Hometown travel: Looking for spirits on the Halifax Ghost Walk

My hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia is a very, very old city. After thousands of years of settlement by the Mi’kmaq, and hundreds after European contact, the city has an enormous amount of history, and, if the stories are to be believed, an odd ghost or two hanging around.

I’ve been wanting to take a ghost tour of the city for some time. It combines the appeal of a walking tour with the opportunity to learn a little more about my hometown, and have some spooky fun along the way.

When the universe aligned the schedules of some friends and the weather gave us a balmy August evening, we set out for Halifax’s iconic Town Clock to experience the Halifax Ghost Walk. We met up with a large group of 25 intrepid souls, paid our tour leader (cash only!), and set out to meet the ghosts of Halifax.

Our tour was given by local musician Dusty Keleher, who combines storytelling with a nice, downhill stroll on a lovely summer evening. I won’t be spilling any of his stories here, mostly because it’s just not fair, but it also spoils the fun for future tour-goers.

We started on top of the city on the Halifax Citadel, with a sweeping view of the city below us and a quick history lesson about how the city was settled by Europeans, and life in the city during its early years.

Halifax Ghost Walk tour

As the sun set, and the night grew misty around around, the mood was perfect for more of Halifax’s ghosts. We made our way downhill to Grand Parade, witness to Halifax’s many ghostly experience over the years (including a time as the location of the city gallows). The area is a mix of modern and historic buildings, some of which served important functions during some of the worst tragedies in the last century.

Halifax Ghost Walk tour

Turning around to face the other end of Grand Parade, we learned a bit about St. Paul’s Anglican Church – the oldest in Canada – and learned about some of the more dramatic events in its history…

Halifax Ghost Walk tour

… Like how the church weathered the Halifax Explosion. The “Explosion Window” as it’s known locally, with the haunting outline of a figure in its top-right pane.

Halifax Ghost Walk tour Explosion Window

As we learned the story behind the Explosion Window, Halifax’s entertainment district along Argyle Street really started to come to life.

Halifax Ghost Walk tour

As the city swirled around us and traffic whizzed by, we moved on to a stop that was basically in the same neighbourhood as my office. It was delightful to discover the place where I spend more than 40 hours a week is home to a pretty rockin’ ghostly history.

Halifax Ghost Walk tour Hollis Street

For our last series of stories, we made our way to the Halifax waterfront. With a light misty fog making the lights of Dartmouth twinkle in front of us, the ghosts of Georges Island not far off in the distance, the waning moon overhead, it was the perfect finish for an evening of spookiness.

Halifax Ghost Walk tour Halifax waterfront harbour

All in all, I had a lot of fun on the tour. As a resident Haligonian, I appreciated the walk downhill (I always seem to be walking uphill here) while learning some new spooky facts about my city. As a traveler, I enjoyed the tour adventure, just like I would if it was in any other city. With an adult tour fee of $10, I easily got $10 worth of entertainment, as well as a nice city walk on an equally nice summer evening.

At the end of the tour, I had a chance to talk to a couple of young women visiting from Calgary. I’m sorry I didn’t get your names, but I hope you enjoyed the rest of your stay in Nova Scotia!

If you’re not from Halifax, does your city have a ghostly history? Have you been on a ghost tour in your city or while you’re traveling?

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