Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tricks, Treats, And Ghostly Guests

Happy Hallowe'en! I have some material appropriate for the occasion today.

This particular house in the Glebe was well decorated when I passed by one day earlier in the month.

This was along a path in Gloucester.

These jack o'lanterns were outside a house in Centretown.

I came across this witch in a jewel shop window at Sparks Street.

Up the street, the Haunted Walk operates out of quarters near Elgin Street. Two signs stand outside, one more whimsical. The company offers walking tours of various places with a history of hauntings. I meant to go on a tour this year in the run up to Hallowe'en, but with MosaiCanada and the fall colours, I pretty much ran myself out of time.

The Chateau Laurier is close by, within site of the Haunted Walk's offices, diagonally across the War Memorial grounds, and a tour might make note of its spooky history. I captured it around sundown one day earlier this month. The figures you can see in silhouette in the foreground are the collective monument of military history called The Valiants.

A couple of days later I captured it at night. It's an appropriate subject for today, as the hotel has its own ghost stories.

The lounge just off the main entrance looks dramatic at night. Several portraits by Yousuf Karsh, who had his photography studio at the Chateau during the second half of his career, adorn the walls. The hotel has quite a history in its century plus of existence; the great and the good have stayed in the hotel, which first opened in June 1912. Along with its established history comes the supernatural: whistling by an unseen presence in stairwells, furniture moving in the night, and unexplained noises.

Doors have been known to open by an unseen force. A guest once fled her room because objects were moving about by themselves. People have mentioned the feeling of being watched by some unseen presence. Some guests have reported the sight of a little ghostly girl. Others have reported a spectral man in dated formal attire.

That might well be the man who commissioned the building of the hotel, haunting his crowning achievement. Charles Melville Hays was the president of the Grand Trunk Railway, and had the Chateau built along with the new main train station downtown (today the government Conference Centre across the street). His portrait hangs in the corridors within the Chateau.

In 1912, Hays and his family went to Europe to secure investments and to purchase furniture for the dining room at the Chateau, due to open in late April that year. The family booked passage to return home with their purchases in time for the opening. That passage was aboard Titanic. Hays reportedly made a prophetic remark about the competition of steamlines for passengers, saying, "the time will come soon when this trend will be checked by some appalling disaster." He, his son-in-law, and his personal secretary were among the dead in the disaster, and Hays would end up buried at Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal.

The opening of the hotel was delayed into June out of respect for the dead. It has been said that Hays still haunts his final project in life, having had not lived to see its opening. He's deemed generally a friendly spirit, glimpsed on occasion, still tied to a place that meant a great deal to him in the last months of his life, a life cut too short in the cold Atlantic one night in April 1912.


  1. Here in my corner I see very few Halloween things, the kids do something at school, but otherwise nothing not even in the shop windows. Dying on the Titanic just before the opening of this beautiful "castle" is sad !

  2. you take your Halloween seriously over there 😈

  3. Apt time of year for strange goings on

  4. Nice to know there are some Halloween obsessed folkd in Canada, too!


  5. ...The Chateau Laurier is a beauty!

  6. That's a very interesting account of the Chateau. I like the night photos.

  7. The chateau is beautiful when lighted up!

  8. @Gattina: it's common here.

    @Klara: very much so!

    @Bill: definitely.

    @Francisco: thanks!

    @Janis: there are.

    @Tom: yes it is.

    @Anvilcloud: it's quite a building.

    @Nancy: it certainly is.

  9. I love your outside pics of the Chateau Laurier, William! The light was perfect.

  10. I loooove this post William. Chateau Laurier is one of my favourite buildings. It was so nice to see inside today, you always show it so beautifully.Gosh it's got quite a scary history too, maybe I might just admire it and book in somewhere else for the night 😀

  11. A very majestic building and tragic story of the owner.

  12. That house in the first photo is great and I love the pumpkins! Someone is a very talented carver.

  13. What a beautiful hotel building and what a sad story that the owner didn't get to see the opening of his hotel.
    It looks magnificent at night.
    I admire people who spend so much time decorating their house for special occasions. Happy Halloween William.

  14. @RedPat: it is quite a building.

    @Grace: it's a favourite subject of mine to photograph, this hotel.

    @Red: very tragic indeed. I wonder what he'd have thought of how the place has endured.

    @Sharon: I certainly couldn't carve like that.

    @Sami: and to think the furniture he bought is still in Titanic's cargo holds, right there at the bottom of the ocean. Or whatever is left of that furniture.

  15. Cool decorations
    Did you see the ghost at the hotel?

  16. I like the way the house in your first photo is decorated. Happy Halloween, William!

  17. Lots of very cool shots here, William. Every year I'm amazed at all the expense and energy given over to this crazy "holiday." But I guess it's good for those who enjoy it or really believe that furniture moves by itself or is moved by ghosts. No wonder some goofball like Trump gets elected prezident.

  18. Have a good day, William!
    It is raining over here... : (

  19. Yoy found some nice Halloween decorations, the first photo of the Chateau Laurier is great.

  20. Both fun and elegant photos for Halloween ~ and even a ghost story ~ !

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  21. The Chateau Laurier night shots are absolutely beautiful, William.

  22. @MB: alas, just his portrait! :)

    @Marleen: thank you!

    @Lowell: lots of people are into it.

    @Catarina: we've had rain off and on too.

    @Jan: thanks!

    @Carol: appropriate for today!

    @Bill: thank you!

  23. Love the shots of the Chateau Laurier!

  24. Perfect post for today. Happy Hallowe'en!

  25. Ha, ha! Love that pumpkin with "bullet holes." :-)

  26. i would enjoy hearing some haunted historical news, not the scary part ... i enjoy listening ... don't mind a bit of a scary moment but i don't like lots of them. unlike some folks. whatever makes ya happy i guess. happy halloween. ( ;

  27. Some people really get into Halloween. Haunted or not, Chateau Laurier is striking and beautiful.

  28. What a beautiful Hotel The evening lights are wonderful.
    Loved the pumpkins. Happy Halloween.

    cheers, parsnip and badger

  29. That absolutely beautiful hotel was built the way hotel should be built, a monument to the ages. Love it.

  30. Great Halloween decorations! Chateau Laurier is beautiful. Sad story abou Mr. Hays.

  31. The building looks great with the lights at night. I like the oddly carved pumpkins.

  32. Brilliant post for Halloween.

    All the best Jan

  33. The chateau looks wonderfully spooky with the night lighting -- and gorgeous inside!

  34. A Haunted Walk sounds fun! We did a Haunted Forest Walk this year. Spoooky!

  35. I like the house in the first picture. Looks haunted.... The story of chateau is so interesting.

  36. @Marie: thanks!

    @Norma: thank you!

    @Revrunner: so do I.

    @Beth: I like ghost stories.

    @Kay: that it is.

    @Parsnip: thanks!

  37. @Catalyst: it was well constructed.

    @Tamago: I agree.

    @Linda: so do I.

    @Jan: thanks!

    @Jeanie: it is!

    @Jenn: I have to do it this year.

    @Klara: it's a fascinating story.