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Welcome to the seventy-sixth installment of the Haunted Montreal Blog!

With over 500 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!

This service is free and you can sign up to our mailing list (top, right-hand corner for desktops and at the bottom for mobile devices) if you wish to receive it every month on the 13th!

With the Halloween Season behind us, Haunted Montreal is moving into winter mode by restarting our Haunted Pub Crawl!

Offered every Sunday at 3 pm in English and the last Sunday of the month at 4 pm in French, the Haunted Pub Crawl is a great way to enjoy some spirits with a spirit! More details are below in our Company News section!

We are bringing back Winter Ghost Stories: A Québécois Tradition, our virtual holiday tour, for just two public presentations: December 23 and 30.

We are also offering our other ghost walks and paranormal investigation as private tours, weather permitting:

Haunted Downtown Ghost Walk

Haunted Mountain Ghost Walk

Haunted Griffintown Ghost Walk

Paranormal Investigation in the Old Sainte Antoine Cemetery

Our Virtual Ghost Tour is also available on demand!

Want to give the gift of a haunted experience this holiday season? You can now order a Haunted Montreal Gift Certificate through our website. They are redeemable via Eventbrite for any of our in-person or virtual experiences. There’s no expiration date.

Lastly, we now have an online store for those interested in Haunted Montreal merchandise. More details are below in our Company News section!

This month we examine Montreal’s “secret pool”, one of the many terrifying sites on Mount Royal that are said to be haunted. Once a hidden oasis for hipster swimmers and sunbathers, today the pool is decrepit and has horrible rumours swirling around it of murdered children who are buried beneath its concrete foundations.

Haunted Research

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.

Known as “Montreal’s Secret Pool”, it was closed down following the drowning of a man in 2013. Once considered a “hidden gem” and “urban oasis”, the pool is now graffiti-scrawled, crumbling and partially filled with stagnant water. It is not only creepy and decrepit, but some say haunted!

The pool is nestled between the Old Royal Victoria Hospital and the Allan Memorial Institute (a.k.a. Ravenscrag), both extremely haunted sites on the mountain.

Constructed in 1961, the swimming pool was allegedly the result of a philanthropic donation made by Henry William Morgan, chairman of the hospital board from 1957 to 1962. The pool is thus officially called the Henry William Morgan Pool. It was supposedly constructed to provide nurses an opportunity to swim and for patients in need of physiotherapy or rehabilitation.

According to the philanthropist’s grandson Charles S. Morgan:

“My grandfather, Henry William Morgan, donated the pool to the nurses of the Royal Victoria Hospital in 1961, during the time that he served as President of the Board of the hospital. He was absolutely devoted to the hospital and, in particular, to its nursing staff.  Over the years, access to the pool opened to the public and I have very fond memories of swimming there as a law student at McGill, a “secret” oasis on the side of Mount Royal.” 

As the years passed, eventually the pool took on a host of regular swimmers. However, it also slowly developed the reputation as a party scene. With an entry fee of only $5/day, it was soon swarmed by rowdy McGill students. Tourism websites and blogs started gushing about “Montreal’s secret hipster pool” and buzzing about the party atmosphere.

Some long time users began to complain that the party atmosphere had gotten out of control and that alcohol and drugs were being freely consumed in the pool area. Others objected to the lifeguards, who did not seem to be supervising the pool properly.

Another problem was that bad behaviour was going on after hours, when the pool was closed. Sometimes people would break in for late-night pool parties or to smash beer bottles and throw the picnic tables into the water.

Things reached a culmination on the afternoon of August 8, 2013. Tragedy struck at approximately 3:45 p.m. when a regular swimmer named Douglas Crabbe was spotted unconscious at the bottom of the pool by other bathers.

They summoned the lifeguards, who noted that Crabbe was not coming to the surface. A passing doctor ran over to help. Once the 67-year old man was finally pulled out of the pool, he was in a state of cardiac arrest. Crabbe was resuscitated, but was unable to breathe on his own. He was sent to the nearby Royal Victoria Hospital in critical condition and died two days later.

Following this incident, the Henry William Morgan Pool was immediately shut down by hospital authorities. Indeed, it has been sitting empty ever since.

This, despite a 2017 promise by Mayor Valerie Plante to try and re-open it, as requested by Les Amis de la piscine du Royal-Victoria

One of the problems it that the pool is owned by the McGill University Health Centre, which relocated the Royal Victoria Hospital to the Glen Super-hospital in N.D.G. in April, 2015. In other words, the old Royal Victoria Hospital is currently abandoned and there is zero incentive to re-open a pool with no nurses or patients to swim in it.

The other problem is much more ominous: there are persistent rumours that the pool was actually built to conceal the bodies of children who were murdered at the Allan Memorial Institute. Under the direction of McGill University psychiatrist Dr. Ewen Cameron, unethical brainwashing experiments were carried out in the 1950s and 60s.

These included Project MKULTRA, commissioned on behalf of the CIA.

More details about the abuse are featured in our blog about Ravenscrag, the original name of the Allan Memorial Institute.

Rumour has it that orphans and children in Indigenous Residential Schools were recruited, against their knowledge, for deranged “experiments” involving excessive electro-shock sessions.

Some say that lobotomies were performed. The rumours suggest that Indigenous and other children were essentially murdered and then buried in a surreptitious manner at the site.

According to survivor Ann Diamond:

“These unmarked graves are a big secret. There has been no physical proof that kids are buried there but…some would have been First Nations kids in Cameron’s experiments between 1953 and 1964. Others came from broken homes, or were orphans…Obviously, they’re not laid out to attract attention but we think 17-25 children were buried there… Officially, though, it never happened…. Many, many records were destroyed however, and McGill has been very busy hiding the evidence and making sure witnesses and survivors remain silent.”

Kevin D. Annett’s Hidden No Longer: Genocide in Canada, Past and Present (2010) backs up Ann Diamond’s allegations. Listing unmarked Indigenous gravesites across Canada, on page 348 the document states:

“Quebec: 1. Montreal : Allan Memorial Institute, McGill University , still in operation since opening in 1940. MKULTRA experimental centre. Mass grave of children killed there north of building, on southern slopes of Mount Royal behind stone wall.”

Ann Diamond recalls visiting the pool:

“I have only been in it once or twice. The first time was in summer of 1972 with some friends – we climbed the stone wall at 2 am and swam in the dark. I think there was no Frost fence then because I don’t recall having to get over it– just the stone wall. There were a couple of other people swimming in it who arrived ahead of us. It was the place to swim on hot summer nights.”

Diamond continued: “Ten years later I heard Leonard Cohen went there all summer long and spent afternoons there. In the early 80s I think it was open to the public for 5$ and maybe you could get a membership pass for the summer. I went only once when a girl I met who was traveling to Montreal from Greece told me she wanted to meet Leonard Cohen — I guessed the best place to run into him casually was the Allan pool so I took her there and sure enough, there he was on the grass in his swim trunks.”

Twenty years later, circa 2003, Diamond was researching the MKULTRA program at McGill:

“By chance one day I was walking through NDG park and met a man, 45, who was selling off his possessions. He told me he had a brain tumor and had 6 months or a year to live. He had been a male nurse at Royal Victoria Hospital in the late 1970s and 80s. He was involved in destroying records of “births, adoptions and abortions” which were thrown into the dumpster. He said the swimming pool was a drug dealing site catering to Montreal’s beautiful people in the entertainment industry. He and other nurses would steal the purest cocaine from the hospital pharmacy and sell it to people around the pool.”

More recently, Montreal’s Office of Public Consultations (OCPM) launched a city-wide conversation on the fate of the Old Royal Victoria Hospital and Allan Memorial Institute site, which includes the so-called “secret pool”.

One of the most notable and important contributions came from the kanien’kehá:ka kahnistensera, or Mohawk Mothers. They not only recalled that the Royal Victoria Hospital exists on un-ceded Mohawk territory, but also delved into the History of the site. They informed the OCPM that a former Mohawk village once existed on the site and also called out the fact that Indigenous and other children may be buried there.

In their final brief, they stated:

“In addition to archeological remains, the kanien’kehá:ka kahnistensera have been aware of allegations that indigenous and/or non-indigenous children may be buried in the vicinity of the Henry Lewis Morgan pool, and in adjacent grounds of the Ravenscrag gardens of the Allan Memorial Institute. The Henry Lewis Morgan pool was built in 1961 during Dr. Ewen Cameron’s unethical psychiatric experimentations on mind control, carried within the Allan Memorial Institute between 1954 and 1963, and funded by the Canadian government and the CIA’s MK-Ultra project.”

As part of their brief, the Mohawk Mothers interviewed 80-year-old Winnipeg resident Lana Ponting, one of the last remaining survivors of the Allan Memorial Institute. The Mohawk Mothers noted that Lana Ponting stressed three points:

1) That indigenous peoples were victims of these experiments, as she remembers seeing at least one indigenous individual receiving intense shock treatment in the Allan Memorial Institute during her stay, in April 1958;

2) That underage children were victims of these experiments, as Lana Ponting witnessed many minor individuals in the building, and as she was herself 16 years old at the time. It is also public knowledge that several MK-Ultra sub-projects included psychiatric experiments on unwitting children;

3) That the rumour that the experiments’ victims were buried in the Ravenscrag gardens surrounding the Allan Memorial Institute was already in circulation amongst its patients as early as 1958. Notably, Lana Ponting recalls that suspicious activities were conducted outside the building at night. Lana Ponting has obtained a letter her doctor attesting that she is of sound mind. Lana Ponting and many other family members of psychiatric experiments at McGill University have strong suspicions that unmarked graves, potentially including indigenous children, will be uncovered beneath the grounds of Ravenscrag.”

Indeed, according to Lana Ponting’s testimony:

“And you know it’s funny, I would get out of my room… One night I saw these people all by the south wall. And they had lights on. What was going on there? It may have happened that they were burying bodies there… They were by the south wall, a cement wall outside, on the south side of the grounds. Now over the years people were hurt by the Allan. I was tortured too, and so were a lot of other people that were in there. There is a swimming pool in the Allan, and it is rumored that it was built to hide the bodies that were buried.…They said the swimming pool was built to hide the bodies that they felt were being buried there. I am convinced that there are bodies buried in the property.”

When pressed about whether or not there were children at the Allan Memorial Institute, Lana Ponting replied:

“Oh yes. I saw underage people. I saw kids that were possibly around 8 to 10 years old. And then there were other younger ones as well.”

Lana Ponting concluded her interview by discussing the many rumours surrounding the Henry William Morgan Pool:

“Yes that was the rumor that was going around the Allan at the time that they built the swimming pool… because they wanted to hide what was around the area…It’s a terrifying thing to have to remember all this. And also the government knew what was going on, because a lot of people complained. They did nothing.”

With such shocking History unfolding, I should mention that I, Donovan King, also gave my own presentation to the OCPM.

Over the years, Haunted Montreal has received several communications about the “secret pool” on the mountain. Most of them describe haunted or paranormal activity within the vicinity.

For example, in June 2017 a client contacted Haunted Montreal who had visited the decrepit pool. She said: “Out of curiosity, I visited Montreal’s Secret Pool today. It is abandoned and filled with about a foot of stagnant water. While I was taking photos of it, I heard a sort of splash in the water. When I looked down into the pool, I swear I could see a decaying hand reaching out of the water!”

The woman was so startled that she dropped her camera and was unable to take a photo of the wretched hand before it submerged again in the murky water.

In another case, a man reported in 2020 that he had a paranormal experience at the site of the old pool. He recalled stretching out by the crumbling poolside to catch some rays and a short nap. As he dozed off, he started to have deranged nightmares. In his troubled dreams, he could hear the voices of children calling out to him, asking him for help. He visualized them underneath the pool trying to get his attention. The man woke up in a cold sweat, and immediately reported his experience to Haunted Montreal.

In conclusion, the Henry William Morgan Pool is a contested site, to say the least. Was it merely constructed to allow nurses to swim and for patients to rehabilitate, or does it hide a much darker secret?

Could it be that the concrete foundations of the “secret pool” were actually built to conceal the bodies of children murdered in deranged “experiments” at the Allan Memorial Institute?

Until a full forensic investigation is launched, the “secret pool” on the mountain will remain one of Montreal’s most notorious and unexplained sites.

Company News

With the Halloween Season behind us, Haunted Montreal is moving into winter mode by restarting our Haunted Pub Crawl!

Offered every Sunday at 3 pm in English and the last Sunday of the month at 4 pm in French, the Haunted Pub Crawl is a great way to enjoy some spirits with a spirit!

Starting at McKibbin’s Pub on Bishop Street, guests will hear some of Montreal’s most infamous ghost stories while enjoying drinks in three haunted pubs!

Designed for the winter, the pubs are each within a 5-minute walking distance to ensure clients stay warm!

We are bringing back Winter Ghost Stories: A Québécois Tradition, our virtual holiday tour, for just two public presentations: December 23 and 30.

We are also offering our other ghost walks and paranormal investigation as private tours, weather permitting:

The Haunted Downtown Ghost Walk

The Haunted Mountain Ghost Walk

The Haunted Griffintown Ghost Walk

Paranormal Investigation in the Old Sainte Antoine Cemetery

For private tours, clients can request any date, time, language and operating tour. These tours are based on the availability of our actors and start at $170 for small groups of up to 7 people.

Email info@hauntedmontreal.com to book a private tour!

We are also offering our Virtual Ghost Tour on demand in both English and French.

Please spread the word to those who might be interested in a Haunted Montreal experience and if you want to send someone a haunted experience as a gift for the holidays, now you can. Introducing Haunted Montreal Gift Certificates available through our website and redeemable via Eventbrite for any of our in-person or virtual events (no expiration date).

Finally, 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.

Purchases 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 January 13th: Esplanade Tranquille

One of Montreal’s newest public spaces, Esplanade Tranquille, was unveiled by Mayor Valerie Plante in August 2021. Located in the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles, the square was named after writer and 1940’s bookshop owner Henri Tranquille. In the winter, it will feature a large, refrigerated ice skating rink. In the warmer months, visitors will be able to enjoy urban furniture, greenspace, a pavilion and a food court. Despite only being open for a few months, there are already allegations of paranormal activity on the esplanade. The most common report is the appearance and disappearance of books, which sometimes vanish from bags only to reappear on benches and that sort of activity. Some superstitious people believe that Henri Tranquille’s old bookstore somehow influences the site in a paranormal way.

Author:

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.

Translator (into French):

Claude Chevalot holds a master’s degree in applied linguistics from McGill University. She is a writer, editor and translator. For more than 15 years, she has devoted herself almost exclusively to literary translation and to the translation of texts on current and contemporary art. 

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