The Youville Stables is a charming stone complex in Old Montreal that was built on the hospital grounds of the Grey Nuns in 1827, originally as a warehouse. Today the site hosts the tony Gibby’s Restaurant, one of Montreal’s finest steakhouses. However, there are reports that its courtyard is haunted by an irate ghost who sits on a bench while reading a book. When approached, he tends to look up as though annoyed and proceeds to glare at those intruding his solitude – before disappearing into thin air.
Welcome to the ninetieth 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!
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Haunted Montreal is now in our winter mode and all of our public haunted experiences are now indoors!
Our Haunted Pub Crawl is offered every Sunday at 3 pm in English. For tours in French, these happen on the last Sunday of every month at 4 pm.
Private tours for all of our experiences (including outdoor tours) can be booked at any time based on the availability of our actors. Clients can request any date, time, language and operating tour. These tours start at $190 for small groups of up to 7 people.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a private tour!
We’ve just launched our newest haunted experience: Travelling Ghost Storyteller. Find out more in the Company News section.
Our Virtual Ghost Tour is also available on demand!
Want to give the gift of a haunted experience?
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 is no expiration date.
Lastly, we have an online store for those interested in Haunted Montreal merchandise. More details are below in our Company News section!
This month we examine the City of Montreal Archives and the ghost of an old Chief Archivist who allegedly haunts the underground vault that houses the collection.
A massive vault sits below Montreal’s City Hall and some historians say it is haunted. The sealed chamber is located under the front of City Hall, between its foundations, the sidewalks of Gosford and Notre-Dame streets and the eastern side of Place Vauquelin. The eastern portion of the vault was constructed from 1919-1921 and the western part in 1952. Its purpose is to house and protect the valuable Archives of the metropolis.
These include more than 28,000 items of historical significance to the City of Montreal. There are more than 4.6 km of documents and other miscellaneous items, dating mainly from 1796 to the present day. Included in the collection are also around two million photographs (with thousands on glass plates), 17th century manuscripts, large-format old maps and extremely fragile registers, among other important items.
When open, researchers can don white archival gloves to browse the collection and then study the materials in the Conrad Archambault Consultation Room. Named after a former Chief Archivist who died in 1980, it is a quiet and scholarly place ideal for analyzing historical documentation.
However, there are also reports of paranormal activity within the City of Montreal Archives. Some people, including a former Chief Archivist, believe the ghost of Conrad Archambault is the likely culprit behind these phenomena.
At the time of this writing, City Hall is undergoing a major renovation. Starting on December 3rd, 2018, in a “Titanic operation” the vast contents of the Archives were moved to a large, non-descript building at 5800 Saint-Denis Street (Office 400). Known as “LE 5800”, the building is located near Highways 15 and 40 and is situated directly across the street from the Rosemont Metro station.
LE 5800 offers gigantic rental units, indoor and outdoor parking, an on-site café, as well as many business services within walking distance. According to archival technician Agnieszka Prycik, it is still possible for researchers to visit the Archives at the temporary location by booking an appointment.
In 2017, paranormal investigator Christian Page revealed strange information about the Archives in a video called Sur les traces de la Trouble-Fête.
This documentary was released during the 375th anniversary celebrations of Montreal and Page visited allegedly haunted sites in the metropolis, including the City of Montreal Archives.
Page is a well-known francophone media celebrity associated with ghostly activity and the paranormal. In this episode, he visited the City of Montreal Archives and interviewed Mario Robert, the Chief Archivist at them time (section runs 6:51 – 9:16 in French).
Robert explained that historical tragedies in the City of Montreal might be one of the reasons the city has so many ghosts. From earthquakes to floods, these episodes have left a paranormal mark, including mysterious light phenomena throughout the metropolis. Robert also mentioned his belief that the City of Montreal Archives are haunted by former Chief Archivist Conrad Archambault.
Archambault started at the City of Montreal in 1913, and the following year he joined the Archives as a clerk. In 1921, he was appointed as the Assistant Archivist and after years of hard work, he was promoted to Chief Archivist in 1933.
Archambault was primarily responsible for setting up a proper archival service for the City of Montreal. He instigated the press clippings section, a documentation center and was one of the main architects of the construction of underground vaults for the permanent preservation of documents.
Indeed, if it wasn’t for the vault, the archival collection likely would not exist today.
On the night of March 3 to 4, 1922, an intense blaze ravaged Montreal City Hall. The fire broke out in the basement, in the Licenses and Privileges Department. When firefighters arrived, the flames were already spreading throughout the walls of the building. Four alarms were raised and 13 steam-powered fire engines were deployed throughout the night to fight the raging inferno.
The Montreal Gazette reported: “The central and corner towers were thrown into relief, lighting up the immediate area. At times out of the great red of the flames as they beat through the roof would appear a sudden flare of green, due to the fusing of copper on the roof and forming a gorgeous picture of destruction. Champs de Mars – indeed, all the adjoining streets – were completely lighted up. Notwithstanding the late hour, thousands of spectators lined Champs de Mars and the sidewalks, and by this time the flames had shot through the central and eastern towers of the building, leaving a skeleton of woodwork through which the fire was bursting with ever-growing ferocity.”
Just before the floors began collapsing, Mayor Mederic Martin’s bodyguard, Sergeant Ferdinand Lafleur, forced his way up to the mayor’s third-floor office and retrieved the ceremonial chain of office. It wasn’t long before the entire building collapsed into a fiery ruin.
The following morning, once the blaze was extinguished, only remnants of the exterior walls remained standing. Fortunately, the archives suffered no damage because they were protected in the fireproof vault. Conrad Archambault’s sealed chamber had saved the city’s most valuable documentation.
By 1926, City Hall had been rebuilt with the addition of a fifth floor. Decades later, in 1984, the building was declared a National Historic Site of Canada.
After 40 years in the Archives Department, Archambault retired in 1954. He passed away on September 6, 1980 and was later commemorated with the creation of the Conrad Archambault Consultation Room.
Following his death, there was speculation that for some reason his ghost had returned to haunt the City of Montreal Archives. Mario Robert mentioned that for at least 25 years Archambault’s spirit has been seen roaming the vault.
When asked if he had actually spotted the ghost, Robert replied that he had on several occasions, albeit not in a “face-to-face” manner. The sightings were more subtle, probably things like noticing the spirit turn a corner around the stacks.
Robert regretted not having had a more substantial ghostly encounter, as he would have enjoyed a conversation with the Ghost of Archambault, given their similar passion for the Archives.
While hoping to learn more specific details, Haunted Montreal was unable to secure an interview with Mario Robert. He retired in 2020.
There are other strange stories that unfolded within the Archives. A late McGill History professor named Dr. Rudy used to talk about his students reporting paranormal activity while researching in the vault. In a few instances, students reported that white archival gloves seemed to take on a life of their own. Archival gloves are meant to protect document surfaces from stains made by oily or sweaty hands and as such are mandatory in most archives.
Dr. Rudy mentioned that in one case dating to 2011, a student had momentarily dozed off while reading an old manuscript. As he slumbered, his cheek was on resting the fragile document he had been studying.
Suddenly, he was startled out of his catnap when he felt someone tapping his shoulder. He spun around, assuming an archivist had woken him up because he had been sleeping with his face pressed on a rare document.
However, as he scanned the Conrad Archambault Consultation Room, there was nobody behind him. Indeed, he was completely alone in the room. That is when he noticed a white archival glove draped over his shoulder.
In other cases, students have spotted the white gloves moving on their own, sometimes pointing to things or making beckoning gestures. Some people likened it to an archival version of Thing from the Addams Family. However, students never felt threatened – but rather assisted by – the mysterious white gloves.
Dr. Rudy explained that most common theory about the phenomenon was that it was the ghost of an archivist who was trying to ensure things ran smoothly in the vault. Former Chief Archivist Conrad Archambault fits the description perfectly.
Returning to the present, Haunted Montreal asked archival technician Agnieszka Prycik a few questions regarding the status of the renovations within the City Hall Archives. The vault is being upgraded to include modern ventilation and air conditioning standards. Although the underground chamber will not be enlarged, new shelving will be installed. Aboveground, the entire building is being completely renovated.
When asked when the Archives will return to City Hall, Prycik replied: “Unfortunately, we don’t known an exact date…”
Our final question was: “Does the Montreal Archives have any files about ghost stories or paranormal activity in the city?”
Prycik replied: “I dind’t find this subject in our archives…”
Given that Montreal has well over 500 ghost stories and the strong evidence that its Archives is haunted by former Chief Archivist Conrad Archambault, perhaps it is finally time for archival staff to open a file on this important supernatural issue!
Haunted Montreal is now in winter mode and with the cold temperatures, our public tours are all indoors!
Our Haunted Pub Crawl happens every Sunday at 3 pm in English. For tours in French, these happen on the last Sunday of every month at 4 pm.
Private tours for any of our experiences (including outdoor tours) can be booked at any time based on the availability of our actors. Clients can request any date, time, language and operating tour. These tours are based on the availability of our actors and start at $190 for small groups of up to 7 people.
Email email@example.com to book a private tour!
We’re also launching our newest haunted experience:
You can bring the Haunted Montreal experience to your office Christmas party, house party school or event by booking one of our Travelling Ghost Storytellers today. Hear some of the spookiest tales from our tours and our blog told by a professional actor and storyteller. You provide the venue, we provide the stories and storyteller. Find out more and then contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Our team also releases videos every Saturday, in both languages, of ghost stories from the Haunted Montreal Blog. Hosted by Holly Rhiannon (in English) and Dr. Mab (in French), this initiative is sure to please ghost story fans!
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In other news, if you want to send someone a haunted experience as a gift, you certainly can!
We are offering Haunted Montreal Gift Certificates 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.
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 2022 season!
If you enjoyed the experience, we encourage you to write a review on our Tripadvisor page, something that really helps Haunted Montreal to market its tours.
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Coming up on March 13: Hurley’s Irish Pub
Established in 1993 by Mr. Bill Hurley, this pub offers live traditional music every night, 19 beers on tap, a selection of more than 50 single malts and 16 whiskeys and hearty Irish fare. Hurley’s laid-back atmosphere is a long-time favorite with locals and a prime destination for tourists. Hurley’s sells the most Guinness in North America, after all, and always guarantees a perfect pint. However, the pub also has a dark, horrifying history, resulting in an agonizing and mysterious ghost who haunts the second floor. Known only as “The Burning Lady”, her terrifying story is featured on the Haunted Montreal Pub Crawl, along with many other ghastly tales.
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.