02 Nov 2015
Four Residents of Old Montreal You Don’t Want to Meet
SOURCE : GUIDATOUR/FANTÔMES DE MONTRÉAL
By definition, all old cities have myths and legends lurking in their darkest corners, and Old Montreal is no exception. In nearly 375 years, a lot has happened here, generating intrigue for some and resentment for others. Ah yes, centuries of animosity and an unquenchable thirst for revenge plague some of the tormented souls that inhabit the narrow streets of the historic quarter. But who are these ghosts and where are they hiding?
To get the full scoop on local lore, we met with Louise Hébert, president and cofounder of Guidatour. Louise knows everything there is to know about the history of Old Montréal and its resident phantoms, many of whom make guest appearances during her company’s popular Montreal Ghost tours. Louise sat down to tell us all about these characters—and didn’t spare any of the sordid details. Here are just four of the sinister sagas she recounted. Warning: Not for the faint of heart.
Warning: Not for the faint of heart
MARY GALLAGHER| SOURCE : NICOLAS PODSCHELNI
Onlookers would probably be taken by her seductive attire, were it not for the horrible lacerations across her body. Every seven years, this bloody apparition returns to the scene of the crime that led to her violent demise. In 1879, Mary Gallagher, a 38-year-old Irish prostitute, was decapitated by a drunken friend who was jealous of her fine clothing. According to the legend, her distraught ghost is still looking for its head in the streets of Old Montreal.
ADOLPHUS DEWEY | SOURCE : GUIDATOUR/FANTÔMES DE MONTRÉAL
Don’t be fooled by the meticulous appearance of this rich and influential merchant, or his crocodile tears. Adolphus Dewey wanders the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal in search of forgiveness for his transgressions. An irrationally jealous man, Dewey lived in fear that his wife might someday leave him—so he made sure that would never happen by bludgeoning her to death with an axe. He was sentenced to death and hung at Champs-de-Mars in 1833, which explains why he looks so pale and angry. The story goes that Dewey was a churchgoer, but was not able to repent in time. And that’s why he still walks among us today.
This character is easily recognizable with a leathery face and tattered clothes that have been blacken by flames. Claude Thibault’s life was tumultuous even before he arrived to New France in 1732. Once a crooked salt merchant, he sought a job as a domestic servant upon arrival in Montreal and soon fell in love with Marie-Josèphe-Angélique, a Black slave for a bourgeois family. Suspecting that her owner was planning on selling her, Marie-Josèphe-Angélique convinced Claude that they should escape to New England together. Their story took a dramatic turn when they set fire to the home of Marie-Josèphe-Angélique’s owner, causing the Great Fire of Montreal in 1734. The enslaved woman was caught and her White lover fled. He would later set another fire and perish in it.
BARTHINE BOITEUX, A FICTIONAL CHARACTER
Before the coming of age of science, many innocent souls were victims of horrible injustice. Illnesses and medical conditions that are easily explained today were once attributed to witchery or demonic possession. When New France was first founded, cholera struck Montreal, killing hundreds. The Montreal Ghosts team decided to explore the grittier side of life in New France through the creation of fictional characters, like Barthine Boiteux. At the tender age of 12, Barthine was married to apothecary Claud Boiteux, who was several decades her senior. But that was just the beginning of her misfortunes. Barthine fell ill during the cholera outbreak and languished in a coma. To make matters worse, people believed she was dead and buried her alive. “We created this character to give our customers a glimpse into the lives of the “filles du Roy” (King’s wards), as well as an appreciation for the ravages of disease during that era,” explained Louise Hébert.
If you’ve got a taste for the macabre, visit Montreal Ghosts and reserve your tickets to meet Old Montreal’s undead. An all-too-eerie Special Halloween Ghost Hunt will take place over the Halloween weekend. The event is so popular that extra tours were added at 6:30 p.m. on October 30 and 31.