Hoax or haunted: The truth behind King’s’ grim ghost stories

(Photo: Kristen Thompson)

(Photo: Kristen Thompson)

Since arriving at King’s, I’ve heard tales of some spirits who haunt the halls of our beloved university and decided to track down their origins and find out whether or not they warrant a call to the Ghostbusters. With the help of University of King’s College Archives, here is the breakdown of the four most famous ghosts haunting the halls of King’s.

The Marauding Cow of Middle/Chapel Bay

Imagine, it’s the early 1900s, and you find yourself bored to tears in your dorm room in the Bays. How can you and your dorm-mates entertain yourselves? By pranking people of course! This prank, however, went a little too far, when the inhabitants of middle bay stole a cow and marched it up the stairs to the top floor as a nasty surprise for a student who was disliked by his peers.

Legend has it, the cow walked all the way up the stairs and stayed at the top, unable to walk down. In a desperate attempt to remove the large smelly animal from the dorm, the cow was killed.

Another version of this story takes place in Chapel Bay, where the cow was slaughtered and left in a dorm room to rot for the resident to find once he had returned from a long weekend spent away from the college.

In both stories, the cow now roams the stairwells of Middle and Chapel Bay creating eerie sounds in the pipework in the middle of the night, stuck in cow-purgatory after its cruel death.

So how much of this legend is true? As far as records tell, not a whole lot. The university archives (UKCA) have no records or information putting a cow in Middle Bay or Chapel Bay, disproving the whole legend altogether.

It is possible that all of this happened under the radar without being recorded. However, is it possible that a cow could have gotten stuck on the top floor?

Cows struggle with walking downstairs, due to their inability to see the floor in front of them and balance correctly. On steep steps, like those famously found around the college, cows most certainly would have become stuck or injured.

Poltergeist in ‘The Pit’

Almost ten years ago, a team of ghost hunters from Halifax packed up their gear and prepared for an exhibition of a lifetime into ‘The Pit’.

Home of the King’s Theatrical Society (KTS), The Pit is located under the A&A building and is rumoured to be the home of the spirit of a long-dead janitor who supposedly died of a heart attack while tidying up.

According to an unofficial article written by an unnamed journalism student, the most sightings of the janitors took place in the 1990’s by campus patrol.

The UKCA has no official documents of any janitors unexpectedly dying on the job, but that doesn’t mean that no unruly spirits are present.

The team of ghost hunters who spent an entire night camped out in The Pit failed to find any evidence of lingering janitorial souls, and instead, had their video camera stolen.

Whoops.

Atrocities in Angel’s Roost

For those who’ve never visited Angels Roost at the top of the A&A building, count yourselves lucky, as it is most definitely the most spiritually active location on campus.

The first tragic tale of the Roost recalls the suicide of a maid during 1940-1941.

According to legend, the young woman committed suicide via hanging after a naval officer who was studying at HMCS King’s in World War II, impregnated her and then abandoned her.

The woman has haunted Angels Roost and the A&A building ever since and was reportedly seen by several students and professors. Many residents of the Roost claim to hear a woman singing, while others have seen ghostly apparitions of a woman hanging from the ceiling.  

Though university and naval archives have no records of a maid committing suicide, it is true that maids used to live in the Roost up until the 1960’s. Some believe that because it was taboo at the time to have a child out of wedlock the whole event was covered up by Navy officials and the university to save any trouble.

The second tragedy to befall on the Roost is the death of a young male student. Stories of the young man’s death vary.

One story is of an unfortunate accident where a group of students were jumping rooftop to rooftop when one of the men slipped and fell.

Another account claims the young man’s death was deliberate and self-inflicted.

Unfortunately, this is one story that has some support behind it. In the spring of 1965, Greg de Catanzaro, a student studying at King’s committed suicide in a ‘male residence’ by falling to his death.

Which residence is not specified but it is thought to be the Angels Roost. Just like the maid of the 1940’s, it is claimed George haunts the A&A building, and it’s thought that he might be the male ghost seen in The Pit.

Whether or not you believe in the presence of spirits among us or not, it is safe to assume that within the walls of our wonderfully historic university lie secrets and stories that have yet to be told and understood.

The only question remaining is who among us is brave enough to bust out the Ouija board and discover the truth; certainly not me.

If your insatiable thirst for Halifax ghost stories is alive and well be sure to check out ‘Halifax Haunts’, a compilation of ghost stories centred in Halifax, written by Steve Vernon, an author and King’s alumni.