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”.
Welcome to the seventy-first installment of the Haunted Montreal Blog!
With over 450 documented ghost stories, Montreal is easily the most haunted city in Canada, if not all of North America. Haunted Montreal dedicates itself to researching these paranormal tales, and the Haunted Montreal Blog unveils a newly researched Montreal ghost story on the 13th of every month!
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We are also thrilled to announce that with new public health measures in place, we have re-booted all of our outdoor haunted experiences with a maximum of 25 clients each:
- Haunted Downtown Ghost Walk
- Haunted Mountain Ghost Walk
- Haunted Griffintown Ghost Walk
- Paranormal Investigation in the Old Sainte Antoine Cemetery
We are also offering our Virtual Ghost Tour on demand!
Both public and private sessions are available!
Last but not least, we have opened an online store for those interested in Haunted Montreal merchandise. More details are below in our Company News section!
This month we examine the haunted plinth of the toppled statue of Sir John A. Macdonald located in Place du Canada. After anti-genocide activists tore it down on August 29, 2020, paranormal activity has reported increased significantly at the now-empty plinth.
A towering plinth stands empty in the Place du Canada, a reminder of darker times when it hosted a statue of Sir John A. Macdonald. Known as being Canada’s first Prime Minister, Macdonald was instrumental in genocide against First Nations people through his policies of land clearance and residential schools.
He was also a British imperialist with anti-Métis, anti-French, anti-Irish and anti-Chinese sentiments.
Erected on June 6th, 1895 in the old Saint Antoine Cholera Cemetery, the statue stood in place for 125 years until anti-genocide activists finally toppled it on August 29, 2020. While there were reports that the statue itself was both evil and haunted, now that it is gone there are reports of increasing paranormal activity at the site of the plinth itself.
Haunted Montreal conducts monthly paranormal investigations in the old Saint Antoine Cholera Cemetery whereby clients use ghost-hunting tools to search out paranormal activity.
Since the toppling of the statue, witnesses have reported a huge spike in paranormal activity at the now-empty plinth.
Before examining the haunted activity, it is important to understand the history regarding what was officially known as the “Monument to Sir John A. Macdonald”.
Following an election in 1891, Macdonald suffered a serious stroke, which left him partially paralysed and unable to speak. He lingered for days in this state. While remaining mentally alert, his days were numbered. He died in the late evening of Saturday, June 6th 1891.
Following his funeral, British and Canadian imperialists took up a public subscription in Montreal to erect a monument in his honor. Business leaders who had profited from the Canadian Pacific Railway and Indigenous genocide, both signature policies of Macdonald, were more than happy to collect funds for the monument.
After raising $20,000, members of the organizing committee hired sculptor George Wade to realize the project.
After viewing a clay model, Macdonald’s widow approved and work began on the immense monument, where his bronze statue was mounted on a majestic plinth including Greek columns and lions, the guardians of the British Empire.
As Wade prepared the statue and plinth in his workshop, workers began digging up French, Indigenous and Irish corpses from the former Saint Antoine Catholic Cemetery in order to lay the foundation.
The fact that authorities were installing a Protestant symbol of British Imperialism and genocide in a Catholic burial ground rankled many citizens. Rumors began to swirl that the cemetery desecration would most certainly result in the ghosts of the displaced corpses returning to haunt the site.
On June 6th, 1895, the Monument to Sir John A. Macdonald was unveiled, exactly four years after his death. An estimated 15,000 people attended the ceremony, as overseen by Governor General John Campbell Hamilton-Gordon.
The Prime Minister, Sir Mackenzie Bowell, along with other dignitaries like Quebec’s lieutenant governor and some cabinet ministers delivered speeches honoring Macdonald. In attendance were many business moguls, including Donald Smith, who had made a fortune building the Canadian Pacific Railway based on Macdonald’s unethical policies.
However, as the speeches were being made, hecklers, many of them in trees, called out Macdonald for hanging Métis leader Louis Riel in 1885 and other brutal and racist behaviors.
For those in the know, John A. Macdonald was an avowed anti-democrat, favored of the eradication of Indigenous people, created discriminatory policies towards Asians, used physical force and the law to suppress the claims of the French-speaking people, championed racist activists in the American Civil War and suspended the legal right of habeas corpus for Irish rebels.
Three hundred armed soldiers in attendance tried to quiet the protesters, but because so many were in the trees, it was very difficult. Instead, authorities instructed the marching band to drown them out by playing “God Save the Queen” with snare drums and brass instruments.
Following the dedication, the crowd dispersed.
The Macdonald statue would stand on its plinth in the middle of the old Catholic cemetery for decades to come, but it left a bad taste in the mouth of all of the peoples Macdonald had oppressed.
As the years passed, many citizens simply avoided the monument. Not only did it trigger negative emotions, but also the rumors continued to grow that it was haunted.
Not only did the ghosts of the displaced corpses roam the site after dark, but also some citizens believed the statue could trigger medical emergencies like panic attacks, strokes and heart attacks.
Others suggested its bronze eyes would slowly move, staring down people in the park to their horror.
The worst rumor was that the evil statue had the power to possess and even brainwash those in its presence to adopt imperialist, racist and genocidal attitudes.
Later, in the 20th Century, Montreal citizens started to vandalize the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald due to his overt racism against most non-British people, not to mention his racist and genocidal policies. Others felt that the statue was just too dangerous and haunted to be displayed in a public space. Allegedly, even the Dead in Saint Antoine Cholera Cemetery got in on the act to remove the offensive monument.
During Quebec’s Quiet Revolution and subsequent protests against Canadian Imperialism in the 1960s and 70s, the Macdonald Monument was often a site of protest. In 1992, the anniversary of the hanging of Métis leader Louis Riel, activists decapitated the statue of Macdonald.
Since then, activist citizens have repeatedly painted the statue in different colors as a form of public protest and artistic editing. For example, anti-genocide activists frequently painted it red, while Extinction Rebellion used blue paint for the edit.
Each time the activists painted it, the City of Montreal wasted thousands of taxpayers’ dollars to cleanse and re-polish the genocidal monument. Every cleansing reportedly cost around $4000 dollars, according to City of Montreal workers.
One memorable paint job occurred on Hallowe’en in 2019. In this case, the monument was painted orange by “anti-colonial zombies” who rose from the cemetery.
According to the press release from the affected undead: “You, the living, have failed. You continue to allow the Macdonald monument to stand in a prominent public location in Montreal, on our dead bodies, as a symbol of white supremacy and brutal colonialism.”
Finally, on August 29, 2020, activists toppled the much-hated statue of Sir John A. Macdonald following a “Defund the Police” march. The crowd cheered as the statue fell to the ground.
To add to the pleasure, the force of the landing decapitated Macdonald’s head.
Politicians such as Quebec Premier François Legault and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante denounced the toppling and vowed to restore the statue.
This was seen as odd because they are both Quebec nationalists and Macdonald was a British imperialist.
Some speculate that the haunted statue twisted their minds to support Macdonald’s monument and the genocide it represented.
Another person who was apparently brainwashed by the infamous statue is Fergus V. Keyes of the Irish Monument Park Foundation. Despite Sir John A. Macdonald’s anti-Irish policies, Fergus V. Keyes launched a “counter-petition” after over 45,000 Montrealers demanded that the genocidal statue be permanently removed.
Fergus V. Keyes did this without consulting the Board of Directors of the Irish Monument Park Foundation and used the group’s Facebook platform to promote his racist ideology. Victor Boyle acquiesced and turned a blind eye to the abuse against the local Irish-Montreal community. The discriminatory actions of these two elderly white men was a total embarrassment to the local Irish community.
Despite these strange proclamations, most other Montrealers breathed a sigh of relief that the genocide monument, widely seen as nasty visual pollution, was finally removed from the cityscape. Even Google Maps scrubbed the Sir John A. monument from its website.
Since then, ghost hunters and local residents have noticed a sharp increase of paranormal activity at the plinth. Ghost-hunting tools, such as EMF Readers, are going off the charts.
Others have reported ghostly figures dancing on the plinth, perhaps the spirits of the Dead who were dug up for its original installation in the Victorian Era.
More recently, on July 1st, 2021, Indigenous activists and allies held a “Cancel Canada Day” march. The discovery of the bodies of over a thousand Indigenous children at Residential Schools across Canada, using ground-penetrating radar, prompted the march.
Thousands of activists, many wearing orange shirts, shouted “No Pride in Genocide” while following drummers.
According to Nakuset, President of the Native Women’s Shelter and an organizer of the rally:
“If you’re going to celebrate Canada Day, understand what you’re celebrating. You’re celebrating the oppression of Indigenous people. You’re celebrating these mass graves. This is the actual history of Canada.”
The massive rally concluded at the now-empty plinth of Sir John A. Macdonald.
In a case of poetic justice, an Indigenous drummer mounted the plinth to perform a ceremony against Macdonald and his genocide.
Today, the plinth stands empty as a reminder to everyone that these genocidal horrors committed by past politicians must never happen again.
For those wanting to explore the haunted plinth of Sir John A. Macdonald, Haunted Montreal offers a paranormal investigation every month in the Old Saint-Antoine Cemetery.
Haunted Montreal is thrilled to announce that new public health measures in place allow small gatherings outdoors! We are now permitted to run all outdoor tours and activities again.
As such, we have re-booted all of our outdoor haunted experiences:
- The Haunted Downtown Ghost Walk
- The Haunted Mountain Ghost Walk
- The Haunted Griffintown Ghost Walk
- Paranormal Investigation in the Old Sainte Antoine Cemetery
We are also offering our Virtual Ghost Tour on demand in both English and French.
Both public and private sessions are available!
Private tours of up to 25 people are also available.
While clients can request any date, time and operating tour, they are based on the availability of our actors.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a private tour!
Please spread the word to those who might be interested in a Haunted Montreal experience!
Finally yet importantly, we have opened an online store for those interested in Haunted Montreal merchandise. We are selling t-shirts, magnets, sweatshirts (for those haunted fall and winter nights) and mugs with both the Haunted Montreal logo and our tour imagery.
All can be ordered through our online store: shop.hauntedmontreal.com
Haunted Montreal would like to thank all of our clients who attended a ghost walk, haunted pub crawl, paranormal investigation or virtual event during the 2020 – 2021 season!
If you enjoyed the experience, we encourage you to write a review on our Tripadvisor page, something that helps Haunted Montreal to market its tours.
Lastly, if you would like to receive the Haunted Montreal Blog on the 13th of every month, please sign up to our mailing list.
Coming up on August 13: The Poltergeist of Côte Saint-Luc
A man in Côte Saint-Luc recently contacted Haunted Montreal to inform us about a poltergeist in his apartment. After a decade of living there, in October 2019 the poltergeist suddenly appeared. The temperature setting of a stovetop burner was suddenly changed, objects moved or teleported to new locations by themselves, cabinet doors opened, and lights turned on and off without the switch being touched. The man has no plans for exorcism because he finds the poltergeist experience fascinating.
Donovan King is a postcolonial historian, teacher, tour guide and professional actor. As the founder of Haunted Montreal, he combines his skills to create the best possible Montreal ghost stories, in both writing and theatrical performance. King holds a DEC (Professional Theatre Acting, John Abbott College), BFA (Drama-in-Education, Concordia), B.Ed (History and English Teaching, McGill), MFA (Theatre Studies, University of Calgary) and ACS (Montreal Tourist Guide, Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec). He is also a certified Montreal Destination Specialist.