Far out in the North Atlantic, Newfoundland is wrapped in thick fog and chilled air most of the year. From Vikings in 1000 A.D. to the Europeans of the 15th century, Newfoundland has seen many a visitor, ghosts included.
Over time, folklore and superstitions have persisted, lending themselves to more than a few urban legends. While these ghost stories cannot be proven by fact, locals agree these St. John’s spots hold more than just history.
1. The Grace Hospital Nursing Residence
The abandoned Grace Hospital Nursing Residence.
John Bowering | Google Maps
Dating back to 1923, this place looks haunted. From shattered windows and graffiti-covered walls, the nursing residence has been abandoned since 2000. A rusted fence keeps curious visitors away, but people who live near the property have spoken of strange sights and sounds.
Nurses who worked there told tales of mysterious figures vanishing into thin air — there one minute and gone the next. While the hospital grounds were demolished years ago, this building still stands today and is home to several souls — or so they say.
2. Masonic Temple
The impressive Victorian-style stone façade seems innocent enough, but caretaker John Warren has had some eerie encounters. While looking for his cell phone, doors locked and windows closed, Warren bumped into something. Believing it to be a person, he apologized and turned to see a figure in work boots and a rain jacket who disappeared before his very eyes. The building is now home to the Spirit of Newfoundland, a theatre company that embraces the site’s haunted heritage.
3. Deadman's Pond
This small picturesque pond on Signal Hill was long believed to be bottomless. Found beside Gibbet Hill — a former place of public executions — Deadman’s Pond got its name from the many bodies that would be disposed of from the gallows above. To this day, it’s the site of more than a few suspicious drownings. Locals warn of a strong undertow rumoured to pull people over 100 metres deep into the depths of the St. John’s harbour below.
4. Newman Wine Vaults
Built in the early 1800s by an English firm, the wine vaults have been a fixture of St. John’s for quite some time. Now operating as a museum, visitors speak of spirits much more sinister than others on this list. Tales of pinching, shoving and other disembodied disturbances have been told. The wine vaults are even used as a makeshift theatre for unsettling performances like The Cask of Amontillado, accompanied by a deep beating that feels a little too realistic.
5. The Duke of Duckworth
Workers at the establishment have reported feeling “watched” or even seeing apparitions. Colin Dalton, one of the owners, has told stories of TVs inexplicably turning on, ashtrays being moved and other bizarre occurrences. He believes the pub is home to a ghost named Fred, described as “mischievous, not mean.” Dalton speculates that the ghost may belong to a previous owner of the building who reportedly hanged himself on the premises.
6. Majestic Theatre
The Majestic theatre in St. John's.
Nicknamed the “flat iron building,” the theatre was erected in 1918 and is yet another Duckworth Street haunt. Said to be built on old hanging grounds, visitors to the theatre have reported hearing the screams of executed men and poltergeist-like activity.
7. LSPU Hall
Now called the Resource Centre for the Arts, this spot is found on one of St. John’s most haunted stretches — Victoria Street. This site has suffered several fires before the LSPU Hall was built as it stands today. Locals recall hearing untraceable footsteps and seeing shadowy figures.
Some believe LSPU Hall has a resident ghost — a former maintenance man named Fred, who tragically died in 1995. He’s said to be seen sitting in the audience of the theatre. Yes, there are two ghosts named Fred haunting downtown St. John’s.
8. Anglican Cathedral Graveyard on Church Hill
Supposedly haunted by a stone worker who fell to his death, this unmarked graveyard will send shivers down your spine. Historians say it's hard to know how many bodies could be buried on the grounds, the oldest graves dating back to the 1600s.
A centuries-old legend recounts a call from the dead — gravediggers heard knocking coming from a coffin. Worried the man might still be alive, the doctor confirmed he was, in fact, deceased. However, the knocking continued, and some say you can still hear it to this day.
The Anglican Cathedral is also the starting point of the well-known St. John's Haunted Hike.
9. The Four Sisters
Built by stonemason Samuel Garrett, the adjoined homes used surplus stone from his most famous project — the iconic Cabot Tower. Garrett is said to have gifted a home to each of his daughters, though only two ever moved in. Some of the properties are believed to be haunted after the women who lived there met untimely deaths. Passersby say you can sometimes see a woman standing in the window watching the street with a vacant gaze.
Whether you're a local or visiting the city for the first time, you're sure to run into one (or a few) of these spooky St. John's haunts.
This article has been updated since it was originally published on March 1, 2017.