Ghosts of Sackville: a guide

Looking for a fright this Halloween? Most Mount Allison students know the story of the Hart Hall ghost, but there are a few other spirits lingering around town that paranormal thrill seekers should be aware of. Here’s your ghost hunter’s guide to a few popular haunts around Sackville.

Hart Hall Haunting

Hart Hall was built in 1910 as part of the pre-existing Mount Allison Ladies’ College. Originally, the building contained a dormitory, gymnasium, swimming pool, classrooms and an apartment for the College Principal.

It is the oldest academic building on campus still in use. While it currently houses many academic departments, it is also home to Sackville’s most well-known ghost.

The ghost of a former Mt. A voice professor is said to haunt the building.

While some believe Ethel Peake (1875-1954) died of a heart attack at the age of 69, others say she committed suicide by hanging herself in her office on the third floor of Hart Hall.

Adrian Kiva/Argosy
Adrian Kiva/Argosy

Through an email correspondence, Emily Jewer recounted her friend’s encounter with Peake, which occurred sometime between 2006 and 2007:

“[Jewer’s friend was] working late one night in the darkroom in the basement of Hart Hall. There was an old boombox that we would play tapes and CDs on. She was the only one in the lab that night and had the music up pretty loud, when it suddenly got quieter… she went over and turned it up. A few minutes later it got quiet again. She went back over and turned it up again. The boombox had a dial on it to control the volume. So after turning it up again she stood and stared at the dial and watched as it slowly turned itself down until the music was muted.”

Based on many accounts, Peake’s ghost does not seem to be mean-spirited. However, one incident that occurred in 2012 indicates otherwise.

Last summer, Mt. A student Rebecca Lawrence took a brave group of first-year students on a ghost tour throughout Sackville. Lawrence recounted the story to the Argosy:

“When I was in first year [in 2012], there was a male [student who]…went into Hart Hall at night to find the ghost. Somehow this [student] ended up falling down a flight of stairs and broke his leg. When he later told the story, he said he fell backwards right before he was about to gain access to the third floor. He said it felt like he had been pushed – he used to laugh about [the Hart Hall ghost pushing him]. He broke his leg very badly and suffered a concussion…and was in a wheelchair for a long time. But a lot of people took [his story] seriously because he was a strong guy, and for him to just fall backward seemed strange.”

Avard Dixon Apparition

On Aug. 16, 1994, a front-end loader backed into a sandpile, tipped over, and went into the “Zoom Boom” – a telescopic basket attached to a motorized machine that is used for construction work at great heights – that was holding three stone masons who were working on the Avard Dixon building. Two of the workers were injured, and Emile Fougere died from the fall.ghosts-ac-adrian-cmyk-2

In a Sept. 1994 issue of the Argosy, it was reported that many bystanders believed the “Zoom Boom” the workers were on was unsafe, and therefore caused the accident. The most disparaging part of the incident is that Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors were on the scene at the time of the incident.

Today, if you face the side of the building closest to the Music Conservatory and look up to the top-right corner, you will see the engraving of his name, birthdate and date of death. His fellow stone masons placed the brick where the tragic death occurred.

If you spend an evening in Avard Dixon, you might hear Fougere’s ghost. Students have reported hearing loud noises when the building is empty.

“When I was a second-year, I was working in Avard Dixon. A group of us were working a scene for a drama class project,” Lawrence said. “We all heard a really loud banging sound – it sounded like something had just fallen in the next room. I didn’t hear the ghost story until the next summer when I was giving a tunnel tour.”

The Bard of Waterfowl Park

During the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Canadian poet John Thompson was a beloved faculty member of Mt. A’s English department.

The story of his wandering ghost is not as frightening as it is sad. Thompson was a known alcoholic and suffered from episodes of depression. He died at the young age of 38. The cause of his death remains a subject of debate, some believing his death was a suicide.

On the night of Thompson’s death, the tenants living below him heard muffled choking and cries. He was discovered shortly after in his apartment unconscious and was later pronounced dead at the Sackville Memorial Hospital. The autopsy did not provide conclusive evidence that Thompson had killed himself.

Soon after his death, his house burned down without evident cause.ghosts-ac-adrian-cmyk-5

With no home to go back to, Thompson’s spirit has been seen late at night wandering Waterfowl Park, one of the places he often frequented after an evening of drinking.

Horse spooks at Marshlands Inn

Some of the scariest paranormal encounters in Sackville have been

ghosts-ac-adrian-cmyk-8with the spirits of horses.

Marshlands Inn was built in 1850 by William Crane. In 1935, Herbert W. Read and his wife, Anne Smith, turned the property into an inn and operated it until the 1980s. At a time when the horse and buggy was a common mode of transportation, the fields behind the Marshlands Inn allegedly housed stables where sick and suffering worker horses were euthanized.

If you find yourself spending a night at the Marshlands Inn, Lawrence and locals suggest going for a walk into the back field.

Once you have walked far enough, they say you will be overcome by a fear or dread so powerful you will begin to walk back towards the safety of the Inn. When you begin walking away, the sound of trotting will follow close behind, and when you stop, the trotting will stop. You will want to run back to safety, but if you do, the sound of a galloping horse will follow.

Because the Inn spans over 80 acres, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location where you will be overwhelmed with this dread. However, witnesses say that the trotting will start regardless of when you decide to turn back.

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