by Stephen Johnson
Once October rolls around, everyone is looking for a good scare. This year, we decided to try The Haunted Walk located in downtown Ottawa.
I had been on the Haunted Walk before and knew some of the subject matter was not geared towards very young kids. Our son, David, now a mature nine-year-old was excited to try out the walk.
We arrived downtown and were greeted by our guide on Sparks Street. He was wearing a black cape and holding a lantern so seemed perfectly suited to guiding a haunted walk. Everyone from the group arrived and soon we started the tour.
We chose the Ghost and Gallows tour because it included a walk and visit to the Ottawa Jail Hostel.
The main storyline of the walk revolved around the murder of D’Arcy Mcgee. He was a member of parliament and a Father of Confederation. In 1868, Mcgee was shot and killed while trying to enter the boarding house where he was staying. Patrick Whelan was accused and tried for the murder even though the evidence was mostly circumstantial.
Our guide communicated this historical information in an easy-to-understand manner. He called upon four volunteers to present the evidence against Whelan. We were surprised when David volunteered. He presented the information like a professional criminal lawyer.
After a short walk from Sparks Street, we arrived at the Ottawa Jail Hostel. I must admit, the building does look very spooky at night. Built in 1862, the building was in use as a jail until 1972. It was also where Patrick Whelan was kept until he was hung in 1869.
Now, the former jail acts as a youth hostel with clients staying in the jail cells. There are some who say the jail is still haunted. Our guide shared a number of stories that certainly sent a shiver down our spines. He also shared a lot of certified historical information which gave a good balance. I have stayed at the hostel and while I did not see any ghosts, it would be a creepy place to wander around at 3 in the morning
One highlight was taking our photo inside the jail cell. It was amazing how little space was given to the prisoners.
Soon enough, our tour was over and we were headed back to Sparks Street. I would highly recommend the tour but do not think it would be appropriate for young kids. A mature tween or teen in your family would be fine. David enjoyed the experience and I thought it helped to bring Ottawa history alive in a unique way.
The Haunted Walk will be offering a tour on October 28th called We ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts: A Haunted Walk Kid’s Adventure. It is billed as being best suited to kids aged 6-10.