Merry Meet All,
As I type, it is misty and rainy. Clouds darken the sky. Ghosts are congregating at the Halifax Citadel. For those who do not reside in my ghost-ridden town, the Halifax Citadel is an old preserved fort and a national historic site. Last night I had the eerie honor of exploring the fort by light of a lantern to learn of the bizarre legends that haunt the citadel. The Citadel is star-shaped. (They had help from the Goddess.)
The tours are seasonal and run from July to October. The Halifax Citadel is a 19th century fortification with steep masonry walls surrounded by a ditch up to nine meters deep. It is not advised therefore to climb the earthen walls out into the gun openings, which slope directly into the ditch and are especially slippery and dangerous when wet. Low doorways and uneven steps and floors add to the atmosphere.
Every hour the sentry changes. The sentry is changed at the main gate in a formal ceremony. The noon gun is fired at the noon hour, a tradition that has been maintained every day except Christmas day since 1856. Signal masts still stand that sent coded signals to both the citizens of Halifax and to the other forts that protected the harbor. The Halifax Citadel was a key British and Canadian navel base. Barracks were the homes of some Canadian soldiers. It was where they ate and slept and stored their supplies.
I arrived and bought my ticket. A large crowd arrived and soon we all stepped into the Citadel, eager for ghost stories. The sun set and stars twinkled over our heads. Our guide was dressed in costume. His name was Adam. I felt a shiver of excitement as we followed him to different spots of the Citadel. The first ghost story hearkened to the past.
The Grey Lady haunts the Citadel. According to questionably brave security guards, she strolls the second floor at night, smelling of roses, and wearing a 19th century dress. The security guards are responsible for checking the lights and shutting the place down at night. The Citadel has a high turnover rate due to the apparent hauntings. She was supposed to be marrying a man with a checkered past. He was married to a woman from Bermuda. He wanted to gloss over his past-and the fact that he had two wives. The Gray lady- I can’t recall her name because her real name is uncertain, went to the Holy Trinity Church expecting the groom to arrive. He never did. The carriage driver rode up to the Citadel to pick up the groom. The guard told him the groom had shot himself unable to find any other way to hide from his past. The driver went to the Church, left with the duty to tell the expectant bride the horrible news. He was dead. She went in hysterics and did not believe him and still does not believe it. Her spirit searches the grounds of the Citadel for her love. Romantic, n’est pas?
We continued on the tour and stopped around a corner. I wondered why we stopped. We stood near the location of a shed that was torn down. It was documented and approved by the government as an actually haunted spot. Weird sounds, windows and doors opening and closing led to the removal of the shed. The employers refused to set foot in it. We were also told the tale of the wells in the Citadel. They are boarded up. The water is unfit for consumption. The reason is the first well was tampered with by rats. The water was slimy. The second well contains the remains of a Sergeant. They found bits and pieces of his body. The wells are boarded up and have but almost but been forgotten.
The creepiest part was when we entered the Citadel. I felt uneasy the moment I entered. I became claustrophobic and chills ran amok over my body. I had the strong sense I should leave. I felt unwanted there. I was given the opportunity to turn back but then I would have had nothing to blog about. I gulped and walked with other mystified citizens of Halifax. We entered a small auditorium, where Adam told us more chilling tales. A female guard had a haunting experience. In a separate room, the female guard watches the monitors to see what is happening in the Tides of History rooms-the auditoriums. She saw a man rifling through papers and drawers. The papers are blank and the drawers are empty. It is staged. She ran over to see him but when she arrived, he was gone. She was in tears and was given another position in her job. She refused to enter that room. Her sister was braver and was also a guard. She worked at night also, watching the monitors to see the goingons of the rooms. She had her scare when she glanced up at the monitor and saw a man’s face looking at her. The face filled the screen. The men who lead the ghost tours recreated the event. They realized it took great effort to be able to look in the camera and that it was impossible, unless you were four feet above the ground. She found her courage after also refusing to enter that room. One night, a ghost called her name in a stage whisper, “Debra!” There was only 1 person who called her that and he had passed away a few months before-her father. She also changed her job at the Citadel and became Head of the Night guards of the Citadel.
We were led outside. I needed to use the bathroom and was forced to- after having the jeebers scared out of me, make my way across the Citadel. There were few lights. We were carrying lanterns to see our way around. I skittered in the dark to the bathroom like a scared squirrel. I hurried back, as images of vengeful ghosts flooded my mind. I had to run a long way to keep up with them. I freaked but found them. The scariest part was to come. We had to go through the tunnels. The tunnels run for miles within the Citadel. Enemies of the army were at a disadvantage. Attack was impossible because of the structure of the Citadel. I was not comforted by that. I felt my breath leave me, I felt my chest tighten, and fear gripped my body. I stumbled in the dark and followed the mother with her kids in front of me. We followed the tour guide through a seemingly endless tunnel, lit by a lantern and a cell phone. The ceiling was low and the tunnel was narrow. We did not need to go through the whole tunnel. I was terrified.
Eventually, after learning more ghost stories that curdled my blood, the tour ended. I was RELIEVED to leave the dark, quiet, unsettling Halifax Citadel. I felt weak and drained. I boarded a metro transit bus to go home. I smudged myself with sage. I calmed down soon and after checking on my kitty, I went to sleep exhausted. I slept surprisingly well.
That was my ghost tour of the Citadel. I would say I got my money out of it -and maybe a bit more. The ghost tours are affordable and run on schedule, weather permitting. Do you dare to explore the Citadel and learn of the restless spirits of the past? Let us remember that they deserve peace and rest.
The photo is from whygocanada.com.