Allan Memorial Institute MKultra haunted Montreal

Haunted Montreal: 8 places to get terrified this Halloween, and 3 to avoid at all costs

“Let’s get this straight: I don’t believe in ghosts. Irrespective of my beliefs, and I make no pronouncements as to whether what haunts us is real or not, I can say with authority that Montreal is a very old city, and old cities are haunted. Have I seen shit? Hell yes.”

Let’s get this straight: I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t quite think my brain would be able to handle being convinced it had seen the apparition of a spirit or spectre. So as a matter of good mental health, I — like most other reasonable people — have simply decided to not trust our eyes irrespective of what they see, and to not speak about the weird things that make our skin crawl and the hairs stand up on the back of our necks.

It’s called being an adult, and frankly it’s awful.

But that’s what Halloween is for: throwing caution to the wind and entertaining the part of your brain that still gravitates towards childlike wonder about the unknown. That and trying to pour beer through the mouth hole of your “slutty Bojack Horseman” costume’s horse head mask. 

Irrespective of my beliefs, and I make no pronouncements as to whether what haunts us is real or not, I can say three things with authority: first, Montreal is a very old city. Second, old cities are haunted. And third, well, I have walked all over this city, at all times of day and in all climates, and may have been as high as a Georgia Pine most of those times.

So have I seen shit? Hell yes.

I’ve also lived in many, many, creepy old buildings, and have spent a fair bit of time crawling around even creepier abandoned buildings.

All of this is secondary to the fact that I’m a historian and quite literally know where a lot of the bodies are buried, both metaphorical and literal. And there are a lot of bodies buried underfoot, and not all of them are in cemeteries (or places that were once cemeteries).

Where I wouldn’t be caught dead on Halloween (or most days of the year)

Hôpital de la Miséricorde haunted Montreal
Hôpital de la Miséricorde

There are three places I would strongly advocate against going to — on Halloween or any other night — regardless of whether or not you believe in ghosts.

Stay away from the grounds around the abandoned Allan Memorial Hospital, as well as the former Hôpital de la Miséricorde, and the grounds of the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal. 

Do not go there, not even on a dare. I wouldn’t go to these places even if someone was paying me.

The reasons are all the same: there are very serious and credible allegations these institutions may have illegally disposed of human remains on the grounds in unmarked graves. So there are two reasons actually: the first being ‘don’t be a dick.’

The Mohawk Mothers allege the grounds around the Allan Memorial may have bodies of Indigenous women and children in unmarked graves. They’re further alleging construction taking place at the site has found evidence that isn’t being handled appropriately, including bones and a child’s shoe

I would avoid this area like the fucking plague, and again, I don’t believe in ghosts. 

It’s not just that you don’t want to go mucking about in a construction site that may have actually disturbed evidence of unmarked graves of Indigenous women and children, but that the site may contain remains of victims of the MKUltra mind control experiments as well. 

So that’s two horrible things. 

People suffered there, and probably suffered terribly. And people are still suffering the immense emotional toil, the survivor’s guilt and whatever that medical and psychological experimentation did to their minds.


The Hôpital de la Miséricorde is similarly alleged to have unmarked graves, possibly in its basement, of children and women buried there under similar conditions as what happened at the Allan. Not a place for a last-minute urbex expedition in late October.

St. Jean de Dieu hospital haunted Montreal
St. Jean de Dieu hospital fire, 1890

Same story over at the Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal, which is way out in the East End by the Lafontaine Tunnel. 

A psychiatric institution since 1873, it used to be called the St. Jean de Dieu hospital, and at its peak once housed 5,000 patients. It factors heavily into the Duplessis Orphans Scandal, as this is where a great number of the orphans wound up. 

The quick summary of the scandal is that back in the 1940s and 50s, the Quebec government subsidized the Catholic Church, which was responsible for taking care of orphans. The Quebec government under Duplessis provided more money to the Church for orphans deemed to have psychological or emotional problems, so naturally enough, the Church started labelling orphans under its care as mentally deficient to get more money from the government. The abuse didn’t end there, as victims recalled a wide range of other kinds of abuse not dissimilar from what victims of the Residential Schools have described. Making things that much stranger, the hospital was, for many years, technically its own municipality — with its own police force. Orphans imprisoned there have alleged for years that children were subjects of medical experiments and buried in unmarked graves on the grounds.

Again, I don’t believe in ghosts, but you sure as shit wouldn’t find me in any of these places—not even in the middle of a bright sunny day. Way too creepy.

Less horrifying places to get spooked

haunted Montreal Mount Royal night
Mount Royal. Photo by Awana JF

Mount Royal at the end of October and the beginning of November still takes the cake for me. Not the cemetery next door, mind you (though that’s fine, too), I mean the actual park. 

A walk along the Olmsted trail (or some of the lesser known trails) late at night in the fall has all the ingredients one needs to be spooked. Trust me, I know. I can’t count the number of times a pleasant nocturnal stroll up on the mountain ended with me sprinting in the direction of the nearest source of light. There’s plenty of critters crawling around up there, crunching leaves and twigs like approaching footsteps. There’s light filtering in through the woods, reminding us of the relative safety of the city that’s tantalizingly just out of reach, while simultaneously providing just enough illumination and casting plenty of shadows to conjure all kinds of apparitions in your mind.

More than a few times, with my heart rate already elevated and my mind racing at those footsteps I kept hearing behind me, I’d find myself suddenly face to face with some other random person out enjoying a walk, and it would scare the socks off me. On at least two occasions I can recall, I was making my way down a trail and a homeless person just happened to dart out from behind a tree (once, to ask me for a smoke, another time, because he thought it would be funny to scare me—well done).

I’d say the same is mostly true of Old Montreal and the Old Port, especially if you keep to the side streets and back alleys, about as far away from Place Jacques-Cartier as you can. This is the oldest part of the city, and also a place that can be eerily quiet late at night. This is also the place where French colonists were haunted by their fears of Iroquois warriors waiting and watching them from the woods, and where their religious fervour conjured up all kinds of menacing spirits. More than a few times I’ve been out walking around in Old Montreal, often very late at night in the fall, and would do a double take looking into a dimly lit doorway or down a darkened alley.

If I were a betting man…

Linton apartments Sherbrooke Street
Linton apartments on Sherbrooke Street. Photo via

If I had to put money on it, based on my own experiences, the following places are definitely haunted. Enjoy at your own risk.

St. John the Evangelist Church, on Président-Kennedy, recently announced it was closing as they simply no longer have the money to keep the lights on. It’s a shame, as the church has always been at the forefront of charitable efforts and always had a strong and stable community. Whoever buys the place will have to contend with the spirit of Rev. Edmund Wood, who died in 1909 and has been sticking around in his spirit form since then. Wood’s spirit isn’t said to be malevolent, but we’ll see what the church’s new owners discover.

I have it on very good authority from a resident that the Linton Apartments, on Sherbooke, supposedly has either the ghost of a little girl or of a servant who appears occasionally in the basement. As with the aforementioned ghost of Rev. Wood, supposedly benign (but don’t push your luck).

Though it’s now a small luxury condo development, the house that once stood at 3466 Avenue du Musée was the site of one of the greatest unsolved murder mysteries in Canadian history. It was here that two of the wealthiest Montrealers who ever lived, Ada and Cliff Redpath (of Redpath Sugar), were found dead of gunshot wounds. Their ghosts are still hanging around, waiting for someone to figure out what happened to them.

haunted Montreal Grey Nuns Motherhouse
Grey Nuns Motherhouse crypt

The former Grey Nuns Motherhouse on René-Lévesque. I don’t know how Concordia students manage to sleep there: the Grey Nuns were involved in a number of abuse cases, a bunch of the nuns were buried in the basement crypt, and there was an intentionally set fire there in February of 1918 that killed 60 orphans. 

Sulpician Fort towers, Sherbrooke Street haunted Montreal
Sulpician Fort towers, Sherbrooke Street

The old towers of the Sulpician Fort on Sherbrooke West (on the grounds of the Collège de Montréal): not only haunted by old French soldiers standing guard, but of the Indigenous people forcibly converted there. And I feel like there’s always a weird mist or fog that just kinda hangs out there.

Finally, for many years an eccentric old man named Frank Jarvis lived at 515 Chemin de la Cote-St-Antoine, a stately old Victorian house that looks like it’s right out of the Hollywood archetype for a haunted house. Frank understood this, and understood that leaving his gate open and all the lights off might make for a tantalizing stop on any trick or treater’s path through Westmount. What I was told is that he would dress up a mannequin in a gory mask, or possibly holding what appeared to be a head, place it in the window above the doorway, place some lights underneath it, and throw the lights on whenever kids came by, much to his delight and their terror. Frank passed away a long time ago, but I like to hope his mischievous spirit remains. ■

Read more editorials by Taylor C. Noakes.