In 1862, author C.E. Bockus penned a ghost story set in Montreal called “Nips Daimon”. Published in London in the May edition of Once a Week, the creepy tale features a Mount Royal tobogganer named Eugene Roy and his misadventures with an undead spirit. Based on the true ghost story of Simon McTavish and his haunted castle, “Nips Daimon” adds another dimension to the deranged legacy of the forgotten fur baron. Known to toboggan down the mountain slopes in his coffin at night, McTavish’s ghost allegedly terrorized city residents in the 1800s. The McTavish tale is widely considered “Canada’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and C.E. Bockus’ fictionalized version adds to its mystery and intrigue.
The Catholic Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery is the largest burial ground in Canada. Located atop Mount Royal, it features 343-acres (139 hectares) of garden landscape with more than 65,000 monuments and 71 family vaults. The cemetery also contains the remains of over a million people. Not only is this vast graveyard reputed to be haunted, but in recent years, it has also witnessed all sorts of desecration and other deranged activity. Groundhogs have dug up numerous bones, coffin boards and sets of dentures. Trees and branches collapsed onto tombs during an ice storm.
They claimed that he ran about the hospital at night with a big candle in his hand. The demon was seen dashing from window to window, frightening passers-by on Saint-Paul Street. The demon also raised a horrible racket by throwing piles of building materials down the stairs into the cellar. Sometimes he could be heard working all night long with an axe and saw, as though he was a carpenter.
The Mount Royal Cross is one of Montreal’s most iconic symbols. Perched high on the mountain and standing at 98-feet high, when it is lit up at night it can be seen from up to eighty kilometers away. Rooted in deep the city’s colonial history, to many Indigenous people the cross symbolizes genocide. Because the mountain was used as a burial ground for millennia by the Mohawk and other First Nations, some feel that the Mount Royal Cross desecrates this sacred place.
Lurking behind stone walls on Sherbrooke Street stand two old towers that are reputed to be haunted. As some of the oldest intact structures in the City of Montreal, these fortifications have a deranged history. Designed as the first Residential School in what is now modern-day Canada, the towers actually feature gun-ports. This military architecture was designed to repel anyone – at gunpoint – who might dare to interfere with the “instruction” happening within the fortified “school”.
Perched on the slopes of the mountain lies a mysterious and abandoned swimming pool. Authorities at the Old Royal Victoria Hospital constructed it during 1961, allegedly to allow nurses and patients to swim there. Since its construction, rumours have swirled that it was actually built to conceal murdered children buried on the site. These allegedly include Indigenous victims of the nearby Allan Memorial Institute Psychiatric Department.
As she approached, she could hear a sort of a gurgling noise. As she got closer, she noticed a sweet and tarry smell in the air. As the man stumbled towards her, she saw that there was a problem. She could see his jawbone and teeth protruding through tattered skin. The man reached out as though to grab her and she went tumbling to the right down the slope. She scrambled over the fence, breaking it in the process, and bolted back into her Residence.
On other occasions, people have heard the disembodied rattling of bones within the Redpath Museum. One night guard, who has since retired, reported hearing bones creaking and rattling on several occasions during his graveyard shifts. He also noted, while patrolling the third floor overlooking the lower levels, something that deeply unnerved him. Sitting atop a display case is the skeleton of an anaconda snake. Horrified, the guard recalled sometimes hearing bones clacking in the middle of the night.
Meanwhile, in Victorian Montreal, there was no shortage of ghost storytelling during the Yuletide season. Indeed, Montrealers embraced the winter with fantastic carnivals that featured giant ice castles, mock battles involving hundreds of participants, skating parties at the opulent Victoria Rink and magnificent fireworks displays. When revelers arrived home after a day at the Winter Carnival, the hearth was stoked, mulled wine and brandy were prepared, and Victorian Montrealers gathered around to listen to and tell ghost stories as the flames crackled, casting eerie shadows across so many a parlor throughout the city.