Murder at the Halifax Club

A century ago, did the city’s elite conspire to kill?

Recently, I was lucky enough to attend a function at the Halifax Club. The swank Hollis Street space has been where the city’s most distinguished gentlemen (and, since 1986, women) can meet to toast their successes and discuss whatever it is the upper classes discuss behind closed doors.

During this event, the assembled crowd was given a guided tour around the 150-year-old building. As conversations go inside old Halifax structures, the talk soon turned to ghosts. A sad spirit restlessly roams the third floor, our guide told us. Casually, he recounted her history.

Back when the club was first founded, one of the members had an affection for the city’s escorts. One evening, the gentleman’s heart gave out while entertaining a young sex worker in his third-floor bed. His body was carried downstairs; his death explained as natural causes so as not to damage his sterling reputation.

But what to do about the woman? The assembled members, some of Halifax’s most powerful figures, decided she was a risk not worth taking. They threw her out the third-story window, breaking her neck on the cold street below.

I’ve tried, with no luck, to find any corroboration of this story in the Public Archives. There’s over a hundred members of the club the tale could apply to, and tracking down their dates of death isn’t always easy. Likely somewhere is an old newspaper article praising the life of a virtuous civic leader who passed away quietly in his sleep. Buried elsewhere in that day’s news there might be some cramped notice of a body found dead in the gutter.

That will be how history remembers the Halifax Club’s victim. An amusing tale to tell visitors. How spooky, the way the powerless can be disposed of rather than shame the honour of good, upstanding men.

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