of the other buildings, and was discovered the next morning when a carriage came to take him to the church. This church was eventually torn down and one of the chairs was given to the Citadel, which turned out to be the one the employee was sitting in.
Due to these connections, folklorists believe that the Grey Lady is Cassie Allen who has returned to the fort looking for her fiancé, even
though she lived until the 1950s.
SHIRREFF HALL AT DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY
To accommodate an influx of out-of-town, female students attending Dalhousie University in the early 1900s, the school built a female-only residence in 1923 known as Shirreff Hall. Originally housing around 86 women in what is now known as Old Eddy House, the residence has been added to over the years to accommodate more students and became co-ed in 2005.
According to Shirreff Hall’s facilities manager Mateo Yorke, a young woman named Penelope haunts the fourth floor of Old Eddy. The most popular version of the story is that Penelope was either a student or employee who lived in Sherriff and had an affair with a professor. After learning she was pregnant, the professor rejected her and the child and Penelope hung herself in Shirreff Hall bell tower.
However, Yorke notes that there aren’t any records of a student or employee named Penelope around the time, nor does the residence have a bell tower. There is a dome like structure that sits atop of Sherriff and a clock tower on top of the Henry Hicks Arts and Administration Building, which Yorke says might be where the bell tower idea came from.
Either way, there have been multiple reports of a ghostly figure in Old Eddy over the years, most of which happened in the 1980s and 1990s. One of the more recent encounters happened when a worker was making repairs to the building in the early 2000s. There wasn’t anyone in Shirreff, except for the work crew, but the worker saw a set of wet footprints go down the hall and turn into a wall.
ALEXANDER KEITH’S BREWERY
Established in 1820, the Alexander Keith’s Brewery was not only a place of business for the famed brew master, but was also part of his home until Keith Hall was completed in 1863.
Today, Keith’s original house’s basement is the last stop on the brewery tour where guests are treated to beer samples and songs from actors in period clothing. There are also visits from the occasional ghost, including a sailor who sits at the end of the bar and a woman in a purple and green dress.
According to creative director Jennette White, before one of the tours an actor was practising a song when he heard someone whistling the same tune. He thought he was alone, so he came out from behind the bar to see who it was. Looking into the Games Room, he noticed the edge of a green dress, which the actor thought was strange as that wasn’t a pattern the actors wore.
Walking down to the tunnel that leads to the courtyard, he tried to see who the person was, thinking someone was playing a joke, but no one was there. When he looked back up into the room, there was a woman in the purple and green staring back at him who he didn’t recognize.
He looked away for a second time and when he looked back, she was gone.
MARITIME MUSEUM OF THE ATLANTIC
Sometimes Halifax’s ghosts haunt buildings. Other times, there are certain artifacts they become attached to.
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has been around since 1948 and was originally located in a small space on the Halifax Dockyard. The museum moved around until 1982 when it moved into the spaces once occupied by Robertson and Son Ship Chandlery and AM Smith and Company on Lower Water Street.
As many of the museum’s artifacts are quite old, it is thought the building has a ghost or two. Although heritage interpreter Andrew Aulenback notes that there haven’t been any definitive sightings in his 15 years with the museum.
One suspected Maritime Museum ghost is Captain James Augustus Farquhar, whose mortuary statue is located in a hallway between the Days of Sail and Age of Steam galleries. Originally from Sable Island, Farquhar was one of a few ship owners who was able to make the transition between the two forms of travel, which is why the statue is situated between the two exhibits.
During travels in Europe, Farquhar noticed and admired the craftsmanship and design of Catholic mortuary statues and had one made of himself. According to Aulenback, Farquhar, who was born in 1842 and died in 1930, was buried in a Protestant cemetery. All of the gravestones were small, so the statue wasn’t used, but instead put into storage until it was given to the museum.
Even though Aulenback says there haven’t been any ghostly sightings of the sea captain, visitors still think he haunts the building. After all, Farquhar’s statue is connected to the idea of death, even if it was never used to mark his gravesite.