Life

Some of Halifax’s most haunted

Are you afraid of the dark?

Halifax is nearly 270 years old.

It has connections to two world wars, the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, and had one of the biggest man-made explosions prior to the testing of the first atomic bomb.

Rich in maritime history, the city is also full of spooky tales, and some would argue, the spirits that go with them.

Here is a list of five of the most haunted places in Halifax:

1) The Five Fishermen Restaurant

Wallace Fraser tells the story of the tapping ghost upstairs.
Wallace Fraser tells the story of the tapping ghost at The Five Fishermen Restaurant.   Sydney Jones

Some people visit The Five Fishermen restaurant for its food, others for its history and a few for its creepy atmosphere.

“We are considered one of the most haunted places in town,” says Wallace Fraser, managing partner of the restaurant.

Before it was converted into a seafood restaurant in 1975, the Argyle Street building served as a schoolhouse, mortuary and warehouse.

When the liner Titanic sank in 1912 off the coast of Newfoundland, more than 200 bodies came through the mortuary, says Fraser.

He has only been working at the restaurant for about four months, but has already experienced what appears to be paranormal activity:

2) Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery

The entrance to Alexander Keith's Brewery.
The entrance to Alexander Keith’s Nova Scotia Brewery.   Sydney Jones

Dating back almost two centuries, this ironstone and granite building on Hollis Street has seen a lot of foot traffic.

The building, three-stories high with a flat roof, was bought in 1820 by brewmaster Alexander Keith, who was looking to expand his business. Keith passed away in 1873, but his spirit is said to have stayed behind.

“I always say, ‘Good morning Mr. Keith,’” says brewery Creative Director Jennette White. “I don’t want to insult the man when I go in.”

But Keith isn’t the only spirit said to roam the halls.

Last year, a young man was alone in the basement doing some cleaning. He was whistling to himself while he worked, when he heard someone, or something, whistle back.

“He thought, ‘OK, someone must be playing a trick on me’,’ says White. She explains that when the man looked up he saw a flash of a woman in green and purple, with her hair piled loosely on her head.

He then looked away for a second to see if anyone else was around. When he looked back, she had disappeared.

3) Shirreff Hall

A student leaves out the front door of Shirreff Hall.
A student leaves Shirreff Hall.   Sydney Jones

Located at the corner of Oxford and South Streets, Shirreff Hall is the oldest residence at Dalhousie University.

And some would argue, the most haunted.

Dating to 1923, the building has seen thousands of students come and go. Operating as an exclusively female residence until 2005, the now co-ed residence welcomes 440 students each academic year.

Many people claim to have witnessed inexplicable things while living there.

In 2013, 18-year-old Brittany Wilson moved into Shirreff Hall. Her stay started off smoothly, but soon little things started to happen, she says.

Papers would suddenly fall from her desk to the floor, untouched. Lights would often flicker by themselves.

One evening, Wilson and a friend had set their alarms to go off at the same time so they could wake up a friend for his birthday.

They wanted to surprise him by jumping into his bed at “the exact moment he was born,” says Wilson.

“We got out into the stairwell and there’s really loud organ music (playing) at four in the morning,” she says. “Shirreff didn’t have an organ and we couldn’t locate one.”

Wilson describes the organ music as “surround-sound loud” and says it was only playing in the stairwell.

Wilson lived in the Old Eddy portion of the residence, which she believes is the most haunted part of the building.

4) Old Burying Ground

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The Old Burying Ground is located at the corner of Spring Garden Road and Barrington Street.   Sydney Jones

Located at the corner of Barrington Street and Spring Garden Road, the Old Burying Ground is another one of Halifax’s spooky hot spots.

Now a national historic site, the lot was laid out in the summer of 1749 and held burials for approximately 12,000 bodies before it closed in 1844.

A typhoid fever epidemic in the winter of 1749-1750 killed more than 1,000 settlers and tested the limits of the cemetery, which expanded from one acre to two and one-quarter acres.

Andy Smith runs Tattle Tours Nova Scotia, a touring company that takes visitors around the city for informative historical tours. He also offers ghost tours.

The Old Burying Ground is one of his favourite places to stop.

“One evening I brought a group in and we all saw a man appear about 30 feet in front of us and cross the path we were walking up,” says Smith. “He disappeared 30 to 35 feet in front of us.”

5) Stoddard House

Stoddard House, at the Corner of Bishop and Barrington Streets.
Stoddard House is located at the corner of Bishop and Barrington streets.   Sydney Jones

At 1361 Barrington St., Stoddard House is only a stone’s throw away from the Old Burying Ground and may be just as haunted.

A registered historic landmark, the stone and brick building was constructed in 1828 and is among the oldest on the street.

Rumour has it that a young woman and her baby, who can be heard crying from the second floor, haunt this building after a botched surgery, says Smith of Tattle Tours.

Stoddard House is now the home of the Nova Scotia Association of Architects.

“I have heard that ‘old tale’ before, but never experienced it myself,” the association’s membership coordinator, Jeremy Martell, said in an e-mail.

Records from the Nova Scotia Archives say five people killed in the 1917 Halifax Explosion were registered as occupants of the house. The list included 22-year-old Edna Shaw and three-year-old Mary Agnes Shaw.