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Spookiest spots in Cape Breton
Halloween and ghosts go together like kids and candy.
So, with the scary season upon us, the Post turned to local ghost hunter Doug Mombourquette to learn find out what he thinks are the five most haunted places in Cape Breton.
As co-founder of Haunts from the Cape, Mombourquette and partner Jason Murphy use digital voice recorders, infrared and full-spectrum cameras, and specialized meters that detect spikes in electromagnetic energy and temperature to investigate paranormal activity across the island.
They’ve have visited more than 50 locations, including private homes, and volunteer for events at the Fortress of Louisbourg and Cape Breton Miners' Museum where they invite the public to use their equipment to help search for the supernatural.
Here, in no particular order, are their picks for the five places you’re most likely to encounter a ghost tonight:
FORTRESS OF LOUISBOURG
Yes, you just read that this list isn’t in any particular order, but the reconstructed 18th-century French fortress is without a doubt the marquee spot in Cape Breton for finding ghosts, according to Mombourquette.
“Louisbourg would be No. 1. There’s so much history there, there were so many battles, there was so much death,” he said. “The grounds are soaked in blood. So, if there’s going to be any type of paranormal activity, whether it’s residual or intelligent, it’s going to be at the Fortress of Louisbourg.”
Not surprisingly, Mombourquette has had many encounters with ghosts at the fortress over the years (the Haunts from the Cape YouTube channel alone features more than 30 videos filmed there).
He recalled one time when they set up a tape recorder in the bakery and recorded footsteps walking up the stairs.
“You can hear these heavy boot steps walking up and down a set of stairs that goes to the upper level of the bakery. We had the recorder right there and you can hear as plain as day someone walking up the stairs. You can hear it start loud and then it goes off as if they got to the top of the stairs and you can hear them going across the floor. There was nobody in there. We were the only ones out there. The place was locked up and we put the recorder in, so I don’t know who would have made the footsteps.”
Mombourquette said they also recorded a woman’s voice in the jail and a woman singing in the chapel at 3 a.m.
“We’ve had all kinds of really good EVPs (electronic voice phenomena),” he said. “I haven’t seen anything. I was touched on the shoulder in the Duhaget House. That’s probably my best encounter but there’s been so many, not only just by us — there’s so many documented cases of paranormal activity out there.”
BLACK BROOK CEMETERY
Located between Homeville and Port Morien, Black Brook Cemetery was consecrated in 1842 by the Presbyterian Church of Cow Bay, and, according to local legend, it’s haunted by a witch’s ghost.
“Apparently there was a witch who lived in Port Morien and they wouldn’t allow her to be buried in the graveyard so they buried her in the woods on the outskirts of the graveyard and they say she haunts the place,” said Mombourquette.
“We’ve been out there I bet 100 times, through the woods where it’s supposed to be — we even checked the other side of the graveyard and we can’t find it.”
However, he said they did get confirmation from the spirit world that a witch was buried nearby.
“A colleague from the group, we were out there one day and I asked ‘Who lives up this brook?’ because the brook is in the woods in the corner where the grave is supposed to be, and the EVP said ‘Witch.’”
Mombourquette said they’ve also sung nursery rhymes while standing next to children’s graves and voices have finished verses for them.
However, not all of the encounters are friendly.
“I was called a 'prick' by an EVP one time. One of my friends was called an 'a--hole.' Sometimes it’s really good out there and sometimes you don’t even want to get out of your car, you just don’t feel right,“ said Mombourquette, a professional photographer, recalling a time when he went to the cemetery to photograph eagles.
“I went out there in the middle of the afternoon and I got out of the car and I went ‘Not today,’ and I got back into the car and drove to the beach and did some beach photography instead.”
Black Brook Witch
While the museum itself has no history of grisly deaths or other events that would lead to it being haunted, Mombourquette said there is almost always lots of ghost activity in a back room filled with old mining equipment and the personal belongings of miners.
“We call it the cage, and in the cage it’s all the old artifacts that belonged to the miners and their families. There’re helmets in there that were melted, that were taken off the miners that died in the explosions — all sorts of really grim stuff. There’s a theory that spirits can be attached to the equipment or pieces of their house that they were fond of or had an attachment to and they’ll hover around it,” he explained. “It’s always active in the cage. There’s a plaque out front, the guy’s name was Boutilier and his nickname was Boots, and there’s an EVP of one of us asking 'Is there anybody in the cage with us,' and the EVP, as plain as day, says 'Boots.’ And his name is right out by the door on a memorial plaque.”
Another time Haunts from the Cape was volunteering at an event at the museum and a group of people all heard an unexplained sound in the company house.
“It was like a sigh or a whisper, but it wasn’t through any machine, and every single person in there heard it. It was 10 people who verified that we heard the same noise.”
Like the Fortress of Louisbourg, Sydney’s Cossit House Museum is another place with plenty of history — and, apparently, ghosts.
Built in 1787, the former family home of Rev. Ranna Cossit is part of the Old Sydney Society’s ghost walk tour, and Mombourquette said there’s good reason why.
“The birthing room is always active,” he said. “They told me a medium went in there before and broke into tears because of the energy that was coming out of the birthing room.”
Mombourquette said during their investigation they also recorded electronic voice phenomena in the attic.
“There was a servant that used live there named Truthful — we got her name coming through a couple times. The place is fairly active. It’s a good spot. I’d like to get back in there again.”
It makes sense that a ghost town would be a great place to find ghosts.
Designed as a mining town for the Cape Breton Coal, Iron and Railway Company, Broughton was abandoned after the company failed to secure rail transportation to get its coal to port and went bankrupt in 1907.
Only the crumbling foundations remain, in its heyday Broughton was an impressive sight, with several large official buildings, dozens of miners’ cottages and two hotels — the Broughton Arms Hotel and the Crown Hotel. The Broughton Arms Hotel, which reportedly featured North America's first revolving door, was destroyed by fire in April 1916 when Canadian soldiers stayed in the town during the First World War.
“We asked one time what happened to the hotel and we got an EVP that said ‘Fire,’ and that’s exactly what happened, it burned to the ground. We went to the graveyard — we could never find the graveyard and we finally got the GPS co-ordinates and we went to it, and even the graveyard is in the middle of nowhere, it’s pretty surreal to think how abandoned that town really is. To think there’s a graveyard in the middle of the woods out there that no one knows about is unbelievable.”