Five Haunted Legal Venues and Prisons in Canada
By Robin Young
When considering the perks of pursuing a legal career, “encountering a ghost” is probably the last thing that comes to one’s mind. However, it has been reported that a multitude of locations in which Canadian lawyers may find themselves working are haunted. Here are a few examples of famous haunted courthouses and former prisons throughout Canada where lawyers have undoubtedly gotten a fright.
Charlotte County Courthouse:
The Charlotte County Courthouse, located in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, is the oldest courthouse in Canada that is still under continuous usage, not for trial but as a National Historic Site and Provincial Heritage Place. Originally established in 1840, the courthouse is supposedly haunted by the spirits of executed convicts, with reports of cold spots, strange noises, and even sightings of an angry ghost carrying a rope throughout the premises. People claim they have felt as though they were being watched, especially as they roamed through the county jail (or the “gaol” as it is known) next door to the courthouse.
As the longest-standing penitentiary in Canada, the Kingston Penitentiary of Kingston, Ontario opened its doors in 1835 and closed them in 2013. Throughout that time, thousands of prisoners inhabited its chambers, and not only adults, but also children faced severe and strict treatment and punishment from the establishment. The Kingston Penitentiary has seen fires, fights, executions, hostage situations, and many, many ghosts since its early days. There have been numerous sightings of ghosts within the Kingston Penitentiary, including vengeful spirits, unexplained shadows, inexplicable gut feelings, and strange glowing orbs within the cells. Sightings of previous employees, children, and prisoners alike are common, and the paranormal stories of the Kingston penitentiary are plentiful.
Middlesex County Courthouse:
Marion “Peg Leg” Brown, a man with a peg replacing a leg lost in a riding accident, purportedly haunts the Middlesex County Courthouse located in London, Ontario. He was sentenced to death by hanging, his last words being, “another innocent man has been convicted, the fact that no grass shall grow upon my grave shall prove my innocence.” According to legend, as Brown was executed, lightning struck the courthouse, and no grass ever grew upon his grave, as he foretold. Since Brown’s death in 1898, there have been multiple reports of a peg-legged man seen roaming around the Middlesex County Courthouse.
The Kerrobert Courthouse was originally built in Kerrobert, Saskatchewan in 1920, but now houses municipal offices for the town. Since the early 1930s, staff members and visitors alike have purportedly heard strange noises throughout the courthouse–particularly disembodied whispering and footsteps hurriedly stomping up and down the staircases in the early morning hours. One particularly disturbing legend entails the haunting of a skull locked in the evidence room from the 1930s, with its body roaming the halls in search of its lost head.
Ottawa Jail Hostel
Originally known as the Saintlo Ottawa Jail when it was built in 1862, this haunted location in Ottawa, Ontario has since transformed itself into a youth hostel. With many executions having publicly occurred in the basement of this building, and multiple sightings of different ghosts by guests and tourists alike, one particular haunt that stands out is Patrick James Whelan. Whelan was publicly executed in front of a crowd of five thousand for the assassination of a Canadian diplomat, Thomas D’Arcy McGee. Whelan has been seen roaming around the grounds of the hostel, and sometimes has even been spotted sitting on the beds of visitors when they awake. Door creaks, footsteps, and cold spots have also been reported at this seemingly unrelaxing vacation spot.
While dealing with ghostly encounters may have not originally been a part of a lawyer’s job description, it certainly is something we should all be prepared for according to the resources from these haunted legal venues throughout the country.