Better off dead

Ghosts and other ne’er-do-wells still clamour about the harbour

What better way to appreciate our seafaring history than get acquainted with the spirits haunting our shores? Andrew Aulenback, The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's ghost story "guru," is interested in uncovering tales few Haligonians know about.

Aulenback tells the story of The Duc d'Enville, a French admiral who, in 1746, gathered his entire fleet in Chebucto Bay, hoping to save Louisburg for the French. The majority of his crew perished, he burned his ships in the Bedford Basin and died shortly after. The French dumped d'Enville's remains on Georges Island, only to dig up his corpse later to bury in Louisbourg.

There were sightings of d'Enville's ghost strutting about British Halifax, fully clad in his French uniform, as well as reports of the ghost looking for his lost fleets in the Bedford Basin.

A British officer with a drinking problem also haunts the Sambro Island Lighthouse. The British supposedly sent a man with the unfortunate name of Alexander Alexander to Halifax, with a pile of money for supplies. When he came back with nothing but a hangover headache, his commanding officer sentenced him to a lifetime in the army without pay. Alexander hanged himself.

"It's lighthouse keepers who claim that that light is haunted by poor Alexander Alexander marching desperately around to pay off his debts," says Aulenback. The ghost also torments lighthouse keepers by hiding their keys.

Legend also has it the Macdonald Bridge will fall, as did its two predecessors, due to the curse of a native chief whose daughter was enamoured with a British officer. This myth perked the interest of officials at the Department of Natural Resources, who used sonar and multibeam bathymetry technologies to prove the bridges collapsed due to geological causes. But the thing about ghost stories is---you never really know. ---LH

For more ghost stories, head to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (1675 Lower Water, on alternate Tuesdays, where they've lost three security guards who felt haunted by its artifacts.