ghost-stories

How Annabelle Came Home

A lot of people are afraid of dolls. One of my oldest friends always made me put a sheet over my shelf of porcelain dolls when she came for a sleepover because she was too afraid to look at them. It’s not an uncommon distaste among those who watch horror movies, or even those who don’t.

And for anyone who’s seen the Annabelle movies, it’s quite clear why.

It’s pretty common for horror movies to begin with script scrawling across the screen, noting that the movie is based upon real events. Directors use it to up the fear or general sense of dread in the movie, and in many cases—certainly my own, at least when I first started watching horror—it works. The more horror you watch, though, the less of an effect those warnings have on you. And really, not that many of them are actually true, or if they are, they’re so loosely based on real events they might as well be entirely made up.

Annabelle, however, is a very real doll, and while The Conjuring series has taken several liberties with her story, they don’t stray far.

The Warrens first encountered the Annabelle doll when they were contacted about three friends experiencing some trouble. They were being terrorized by what they insisted was a possessed doll one of them owned.

Photo of the real Annabelle doll, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Photo of the real Annabelle doll, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

One of the friends, Donna, had been gifted the Annabelle doll—which was a Raggedy Ann Doll—by her mother, who had bought it from an antique shop. Donna and her roommate Angie noticed weird things about the doll almost immediately. They reported that it was not just intensely creepy, but it also seemed to move around on its own. Sometimes they would even come home and find it in a completely different room than where they’d left it.

It was also known to move positions, such as standing up when they’d left it sitting down, and it even left them notes saying things such as “help us” and “help Lou”. But things soon escalated, and that was when the Warrens were called in.

The third friend, Lou, was particularly bothered by the doll, and often beseeched Donna to just get rid of it, citing that he really felt that something malevolent was going on. However, Donna had grown attached to the doll, and refused.

Before calling the Warrens, Donna and Angie reached out to a medium. The medium told them that the doll was being haunted by a young girl named Annabelle, who used to live on the property that existed before the apartment complex was built. She died there, and had remained ever since. Through the medium, she told the girls that she felt a sense of comfort and family with them, and that she only wanted to stay and be loved. This appealed to the girls’ compassionate sides, and they invited Annabelle to possess the doll and remain with them forever.

This was, of course, a horrible mistake.

The doll’s actions escalated once again, this time in the form of extreme aggression, particularly targeted towards Lou. He would wake up in the middle of the night to Annabelle in his bed with him, or on top of him and strangling him. One night he even woke up with vicious scratch marks on his body, though they had mysteriously vanished by morning.

Once the Warrens arrived, they conducted an investigation and informed the girls and Lou that “Annabelle” was in fact, not a little girl possessing the doll, but a demonic presence that used the doll as a conduit in the hopes of possessing Donna, Angie, or Lou. And they’d invited it into their lives.

Thankfully, the Warrens had arrived just in time, and Ed and Lorraine took Annabelle off their hands. They had a priest—Father Cooke—cleanse the apartment before leaving and taking the doll with them. However, the violence and havoc this not-so-innocent Raggedy Ann brought with her was far from over.

Photo of part of the Warrens’ Occult Museum courtesy of 826 Paranormal via Flickr

Photo of part of the Warrens’ Occult Museum courtesy of 826 Paranormal via Flickr

While the Warrens were driving—intentionally avoiding the interstate so as to avoid any accidents courtesy of Annabelle—they discovered that the doll was still, despite the blessing from Father Cooke, frighteningly powerful. As they drove, Annabelle repeatedly tried to force the car off the road, or into trees, or into some form of accident or another.

The Warrens did make it home safely, but Annabelle just continued to do the same things she’d done with Donna, Angie, and Lou. She moved easily from room to room, even moving beyond locked doors.

At one point, an exorcist—Father Jason Bratford—came to the house, took one look at Annabelle, and dismissed her power. He shouted that she was just a ragdoll, and couldn’t harm anyone, and then threw her into Ed’s chair.

Later, Father Jason called Lorraine to tell her that he had been involved in a horrible car accident while driving home. He lived, but his vehicle was completely totaled. It turned out that his brakes had failed. Even more eerie, was that he reported having seen Annabelle in the backseat just before he crashed.

After this, the Warrens constructed a case specifically for Annabelle so that her evil would be contained, and she’d no longer be able to hurt anyone. They had it built out of wood and glass, and she remains to this day, in that case, within their Occult Museum. Annabelle doesn’t move anymore, now that she’s trapped in the case, but it would seem she’s still something no one should trifle with.

Upon visiting the Warrens’ museum, and hearing the story of Annabelle, a young man and his girlfriend walked up to Annabelle’s case. The man banged on the glass, inviting Annabelle to prove she really could scratch people, by scratching him. Ed threw the man and his girlfriend out, but the damage was already done. On the way home from the museum, they continued to make fun of Annabelle, before their motorcycle crashed into a tree, killing the boy and hospitalizing the girlfriend for over a year.

Most people now know to respect Annabelle and her power, even if they don’t totally believe. But then again, how could anyone visit the museum, hear these stories, and not believe?


What about you? Do you believe the Annabelle doll is really cursed, or do you think it’s just as series of problems and coincidences explained away by something else? Feel free to drop a comment below, or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook!

For the previously written post about Annabelle, see “Annabelle Comes Home: A Review”.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

The Mystery of the Charfield Railway Children

“It’s like watching a train wreck” is a common expression used to refer to the way people can’t take their eyes off a horrible moment, can’t keep themselves from watching tragedy unfold. The details behind such situations hold a source of morbid fascination for many, despite the nightmares they create for those involved.

The Charfield Railway Disaster was a train crash that occurred on October 13th, 1928, in Charfield, Gloucestershire, in the UK. Three trains were involved in this crash: Two goods carrying trains, one of which was empty at the time, and a third train that was carrying both passengers and mail.

Photo courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Ben Brooksbank via Wikimedia Commons

Aboard the passenger train was conductor Henry Adlington, and fireman Frank Want. These men were the main parties investigated as potentially being responsible for the accident.

Just before the accident, Adlington’s train was on its way into the station, and the empty goods train was on its way out. The second goods train had stopped on the tracks, and was in the midst of being shunted onto the siding.

Henry Button, the signalman at the station, had put up the red signal that indicated for the passenger train to come to a halt in order to allow for the station employees to finish shunting the goods train from the tracks. However, due to foggy weather that morning, Adlington and Want misinterpreted the signal, and instead saw it as green. They continued through the tunnel in the station, slammed into the parked goods train, knocking that train off the track, and taking the second, empty goods train, with them as it attempted to pass through the tunnel in the other direction.

Due to the speed and force of the derailment, part of Adlington’s train broke free and was flung completely clear of the tracks, while the other part—including some of the passenger sections—telescoped, and got wedged up against the bridge.

Button was quick to call for help, only seconds after witnessing the crash, but because the crash was so violent even with his quick action, several victims didn’t make it. The victim count is a subject of debate: witness accounts say that 15 were killed and 23 were injured, but the official report states that 16 were killed, and 41 were injured.

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash

None of these details are terribly significant to the part of the story I wish to focus on today, however. What is important to note, is that due to the damage caused by the train crash and the ensuing fire, the victims that died were so unrecognizable to family members, that they could only be identified by their belongings. This being said, two victims—children—remain, to this day, unidentified.

Despite the fact that nobody ever came forward to claim the children, family members of the other victims had pooled funds and efforts, and erected a mass grave. They agreed to include the unidentified children.

The speculation surrounding these children is where this story veers towards the paranormal. There were many theories drummed up for the children at first, such as the thought that they may not be humans at all, but ventriloquist dummies, or that they were in fact small riding jockeys. Ultimately, though, it was concluded that they were children: likely a boy and a girl.

Despite them never being claimed, however, their graves were visited.

Photo courtesy of Lario Tus via Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Lario Tus via Shutterstock

Over the years, many reports were made of a woman dressed all in black, arriving at and leaving the grave site of the unknown children. She left them flowers at every visit, and visited fairly regularly. But then, she stopped coming, and no one has reported seeing her in decades. It’s believed that she’s dead now, as witnesses described her as an elderly woman at the time. No one ever knew who she was, though, or why she visited the children. Some speculated that she knew more about the accident than anyone else, and that she knew who the children were, but as no one ever spoke to her, nothing could ever be proven.

To make matters even stranger, there also exist many reports by those passing by the site of the trash, of two ghost children. It’s believed that these are the ghosts of the unidentified children who died in the crash, wandering around, waiting for someone to come back and claim them.

Unfortunately, a lot of things will likely remain forever unsolved about the nearly hundred-year-old accident. The woman in black and the children she visited were never identified, and on a more or less supernatural note, depending on what you choose to believe, no one ever figured out why Adlington and Want swore up and down that they saw a green light through the fog, instead of the red one that was proven to have been there.

Perhaps things are just meant to remain a mystery.


For more detailed information on the actual railway disaster, feel free to check out “Charfield Railway Disaster 1928”.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

Annabelle Comes Home: A Review

From the very first The Conjuring movie, I was fascinated by the room of cursed objects in the Warrens’ house. Every time a sequel or spinoff came out, I would always hope that this was the one that would be about the room, or would at least give more insight about the objects inside and where they’d all come from. Every time I was let down.

Until Annabelle came home.

The timeline for The Conjuring and all the movies within the series is all over the place. The timeline for The Conjuring universe is as follows:

  1. Annabelle: Creation

  2. The Nun

  3. Annabelle

  4. The Conjuring

  5. Annabelle Comes Home

  6. The Curse of La Llorona

  7. The Conjuring 2

There are other movies in progress, including a third Conjuring movie, and another spinoff entitled The Crooked Man featuring one of the entities from The Conjuring 2, but this is the order of what’s out so far. So the timeline jumps all over the place.

But finally, we’ve been made it to 1955, during which time Annabelle Comes Home takes place, and we finally get to learn more about the room of cursed objects.

Screenshot from  Annabelle Comes Home  produced by Atomic Monster Productions, New Line Cinema, and The Safran Company

Screenshot from Annabelle Comes Home produced by Atomic Monster Productions, New Line Cinema, and The Safran Company

In real life, it’s much more than just a room. The Warrens have a whole occult museum dedicated to objects they’ve obtained from various cases, now locked away safe. Annabelle is, like in the movies, the centrepiece, as the most malevolent of all the objects. 

Ed and Lorraine Warren (may they rest in peace) were paranormal investigators, and there are quite a few horror movies based upon various cases they worked. The Amityville Horror and A Haunting in Connecticut are two of the more prominent examples. The Conjuring series, including all its spinoffs, encompasses a few of their cases, one of which, is the Annabelle doll.

Annabelle has more or less been the centre of everything throughout the Conjuring movies, either appearing in prologues or flashbacks. With each Annabelle movie we’ve gotten a bit more about her story and how she came to not only live with the Warrens, but also how she came to be in the first place.

In Annabelle Comes Home, not only did we get a full movie about where she came from and who she was, but we got a full view of all the power the seemingly innocent doll wields.

I confess myself a bit torn on the movie, overall. I did enjoy it, and would certainly see it again, but I still left the theatre wanting a bit more. This being said, I think my expectations for the movie were exceedingly high in a few ways. As I said, I’ve been hoping for more on the room of cursed objects since watching the first Conjuring movie, but I’ve had several movies to build up hopes and thoughts about the movie’s potential. By the time I found myself sitting in the theatre ready to watch, there was no way the movie could live up to those thoughts.

It’s also worth noting that The Conjuring is the scariest horror movie I’ve ever seen. Of course, this is a completely personal thing, every horror movie viewer is scared by something different, but along with the Paranormal Activity series (particularly Ghost Dimension), The Conjuring and all its sequels and spinoffs really did it for me.

Annabelle Comes Home, however, did not.

Annabelle Comes Home  movie promo poster

Annabelle Comes Home movie promo poster

Or rather, I should clarify that it did scare me, but not nearly to the same degree as the previous movies did. However, between watching the previous Conjuring movies and the latest installment, I’ve watched a buttload of horror movies, and have grown to be a bit desensitized (which, oddly enough, is not a thing I ever thought I’d say about myself. Then again, if my younger self could see me even running a horror blog at all, she’d fall over from shock.)

All of this aside, however, I do truly believe that Annabelle Comes Home was everything it could possibly be. My problem is that I wanted a catalogue of every item in that room and a detailed backstory for all of it. But that’s a packed room, they’d need several room-of-cursed-objects movies in order to cover it all. I think that the movie really covered everything they reasonably could, and did a great job of terrifying the audience while doing so. Despite my overall sense of fearlessness, there were several instances that I jumped in my seat, and I did even hide behind my hands twice.

The movie involves Ed and Lorraine Warren going off on another business trip and leaving their daughter Judy home with the babysitter, Mary-Ellen. Mary Ellen plans some special events for the weekend, as it’s Judy’s birthday. None of the kids at school want to come celebrate with her, however, because they’re all either too afraid or have parents that are too afraid, having just learned what Judy’s parents do for work. Because of this, Mary Ellen plans to make Judy’s birthday extra special with just the two of them, and later, Ed and Lorraine once they get back home.

However, Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela discovers who her friend is babysitting for, and crashes the weekend, with the express desire of getting behind the locked door that leads to the room of cursed objects. For anyone that’s seen even a handful of horror movies before, I’m sure you can imagine what ensues from here.

Screenshot from  Annabelle Comes Home  produced by Atomic Monster Productions, New Line Cinema, and The Safran Company

Screenshot from Annabelle Comes Home produced by Atomic Monster Productions, New Line Cinema, and The Safran Company

Daniela breaks into the room, accidentally lets Annabelle out, and, of course, chaos ensues. Let’s just say that the warning on Annabelle’s box, “Positively do not open”, is there for a very good reason.

Despite the fact that there’s simply not enough time to catalogue every item in that room, the movie does do get through several choice items, including coins for the ferryman, which leads to several interesting twists and turns in the movie.

I would also love to take a moment to talk up McKenna Grace. That child is going places, and the fact that she’s already got such an impressive resume only serves to fuel that fact. Annabelle Comes Home had a few lead characters that different sections of the movie were dedicated to, but I feel it’s safe to say that, ultimately, Judy Warren, played by McKenna Grace was the central figure.

All in all, I did quite enjoy the movie, and while my own hopes may have been a bit too high, I think the movie did turn out great, and it holds up quite well against the rest of the series from which it comes.

I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet seen it (though for anyone who isn’t quite as used to horror movies, do be aware, as it will be quite scary). And remember: don’t pay his toll, he’ll take your soul, and whatever you do—

Positively, do not open.

Photo of the real Annabelle doll that currently sits in the Warren’s Occult Museum (Photo found via Reddit)

Photo of the real Annabelle doll that currently sits in the Warren’s Occult Museum (Photo found via Reddit)


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

Don't Let Them In

This post was first published on SPINE Online, November 20th, 2018.


Imagine this: you’re sitting home alone, late at night, possibly curled up on the couch with the TV on. You’re right in the middle of the best part when, all of a sudden, there’s a knock at the door. You pause your show and get up to see who’s there.

When you reach the door you switch on the porch light from the inside, which illuminates two children standing on the front porch: a boy and a girl. They’re both very pale and their light hair hangs in their faces. You can’t tell if they’re distressed or in trouble, but why else would two children this young be on your doorstep so late at night? You reach for the handle to open the door and see what’s wrong when it hits you: a sense of dread so dark and overwhelming that you yank your hand off the doorknob as though burned.

You don’t say anything, but it doesn’t matter because a child’s voice floats through the door. “We’re lost and our mother will worry. Can you please let us in to use your phone?” What would you do? Most people would want to help two children lost in the middle of the night. Surely most people would open the door.

I highly recommend that you do not. Because here’s the kicker: when the children look up at you you’ll find that their eyes are entirely pitch black.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

The Black-Eyed Children are an urban legend that dates back to 1996. A reporter named Brian Bethel wrote a post about an encounter he had with two children with completely black eyes, along with an encounter he heard about someone else having elsewhere with similar children. Since then, there have been numerous other reports of children turning up on people’s doorsteps or by their cars, asking to be let in.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

According to the legend, these children generally range from 6 to 16 years old, are very pale and often have outdated clothing, or clothing you wouldn’t expect to see on children of that age. But aside from the pitch black eyes, nothing else seems to be out of place about them.

Every encounter with these children has followed the same general patterns. They appear on the doorstep of someone’s house and ask to be let into the home, usually asking to use the phone to call their mother who is worrying about them. If they appear by your car, they usually ask for a ride home — once again, because their mother is worrying.

These children cannot come into your house or your car without your explicit permission but thus far, in all of the reported encounters, this hasn’t been a problem. There are no reports of anyone being harmed by a black-eyed child because no one has ever been known to let them into the house. This is because everyone who’s encountered a black-eyed child reports the same overwhelming sense of fear and dread that washes over them the closer they get to the child.

There is no real confirmation of any of these encounters aside from the reports posted online from those claiming to have personal experiences with these black-eyed children. It’s simply a matter of word-of-mouth, so ultimately it leaves the rest of us to believe what we choose to.

That being said: should you ever find yourself face-to-face with a black-eyed child, with nothing but your front door between you and them – do not let them in.

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of Pexels.com


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

Spirits in the Cotswold Hills

This post was first published on SPINE Online, October 17th, 2018.


The city of Bath and its surrounding towns have been host to a wide array of different societies and peoples throughout history—Iron age Britons, Romans, Saxons and Georgians, among others. So, it’s not at all surprising that the area still bears their marks, in architecture or in stories of a more ghostly nature. And if you believe those stories, then you’ll find that most deceased residents have decided to stick around.

The first, and perhaps the most infamous of the stories around Bath, is the legend of Sally in the Woods. So the legend says, Sally was a little girl who was locked in Brown’s Folly, the tall tower standing alone in the woods, and she died there.  Since then, people have reported seeing the apparition of a girl in the roadway, which is pitch black at night without lamps or moonlight coming through the trees overhead. Cars often swerve to evade the phantom and crash into the dark forest. As such, the legend lives on and residents continue to avoid that road at night, for fear that Sally will emerge in their headlights.

Photo courtesy of London Illustrated News. [Theatre Royal, 1888]

Photo courtesy of London Illustrated News. [Theatre Royal, 1888]

Another story, which has made the rounds in the past century, involves the Bath Theatre Royal on Sawclose, built in 1805, and still the most incredible work of Georgian architecture. I cannot personally attest to the accuracy of the following stories, as I did not see or feel or smell anything during my many visits as a child. However, others who have gone to see performances do experience some rather strange phenomena attributed to different spirits.

One of the spirits people report seeing is known to all as ‘the Grey Lady’. She sits in the top left box during shows, leaving behind the distinct smell of jasmine and a terrible depression that affects show-goers for days after. The Grey Lady is said to be an unnamed Victorian actress, who hung herself in the Garrick’s Head Pub next-door to the Theatre when she discovered her husband had murdered her lover.

Of course, we cannot speak about Bath without mentioning the outer towns. And this time, it’s Bradford-on-Avon, the quaint town built on a once thriving textile industry and the site of a few grizzly happenings. Where, in 1532, a local man was burned at the stake for heresy, now there is a zebra-crossing, or a crosswalk for those of you who are of a more North American persuasion. The road crossing is between a pharmacy and a charity shop. Residents and tourists pass over it daily, most without knowing what transpired there five hundred years ago.

Thomas Tropenell, the above mentioned Bradford resident, was arrested for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation—the belief that bread and wine given at the eucharist were quite literally the blood and body of Christ. For doing so, he was burned at the stake upon that very crossing. And sometimes it feels like the fires are still burning. People who cross the road often experience a sudden change in temperature, a sudden unexplainable heat on an otherwise cold winter day. Those who do feel it don’t know what to attribute the heat to, but author Jasper Bark theorizes that the execution of Thomas Tropenell left a permanent mark that can still be felt today.


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

The Ghost of Watson's Mill

When I was a kid, my grandma told me my first ghost story. Maybe this doesn’t sound like such a big deal, but my grandma doesn’t like ghost stories. She doesn’t believe in them, she doesn’t tell them, they just “aren’t her cup of tea” as she’d tell me.

But she told me this one. So, without further ado, here’s a story this Voice has been meaning to tell from the beginning:

On the way out of Ottawa, Canada, there is a small suburb called Manotick. I’ve been there myself countless times growing up. It was where the best dancewear store was, so my mom would take me to buy all of my clothes and shoes. It’s where my mom rushed me to practice from school every day for the two years I was in the Nutcracker. It’s where my mom took me and my grandma for Sunday afternoon lunches when I was a kid.

Photo courtesy of  emkaplin  via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of emkaplin via Adobe Stock

It’s a peaceful, sleepy little town, with cute shops and beautiful scenery, The Rideau River runs right through.

But in the very heart of this peaceful, sleepy little suburb, it’s also where Watson’s Mill stands.

Watson’s Mill is not in itself a problem. It was opened in 1860, by Joseph Merrill Currier and Moss Kent Dickinson. They had obtained the water rights to the property just a year previous, and in fact, it’s Dickinson who’s said to have named Manotick in the first place, after the Ojibwa word for ‘long island’ or ‘island in the water’.

It was a powerful mill; according to Rideau-info.com, it “was capable of producing 100 barrels of flour a day and the sawmill could cut up to two million board feet per year.” The problem in this story was a combination of things.

In 1861, on the one year anniversary of the mill’s opening, Joseph Currier brought his new bride, Anne Crosby Currier, in for a tour. They made it all the way up to the attic, while Joseph pointed out all the machinery and inner-workings of the mill to his beloved bride. On their way back down, however, tragedy struck.

Photo courtesy of  bonciutoma  via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of bonciutoma via Adobe Stock

Anne was dressed in a flowing dress with a hooped skirt that allowed the dress to drag behind her. It was no doubt a beautiful dress, but an unfortunately disastrous choice to wear inside the mill.

On their way back down from the attic, between the third and second floor, a part of Anne’s dress got caught in one of the Mill’s rotating shafts. The rotating shafts moved too quickly for her to realize in time to pull herself free, and she was yanked against a pillar, dying on impact.

Joseph was so heartbroken that when he left the mill that day, he never looked back. He sold his shares to his partner, and never again returned. Anne, on the other hand, never left.

Over the years, many have reported seeing and hearing things that had no explanation while wandering in and around the Mill. Some reported seeing a woman peering out of a second-floor window, while others swore they heard light footsteps creaking across the upstairs floorboards, even when there was no one up there to make them. What’s more, some visitors to the Mill even report being grabbed or shoved while walking around the upper floors. Many believe it to be Anne, likely trying to warn them away from the same fate she suffered.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

The Screaming Tunnel

This post was first published on SPINE Online, October 13th, 2018.


Niagara Falls, Canada is home to many ghosts. Countless landmarks are actually inhabited by citizens that once walked the streets of this beautiful place, and now refuse (or are unable) to move on. Perhaps you’ve even heard of some of its most famous haunts: The Olde Angel Inn, The Blue Ghost Tunnel, and The Doll’s House Gallery, to name just a few. It’s also home to a place known as “The Screaming Tunnel”, which is an old railway tunnel that has attracted a couple of ghosts of its own.

The first is an old woman whose story many locals have passed down through the years. Back when there was still a small neighbourhood nearby the tunnel, this woman lived in one of those houses with her husband. Legend goes that she and her husband would be up every night fighting, and that when they finished, she’d storm down to the tunnel, and scream at the top of her lungs. The neighbours believed that she was trying to make everyone feel the pain she did in her marriage. When she died, it would appear that she kept returning to her tunnel to scream.

The main ghost in the tunnel, however, is where the story gets interesting. It also happens to be where the story gets really twisted.

The most popular ghost in the Screaming Tunnel is a young girl, thought to be around 14 years old. The problem is, as time has passed, her story has gotten more and more warped, and three variations currently exist. But they all end the same way.

Photo Courtesy of Johannes Rapprich via Pexels.com

Photo Courtesy of Johannes Rapprich via Pexels.com

The first variation of the story says that she was a little girl who got caught in a nearby barn fire, and ran to the water that flowed through the tunnel at the time in an effort to soak her burns. But she was too late, and succumbed to her burns while lying in the stream.

The second variation believed her to be the child caught in the middle of a bitter custody battle between her mother and father. When her father lost, he became so enraged, that he took her down to the tunnel, doused her in gasoline, and burned her alive.

The third variation is the most horrifying. It involves the little girl being sexually assaulted by an old man who, in order to destroy the evidence of his crime, murdered her, and burned her body in the tunnel.

Regardless of the lead up to the event, because of the fact that she died burning, it’s believed that anyone who enters the tunnel and tries to light a match will draw out her spirit, which becomes so terrified of the flame, that she blows it out. This inability to light a match in the tunnel, and the sound of screaming often heard, is what draws people and their curiosity to the site.

No one quite knows which story – if any –  is real, but there are many legends about this tunnel aside from the above mentioned. Either way, next time you find yourself in Niagara Falls, consider checking out the tunnel. Just beware of any screaming that you hear emanating from inside. And whatever you do – never light a match.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

Bytown Museum Hauntings and Disturbances

This post was originally published on SPINE Online, October 10th, 2018.


Photo courtesy of Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash.com

Photo courtesy of Patrick Tomasso via Unsplash.com

Rattling doors and crying porcelain dolls are the stuff that ghost stories are made of. Ottawa as a city is a fantastic area filled with activity and heritage. However, one of Ottawa’s most unique attributes is its long history of ghosts. With so many heritage buildings located in the city, it isn’t strange to consider their morbid history. The Bytown museum, located next to the similarly haunted Chateau Laurier, is rumored to be haunted by Duncan McNab, a previous supply manager.

Despite being dead for over 150 years, his spirit remains active within the museum. The Bytown museum is known for cold spots and the peculiar sound of footsteps that persistently follow workers and visitors.

Originally designed to act as a storehouse for supplies, it eventually underwent a drastic transformation in the 1950s, turning into a museum that would host the history of the Ottawa area and the Rideau Canal. However, despite any alterations that the building underwent, ghosts seemed to cling to the building. The Bytown Museum has gained notoriety for its haunting, bringing in a host of paranormal experts and even the local haunted walks of Ottawa, all seeking to unveil the secrets of the building.

The Bytown Museum is famous for more than just cold spots and the sound of footsteps, though. Porcelain dolls have often appeared to be crying, items move freely of their own accord, and strange experiences with orbs of light that flash in rooms. Rumors say that the museum isn’t haunted by a single ghost, but at least two, due to an encounter with Lieutenant-Colonel John By having controlled a computer within the building, bring up his name again and again on a document. By was an engineer who supervised the construction of the Rideau Canal and the founding of Ottawa (originally known as Bytown).

However, an argument can be made that the ghosts are neither McNab or By, but rather the hundreds of Irish workers who died during construction of the canal. With little ceremony and burial rituals, bodies had often been disposed of freely. Not until 2004 was a plaque commemorated to mark their passing. Irish workers had taken jobs digging the canal due to the limitations they faced during their time, and they suffered from illness, exhaustion, and hunger while working on the canal. Death rates were high and it wouldn’t be unlikely for a spirit or two to be restless still. The Bytown museum is perched beside the canal and could play host to the Irish. As Tony O’Loughlin said, canal workers were “despised in life and forgotten in death”.

Who knows what or who is behind the disturbances in the Bytown Museum. It could be a disgruntled previous worker as a manager, or it could be dozens of restless souls, rattling at the doors and stomping across the rooms.

Check out the museum here: https://bytownmuseum.com/

Photo courtesy of Steinar Engeland via Unsplash.com

Photo courtesy of Steinar Engeland via Unsplash.com


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Rachel Small

Rachel Small is not a small person and might be the present day reincarnation of Lizzie Borden. She crawled to life one night after midnight in the basement of a bookstore.

West Coast Ghosts

British Columbia, on Canada’s West Coast, is known for many things. The Rocky Mountains, for instance, or perhaps the groups of killer whale that populate the ocean around Victoria and Vancouver. But B.C., much like many other places around the world, is also home to its fair share of ghosts.

Today we’ll be addressing what many refer to as the most haunted place in Victoria. It was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who lives out there, and now I’ll be bringing it to your attention in the hopes of giving you a few shivers yourself.

Photo courtesy of Victoria News

Photo courtesy of Victoria News

These days, Bastion Square is a pedestrian mall filled with shops, food, and the hustle and bustle of people going about their daily lives. But the same couldn’t always be said. Many of the buildings that existed back then have been converted into modern uses, but a number of their past residents and memories still remain. It’s believed that there are hardly any buildings in Bastion Square that don’t have at least a ghost or two within their walls.

What was formerly the old Supreme Court building now houses the Maritime Museum of British Columbia, which draws in a high number of tourists on a daily basis. But the visitors that walk these floors are not always of the living variety, and when you take into consideration the building’s history, you come to understand why.

Originally, the grounds upon which the old Supreme Court Building was built were home to the old jailhouse and the city’s first gallows. And to make matters even creepier, quite a few of the men who were hanged at this location still call the ground beneath its foundations their final resting place.The jail was knocked down in 1885, and the old Supreme Court building was taken over by the Maritime Museum in 1965, but some things about the site’s history were never altered. And they continue to walk the streets they once knew.

And it would seem that walking around the places they once lived isn’t the only thing these ghosts do. Visitors to Bastion Square and its various buildings have been known to report several different kinds of hauntings, and those who visit the old Supreme Court building in particular, talk of hearing footsteps running down the stairs (but coming from nowhere), whispers coming from unknown sources, and even some instances of objects moving around the gift shop on their own. Some guests have even reported hands pushing them while on the stairs.

But as I said, the old Supreme Court building is not the only place in Bastion Square that’s haunted, and it’s certainly not the only place where people have claimed to see or hear things that weren’t really there.

Photo courtesy of  Bobenis Rodriguez

Photo courtesy of Bobenis Rodriguez

One of the paths out of Bastion Square is Helmcken Alley, a place that, in the past, ran right by the jailhouse and gallows. Muffled footsteps and dragging chains are among the sounds that have been reported by those walking through here, but perhaps the scariest claim comes from those that insist they’ve seen a prisoner, still dressed in prison uniform and chains, following them through the alley.

It’s believed that at least two of the prisoners killed there were actually innocent, and one of them didn’t even make it to the gallows. Instead, he was murdered by a prison guard who was supposed to be taking him to his execution. It’s believed that the guard grew impatient with the prisoner, and decided to beat him to death instead of waiting for him to be hung. These days, many believe that the same prisoner is now the ghost that follows passersby through Helmcken Alley.

These are just a few of many stories that come out of Bastion Square in Victoria, B.C., so I encourage you to check into it some more if you’re curious. Or even better, maybe take a visit for yourself if you’re nearby. If not, I’ve heard many great things about Canada’s West Coast, and hey, I think a few spooks are the perfect thing to spruce up a trip.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

More Tales from Jail

Welcome back to the Attic.

This will be our final post on the Ottawa jail for now, as our stay was unfortunately only for one night. However, while we were there, we experienced some things and learned even more about the happenings on the property, both past and present. To begin, we sat in a cell on Death Row with an audio recorder, which returned some sounds that did not come from any of us, that we know of. The recording is below, including the time codes of the unexplained sounds.

1:26 → Distant scream.

6:34 → A long breath.

7:30 → A low ‘Ooooo’ sound.

Some of the Voices went to the explore the jail before midnight, when the noise of traffic outside had died down. Two of them got lost in the maze of cells and hallways before they too got separated. Michelle, sensing that she was being followed or watched, called Joseph from her phone, while Rachel was looking for the source of what she believed to be rain. She never found where the sound was coming from, but it certainly was not raining outside. When they found one another again, both of them described feeling the same thing: that they were not alone.

ca. 1910, N.D. Wilson  / Library and Archives Canada / PA-044706

ca. 1910, N.D. Wilson / Library and Archives Canada / PA-044706

Meanwhile, in the guards’ quarters, I learned about some more interesting stories associated with the jail. First off, the vampire. And no, not the Dracula-kind.

The story of The Jail Vampire began with a cryptic note left in one of the walls in a Death Row cell. It’s something of a legend, which you will read about in books or hear on the Haunted Walk, with various bits of misinformation. So we asked a member of staff at the hostel and they did indeed verify that there had been a note discovered during renovations. It was apparently placed there at some point in the sixties, but not actually discovered until some time later.

The message read like this:

“I am a non-veridical Vampire who will vanquish you all. One by one I will ornate your odorous flesh with famished fangs. But Who? Are there 94 or 95 steps to the 9th floor? A book on the top shelf will lead you on the right path.”

In the book Haunted Ontario’ by Terry Boyle, Haunted Walk guide Carol Devine revealed that even while the jail was in operation, prisoners described the vampire as a spiritual entity which “tries to push your soul out of your body”.

“They say it feeds on the sick. No one knows for sure whether this creature’s territory extends throughout the jail or not.” She said.

Two stories in particular are associated with the ‘non-veridical’ vampire. The first occurred in 1994, and the second occurred while the jail was still in operation.

The 1994 incident involved two men who were staying overnight in the Governor’s quarters. One of the men woke up in the night to see a shadow in the doorway, so he turned the light on. As he did so, the light bulb exploded, and the shadow darted into the wall. Later workers discovered a passage behind that same wall, which subsequently led to theories that the vampire spirit was using the old passageways to travel around the jail.

The second ‘non-veridical’ vampire story also took place in the Governor’s quarters. At that time, the warden’s family, including his eight year old son, had moved into those quarters. I know, a jail probably isn’t a great place for a boy to grow up, but then, the management at this jail had a long record of bad ideas. As most little boys do, the son often played in the stairwell outside the quarters. But, after a while, the warden’s son changed. He developed an intense fear of the dark, a mysterious illness, and a rather swift change of personality. His sudden decline is attributed to the vampire.

Spirits such as this are not at all uncommon. They have been well-documented all over the world, often described as parasites, which suck the energy and life out of their victims, or anyone who resides in their vicinity for too long. So it’s safe to say that the Governor’s quarters are not a great place for an extended stay.

Views of Ottawa, published by J. Hope & Co, 1884. Courtesy of  Urbsite .

Views of Ottawa, published by J. Hope & Co, 1884. Courtesy of Urbsite.

The stairwells are also rather notorious for their violence. The first stairwell, which we used to go from reception up to our room, was allegedly the sight of an incident between two inmates and a guard. The inmates overpowered the guard and pushed him over the railings, where he fell to his death. Subsequently, steel railings were placed down the middle of the stairwells to prevent such things from happening again.

At the back of the prison, there is another stairwell, and they lead from death row down to the gallows, then further down to the gallows courtyard. Both stairwells, though they are now lit by emergency lights, would have been extraordinarily dark, but at least the front stairwell has a little illumination from the skylight, whereas the gallows stairwell does not. And it’s absolutely frigid in the winter months.

The beam in the gallows stairwell.

The beam in the gallows stairwell.

It is said that several prisoners voluntarily jumped to their deaths there. I say voluntarily because other prisoners were not lucky enough to choose how or when they perished, as they were the victims of illegal, undocumented executions.

We looked up above the stairwell, to see a thick wooden beam cemented into the walls on either side. It’s clear that the beam serves no structural purpose, and that it was placed there after the wall’s completion. What’s even more clear are the rope marks in the beam.

Deaths at the jail often went undocumented, left up to mystery. Inmates either died with a noose around their neck, hanging from that beam, or they perished from neglect. This was also the case for immigrants—men, women, and children who came to Canada seeking a better life, then found themselves locked in the basement of the jail, exposed to the elements. They were in the dreaded quarantine, because it was believed that they carried foreign diseases.

Until recently, it was unknown how many people really died at the jail. But construction next door on the Mackenzie King Bridge gave a harrowing indication as to what really went on behind the six metre high walls. The courtyard, which now serves as a parking lot, was uncovered, revealing one hundred and fifty charred skeletons, one of which likely belongs to Patrick Whelan. Later deaths were interred at Beechwood Cemetery in unmarked graves, so the courtyard corpses could be just the tip of the iceberg.

If this place sounds like a medieval dungeon, as it was so accurately called in 1972, then you are getting the right idea. As a jail, it was a cold, overcrowded hellhole at the best of times, and it would’ve likely been shut down much earlier had word got out about the unrecorded deaths and burning of bodies on the property.

However, as a hostel, the Carleton County Gaol is a wonderful place to stay. There is so much to learn from the walls around you, from the heavy prison doors, and the creaking floorboards. They all tell the grim tale of Ottawa’s past, and the poor souls who endured their sentences inside. But somehow, despite the many horrific things that happened at the jail, there’s something warm about the building, and it’s not just the radiators blasting heat into the rooms. There’s a new life there which exists alongside the darkness of its past, which I attribute to the care and positivity given to it by the staff members and the much needed renovations.

In conclusion, long may the Ottawa Jail stand, and long may we learn from its lessons.


If you’ve heard stories about the jail, or experienced something on the Haunted Walk, let us know in the comments! If you haven’t spent the night before, book a bed at Hostels International and stay a while.


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

The Voices Go to Jail

Ladies and gentleman, it is February 20th, and tonight, we are going to jail.

Well, not exactly. We are going to the Ottawa Jail Hostel, formerly known as the Carleton County Gaol. If you’ve been on the Ottawa Haunted Walk or stayed here yourself, then you’ll know all about this place.

It seems lost now, as a brooding and austere five-story Victorian building amongst the modern high rises and shopping centres. There’s still a pillory on the front lawn, and a faded sign above the courtyard gate saying: ‘Jail Entrance, Entrée De La Prison’. But no prisoners have passed through the doors in forty-five years now, or not a living one at least.

Photo: ca. 1870-1880, William James Topley  / Library and Archives Canada / PA-012371

Photo: ca. 1870-1880, William James Topley / Library and Archives Canada / PA-012371

Yes, you guessed it. The building is very, very haunted. In fact, Lonely Planet calls it the ninth most haunted place in the world, and that is what we call a good review.

But first, before our stay begins, the story of the jail itself.

The Gaol was constructed in 1861, with a four story cell block to the rear, the administration block facing directly onto the Rideau Canal, a gallows yard surrounded by walls up to six metres high, and an underground tunnel going to the Courthouse next door. Its architect was Henry Hodge Horsey from Kingston, who also designed many of Ottawa’s notable Victorian buildings like the Banque Nationale and the original City Hall. At the time, the Gaol was considered ‘state of the art’, but as we all know, the standard in the nineteenth century tended to be quite low.

For starters, men, women and children were all doomed to serve their time within its walls—some of them murderers, others pickpockets and the like. They shared sixty cells with one hundred and fifty of their fellow inmates, in unsanitary conditions and without heating in the frigid winter months. Inmates only received one meal per day if they were lucky, while some of them were placed in solitary confinement, naked and alone. So it should come as no surprise that some inmates died before their sentences were up.

Photo: ca. 1910, N.D Wilson  / Library and Archives Canada / PA-044698

Photo: ca. 1910, N.D Wilson / Library and Archives Canada / PA-044698

Seven years after the Gaol began operation, an important part of Ottawa’s history took place between one Patrick Whelan and the Minister of Parliament for Montreal West, Thomas D’Arcy McGee.

Patrick J. Whelan  / Archives of Montreal.

Patrick J. Whelan / Archives of Montreal.

McGee was coming back from a Parliamentary debate just after midnight on April 7th, 1868. He ascended the steps towards the boarding house on Sparks Street where he had been staying, and greeted the owner of said boarding house, when he was suddenly shot through the neck. The shot reportedly knocked his dentures right out of his mouth. When others came to the scene, they found McGee dead on the street, with no sign of his assassin.

But it only took the police a day to find the culprit, in a tavern, with a .32 Smith & Wesson pistol in his pocket—allegedly the very pistol that had taken the life of McGee the previous night. The assassin was Patrick J. Whelan of County Galway, a man suspected of sympathizing with an Irish militia called ‘The Fenian Brotherhood’. When brought before the Court, however, Whelan insisted upon his innocence, but it was to no avail. In September, the Court found him guilty and sentenced him to die. Upon receiving the verdict of the Court, Whelan spoke these words:

"I am held to be a murderer. I am here standing on the brink of my grave, and I wish to declare to you and to my God that I am innocent, that I never committed this deed."

It’s not entirely clear if Patrick Whelan was indeed the man who killed D’Arcy McGee, as the evidence against him ended up being circumstantial at best. Nevertheless, not six months after the murder, in front of a crowd of five thousand spectators, Whelan again declared his innocence, before being hung from the Gallows at the Carleton County Gaol.

His body was buried on the property, where it presumably still remains with all the other men, women, and children who perished there. Afterwards, only two more executions took place there, the last being in 1945.

Eventually, in 1972, the outdated and infamously inhumane County Gaol closed for good. However, unlike most of the beautiful buildings designed by Henry Horsey, the Gaol was not demolished. It was instead turned into a hostel, after enjoying a much needed renovation. Guests stay in former cells, tour-goers pass by on the Ghost Walk and spirits linger alongside them. According to the stories, Patrick Whelan is unsurprisingly the most prolific phantom at the jail-turned-hostel. Guests often describe waking up to find Whelan standing over them, or he is seen walking towards the gallows. His spirit is certainly not alone though. There have also been many reports of disembodied screaming and crying, a feeling of intense negativity, and even violent encounters with the more aggressive spectral residents.

So we are going to spend the night with them.


If you’ve stayed here and experienced some spooky stuff yourself, tell us about it here, on Facebook, or tweet @AtticVoices! Remember to check the #VoicesInTheGaol tag on Twitter for our live-tweets and stay tuned for more terrible tales from the Carleton County Jail.


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

Waverly Hills and All Its Ghosts

One of the most haunted places on Earth started off as one of the most innocent. But then, I suppose that’s the way all the best ghost stories begin.

Photo Courtesy of Waverly Hills Historical Society

Photo Courtesy of Waverly Hills Historical Society

In 1883, Major Thomas H. Hays bought the plot of land in Louisville, Kentucky that is now known as Waverly Hills. It was an idyllic, peaceful plot of land, and it was there that Major Hays decided to build a school for his daughters to attend. One of the teachers that he hired for the school was a woman named Lizzie Lee Harris. She was the one who, however unwittingly, gave the fated location its name. She was a fan of a series of books titled “Waverley”, and so she named the school “Waverley School”. Major Hays liked the name so much that he elected to name the entire property “Waverley Hills”. (It’s worth noting that the loss of the second ‘e’ is not a typo, but simply happened to Waverly Hills over the years.)

At the time, tuberculosis had reached epidemic levels in several places. It was a particularly big problem in Kentucky because of the swampy areas which provided the perfect place for bacteria to grow. Because of this, in 1908, the decision to build the sanatorium was made. The other places in the area that had already been treating TB victims were far too small.

At the time, doctors were struggling to combat TB while faced with limited knowledge and no cure. They wanted to treat both the physical and mental health problems patients suffered because of TB, so they made an effort to keep patients’ morale up, and to make them as comfortable as possible. Some of the more pleasant treatments involved lots of fresh air, exposure to ultraviolet light, and access to sunlamps.

Photo Courtesy of Waverly Hills Historical Society.

Photo Courtesy of Waverly Hills Historical Society.

Unfortunately, there were also many more horrifying treatments that would not be acceptable when compared to modern standards. Some procedures were conducted by inserting balloons into patients’ lungs and blowing them up, and operations were done to remove two to three ribs from a patient in order to give their lungs more room to expand. These procedures were excruciating, and, more often than not, resulted in death.

Fortunately, a proper treatment was discovered for TB by the 1930s, and the sanatorium closed due to lack of need.

Between 1962 and 1982, the sanatorium was converted into “Woodhaven Geriatric Center”. It was eventually closed down due to not enough staff and far too many patients. There were also many reports of patient neglect and rumours of experiments being conducted on patients.

There have been many other proposals for conversions of the building over the years, ranging from a prison to a statue of Christ the Redeemer and  then to a set of apartment buildings. All were rejected or shut down due to lack of funding or public outcry.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium is currently privately owned by Charlie and Tina Mattingly, who are attempting to restore the building from its current state of disrepair. They allow paranormal investigators in and tours for the general public, and the money from these goes towards the repair fund.

Charlie Mattingly was originally a skeptic when he bought the place, but has now admitted to his own encounters with various ghosts that are believed by many to haunt the place.

Photo Courtesy of Joe Therasakdhi via Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy of Joe Therasakdhi via Shutterstock

From small children who roam the halls, nurses that have killed themselves, and elderly patients who walk around crying, there is no limit to the dead who just can’t seem to leave this place. For more information on the supernatural residents that exist forever within these walls, I encourage you to check out articles such as “Waverly Hills Haunted Sanitarium” and “Kentucky’s Hospital of the Damned”. I also encourage you to do your own research on the place, but here are a few of the ghosts that have been known to hang around:

Timmy

Timmy is a young boy who roams the halls of the old hospital, looking for something to play with. Some guests have been said to bring him balls, and those balls are then seen floating in the air or rolling down the hall on their own. Sometimes Timmy already has his own ball to play with.

No one is quite sure what his story is, whether he was the child of a patient, or a patient himself, but either way, he now haunts the place. He’s one of the more friendly spirits that exist within Waverly Hills’ walls.

Room 502

Room 502 was a patient room that was linked to a couple of suicides while the hospital was still running. The first was a young nurse who was said to have been pregnant and unmarried, and, unhappy with her life, she hung herself in the room.

Photo Courtesy of Jon Butterworth via Unsplash

Photo Courtesy of Jon Butterworth via Unsplash

Another victim, also a nurse, apparently threw herself from the roof one night, though nobody knows why. She also worked in room 502 while she was still alive.

Some tourists that visit the place while pregnant have reported feeling very uncomfortable in the vicinity of room 502, and a number of other tourists have been filled with the desire to jump off the room while up there looking around, and have had to be talked down.

Woman in Chains

Not a lot is known about the woman in chains except that she looks older, perhaps having been a patient while the hospital was a geriatric center. She walks around the halls with chains around bleeding wrists, and cries out for help. But whenever someone actually moves towards her, she runs away screaming.

The Creeper

The creeper is apparently one of the rarer presences among Waverly Hills’ residents. Like the woman in chains, not a whole lot is known about him beyond the feeling of dread that washes over anyone who gets near him.

He’s rumoured to crawl around on the floor, up the walls, and on the ceilings, and no one really know his past or what his intentions are. Some speculate that he was one of the horribly mistreated patients, and that his trauma in life has warped in death.

These are just a few examples of the apparitions that haunt Waverly Hills, but the current owners plan to turn the building into a hotel that targets those interested in the paranormal. Look out for that in years to come, and for those of you interested in a tour now, check out the Waverly Hills website for more information.


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

Call Her Name (If You Dare)

Sometimes, there’s a woman in the bathroom mirror. She isn’t always there, and if you want to see her, you have to summon her. But it’s super easy. All you have to do is go into the bathroom, lock the door, and turn off all the lights. Then you stand in front of the mirror and say her name three times:

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.

When you’re finished chanting, you’ll see a woman appear in the mirror, with blood running out of her eyes.

At least that’s what I was told.

The Bloody Mary legend has always held a morbid fascination for me.Ever since I was a little girl, it’s stuck with me. I still feel the need to check the bathroom mirror before I get into the shower, just on the off chance I find Mary there. I don’t know why I would; the little girl in me would never allow me to summon her.

Photo Courtesy of  oliavlasenko  via Adobe Stock

Photo Courtesy of oliavlasenko via Adobe Stock

I only tried to summon Mary once myself, but I was too afraid to do it right. I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it in front of a bathroom mirror. I was never into horror stories or movies when I was younger. My best friend at the time was constantly reading collections of horror stories from the library, but I could barely even look at the covers, unless I was willing to give up sleep for a month. I attribute it to an overactive imagination.

I’ve never quite looked at mirrors the same way since that day on the playground.

But the legend itself is quite intriguing. In an age of top-billed horror movies and literary giants such as Stephen King, you don’t hear a lot about proper urban legends anymore. Not the way you used to anyway, passed around a campfire, or a schoolyard, or with flashlights under blankets at a sleepover.

So I got to wondering: where exactly did the Bloody Mary legend come from, and which set of details about the legend are the ‘correct’ ones? After all, the story has been altered so much as it’s passed on, like a bad game of telephone.

Photo Courtesy of  Jeff Thrower  via Shutterstock.

Photo Courtesy of Jeff Thrower via Shutterstock.

There is a lot of speculation on where the legend originates, but the original legend seems to be significantly less malevolent than most children grow up believing. It originated as a divination ritual, where young women wishing to learn who their future husband was to be would walk backwards up the stairs with a hand mirror in one hand and a candle in the other. The house was to be completely dark. Then, supposedly, the woman would see the face of her future husband in the mirror. In some darker cases though, some women would see the face of a skull or the grim reaper, which meant she would die before getting married.

Of course, then there are the darker versions of the ritual. The details vary. I was taught to say “Bloody Mary” three times, but other versions insist on repeating it thirteen times. There are also variations on what to say, such as “Bloody Mary”, or “I believe in Bloody Mary”, or even more violently, “I killed your baby, Bloody Mary.” There is even an alternative on which name to say, some examples of which include: Mary Worth, Mary Worthington, Hell Mary, Mary Whales, Mary Johnson, and even several names that aren’t ‘Mary’ at all.

The most intriguing part of the legend, however, is who exactly is ‘Bloody Mary’? It seems that history has many possibilities.

The first is Queen Mary Tudor who, consequently, bore the nickname “Bloody Mary”. The nickname came from the fact that she ordered the deaths of countless Protestants in her bid bring back a more Catholic England. However, her life beyond this, was unfortunately tragic.

She was so desperate to have a child that she suffered through what is now known as a ‘hysterical pregnancy’ or ‘false pregnancy’, which is what happens when a person believes so concretely that they’re pregnant, that their body mimics the symptoms. Not only did this happen to her once, but she suffered through it twice. The second time killed her. The version of the Bloody Mary legend that includes the Queen, Mary Tudor, suggests that she has continued looking for her desperately-desired baby even into the afterlife, and that she brought her rage and sorrow with her.

Photo Courtesy of  Kittirat Roekburi  via Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy of Kittirat Roekburi via Shutterstock

Another, less detailed version of the legend involves a woman named Mary Worth who got into a car crash, and whose face was forever marred. She was so horrified upon the first look at herself in the mirror, that in the afterlife, she lashed out at anyone that tried to summon her and gaze upon her reflection. She punished them by scratching their eyes out, or by dragging them into the mirror with her.

But my favourite version of the legend is the one that suggests Bloody Mary was a witch killed during the Salem Witch Trials. “The Bloody Mary Legend” is an article featured on hauntedrooms.co.uk that covers one of the legends that suggests she was a witch from the era of the Salem Trials. It’s not the only theory that suggests she was a witch, but it’s definitely worth the read.

I personally think that it makes the most sense for Mary to have been a witch, whether or not she was someone persecuted in the witch trials. Queen Mary probably had more important things to do after her death, and while a young girl dying in a car crash and forever-after hating mirrors makes sense too, I think that nothing quite fits the legend of a vengeful spirit stuck in a mirror better than a witch. After all, who better to cause mischief for no other reason than mischief’s sake?

There exist countless other versions of the Bloody Mary legend besides these; in fact, other cultures even have their own versions. One of the other writers from Voices in the Attic, Michelle Bonga, wrote about Japan’s version of Bloody Mary, “Hanako-San”. You can read her article here.


But please tell me what you think about the identity of Bloody Mary! Was it British royalty? Was it an unfortunate victim of a car crash turned vengeful spirit? Was it a witch? Or was it perhaps someone else altogether. Leave a comment below!


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

The Beggar's Drum

We’re turning back the clocks, fair readers, to the year 1661. In the southwestern reaches of England, you’ll find a town called Tedworth (now called Tidworth), where the following tale takes place.

John Mompesson was a lover of peace, quiet, and tranquillity. When he heard of a beggar named William Drury drumming in the streets without a licence, he pressed charges against him. Drury was taken to trial and had his drum taken away by the authorities, which was kept at Mompesson’s house for safekeeping. He would not see Drury after the trial; Mompesson left on a trip to London. There would no comforts found in his home upon return.

Photo courtesy of the British Library via Flickr.

Photo courtesy of the British Library via Flickr.

Since locking Drury’s drum away, Mompesson and his family often heard the sound of men pounding around their homestead at night. Yet every time he went to confront these hooligans, the sounds stopped, and no one could be found. Eventually, nightfall began to parade in more sinister, chilling noises. These would soon escalate and join together to imitate the hollow heartbeat of a drum.

Although the rhythm carried out each night, the drumming was no longer what disturbed Mompesson and his family. A Bible had been thrown into the fireplace, and invisible forces would follow and attack his children. Beastly panting was often felt in the hallways. One of Mompesson’s servants managed to communicate with one of the forces, asking it to bring him a wooden board he needed for repairs. The force complied.

Image courtesy of  Saducismus Triumphatus  (1681)

Image courtesy of Saducismus Triumphatus (1681)

Another servant—also named John—was a favourite target of torment: his bedsheets would be ripped from him at night, and wrestling matches often ensued. A priest was brought in for a consultation, but even he could not offer any solution or comfort. Any holy interference seemed to agitate the unseen and amplify the activity. Before long, the phenomenon had grown strong enough to manifest a voice of its own, but for the most part only chanted: “A witch, a witch! I am a witch!”

Townsfolk were completely aware of the commotion: neighbours and passersby could hear the steady beat as well. None of them were personally afflicted, so this was strictly a phenomenon to torment the Mompessons. However, those staying overnight on the Mompesson property would collect experiences of their own.

Reverend Joseph Glanvill, a renowned skeptic of the supernatural, was invited to stay the night and bear witness to the events that had occurred for over a year at this point. He, too, experienced the disembodied panting, objects that moved inexplicably, and the children’s suffering (for the forces loved to torment them the most). Glanvill concluded that the household was plagued by a demon or malevolent spirit—a conclusion Mompesson himself had already come to. Glanvill would be of no use to him.

Mompesson believed that Drury had died and that his experiences were because of a curse the beggar set upon him for having his drum taken away.

Image courtesy of the British Library on Flickr.

Image courtesy of the British Library on Flickr.

Drury was not dead though; in the summer of 1663 the very much still alive Drury had escaped from jail—where he was supposed to be serving time for theft charges—and bought himself another drum. While far from being dead he did, however, place the curse on Mompesson, bragging about it wherever he went.

Mompesson once again brought Drury to trial, where Drury openly admitted to using witchcraft to hex the Mompesson family. In an attempt to barter for his freedom, Drury promised to lift the curse. But his freedom was not in Mompesson’s hands: Drury was sentenced to the colonies for other crimes he had committed.

No one knows for sure what became of him though: ship captains were reluctant to transport him due to his “supernatural capabilities”. And the legends fall short for Mompesson as well—had he finally been relieved? Or had the rest of his days been marked by the beating of the drum? There are no conclusive endings to this tale; the true ending had long been dropped from the years.


So was this a case of actual witchcraft, or simply a legend created to add colour to Tidworth? Let us know what you think in the comments, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.


Michelle Bonga

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.

Erased from Time: The Ourang Medan

The ocean provides ample opportunity for unsolved mysteries. Bodies of water make up 71% of the Earth’s surface, and so much of it is still unexplored, leaving the perfect setting for things to just… disappear.

One of these things was the Ourang Medan, a Dutch freighter that was on its way through the Straits of Malacca in June 1947 when its entire crew, including the dog, suddenly, and quite horrifically, died.

Or so the story goes.

Photo courtesy of  Dan  via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Dan via Flickr

Disasters at sea are not, by any stretch of the imagination, uncommon. Neither are ghost ships. But what sets the Ourang Medan apart from all those other stories is the seemingly endless twists and turns the story takes, as well as the silence that follows what was supposed to have been such a terrible event in maritime history.

Allow me to start at the beginning.

In June 1947 an SOS signal was received by two nearby American ships, as well as British and Dutch listening posts. The SOS was as follows:

“All officers including captain are dead, lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” This was cut off by unidentifiable morse code, and finally: “I die.” Then there was nothing.

One of the American ships that had picked up the distress call was The Silver Star, and they were the ones who responded. What they found when they arrived was ghastly.

After a failed attempt to grab the crew’s attention, the crew on board The Silver Star decided to board the Ourang Medan and scope things out for themselves. What they found was the deck littered with the bodies of the crew members, all dead. Every single crew member was dead and frozen in a state of horror, arms up as though defending off an attacker, mouths and eyes wide with fear. Even the ship’s dog was discovered dead with a snarl frozen on its face.

Photo Courtesy of Alex Iby via Unsplash

Photo Courtesy of Alex Iby via Unsplash

Upon further investigation, they found the body of the operator who they assumed to have sent the SOS still sitting by the telegraph machine. His fingers were still on the keys.

The decision was made to tie the Ourang Medan to The Silver Star, and tow it to shore. But just as they began their journey, smoke began spiraling up from below deck, and The Silver Star’s had just enough time to cut the ropes between them before the Ourang Medan exploded and sank beneath the waves.

Even the details above are pseudo-facts, but they’re the only parts of this whole mystery that anyone can seem to agree upon. Some argue that the ship took its journey in February of 1948, instead of June of 1947, others insist that the Ourang Medan was a steamship, not a freighter. No one even knows agrees on where exactly the ship was. While some say it was the straits of Malacca, others say it was southeast of the Marshall Islands. The confusion is endless.

But the strangest part of all: there exists no historical record of the Ourang Medan anywhere. Not in any newspaper, not in any ship registries from that or any other time, not anywhere. There is no proof that the ship ever existed.

The theories of what happened to this ship on the day its crew died, and afterwards, are seemingly infinite. Truly, I would need a lot more space than I’m given to write this post, but for a more in-depth account of what did and could have happened, please check out Rob Morphy’s article “Death Ship: The Ourang Medan Mystery”.

But allow me to summarize some of the more popular theories around this mysterious ship:

Chemical Leak (Natural and Manmade)

Many theorize that the Ourang Medan and its crew were brought down by some kind of chemical spill or gas leak. Some have suggested that methane bubbles or some such in the water itself, that brought the crew down. After all, it wouldn’t be the first maritime story of a ship being brought down from seemingly supernatural causes when there could have been a more logical explanation. But this wouldn’t necessarily account for the fiery explosion that brought the ship down.

Others site carbon monoxide poisoning as a possibility. Perhaps the ship was operating on a faulty boiler, and the ship eventually filled with carbon monoxide, eventually bringing the entire crew down. The flaw in this theory, however, is that the ship—at least above deck—was open space. The carbon monoxide would just have dissipated into the air, and the crew outside of the boiler room would have been just fine.

Unit 731

Photo Courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

Photo Courtesy of Liverpool Daily Post & Echo

Suggestions that the Ourang Medan had ties to Unit 731 is the most detailed theory about the Ourang Medan. In short, Unit 731 was a unit in the Imperial Japanese Army that researched and developed biological and chemical warfare during World War 2. They were known for human experimentation so horrific that some claim it made the Nazis human experiments look tame in comparison.

Many believed that the Ourang Medan was actually a ship under Unit 731’s control, and that they were using it to transport dangerous chemicals. It was believed that they chose a ship over a plane or some other form of transport because it would be slower and therefore more inconspicuous.

The theory is that a bit of water got into the ship’s cargo hold and reacted with the nitroglycerine (one of the many chemicals theorized to have been aboard that ship), causing the explosion that brought the ship down.

Government Cover-up

Because of the supposed connection to such atrocious war crimes, the government eradicated all mentions of the ship from any and all possible records in history, leaving the ship to sink not only into the water, but into myth as well.

This could also explain why, despite The Silver Star being proven to have existed (at the time it was named the Santa Juana, and was later purchased and renamed by another company), no crew members ever attempted to tell their story. Perhaps they were so traumatized by what they saw, they refused to speak about it. Or perhaps they were paid off, or forced into silence. The latter keeps more with the government cover-up theory.

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely anyone will ever really know what happened to the Ourang Medan, or if it was anything more than a ghost story passed around by seafarers creating some late night spooks for new recruits and gullible deckhands. Perhaps it was just an accident, a mix of unfortunate but natural circumstances that brought the ship down. Perhaps it was more nefarious than that.

Perhaps history will never know.

Photo Courtesy of Milo McDowell via Unsplash

Photo Courtesy of Milo McDowell via Unsplash


Feel free to comment below with your own thoughts of what could have happened!


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Maggie Kendall

Maggie Kendall spent the first fifteen years of her life furiously avoiding all things horror, but then her friend forced her to watch Paranormal Activity, and there’s been no turning back. She still checks the bathroom mirror for Bloody Mary before getting in the shower.

Toronto's Own “Hill House"

A popular tourist destination and notable landmark for the city of Toronto, Casa Loma is a maze of elegant corridors, grandiose chambers, and secret passages.

An architectural marvel of its time, Casa Loma had electricity, the latest in kitchenware, and even its own telephone system connecting to other areas of the castle. The 800-foot-long tunnel connecting the stable to the main structures is still a prominent feature to this day. The planning and construction of Casa Loma even took technological progression into consideration, and room was made within the castle’s foundations for any future upgrades it would potentially receive.

Photo courtesy of Atomazul via Adobe Stock.

Photo courtesy of Atomazul via Adobe Stock.

Casa Loma was the dream household of Sir Henry Pellatt, a wealthy financier known for bringing hydro-electricity to the people of Toronto. He hired architect E.J. Lennox to aid in his ambition, and construction started in 1911. It took three years for a team of 300 men to build.

Unfortunately, the dream didn’t last long. Sir Pellatt and his wife were forced to leave Casa Loma in 1924—only ten years after its completion—due to financial misfortune. Unable to pay the costs of castle-living, they had no choice but to move out. Since then, the castle has changed ownership numerous times.

Should you decide to visit Casa Loma, you may have a different experience than you’re anticipating.

Photo courtesy of Alan Bell via Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Alan Bell via Flickr.

The hosting grounds for an elaborate and annual Halloween haunted house could actually be haunted. Guests have not only been greeted by staff on their visits, but have had encounters with the original owners as well. The apparitions of Sir and Lady Pellatt have both been spotted around the castle grounds, and it is widely believed that the only reason they haunt their former homestead is that their dream was so short-lived. They may have moved out, but it seems that they refused to move on.

While Lady Pellatt tends to have a more obscure presence, the most popular sighting of Sir Pellatt comes from a young boy who spotted a stern-looking man in a second-story window during an event held in the gardens. Staff were confused: the second floor had been locked up the entire day, and therefore was inaccessible to anyone without the key. When asked, the boy provided a  physical description that matched Sir Pellatt’s.

Another commonly seen apparition is a lady dressed all in white, said to have been a maid who used to work at Casa Loma. No one remembers her name; she is simply called The White Lady.

A mischievous spirit lurks in the underground tunnel, grabbing at the hands, hair, and sometimes clothes of passersby. Even when tourists aren’t being poked at, many claim the tunnel exudes a creepy aura and skim the sights for a quick exit.

What I find particularly interesting, however, are not the spooks and sourceless sounds.  It’s that Casa Loma once housed a secret military base in its stables during World War II.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo Zappala via Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo Zappala via Flickr.

Canadian engineer William Corman was tasked with finding the perfect location to produce ASDIC (Anti-Submarine Detection Investigation Committee) devices. These devices—which were an early form of sonar—were used to detect German U-boats, and not even Toronto’s politicians knew of its existence. For the duration of the base’s operation, a section of the stables had been closed off with just a mere sign:

“Construction in progress— sorry for the inconvenience".

Perhaps—for this period of time at least—the strange noises and occurrences guests of Casa Loma experienced were the byproducts of running a secret operation a hands-breadth away from the public eye. Without any knowledge of the truth or explanation otherwise, imaginations had been locked and loaded.

But what about now? While there is no official date, the sighting in the second-story window was a fairly recent incident. And while any perceived supernatural occurrences in the stables could be blamed on the hidden base, what about the happenings in the main castle? Perhaps we should go see for ourselves.


Planning a trip to Casa Loma? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments or on social media!


MICHELLE BONGA

Michelle is a wandering soul. She doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life. She hopes she’s doing something right. She is a great person to talk to; doesn’t talk much herself. If you’re nice, she’ll haunt you forever. Or until she’s bored.


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