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Hidden Secrets of Kingston’s Skeleton Park

A long-lost cemetery, forgotten burial ground disturbed by a construction project, and mass graves are often the setting for horror stories. After all, most of us expect our mortal remains to lie peacefully in the ground, visited by relatives and loved ones. When those remains are disturbed, we imagine spirits of the departed to rise up and voice their displeasure. The macabre history of McBurney Park in Kingston, Ontario, is like a perfect storm of cemetery-themed horror. Locally known as “Skeleton Park,” this 4-acre plot of land was once a burial ground for mostly Scottish and Irish immigrants. Approximately 10,000 were buried here between 1813 and 1865.

The park is located between Balaclava, Alma, and Ordnance streets, just a few blocks northeast of downtown Kingston. Burials began informally in 1816, but it officially became known as the Common or Upper Burial Grounds in 1825. The cemetery quickly filled due to several epidemics, including a devastating a typhus outbreak in the 1840s. Corpses were buried quickly, sometimes just a few feet below the surface. Many of these hasty burials fell victim to a criminal ring called the Resurrectionists, who sold bodies to medical students at Queens University. They sometimes filled the empty coffins with rocks to prevent sagging in the soil and the discovery of their crimes.

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How do you know if a driver is from Canada?

If they’re putzing around at 10mph below the speed limit, they probably have an Ontario license plate.

Hochelaga Inn’s Lady in Black

This charming 21-room French Victorian Mansion is located at 24 Sydenham Street in the historic Sydenham District, just a few blocks from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. It operates year-round as an upscale bed and breakfast. Guests come for more than relaxing evenings, however. The Hochelaga Inn is widely believed to be haunted by several ghosts, including a woman in black and a spectral child.

John and Harriet McIntyre built this home in 1879. Harriet was a relative of Sir John Alexander Macdonald. Macdonald, renowned for his drinking and public corruption, was the first Prime Minister of Canada. After John McIntyre died, the Hochelaga Foundation, a branch of the Bank of Montreal, purchased the inn to house its traveling employees. The stables were located behind the mansion, where the carports are today.

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