Ghost stories and haunted museums. 👻
While spooky season's awaited activity for tiny humans has to be trick-or-treating before indulging in way too many sweets at home, adults have their own ways of celebrating the holiday. Whether you are spending your Halloween weekend partying in a cheap costume you paid way too much money for, or you'd rather get a good scare in front of the most terrifying and gore movie you could stream while cuddling with your furbaby on your couch, your inner child probably still loves Allhallows Eve.
Now, most of us – except for those of you, scaredy cats – get into the spirit by telling each other ghost stories, going on haunted walks or torturing ourselves by going to haunted houses or horror mazes. If you're into it, it's so fun to explore the unknown and jump into the unknown with both feet. From hanging out in a place where ghosts have been seen before, or simply listening to a guide tell you stories about made-up spirits in a dark area of your town, you're probably eager for goosebumps.
It's completely okay if you don't believe in ghosts or hauntings, but it's entertaining to pretend to do so once a year and feel a frisson of excitement in places that have been reported time and time again for the sightings of ghosts, or gather your crew to tell scary stories in an old building.
Lisgar Collegiate Institute
Address: 29, Lisgar St., Ottawa, ON
Why You Should Go: Part of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board secondary school in Ottawa, the Lisgar Collegiate Institute has long been the topic of paranormal tales. The high school is now even a staple in the Ottawa Haunted Walk Tour.
Rumour goes that two people have died at the high school. One, a janitor, was allegedly murdered in the school, while the second, a student, is believed to have been killed by fallen ice. Today, some say the spirits of the dead 'protect' the property.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, you can't deny the multiple sightings of a young girl staring out of the window in the attic that visitors have observed over the years.
Mill Street Brewery and Pub
Address: 555 Wellington St., Ottawa, ON
Why You Should Go: The Ottawa location of the Mill Street Brewery and Pub is housed inside a 177-year-old building. More than a pleasing spot to enjoy a pint (or a few!), it is also "rich in industrial heritage and charm," according to the brewery' website.
Erected in 1842, the venue predates the beer spot by many many years, giving a certain dark mystery to the current bar. While you can visit the old equipment during a brewery tour of the place, you can also take advantage of the old-timey decor to narrate the spookiest stories you know to your slightly inebriated crew.
Saintlo Ottawa Jail Hostel
Address: 75 Nicholas St., Ottawa, ON
Why You Should Go: In this well known former-jail-turned-hostel, there are apparently multiple spirits that show up during visits and stays within its 150-year-old cell walls. The venue, which used to be called HI Ottawa Jail, features stone walls and iron doors giving the place a haunted feel.
Now, the historic building is allegedly home to a man often deemed innocent named Patrick Whalen, who was hanged in the jail for the murder of Canadian politician Thomas D'Arcy McGee.
According to many reports from guests in the hostel, Whalen is the ghost that likes to stand at the foot of beds and watch visitors in their sleep. Rumours say that if you stay on the third floor with the ghosts of criminals past, you will be able to stay for free. If sleeping with spirits seems too frightful, you can always embark on a Haunted Tour of the place.
Fairmont Château Laurier
Address: 1 Rideau St., Ottawa, ON
Why You Should Go: This beautiful hotel is said to be haunted by the previous owner of the venue, Charles Melville Hayes. Despite dying tragically on the Titanic (yes, that one) on his way back from a meeting with the Laurier's investors in London in April 1912, many believe he haunts the grounds to this very day. He is known to be a pretty angry ghost, always swinging open doors and breaking objects. Allegedly, Hayes' spirit can also be seen walking around the hallways.
You don't even have to book a room to take advantage of the historic and mythical venue: whether you want to indulge in a delectable meal at the hotel's restaurant, drink a wonderful cocktail at its bar, or simply visit the museum on foot during the Ottawa Haunted Walking Tour, you can take a peek inside the castle-like hotel without breaking the bank on a luxurious room.
Address: 1 Canal Ln., Ottawa, ON
Why You Should Go: First housing the Commissariat at the Ottawa Locks, the building became the home of the Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Ottawa (now called the Historical Society of Ottawa)'s Bytown Museum in 1952, despite being "encrusted with century-old dust and grime."
This venue is said to be haunted by Duncan McNab, the Rideau Canal construction supply manager. It's also believed to be bewitched by Colonel John By, who was the supervisor of the Rideau Canal construction. These two apparently never got along, and staff have claimed that you can hear them arguing at night and stomping around.
According to many reports, dolls in the museum also tend to move around on their own and you can hear items crashing, though nothing is ever broken. If you want to hear more details, you can once again visit the museum during the Ottawa Haunted Walking Tour.
Canadian Museum of Nature
Address: 240 McLeod St., Ottawa, ON
Why You Should Go: Bones of dinosaurs, ghosts of the past. The west wing of the Canadian Museum of Nature, which reminds empty, is reportedly haunted or as a spokesperson for the museum put it during an investigation interview by Chaps Paranormal, "Every castle has ghosts, so why shouldn't we?".
From the venue sinking into the ground before the end of its construction, to serving as emergency housing for the Canadian government from 1916 to 1920 after the Parliament Buildings were damaged by fire, the Victoria Memorial Museum Building housing the Canadian Museum of Nature has a rich history.
But other than regular cold spots and electrical issues, there have reportedly been multiple occasions when security guards have been hired in the venue, worked their first shift and then refused to come back out of fear.
If you visit the museum during Halloween weekend, you could explore the Creepy Crawly Fun exhibit in the Stonewall gallery and "channel your inner bug."
Address: 21 George St., Ottawa, ON
Why You Should Go: Going back as far as 1827, the building hosting the Courtyard restaurant in Ottawa has a rich and mythical history. From a former tavern and military personnel housing to a typhoid emergency centre, the venue has served various purposes since its inauguration.
Staff have reported that when they're closing the restaurant up at night, they can hear footsteps and some of them have actually seen a woman, known as the ghost of Mrs. Evans, pass by. She apparently died in the building during a fire, and she can now reportedly be seen looking out the window of the second floor, where in the same spot she awaited for help, panic-stricken, while the flames engulfed her alive.
This article has been updated since its original publication on September 22, 2016.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.