Nova Scotia is the perfect setting for scary stories. It’s somewhat remote, is foggy more days than not, and its residents love to tell a good tale. Its sea-faring culture has bred oral traditions that have cast the sea as a mighty provider and destroyer that gives and takes away. Unsurprisingly, the sea is at the center of many of Nova Scotia’s best ghost stories.
Snow & Co., Undertakers
As a mid-sized port city, Halifax, Nova Scotia is particularly steeped in nautical disasters that have turned into ghost stories. Snow & Co., Undertakers assisted with the processing of Titanic victims; later in 1917, they were pictured with stacks of pine coffins piled high in the aftermath of the Halifax Explosion. The Five Fisherman restaurant, where Snow & Co. existed decades ago, is now reportedly the site of frequent supernatural occurrences. McNab’s Island in Halifax Harbour is reportedly haunted by the spirits of mutineers who were hanged as a warning to approaching ships on the appropriately named Hangman’s Beach.
The Grey Lady
The Annapolis Valley region also has its fair share of ghostly residents. Perhaps the most famous is the Grey Lady of Stoney Beach. As the tale goes, a ship’s captain kept several mistresses on his long voyages away from home. He was often lonely and would pick up different women at each port. He had one such woman with him on a return trip home, which made him worry. His wife would surely be on the Annapolis Royal wharf to greet him. What would he do with his mistress? Reports say that as the ship approached the Digby Gut region, the captain and his mistress lowered themselves into a dory and rowed to shore by Stoney Beach. But when they landed, the captain was alone … legend says that the captain beheaded his mistress on shore and hid the body.
Since then, many people have claimed to have seen the Grey Lady in that region. She is sometimes headless, and other times roams the region with her head intact, always sporting the same grey cloak she wore on the day of her death. It is said that spotting the Grey Lady is a warning and an ill omen. It is also reported that the Grey Lady is no longer attractive, which is what you’d expect from a decapitated ghost.
Nova Scotia’s Story Collector
The most famous collector of ghost stories in Nova Scotia was the noted folklorist Dr. Helen Creighton. Her most popular book was a collection of stories fittingly titled Bluenose Ghosts. Creighton posited that one of the most common ghost stories in Nova Scotia was that of the forerunner…
Imagine that it’s a dark and stormy night. You are walking home late one evening and you see a figure ahead of you carrying a lantern. He seems to be the same height as you, but as you get closer you notice that he’s extraordinarily tall – so tall, in fact, that you can easily walk between his legs. The closer you get, the more frightened you are. Then, without warning, he turns and with a gripping horror you see that his face is your own. The apparition is a foretelling of your impending death.
According to Creighton, the man who told this story, Henry Awalt, died a few months after recounting his experience. So, a word to the wise: if you see a spooky figure who bears an uncanny resemblance to yourself, it’s best to turn the other way and run!