In the last few weeks, I’ve been on an Eastern European kick. Now it’s time for some creepiness much closer to home—at least my home. So I present to you not one, not two… but three real life creepy places right here in Montreal.
Montreal is one of the first European settlements in North America. For two thousand years prior, the territory was inhabited by Algonquin, Huron and Iroquois tribes; in 1535, a French guy named Jacques Cartier arrived on the scene, named the St-Lawrence River, founded what would later be Quebec City, and then moved down the river to Hochelaga—meaning “village”. That village would eventually be known as Mont Royal, which is self-explanatory, and eventually Montreal (since we Quebecers pronounce everything like it’s all one long mushy word).
Fast-forward to 2014. (Okay, some moderately interesting stuff happened between then and now, but let’s keep this short and to the point). Montreal is actually a really good place to live. It’s crazy-safe. I can walk anywhere at night, with my headphones in, and not fear for my life or my virtue. But even this peaceful, somewhat hedonistic place has a few spots with a sinister history.
I’ll start with the Royal Victoria Hospital.
No one loves going to the hospital, but the Royal Vic even looks a bit unsettling. Perched on the side of Mount Royal, in the heart of Montreal’s most vibrant party neighborhoods, it consists of several pavilions lumped together somewhat haphazardly. They range in age from the original hospital building dating back to 1893 to the newer pavilions added on with the years.
It could be just me but I always got a creepy Arkham Asylum vibe from the place. So when ills strike I prefer the quaint seventies décor of the Hopital St-Luc.
It is reported that the hospital, especially the oldest pavilions, is haunted. There have been reports of strange sightings, of shadowy figures, noises and unexplained occurrences. One story tells of a patient seeing the spectral image of an old woman and then waking up in a pool of totally unexplained blood.
That can’t be conducive to a speedy recovery.
More interestingly, there’s been talk of the hospital closing for good sometime within the next ten months. There’s already concerns of what will become of the enormous abandoned building, hardly suited to be anything but a hospital. The building is also considered “patrimoine historique” so it can’t be demolished, and so far no potential buyers have come forward.
Maybe they’ll make it into condos. Anyone interested?
Then we have the Mount Royal Cemetery.
The cemetery covers a large part of Mount Royal, snuggled up against the scenic Mount Royal park and the cheerful Lac aux Castors, where families like to picnic in the summer. The cemetery is centuries old; it houses some gorgeous crypts and gravestones in its older parts. There’s also a WWII memorial with the graves of Canadian soldiers.
It’s a beautiful and serene place. People love to go there for walks and picnics, and certain young goths sneak in to make out after the clubs down the mountain close for the night. I used to go walking there in the evenings when I lived in the area, blissfully unaware of its reputation of one of the most haunted places in Montreal.
Namely, it’s home to the ghost of the “Algonquin Indian”—an unnamed Native warrior who lurks in the cemetery’s hills and can sometimes be seen on moonlit nights. There are also rumors of all kinds of shadowy figures emerging after sunset, and a few of the soldiers buried by the WWII memorial have reportedly not found eternal rest just yet…
Finally, we have the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.
The hotel is an enormous building in the heart of Downtown Montreal, connected to the underground city with its endless shopping malls and glitzy designer stores where the well-heeled can buy another pair of $500 shoes. It’s one of the more chic hotels of the downtown core, ridiculously expensive and housing an equally pricey steakhouse in its lobby. John Lennon and Yoko Ono stayed there in 1969.
It’s also haunted.
There are many reports of disembodied voices and even of people being pushed on the stairs by an unseen force. It’s full of cold spots, and some tell of a mysterious woman in white who wanders the halls at night, and might sometimes pop into your room for a quick hello. (There’s no word on whether the hotel will refund your $300 a night if that happens).
Montreal is certainly a unique place in North America with its own rich history. And as such places go, there’s going to be a couple of scary stories connected to it. And anyway, if ghosts don’t tempt you, come down for the poutine and the clubbing!