Home CommentaryStudent Life Going ghost hunting in Montreal

Going ghost hunting in Montreal

by The Concordian October 25, 2011

Ghosts continue to haunt the cobblestone streets of the historic district of Old Montreal and this Halloween, with the help of Fantômes Montréal Ghosts, you may even get a glimpse of these eerie specters.
The “New France Ghost Hunt” and the tour of Montreal’s historic crime scenes provide every participant with a chance to meet four “ghosts,” and talk to them “about their life, or should I say their death,” said Fantômes Montréal president Louise Hébert. “The Old Montreal Ghosts give you an opportunity to celebrate Halloween in a large group, with family, friends or colleagues, in a truly different way. Since the stories are inspired by actual events, participants will genuinely get goose bumps.”
In groups of about 20 and armed with a map of either the west or east side of Old Montreal, participants are encouraged to find the ghosts in the dark corners of the district. Each ghost, a different character played by a professional actor, gives onlookers a glimpse into “the grim lives of witches, or the sordid affairs of criminals and charlatans,”said Hébert.
Each group also has an employee of the company present at all times to provide additional background information and induce further storytelling. However, each individual experience is truly up to the participant, as they decide which ghosts to see in which order, and it is up to them to ask questions and create conversation with each ghost.
With each Halloween hunt, New France victims and criminals alike recount their life stories, including vivid tales of their deaths. Participants are greeted with unusual and disturbing events, perfectly fitting of the Halloween spirit. The events, which Hébert calls “a theatre on the street,” have taken place for eleven years, when the original Fantômes Montreal founder, Eric Poulin, returned to his native Montreal after a trip across the pond to London. “He was inspired by the Jack the Ripper walks,” explained Hébert.
Montreal is known as a “haunted city,” and with plenty of reason. The infamous Redpath Mansion murders of 1901, which remain unsolved and found two members of a wealthy Montreal family shot dead, are modern examples of crime in Montreal. Dating back to 1734, the public execution of Marie-Josèphe dite Angélique on June 21, after a fire that raged through Montreal and killed many, is often questioned and continues to haunt Montreal’s history.
Old Montreal was rated the eighth most haunted place to visit in Canada, providing the historical setting to many of Montreal’s most famous ghost tales, including the ghost of a prostitute searching for her head and the spirits of families who died in a hotel fire. Many streets in old Montreal have been the subject of “ghost sightings”. Some say the architecturally splendid St-Paul St. brought them face-to-face with tormented souls and the walking dead, while others report sightings of a ghost apparition of a French soldier walking with a limp on De L’Esplanade Ave. Though Louise Hébert and Fantômes Montréal Ghosts promise interaction with educated and professional actors who tell the tales of historical victims and criminals, many say that Old Montreal also promises views of genuine ghosts.
Students who are ready for a chilling Halloween experience, combined with a thirst for historical knowledge and a slightly masochistic sense of fun, can be drawn to Old Montreal just by its sheer creepiness mixed with beauty.
A ghost tour with Fantômes Montréal Ghosts costs students $18.50, and gives an “unparalleled festive atmosphere,” according to Hébert. A walk down either St-Paul or De L’Esplanade, however, is a free, but not guaranteed, spectacle of real ghosts, in all of their glory. Whatever the preferred method of haunting, however, some form of ghost-related festivities is bound to make this Halloween a memorable one.

Walking tours will take place between Oct. 27-29 at 6:30 p.m.

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