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A Haunted Walk And A Night Spent In Jail

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Spooooooky….. What’s that? Who’s there?

Every town that is older than one generation has them, stories that have turned to myth and legend. Ottawa is rich in history and equally rich in myths of the spooky kind. Since we were going to spend a night in the famous HI Ottawa Jail Hostel why not end the evening with a Haunted Walk tour before bed. Perhaps if I’m lucky 30 Days In Ottawa could become 30 Ghosts In Ottawa….

Haunted Walk Tour

Starting off at 46 1/2 Sparks St we know we are in for a treat, tour guides are all in costume, Black clothes, capes and candle lit lanterns.

our haunted tour guide

As a group we start off on foot towards the Jail Hostel. Along the way we stop at various points to hear stories from the past, tails of loved ones roaming the streets in search of peace in the afterlife. The setting sun provides a perfect backdrop and the mood is definitely spooky…

walking to the Ottawa Jail

View over the Rideau Canal

Our final destination is the Hostel but it’s original purpose is the source of all the stories for our tour as it was the Carleton Country Gaol until 1972. It was responsible for housing 1000’s of prisoners over the decades and many of them spent their last moments on earth at the Gaol.

We make our way straight up to the top floor, the only part of the Jail not converted into the Hostel. The steps up to the top floor were spooky enough and the suicide grates leave the impression that people really didn’t want to spend their days in the cells.

Stairs up to the top floor at the Ottawa Jail

We are getting locked in

Once we are all up safe on the top floor the spooky really begins. We tour the cells where actual prisoners were kept. Exposed to the outside elements more died from exposure than from hanging but either way the cells were tiny and afforded almost no movement.

Is that a ghost or our guide

prisoner cell


Next up was the creepiest part of the whole tour, Death Row. Four cells side by side and the farther away from the guards office the closer you were to your trip to the gallows.

Death Row

It was spooky and creepy in Death Row so we moved through it quickly. A quick peek at the Gallows where many prisoners were hanged and we’d had enough.

the Gallows

Our tour was over but not our time in the Jail. Now we had to settle in to sleep for the night. Would we be visited by one of the ghosts? Would we hear rattling chains, moans, groans or screams.  Only time would tell. At least there were 4 of us to a room. If any of us heard or saw anything we would have another witness.

HI Ottawa Jail Hostel

Hostel Jail Sleeping Room

Whether you stay at the Hostel or just talk the Haunted Walk this was fun and a history lesson on Ottawa all at the same time. Unfortunately I didn’t see or hear any ghosts but perhaps that is a good thing after all.

30 Days In Ottawa has only just begun, I wouldn’t want to be scared back to Vancouver before I complete my adventures.

Haunted Walking Tours

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About Author

Marc Smith is a former event planner turned vagabond adventurer. He loves strong Americano's, great wine, cold beer and zip lining over tree tops. Formerly of Vancouver, most of Marc's time when not travelling is in Canada's largest city, Toronto. Follow along on his nomad adventures and discover places to stay, things to do and where to eat & drink as he explores the world one city and region at a time.

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