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Fun Illegal Activities Just For Giggles

Summer is coming up fast and so is the season of ice cream, fresh strawberries, and painful sunburns. Despite the intense heat waves sure to come, there are plenty of fun and illegal activities to keep you occupied, and range anywhere from pirating the new Avengers movie End Game, to sneaking into the private areas of the Catacombs under Paris.

The sky's the limit, but if you are feeling uninspired, check out these three wild shenanigans to get your summer started.


Most wouldn’t think beekeeping could be illegal, but for a while, New York City was the frontier for illegal beekeeping. Urban beekeeping took off despite intense legislation against the hobby, but due to enough online sources, articles, and physical supply chains, the beekeepers could not be thwarted.

Bee colonies in urban areas help to provide massive environmental benefits, even in places like New York City. By hiding the hives inside old air conditioner units, rooftops, and even in kitchens, the bee population stubbornly flourishes.

Because of allergies and concentrated population, beekeeping in the city was illegal until 2010. Now, only a singular non-aggressive bee called the Apis Mellifera is legal to be kept. Laws also demand that beekeepers register their hives, but it is suspected that the intense network of beekeepers are still hiding off the grid, maintaining their hives without the government’s knowledge.

So, if you’re thinking about dabbling in some fun illegal activities, consider the dangers of Colony Collapse Disorder and snub the government by transforming your kitchen into a massive bee hive and don’t tell anyone.  


Clowns tend to be terrifying. They lurk in the sewers of movies and even in the backwoods of our very real world. However, in 1995, a man dressed as a clown named “Twister” went about putting quarters in other people’s expired meters and was fined for it.

Parking fines were not designed for collecting revenue, but instead for encouraging cars to rotate out of parking spaces, ensuring that there is a continuous flow. While this benefits shopping centres where it is easier for drivers to control their time and activities, this is a hindrance to other businesses that operate by appointments. Even urban areas that close down street parking for events do not consider the need to provide extra parking spaces, creating higher stress for drivers when parking.

If you want to stick it to the law while providing a kind service, drop some change in an expired parking meter and save someone from a nasty fine.


With so many amazing streaming platforms available access to television shows like Grey's Anatomy, most viewers do not pay for their own accounts. Instead, they are parasites, feeding off of a single person who is paying the subscription fee.

A meme, pulled from the dark corners of the interwebs. If this was your creation, please let us know!

A meme, pulled from the dark corners of the interwebs. If this was your creation, please let us know!

What most do not realize is that it is now illegal to share Netflix passwords in the United States. Despite saving a friend a couple of dollars per month, a new ruling has been put in place making it a crime Prosecutable .

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act was originally designed to protect computer-users from hacking and other crimes. Now that we live in an online society, the laws around The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act are constantly changing and adapting to the new technology that is introduced.

Sharing passwords has been considered an undesirable activity, and now an illegal conduct. This law does not just restrict the Netflix login information sharing, but also extends to any subscription service or computer password sharing.

You’ve probably already been leeching off your old dorm mate, or have tossed your login information to your brother without knowing about the legal situation surrounding password sharing. At most, the worst crime that you were aware of is that their obsession with Rom-Coms catastrophically alters Netflix’s recommended section of shows and movies for your personal viewing.

If you’re not bothered by the restrictions surrounding the digital age that we live in, feel free to keep on going with the flow.


So while you technically shouldn't break the law, you’ll get at least a dozen cool points in your favor if you do.


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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 just to write bad poetry.

Goodbye God, I'm Going to Bodie

This post was first published on SPINE Online, November 26th, 2018.


Photo courtesy of werner22brigitte via Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of werner22brigitte via Pixabay.com

Hello, and welcome back to Voices in the Attic for your latest—and last—dose of the creepy and abandoned. This time, it falls upon me to tell you the story of another ghost town—Bodie, California, one of the most incredible and well-preserved examples of an nineteenth-century American boom town.

Bodie began life in 1859 as a small mining camp just east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, started by a group of prospectors including W.S Bodey from Poughkeepsie. It was allegedly Bodey who discovered gold there, but he died a few months later in a blizzard, long before the town was named after him.

It took another sixteen years or so before things started picking up in Bodie, which most historians attribute to the discovery of silver in Aurora and the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Virginia. However, by 1876 the discovery of a profitable gold deposit had transformed Bodie from an isolated camp to a growing mining town.

Three years later, Bodie’s population was anywhere between 5,000 to 7,000 people with facilities and an infrastructure to match. At its peak, Bodie boasted opium dens aplenty, breweries, hotels, four volunteer fire companies, railroads, schools, telegraph lines, a Taoist temple, a union hall, a busy red light district, a Wells Fargo bank, nine stamp mills, several daily newspapers and sixty-five saloons. It also had a large and thriving Chinese community, many of whom were employed supplying most of Bodie’s wood and coal. Newspapers at the time even recorded large Chinese New Years celebrations happening in Bodie each year.

Not surprisingly, jails and mortuaries were an absolute necessity because Bodie residents were killing each other in the street and committing crimes left, right and centre. In fact, the only thing the men of Bodie were exceptionally good at was getting violently drunk and shooting each other. It got so bad that Bodie earned itself a reputation for being lawless and depraved. Perhaps the most famous description was given in 1881 by the Reverend F.M Warrington, who described Bodie as “. . .a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion.”

Photo courtesy of McRonny via Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of McRonny via Pixabay.com

But eventually, the get-rich-quick prospectors moved on to greater things and families settled down while the mines were still operating at peak profitability. The relative peace and prosperity didn’t last for long though because, yes, you guessed it: the mines dried up and shut down. The Bodie boom was over, just twenty years after it started.

The city began haemorrhaging residents and money, a situation which was not at all helped by the two world wars and a massive fire in 1932 which destroyed ninety percent of Bodie’s buildings. By the 1940s Bodie was officially a ghost town, held in arrested decay the way its last residents left it. Now, Bodie is a popular tourist destination for those seeking to experience an authentic ‘Wild West’ town, but with that comes the threat of vandalism and theft.

Thankfully, park rangers came up with a preventative strategy that seemed to take on a life of its own. Rangers invented an urban legend to scare people off, or a faux curse if you will. The legend goes like this; If you take something from Bodie, you will be cursed with bad luck.

It could be a rock or the piano in the old gambling hall (which was actually stolen in the 60’s but returned.) Take anything, and expect bad things to befall you immediately. That’s all well and good. We love a good curse! But somehow, the curse became real. The rangers were soon receiving stolen items in the mail from tourists, begging for forgiveness after they took ‘souvenirs’ and began experiencing bad luck. Visitors describe sudden illnesses, car crashes, family deaths, all manner of ill-tidings, after leaving Bodie.

The following excerpt is from a letter sent to Bodie in 2002 by an anonymous sender:

"Fair warning for anyone that thinks this is just folklore—my life has never seen such turmoil. Please take my warning and do not remove even a speck of dust."

So, if you are thinking of going there, don’t take anything. Not just for your own sake, but for the sake of Bodie as well. The State Parks service also discourages tourists from testing the curse, as police reports must be filed each and every time they receive stolen artifacts in the mail. Much like the number one rule of camping: leave no trace.


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

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.

RECLAIM

Check out  https://reclaimresist.weebly.com/  for more information about this stunning collection!

Check out https://reclaimresist.weebly.com/ for more information about this stunning collection!

RECLAIM: An Anthology of Women Poetry addresses the need for women to regain control and autonomy over their own bodies, and acts as a platform to represent their struggles and backgrounds. In this first part to the two-part anthology series, readers will not be disappointed with the diverse body of writers, connecting to different cultures, orientations, and races.

Published in May 2019, this anthology features forty-seven female writers, building a community within fluid poems that spread smoothly out over the pages. Engaging by how the voices promote unity in their struggles and encounters, this impressive collection will linger on in the minds of readers.

Easily shifting the balance, writers snatch at their own bodies and examine the carcasses left behind by society. This impressive literary collection features a variety of excellent work, but in particular “Training Bras” by Wanda Deglane andFat Girls on Trains” by Djamilla Mercurio demand for swift attention. Their concepts and experiences of bodies are immediately relatable, grabbing at attention. Often, women become disconnected from power and control over their bodies, and these two poems bring forward a whirlpool of emotions and experiences.

Women have spent decades struggling to find a platform for their voices. Pulling together groups of like-minded individuals, they have brought forward countless issues of gender experiences, and fought to be heard. Even with historical groups lobbying together for change, certain voices were sidelined and left unheard.

This anthology helps move forward. How we navigate our own lives is often an isolating experience, but this community of women pulls together their own experiences, and knits together an entire voyage of individual voices. Readers will certainly be enriched by this collection of poetry and group of women.


If you are looking for a host of voices that linger over the pages, do not hesitate in picking up RECLAIM: An Anthology of Women Poetry today.


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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.

A One-Star Yelp Review At Best

This post was first published on SPINE Online, November 16th, 2018.


Historically, an inn has been seen as symbol of good will and hospitality. Lured in by the promise of a hot fire crackling away and hearty food, people flocked to these establishments for an opportunity to find rest and comfort. The Bender’s family Inn, however, operated an establishment of murderous intent, slitting the throats of visitors and burying the bodies in the nearby apple orchard.

1871 saw an unusual family settle down on the outskirts of Cherryvale, Illinois, right on a road that connected to two major cities in the area. The Benders were a clever family of four, taking advantage of the location and dressing their home up to entice potential visitors into staying for a night or two.

Photo courtesy of Arno Smit via Unsplash.com

Photo courtesy of Arno Smit via Unsplash.com

The Benders helped to spice the local gossip mill, with the two men of the family both named John and the two women of the family both named Kate. Everyone had an opinion of the group, arguing if they were a family unit or two married couples. There was even a compelling argument that the women could have been witches involved in dark rituals steeped in sin and treachery. (Tragic that no one pegged the group for a bunch of murderers.)

The glory of living in the wild west was that this was the land of both opportunity and reinvention. It was also the perfect place to set up an elaborate business in killing unsuspecting visitors.

The one-star inn was small at best, located next to a flourishing apple orchard. Visitors might have been tempted by the rich smell of apple blossoms that hung from the trees in white clusters, making the inn seem harmless. Inside the inn the room had been cleverly arranged, with a front section hosting space for dining also serving as a general store. A canvas curtain divided the space, hiding the sleeping quarters behind it.

A chair was positioned directly against the curtain. It was referred to by the Benders as the best seat in the inn and they would encourage visitors to seat themselves upon it. Perhaps the visitors who took that seat were being kind and pretended that the odd stains upon the curtain were not there. They might have also been distracted by the younger Kate, who would often entertain them as they sat.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Both of the Johns would swap positions, taking turns standing behind the curtain with a hammer waiting for the chance to strike down hard the moment the guest relaxed and let their head brush against the curtain. Once the two Johns had made their move, Kate would attack, slitting their throats with a knife.

Bodies were handled with skill and dragged into a cellar. The family would wait for nightfall to bury their victims in the orchard. The elder John would often plow the soft earth of the orchard to disguise the shape of the freshly dug earth. Most bodies had been brutalized in their murder except the body of a young girl, found beneath her dead father. A fear spread quickly that she had been buried alive.

Perhaps if the internet had existed in the 1870s, reviews could have been given. Potential visitors would have been advised of the startling behaviors of their hosts or the curious sounds of moaning from beneath the floorboards.

While no one ever discovered if the Benders were biologically related, or pagan worshippers, it was quite clear that the entire family were terrible hospitality workers.

If your heart is truly set on staying at a murderous location, however, check out this link for some ‘safer’ suggestions.


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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.

Lizzie Borden Took an Axe

“Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks, and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”

Many are familiar with the old rhyme about a very real set of murders that took place back in 1892. That year, on August 4th in Fall River, Massachusetts, Andrew and Abby Borden were found murdered in their home. They had been hacked to death with an axe so many times their bodies were barely recognizable. History’s favourite suspect for the murders is their daughter, Lizzie Borden

However, Lizzie was never proven guilty, and these murders remain unsolved to this day.

Lizzie Borden was the daughter of Andrew Borden and the step-daughter of Abby Borden. She was the one to discover Andrew’s body, and set off the subsequent chain of events that were later immortalized in history.

Photo courtesy of Payette Media House via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of Payette Media House via Adobe Stock

Contrary to what the rhyme would suggest, it wasn’t forty strikes or an axe to each of the two murder victims, but instead, twenty-nine altogether. Nonetheless, these murders were particularly brutal. Those that saw the bodies described them as completely unrecognizable, and were quite sickening. Andrew Borden in particular had a number of blows to the face, one of which had gouged out his left eye.

The detail that really confused law enforcement, though, was the lack of blood anywhere but on the bodies, and the lack of any signs of a struggle within the homes. Andrew was found lying on the sofa, and Abby was found on the floor of her bedroom, but everything surrounding them and around the rest of the house was completely untouched.

Before Lizzie was accused, the main suspicion had fallen upon a labourer who worked for Andrew Borden. The labourer was supposedly by the house earlier that day to ask for the wages he’d earned, only to be sent away with nothing by Andrew Borden himself. It was also believed, due to certain medical evidence found on Abby’s body, that she’d been attacked by a tall male.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Despite such evidence, however, the suspicion did eventually fall on Lizzie. There were many reasons for this, including the fact that some people said that she had never gotten along with her step-mother, as well as the fact that police believed the murders had to have been committed by someone in the Borden house, and the only people home that day were Lizzie and the Bordens’ maid, Bridget “Maggie” Sullivan. There was also suspicion that Lizzie didn’t have a positive relationship with her father at all, and that many of the details she’d provided in her defence just didn’t add up.

Lizzie said she was in the barn on the property, looking for equipment for an upcoming fishing trip, at the time of her father’s murder. She insisted she was in there for about fifteen minutes, but according to further investigation into the details of that day, the barn was far too hot for someone to want to be in there for more than just a few minutes. In addition, there were no footprints in the dust where Lizzie said she’d been looking.

Another piece of evidence brought to the attention of police was a blue dress. Bridget Sullivan said that Lizzie had been wearing it on the morning of the murders, and a friend of the Bordens’ later testified in court that she’d seen Lizzie burning it. When questioned about this, Lizzie said she’d been burning it because it had old paint on it.

Nevertheless, none of the evidence found was enough to lock Lizzie away, and law enforcement concluded that she wasn’t capable of the murders anyway as she’d never done an unkind thing in her life. She was eventually cleared of the crime, and the murders were never solved.

Photo courtesy of it’s me neosiam via Pexels.com

Photo courtesy of it’s me neosiam via Pexels.com

The continued interest in the Borden murders after all this time goes beyond a simple unsolved crime, however. 92 Second Street, where the Borden house is located, is still open. In fact, now it’s the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/ Museum. As horrific as the murders were, their setting has now been turned into a place for tourists, which you too can visit, should you have the courage. And the tours that go through here don’t stop at historical facts about the Borden family or the crimes. Paranormal tours are hosted at the location as well, for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the spirits said to still be hanging around in the house. In fact, the Borden house is actually home to significant paranormal tourism and opportunities, because anyone who joins the tour is invited to bring a Ouija board, or use one that’s provided, and are taught how to contact the spirit world.

I personally wouldn’t start off contacting the spirit world in the setting of such horrifying crimes, but there are certainly braver souls out there than me. And should you find yourself interested, feel free to follow the above link, and sign yourself up.


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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.

Rideau McMadness

Ottawa is filled with plenty of buildings rumoured to be haunted. Visitors travel from far and wide to gaze upwards at the green roofs of Parliament, or to speculate about the supposed hauntings of some of the historic buildings downtown. Even the lengthy Rideau Canal draws tourism. In winter, it is transformed into one of the largest outdoor skating rinks. There are plenty of buildings scattered around Ottawa that attract plenty of attention, but one of the most infamous in the area is the Rideau Street McDonald’s.

Positioned by the Rideau Centre shopping mall and close to Parliament, it draws in high numbers of visitors daily. Because of low prices and having both a front and a back entrance, this particular McDonald’s location draws in steady attention.

Photo courtesy of Jenny Thompson via Adobe Stock

Photo courtesy of Jenny Thompson via Adobe Stock

Everyone has heard of the Rideau Street McDonald’s. With perpetual visits from the police and recurring videos trending of brawls, it is legendary. One can hardly manage to complete four years attending an Ottawa university without watching the poorly filmed video of one particularly large fight, where a raccoon is pulled from a man’s jacket.

The popularity of this McDonalds location is primarily based off of its physical location. By sitting close to Parliament and other government buildings, it is also nestled close enough to the University of Ottawa, which attracts a high number of students. With student budgets, positioning in proximity to Rideau Centre and the Byward Market, this location is clearly very attractive to consumers.

You might notice, visiting the location, that classic music unexpectedly plays over the speakers. Perhaps management is attempting to psychologically tame the savage beasts with their choice of background music? Who knows. Despite this music, however, police officers visit this location daily to handle issues involving drug use and violence.

Violence is a staple of the Rideau McDonald’s experience. Dinner with a show is a key description of this location. Guests frequently verbally assault workers and begin physical brawls that are often caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube within hours. The wise visitors travel in groups, as chaos is a constant attribute to the Rideau McDonald’s location, and can quite swiftly pull any innocent bystander into the mix.

mcdonalds

Because of this aggressive reputation, the Rideau McDonald’s restaurant has changed their open 24 hours reputation and instead, has shifted into being open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Because of the constant need for police backup and numerous aggressive encounters within the store, they have also opted for hiring trained security. Safety has finally become a priority, after a lengthy history of assault and brutality on site.

Despite the alleged hauntings in nearby buildings like the Bytown museum or Chateau Laurier, the Rideau McDonald’s is somehow far more terrifying than a few ghosts. If you feel like you’ve missed out on the prime 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. experience, don’t worry. Plenty of wild incidents also occur throughout the day.


Leave us a comment if you’ve experienced a terrifying encounter at the Rideau McDonalds, or risked your life venturing into the bathroom down the hall.


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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.

Salem Witchy Tourism

This post was first published on SPINE Online, October 31st, 2018.


In the early 90’s Wicca, a branch of Paganism, became officially recognized as a religion despite developing activity in the 1940’s. This acceptance of a religion that actively promotes the idea of witchcraft and rituals shows that society has developed quite a bit since the time of the Salem Witch trials.

Photo courtesy of Rondell Melling via Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Rondell Melling via Pixabay.com

The Salem witch trials were a horrifying time that was founded in hysteria and paranoia that spread throughout the community, spurring people to isolate suspicious members and accuse them of treachery and consorting with the devil. These accusations were particularly devastating because torture and a biased justice system followed, and ended with a death sentence. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft, with a high number of the accused being women, but only 20 overall were executed.

Present day Salem has changed quite a bit since the days of the witch trials. Nearly 1500 local women have publically announced their status as witches, and have helped establish a strong witch tourism trend in the area. Storefronts publically announce fortune readings and a variety offer spellcasting. This tourism feeds off of the deliberate atmosphere that Salem has promoted, by hosting a variety of events like ghost tours and parades celebrating the dead. These events are popularized with the intent in gaining economic revenue, and sustaining the area.

Witchcraft has gained popularity due to the change in popular culture. People have grown up with television shows like Bewitched and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, as well as books like the Harry Potter series. Typically, witches are presented as positive members of their respective societies. The shift in trends pushed witchcraft into a popular light and in turn popularized Wicca.

However, with this tourism so fixated on the promotion of witchcraft as well as theatrical performances, the question of historic sensitivity comes to light. The Salem witch trials had represented massive torment within a community, but less attention is being focused on the historical sufferings that people faced and instead being put on celebrating Halloween inspired events to promote revenue streams.

It can be argued that this is an attempt to take and transform the brutality into something positive. The witches of Salem suffered because a powerful group of men occupied positions of power in the justice system. It can be powerful, retaking a brutal narrative and turning it into something positive that celebrates women. Women in Salem today no longer need to hide their identities and are able to commemorate these differences in lifestyle.

The Puritan church leaders must be rolling in their graves as women actively participate in their community based off of witchcraft and rituals. Salem witchcraft attracts a wide variety of tourists who want to participate in the customs and traditions, and also engage with the festive events that Salem hosts.

The power of the original Salem witches clearly lives on in Salem today, as generations later they are still remembered. If you’re interested in checking out some tourism related to these events, check out the official website for Salem.

Photo courtesy of Coco Parisienne via Pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of Coco Parisienne via Pixabay.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.

Blood in the Attic: The LaLaurie Mansion

This post was originally published on SPINE Online, October 21st, 2018.


Leading up to 1834, the LaLauries were members of high society: hosting lavish parties and pampering their guests. Madame Delphine LaLaurie was a beautiful, charming woman who purchased the mansion in 1832 and maintained the household herself; her husband had little to do with the property and its affairs. Behind closed doors, she was known to be quick of temper and lashed out.

When a young female slave fell to her death from the roof (in order to escape being beaten after brushing a snag in the Madame’s hair), neighbours who had seen the Madame burying her in the courtyard called for law enforcement. This little girl was not the first reported death at the mansion; one man had purposefully jumped out a window to escape punishment. That window was quickly sealed with cement and remains so to this day.

Photo courtesy Luděk Maděryč via Pexels

Photo courtesy Luděk Maděryč via Pexels

As there were laws restricting the mistreatment of slaves, Madame LaLaurie was forced to give up her slaves. However, she convinced a relative to buy them back for her, and heads turned the other way. After that, rumours circulated Madame LaLaurie about her brutal treatment of her slaves, despite showing civility to them in public (and even manumitting two of her own). The LaLauries quickly lost popularity in the French Quarter, which worsened the Madame’s temper.

Suspicions were confirmed when a fire started in the kitchen in 1834: Madame LaLaurie was, in fact, torturing her slaves. Rescuers found that at least seven of her slaves had been locked in the attic and were mutilated beyond belief. Reportedly, the cook set the fire herself, either as a suicide attempt or to expose the horrors taking place. She named Madame LaLaurie responsible for the treachery in the attic. More exaggerated tales claim that these were macabre medical experiments and that Madame LaLaurie’s doctor husband aided her.

When the attic was discovered, locals flew into a rage and ransacked the mansion. The LaLauries were nowhere to be found; they had fled the scene amidst all of the commotion. Most rumours claim they left for Paris: others whisper that Madame LaLaurie returned under a new identity. However, a plaque with Madame LaLaurie’s name and death date can be found in New Orleans.

As for the rest of the LaLaurie slaves, witness accounts say that the slaves in the attic died from their wounds or were already dead when they were discovered. Some even swear they were put on display at an auction as proof of Madame LaLaurie’s brutality.

Today, the LaLaurie mansion is now privately owned and has been converted into apartments, but before then it had unoccupied. Nicolas Cage bought it in 2007, but never spent a night there and sold it a year later. It most recently came under the spotlight as a filming location in American Horror Story: Coven (according to Huffington Post).

Photo courtesy of stevesheriw via Flickr

Photo courtesy of stevesheriw via Flickr

Passersby claim the mansion itself has a spooky atmosphere about it, that ghostly screaming and the clanging of chains can be heard from within. On occasion, the little girl who fell from the roof can be seen around the place. Unfortunately, there are no tours of the interior since the mansion is privately owned, but walking tours of New Orleans usually make the detour.


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.

The Hook-Man

When I was a kid, we had these books in our school library, called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. There were three different volumes, and each was a collection of short horror stories for children. I read a single story in them once, and terrified myself so much that I didn’t sleep for a week.

But my best friend growing up adored them. She was constantly sitting in the aisles reading them, and checking them out to bring home. She was always much braver than me, and spent a large majority of our shared childhood trying to convince me to share her love of horror stories. (Actually, she did, eventually. That shout-out in my bio about being forced to watch Paranormal Activity? That was her.) Nonetheless, at the time, I wouldn’t bite.

But for years, she’d tell me scary stories she’d read, make up legends of her own, or even insist that her own basement was haunted. I of course, vehemently denied it all. But there were still many-a-night that I lay awake in bed, too terrified to open my eyes, but also too terrified to fall asleep.

She was, or so it seemed to me, utterly fearless. That is until we came across the urban legend about the Hook-Man.

Photo via scaryforkids.com

Photo via scaryforkids.com

I don’t remember where she found this story. I don’t remember if it was in one of the books in the library, or if someone had told it to her, but I know that we learned it long before we were allowed access to the Internet. Regardless, this was a story that got to her. Remember my post about Bloody Mary? Well, as it would seem, the Hook-Man is my friend’s Bloody Mary. To this day, she refuses to get into her car after dark without first checking the trunk and the doors.

As with any urban legend, there are several variations of the story, but generally speaking, it begins with a young couple, up on Lover’s Lane by themselves in a parked car for some… alone time. They’ve got the music on the radio for some ambiance, but their good ol’ makeout session is interrupted by a sudden radio broadcast.

Photo Courtesy of Ella_K via Pixabay.com

Photo Courtesy of Ella_K via Pixabay.com

It tells them that a patient of a nearby mental institution has broken out, and that he’s crazed and murderous. He’s also missing his right hand. In its place is a hook, that he wields as a weapon. The radio broadcast encourages the young couple - and anyone else listening - to be careful while they’re out and about, and to call the police immediately with any information they come across about the Hook-Man.

The girl in this legend immediately becomes terrified upon hearing the broadcast and insists her boyfriend take her home. He, however, is not scared at all, and just wants to go back to getting it on. He tries to keep kissing her, but the mood has effectively been ruined. In many versions of the legend, she even insists that she’s heard scratching on the car door.

Annoyed, the boyfriend relents, begrudgingly, and takes her home. When they arrive at her home, he gets out of the car to open her door, but just stares at the handle. She then jumps out herself to see what’s the matter, and there, hanging on the handle of the door, is a silver, bloodied hook.

Photo via thesanguinewoods.com

Photo via thesanguinewoods.com

Now, this is one of many endings to the legend. In a surprisingly large amount of variations, the boyfriend doesn’t survive, and is instead murdered by the Hook-Man. In others, the escaped murderer is out to punish all college students that are sexually active. In all versions he’s a cautionary tale against teenagers disobeying their parents to sneak out after dark, and engage in underage sex.

In fact, some even believe that the legend is based in reality, because in the 1960s, the legend was mailed in as a Dear Abby letter, framed as though it were a real event that teenagers needed to be warned about.

Regardless of whether or not the legend is real, it was enough to scare my friend, and I’m sure many other people over the years. But isn’t that the whole point of a good urban legend?


Let me know your thoughts down below! I’m quite interested in urban legends, so feel free to comment or send in a submission of an urban legend you’ve heard of, and it might even appear in a later post!


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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.

Weird: A Review

In February, we here at Voices In The Attic did indeed leave our dark hovel for a night out at the Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa, where we watched a performance of Weird: The Witches of Macbeth.

Weird is the flagship show of Theatre Articus, a performance company based in Kitchener-Waterloo. You might recognize this show from the 2016 Toronto Fringe Festival, where it was the recipient of the Cutting Edge Award. The Ottawa Fringe Festival also gave Weird a glowing review, and awarded it the Best of Fest in 2015. So we knew we were in for a pretty great show.

As the name suggests, Weird is based on William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth. It combines both the famous verses from the original play, and new verses in Iambic pentameter by writer and director Phillip Psutka. However, Macbeth is just an invisible character on the sidelines of this play, because the Weird Sisters are centre stage, as they rightfully should be.

The Witches of Macbeth are iconic characters in both theatre and literature. To many modern women, they are a symbol of female power. However, at the time of their conception, post-Elizabethan Britain had descended into a hundred-year witch panic. Dissident women were put to trial, burned or taken to the gallows for something as small as a birthmark. So, naturally, the original Weird Sisters were supposed to represent evil and spiritual treachery.

That’s not the case in this play though. Philip Psutka and co-creator Lindsay Bellaire masterfully present the witches as multi-dimensional characters, who are anything but evil. Instead, they are servants to nature. The three sisters—played by Lindsay Bellaire, Lauren Fields and Emily Hughes—are incredibly compelling women.

All in all, Weird truly is a unique composition of aerial acrobatics on crimson silks, imaginative storytelling, fantastic acting, and expert use of Shakespearean language and rhythm. And we didn’t even need a translation book to understand it! I would absolutely recommend this show to anyone looking for innovative Canadian theatre. If you see it around, go see it!

I will leave you with a particularly potent (and some might say relevant) line from Weird: “The earth doth rot, when power is had and reason is not,”


Check out Theatre Articus’ website for more information.


Do you love the Witches of Macbeth as much as we do, because we really love the Witches of Macbeth. Talk to us in the comments!


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Natascha Wood

Say her name three times and she will appear.

Twitter: @oldvvitch

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.

Yukon Jack with a Dash of Cannibalism

Here at Voices in the Attic, we promise to bring you a regular dose of all things creepy. And I like to think we’ve made good on that promise. Today, however, I bring you something new. While you can still call it creepy, this story is one I think is just plain gross. So buckle up, readers, and allow me to tell you about one of Canada’s most hilariously disgusting traditions: The Sourtoe Cocktail.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Sager via The Wallstreet Journal

Photo courtesy of Ryan Sager via The Wallstreet Journal

As of 2016, Dawson City, Yukon held a population of 1,375 people. Despite this limited population, it draws tourists from all over the globe. All of this is due to a creative, crazy tradition, held within the Sourdough Saloon. The tradition involves joining “The Sourtoe Cocktail Club”, by drinking the club’s namesake.

The Sourtoe Cocktail is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a shot of alcohol with a human toe in it. The toe has actually been through several incarnations, all of which come with their own unique backstory.

The tradition began, as legend would have it, with a pair of brothers. Louie and Otto Liken were miners and rum runners during the 1920s. One day they were caught in a blizzard, and Louie suffered severe frostbite that ultimately cost him one of his toes. The brothers preserved the toe in a jar of alcohol as a way to commemorate their trip. It’s uncertain how it left their possession, but once it did, it ended up in the possession of Captain Dick Stevenson, in 1973.

Intending it as a joke, Captain Dick decided to start an exclusive club, which had only a single rule in order to gain membership: anyone who wished to be a member was required to drink the Sourtoe Cocktail. As he liked to say: “You can drink it fast. You can drink it slow. But your lips must touch that gnarly toe.” There weren’t any other specifications besides that. Some say that originally you had to drink the shot with whiskey, but these days it can be any kind of alcohol that’s 40% or higher. Most elect to drink the cocktail with Yukon Jack.

Photo courtesy of Vancouver Courier

Photo courtesy of Vancouver Courier

But sadly, the first toe was not long for this world. In 1980, a man named Garry Younger was attempting to break the Sourtoe record of most shots in one sitting. He made it through thirteen before his chair fell backwards, causing him to accidentally swallow the toe.

Not much is known about the second cocktailed toe, other than the fact that it was donated from somebody who had it amputated after discovering they had an inoperable corn.

The third toe, much like the first, was donated from a victim of frostbite, and also became the victim of swallowing from a saloon patron.

Toe number four mixed the legend up a bit, and was donated anonymously before later being stolen.

Both the fifth and sixth toes were donated to the saloon by an old patron of the saloon who wished to exchange his withered digits for a round of drinks for his nurses.

Toe seven was about as uneventful as toe number two, in that all anyone seems to recall about it is that it came from someone who had it amputated due to diabetes.

The eighth toe—and my personal favourite—was dropped off at the saloon in a jar of alcohol with a note that simply said: “Don’t wear open-toe sandals while mowing the lawn.” Important words for all of us to keep in mind! But this is not the only reason this toe is of particular interest. On August 24th, 2013, toe number eight met its demise when a man named Joshua Clark walked into the saloon and ordered, as many had before him, a Sourtoe Cocktail.

Photo courtesy of LadyHobo via Ladyhobo.com *

Photo courtesy of LadyHobo via Ladyhobo.com *

Clark was not the first patron of the Sourdough Saloon to swallow one of the toes. He was, however, the very first to do it intentionally. Upon ordering his shot, he promptly downed the whole thing, toe and all, and paid the $500 fine attached to the toe in case of swallowing, and then immediately left the bar. Because of him, the fine was subsequently hiked up to $2,500.

His actions also deeply angered Terry Lee—otherwise known as the Toe Captain: the man who oversees the drinking of each Sourtoe Cocktail—who then sent a search party after Clark and the toe, which was comprised of bartenders and regulars at the saloon alike, as well as, according to some, a few Hell’s Angels.

This search party never found Clark, however, and by the following morning, he’d left town. He was then permanently banned from the Sourdough Saloon.

Fortunately for the legend though, the saloon had two toes in circulation at the time, and Clark only swallowed one, so the cocktails were still able to continue. However, toe number eight was allegedly Toe Captain Terry’s favourite, and he was very displeased that not only was it stolen, but that the remaining toe was suffering from overuse and would, therefore, need to be replaced soon.

According to CBC, Clark felt so guilty about what he’d done that he eventually got in contact with the saloon, and willed his own big, right toe to them upon his death. Whether or not Clark intends to keep that promise remains to be seen, but nonetheless, the Sourtoe Cocktail is still in circulation today, awaiting the next brave souls willing to give it a kiss.

Perhaps you’ll even be one of them.


*This particular photo came from the blog of a woman listed simply as “Lady Hobo”. She’s clearly someone who’s been to the Sourdough Saloon, and I encourage you to read her article, The Sourtoe Cocktail Experience, because not only does it include facts not in my post (including the fact that the Toe Captain has a list called “The Captain’s Shit List” with names of past “Toe Abusers”), but it’s a really well written article.

Let me know in the comments down below if you’ve ever tried the Sourtoe Cocktail, or if you ever would!


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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.

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

Why Women Read Thrillers

One of the first media depictions of a woman victimized into insanity was the 1940s film Gaslight. In it, a husband manipulates his wife into thinking that she was slipping into mental instability. Perhaps this is what has sparked our interest in the role of a woman in the thriller genre.

In modern society, women are taught to lock their car doors and to avoid roaming the streets at night. They learn to make weapons of their keys, held tight between fingers and into claws like something from a Wolverine comic. The media reminds women to be skeptical of their drinks at bars and to be careful of hemlines. They are taught to value running shoes over stilettos in running from their attackers, and are trained to have 911 ready on their phones.

The thriller genre, known for exciting plots and chilling suspense, allows women to be confronted with the perpetual danger of their existence. Girls do wind up dead in the ravines and the woods. Their bodies spark national inquiries, directing attention to their lifestyles and relationships. They appear murdered on isolated beaches and inside their homes. The cold reality of women is that once they die, they lose their status as a person, and instead shift into a puzzle.

What makes the thriller genre so wildly compelling for women is that it confronts them with a cold reality. They are either victims, terrorized and stalked, or they become the villain. Take Amy from Gone Girl. Leaving a string of calculated false clues, she manages to gaslight not just her spouse, but an entire audience suddenly invested in her life. An original twist to the concept of toxic relationships, she compels the world of journalism and law enforcement into believing that she is a victim, and her husband is holding a smoking gun. She is powerful in her ability to bamboozle detectives, stringing her relationships along until she has created the perfect trap.

In comparison, The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train present narrators caught up in proving a murder did occur, risking their own lives to get answers. In reality, women are constantly dismissed for a myriad of reasons. They are emotionally volatile, distressed with mental instability, or a lone voice opposing the many. Both narrators suffer from extreme gaslighting that makes them slowly unravel, convinced that they have begun to descend into crazed paranoia and insanity.

Women like plunging into the depths of thrillers, exploring the dangers behind their lives. Average internet privacy concerns are examined critically in You, allowing the reader to watch the victim slowly become cornered. In Rebecca, the idea of the victim is constantly altered, switching between the dead wife and the protagonist. Which woman can endure in the story? Which woman can survive, living in toxic relationships and surrounded by menacing figures?

Thrillers are the modern take to fairy tales. Children are taught the value of avoiding strangers in Snow White. They learn that danger exists in the dark corners, and the thriller genre helps to give women their own voices. These are authentic experiences wrapped up in a fictional package. Thrillers tell stories about women; they are mothers and daughters, artists and lovers, as well as complex characters in their own right.

Women want to survive. They want to defy the statistics. Perhaps that is what draws their attention to the dark corners of the bookstore, honing in on the dark covers and gloomy movie posters. Thrillers promise to examine toxic relationships and gaslighting, letting readers identify the signs in their own relationships. The books come to terms with living with anxiety and PTSD, which allow for readers to connect with their own personal experiences.

In reality, dead women act as props. Media can cross-examine their relationships and scream foul when they are exposed with skeletons in their closets. Under close scrutiny, any woman can carry an abundance of flaws that can outlive their lives. The thriller genre, as a whole, restores a woman’s identity and allows them to exist as complex creatures, be it villain or victim.

Photo by Roman Kraft.

Photo by Roman Kraft.


Interested in some great reads? Check out Alice Bolin’s series of essays in her book Dead Girls or plunge into Woman in the Window before it hits the big screen in 2019.


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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.