In Search of the Stories and Legends of Griffintown
Tours of Haunted Griffintown reveal a new side to the neighborhood
At the Sainte-Anne church ruins, on the corner of Mountain and Basin Streets, our guide Robusquet tells us how only a few years ago a man walking on the street saw a ghost of a priest by a coffin. The tour of Haunted Griffintown has just begun and we’re already captivated by our guide’s stories, which are introducing us to a whole new side of Griffintown.
Tours of Haunted Montreal
Back in 2012, Donovan King, a passionate consumer of history and haunted theater, had the idea of creating similar-themed tours in Montreal, starting with Mount Royal. Faced with an enthusiastic public response, other neighborhoods were added, including downtown, Old Montreal and, for the past 2 years, Griffintown.
“87% of Canadians think ghosts are real and exist” he explains.
“The tour features other, more well-known stories, such as Mary Gallagher’s, but also lesser-known tales, taken from internet research, interviews or books.”
The Ghosts of Griffintown
Griffintown has one of the cities’ richest histories, something we discover more and more about during our tour. This ancient portage site, used by the Natives to bypass the Lachine Rapids, became a working-class neighborhood with a mysterious past, before being virtually abandoned in 1963. An exodus of the population ensued, but the ghosts definitely stayed!
After learning about the cholera and typhus epidemics, the mass arrival of Irish immigrants fleeing starvation, the abandoned tunnels and buildings, and the dark history of the Dow Brewery, we also learned that Griffintown was the site of the first workers’ strike in Canada. The conflict finally ended with the intervention of the army and many dead and wounded strikers.
Epidemics that affected Griffintown, including cholera and typhus, also contributed to the neighborhood’s dark past. One can almost see the quarantine barracks as Robusquet tells us the touching story of immigrants arriving after fleeing famine in Ireland. It is said that ghosts from that era sometimes come back around here.
Another notable incident in Griffintown’s history was a tragic plane crash that occurred when a bomber crashed on Ottawa Street on April 25, 1944.
The tour concludes with the story of Griffintown’s most famous ghost, Mary Gallagher, a prostitute who was murdered in 1879 and would return every seven years to the corner of William and Murray Streets. The next time will be in 2019!
The tours, lasting approximately 90 minutes, are given in English and French. Haunted Montreal offers tours in various neighborhoods of Montreal, including a new one in the Redlight District, until October 31st. Haunted Griffintown’s final tour of 2016 is scheduled for October 7th, but other dates may be added. You can also organize private tours.
Continue your evening with some drinks at Brasseurs de Montreal
After an evening rich in stories and new discoveries, our last stop was at Brasseurs de Montréal to regain our strength. In Griffintown since 2008, they offer no less than fifteen beers brewed on site, including the Montreal Griffintown, a blond beer, and a few specialty beers such as the Ghosttown, a black beer with absinthe, perfect for after our Haunted Griffintown tour.
Contact: [email protected]
1483, Ottawa Street