Challenge: Using prose or poetry, write a ghost story. It can be fiction, nonfiction, or a personal essay regarding ghosts. It can be about something that you’ve actually encountered, a combination of something that happened to you and you’re just adding something to it for fun, or it can be just a ghostly story that has no basis in reality.
A Ghost Tour of Nova Scotia
Some of you may have expected me to write a fictional ghost story for this prompt, but I’m taking a different tact today and writing about the ghostly folklore of my home province.
I grew up in the Atlantic Canadian province of Nova Scotia, where there are probably as many ghost stories as there are people. We have haunted hotels, citadels, forts, coves, restaurants, ghost ships and there’s even speculation the ghost of Oscar Wilde decide to come back to Nova Scotia for his afterlife.
Here are some of my favourite tales of hauntings:
One of Halifax’s most favourite and famous sons, Alexander Keith, supposedly haunts the business he founded, Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Brewery. There have been several reports of his ghost being sighted throughout the building; coming back to check on the quality of beer production, perhaps. Also, disembodied footsteps have been reported in the empty hallways, and apparently another ghost, the face of a murdered man, can be seen in a bathroom mirror at the brewery.
Another haunted place in Halifax is the Five Fisherman Restaurant. Originally used as a schoolhouse, it eventually became an art school owned by Anna Leonowens, (the woman whose life story was turned into the King and I musical). After that it was a mortuary, and in that capacity it housed some of the recovered bodies of the Titanic tragedy and victims of the 1917 Halifax Explosion. Now it is a seafood restaurant, and one of the most haunted places in the city of Halifax. Glasses and cutlery mysteriously move about, doors swing shut inexplicably, strange apparitions are seen and ghostly voices have been known to whisper people’s names.
In 1813, in Mahone Bay, a British warship ambushed the pirate ship Young Teaser, but instead of surrendering, the captain of the ship, Lieutenant Frederick Johnson, opted to destroy the ship. He threw a lit torch into the ship’s powder magazine, and the ship sunk in a flaming blaze and all on board perished. Now the burning, ghostly silhouette of the Young Teaser can still be seen at times, with the panicking sailors on deck among the flames.
On the Northumberland Straight, between Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, there have been numerous sightings of a ghost ship. It most often appears as a three or four masted ship, its entirety seemingly aglow or on fire. The apparition can be seen clearly, before it disappears.
Also, there are several historic buildings around the province that house the ghosts of former residents. The Haliburton House Museum in Windsor is haunted by its former owner Judge Haliburton (author of the Sam Slick novels), and the image of one of its parishioners (killed in the Halifax Explosion) is said to appear in an upper storey window of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Halifax. Both Citadel Hill in Halifax and Fortress Louisburg in Cape Breton are still home to former -and long dead- soldiers, plus the historic Waverly Inn may be sheltering a former guest by the name of Oscar Wilde.
And there ends the small sampling of our haunted landscape and I hope you enjoyed the virtual ghost tour of Nova Scotia.