Most innkeepers have a passing knowledge of who’s staying under their roof each night. But there are several guests at Kingston’s Hochelaga Inn that innkeeper Anne Boyd has never seen.
“This summer, there have been some mesmerizing things that have happened,” Boyd said.
She and her husband Ron have been the Hochelaga Inn’s keepers for the past three years, but they’ve managed to keep their distance from the ghosts some guests have reported.
“I haven’t seen anything personally,” Boyd said.
A woman who read auras stayed at the inn this past summer and told Boyd about a ghostly older woman in black.
Boyd motioned to the seat by a front window where the woman said the ghostly figure often sat.
The woman told Boyd when the ghostly figure climbed the stairs of the Victorian-era inn, her black dress swished by other guests.
Boyd told the Journal another story about a woman who stayed at the inn this summer with her two daughters.
“Her daughters were teenagers—it’s not like they were babies,” Boyd said.
The woman told Boyd she awoke in the middle of the night to find one of her daughters at the foot of her bed.
“Her daughter looked up at her and said, ‘We have to get out of here right away,’ ” Boyd said.
The woman told her daughter not to worry and to go back to bed. Boyd said the woman’s daughters were sleeping in an adjoining room, and the woman watched as her daughter left her room and kept the adjoining door open.
Boyd said the woman awoke a second time in the night because she thought she heard laughter at the foot of the bed. For a second time, she told her daughter to go back to bed.
When the woman went to check on her daughters in the morning, she told Boyd she had found the adjoining door closed, and had to use an inordinate amount of strength to open it.
The woman asked her daughters why they had come into her room the night before. Both girls said they weren’t in their mother’s room.
“The woman then realized that she had only seen a black figure at the end of the bed,” Boyd said.
The same morning, Boyd said, a married couple in their thirties came down to breakfast with another mysterious story to tell her.
“Something weird has happened to us,” the man told Boyd.
He said he awoke in the middle of the night because “he just knew somebody was in the room.” The man told Boyd his wife awoke almost at the same time, and they could literally feel their hair stand on end.
“I never experienced anything like it before,” the man told Boyd.
Boyd said she doesn’t have an explanation for the alleged sensation. John McIntyre and his wife Harriet, who was a relative of Sir John A. Macdonald, built the Hochelaga Inn in 1879.
When John McIntyre died, a branch of the Bank of Montreal named the Hochelaga Foundation purchased the inn to house its traveling employees.
In 1985, the inn—located on Sydenham Street—was converted into a bed and breakfast and opened for public use. The inn is one of several stops on the Haunted Walk of Kingston this year.
Clad in a black cloak and clutching a lantern, the walk’s guide tells ghost stories about the Hochelaga Inn that vary slightly from the stories Boyd told the Journal.
Tour guides tell another story about a guest awoken in the middle of the night by the cries of a ghostly nine-year-old boy with blonde hair.
There is also a story about a guest at the inn who heard a woman singing a lullaby, and common tales of objects being thrown across the rooms at the inn.
“Our housekeepers say [ghosts] play jokes on them by turning on television sets suddenly,” Boyd said.
Glen Shackleton, ArtSci ’96 and director of Haunted Walks Inc., said he created the Haunted Walk of Kingston in 1995 after participating in a haunted walk tour at Queen’s International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in England.
Ten years later, his company has expanded to include a variety of tours in Kingston and Ottawa.
“I think everybody is interested in ghost stories, whether they claim to be a believer or not,” Shackleton said. “People are interested in what happens to us when we die.”
Shackleton said that throughout history, cultures have always been engaged in storytelling as a form of entertainment.
That’s why the Haunted Walk uses the term “real-life ghost stories” when referring to the stories told on the tours, he said. “I think we’re very careful not to tell people what to believe and what not to believe,” Shackleton said. Shackleton said Haunted Walks Inc. has researched the stories on its tours from various sources, including the Queen’s Archives. He said Haunted Walks likes to use stories that have more than one witness and have unique elements to them.
Those criteria fit the story of Teresa Beam.
According to the Haunted Walk, Beam was murdered in Kingston by her husband, John Napier, while pregnant in 1868.
Throughout the 1970s, the owner of a photography store on King Street East tried to uncover the reason why he would often hear pounding on the door and scraping on the walls of his shop.
The storeowner used a Ouija board in an attempt to determine why he was hearing the mysterious sounds. He received a return message telling him that Beam’s bones hadn’t received a proper Christian burial because her murdered body was buried in the vicinity of the store. Repeated attempts to find the location of Beam’s final resting place have failed, but that hasn’t stopped Beam.
According to the Haunted Walk, the pathway between Princess Street and King Street East—where Chez Piggy and the Toucan now stand—is one of Kingston’s most haunted spots.
Witnesses have repeatedly said a woman dressed in black and wearing a cross approached them in the pathway and said, “Help me find my bones.”
A young woman said she once tried to walk through the pathway but felt frozen to the ground.
When she asked her friend if she felt similarly, her friend told her she didn’t. Instead, her friend watched dumbstruck as the woman stood frozen to the ground and made gurgling noises as if someone was stabbing her in the back.
The young woman said she doesn’t remember anything about the gurgling.
And don’t think Queen’s escapes the otherworldly. According to the Haunted Walk, the University has so many ghost stories it could almost have its own haunted walking tour.
When the Agnes Etherington Art Centre first opened, staff believed the building was haunted by its namesake.
One staff member reported once seeing a piano in the art centre playing itself, and another felt the sensation of being followed around as she closed the centre for the night.
As the woman was about to leave, a voice spoke to her, saying, “You forgot one.”
Sure enough, the woman had forgotten to turn off one of the lights in the building.
Before Dunning Hall opened in 1960, the foreman of a construction company working on the building noticed someone was often cleaning up all of the construction materials without an explanation.
When he came in to work early one morning, he heard a whirring sound deep in the building. He couldn’t pinpoint where the sound was coming from, but he quickly discovered what was making the sound.
As the foreman drew closer to the sound, he said it increased in pitch.
According to the Haunted Walk story, a woman dressed in white came wailing down the hall and passed right through him and the nearest wall.
The Journal recently spoke to Virginia Clark, ArtSci ’94 and current manager of The Grad Club, about the “extra staff members” that hang around when the other patrons have already stumbled their way home.
“Oh yeah, it’s haunted,” Clark said. “There’s numerous accounts and numerous stories from multiple staff.
“After one of our martini nights a while back, the staff were closing up and sitting down to a drink after work, and we heard some people upstairs—and everyone heard it—I mean, everyone heard it,” she said.
“We figured it was just a few people who didn’t leave the bar with everyone else when we closed. So, a couple of guys went up to check, and they came down with these really pale faces saying, ‘Uh, Virg, there’s nobody up there,’ ” she said.
“We all left quickly that night.
“Another time, I was on my day off and I had to come in with a plumber because he said he heard too many noises and the house was freaking him out,” she said. “This was a big, burly plumber guy and he wouldn’t stay in the house alone.”
Clark said most of the incidents have occurred on the third floor, near her office.
Anyone who has been lost—or drunk—in the upper floors of The Grad Club already knows they are disorienting enough without the added stress of ghosts hanging around those crooked corners and slanted hallways.
“One day there was a bartender here named Gina,” Clark said. “She was working one night and this young guy comes in, sits down at the bar and says, ‘So, this place is haunted, eh?’ and she’d never seen him before and hadn’t told him anything, so she said, ‘How’d you know?’ and he said, ‘Well, this is going to sound weird, but I’m a psychic and I can see ghosts and stuff.’
“So, he went on to describe exactly where my office is—where most of the stuff happens—and he said, ‘I had a vision of a woman dying while giving birth there.’ ” The Grad Club used to be a doctor’s house, where people regularly gave birth, and this all happened right where Clark’s office is currently located.
“But there’s no way he could have known that,” she said.
Clark stressed she is not a superstitious person, but there’s just too much evidence to ignore, she said.
“I’m not a bump-in-the-night kind of girl, but I’ve definitely seen ghosts at The Grad Club,” Clark said.
—With files from Haunted Walks Inc.