Top 10 Creepiest Places in Canada
I’m currently putting the finishing touches on one of several massive projects that I think you’ll really enjoy. I wanted to leave you with something enjoyable in the interim, and so I’ve put together a list of 10 of the creepiest places I’ve come across in my research. There are a lot of creepy places in Canada, including the alleged haunts of monsters, the sites of horrific tragedies, and hundreds of reputedly haunted buildings. The locations that made it onto this list are those at which a variety of strange phenomena have been reported. Without further ado, here are 10 of the creepiest places in Canada. Enjoy!
#10: Oak Island
In the Atlantic Northeast, on the eastern shores of Nova Scotia, in the crook of Mahone Bay, lies a tiny forested isle known as Oak Island. Legend has it that in 1795, three local boys discovered a depression in the soil on the island’s eastern end. Subsequent investigation revealed a deep hidden shaft broken at 10-foot intervals by log platforms. Convinced that a treasure of incalculable value lay below, generations of treasure hunters have attempted to get to the bottom of this so-called ‘Money Pit’, only to be thwarted by ingenious flood traps constructed by the shaft’s mysterious builders. Drilling operations have brought scraps of parchment and fragments of human bones up from deep beneath the Money Pit, but of the island’s supposed treasure, precious little has been found.
Over the centuries, Oak Island treasure hunters have reported all manner of unusual activity on the island. Hard-headed workmen and engineers have seen strange lights hovering over the island at night. Others have spotted mysterious balls of fire floating atop the water in neighbouring Mahone Bay, glimpsed dark shadowy masses gliding through the island’s forest, experienced terrifying nocturnal hallucinations while sleeping on the island, and heard disembodied shrieks issuing from the island’s swamp at night.
#9: Pitt Lake
In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, on Canada’s West Coast just east of the city of Vancouver, lies a large body of water known as Pitt Lake. Nestled in the southern end of the Garibaldi Mountains, Pitt Lake has loomed large in the minds of Canadian prospectors since the late 1800s, when a succession of miners are said to have returned from the wild country that surrounds it bearing rich pokes of gold.
Over the years, an alarming number of prospectors who have set out in search of Pitt Lake’s legendary bonanza have disappeared in the Garibaldi Mountains. Disturbingly, the handful of prospectors who have returned from the mountains beyond Pitt Lake claiming to have rediscovered some long lost gold mine died from some mysterious illness shortly after their return to civilization, leading some to suspect that the gold of Pitt Lake is cursed.
Hand in hand with these mysterious deaths and disappearances are reports of strange animals seen from time to time in the Pitt Lake area. Sasquatch- the wild, hairy giants of Coast Salish legend- have been spotted in the region with uncommon frequency. Other unusual creatures said to haunt the area include giant wolves, which loggers have observed watching their operations from the trees, and huge two-headed snakes resembling a preternatural monster of local native legend. Ghost stories featuring murdered prospectors and long-dead Indian medicine women complete the panoply of peculiarity which makes Pitt Lake one of the creepiest places in Canada.
#8: Bell Island
At the southeastern end of Newfoundland, a wild island province in Atlantic Canada, sits the relatively populous and picturesque Avalon Peninsula. At the Peninsula’s northern end is Conception Bay, and in the heart of Conception Bay sits Bell Island, a 6-mile-long strip of land fraught with more creepy folklore than just about any other place in Canada.
From 1895 until 1966, Bell Island was home to several underground iron mines. As might be expected, the seven decades of drilling and blasting that took place beneath the island saw over a hundred fatalities and many more horrific accidents. Legend has it that many of those who lost their lives in the stygian halls of Bell Island’s underground world returned to haunt their old worksites. Before the last of the mines closed in 1966, it was reportedly not uncommon for miners to hear mysterious clinking issuing from tunnels deep beneath the surface, which witnesses likened to the sound of an iron pick tapping on rock.
The surface of Bell Island is said to be just as uncanny as its underworld. The island’s solitary marsh is purportedly home to a band of malevolent fairies – elusive little men and women who venture out from behind their preternatural veil to lure unsuspecting passersby to their strange otherworldly abode. And according to local legend, a patch of farmland called Dobbin’s Garden is haunted by a frightening hag who chases those who trespass on her domain.
On April 2nd, 1978, at about 11:00 in the morning, Bell Island was rocked by a tremendous sonic blast accompanied by strange lights in the sky – the last and most spectacular of a succession of mystery booms to hit the Atlantic seaboard that year. Scientists who investigated the case blamed the event on a rare and mysterious meteorological phenomenon called ‘ball lightning’ – a diagnosis which many witnesses refuted.
#7: Green Lake
In south-central British Columbia, at the southern edge of what is known as Cariboo Country, lies a lonely body of water called Green Lake. Regionally renowned as a fishing destination, this unassuming wilderness retreat quietly played host to a number of strange and disturbing events throughout the latter half of the 20th Century.
For as long as tourists have visited Green Lake, outdoor sportsmen have reported seeing freak cyclonic winds create perfectly circular patterns in the marshy vegetation which grows at the lake’s edge.
On August 20th, 1966, a nine-year-old boy named Clancy O’Brien vanished from a hill overlooking Green Lake while playing with two cousins and his younger brother. Despite the enormity of the search and rescue operation that ensued, in which aircraft and tracking dogs were employed, and 29,000 man-hours logged, the missing boy was never found.
Throughout the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, visitors and area residents alike reported seeing multifarious phantom lights hovering or flying over Green Lake at night, some of them pulsating and colourful, others appearing as bright white flashes, and others still resembling aerial balls of fire.
One night in the winter of 1974, a tourist from North Vancouver came across large, deep, humanlike footprints, with a length of two or three feet and a stride of about four feet, in the snow near the southern end of Green Lake. In the nights that followed, he and his wife heard hair-raising howls in the woods behind their cabin, and found strands of long coarse hair caught in trees when they inspected the area in the day.
And in the spring of 1978, a mysterious 150-foot circle of scorched earth appeared overnight between Green Lake’s southern shore and a more southerly road. The rocks within the circle had inexplicably turned chalk white.
#6: Cormorant Island
Near the northern tip of Vancouver Island, on Canada’s West Coast, sits a small crescent-shaped isle called Cormorant Island. Heavily wooded with old growth Pacific forest, this sparsely-inhabited island is home to an old logging town called Port McNeill and a tiny Kwakwaka’wakw Indian village called Alert Bay, the latter owing its name to the body of water on which it sits.
In 1928, a man named T.R. Boggs saw what he believed to be a sea serpent swimming in the ocean off Alert Bay. He described the creature as having a camel-like head, which was raised five or six feet out of the water, and a long tail with visible humps. His description accords perfectly with the classic portrait of a sea monster called Cadborosaurus, so-named for its supposed haunt at the southern end of Vancouver Island, Cadborough Bay.
More recently, in the autumn of 2015, Cormorant Island attracted national attention when a resident of Alert Bay recorded mysterious blood-curdling howls emanating from the island’s forest at night, which were clearly distinct from the howls of a wolf. Subsequent journalistic inquiries revealed that eerie nocturnal howling was not uncommon on the island, and was universally attributed to the Sasquatch- the elusive hairy giant of native legend. While conducting interviews with Alert Bay natives, journalists discovered that the creature had been spotted by many island residents over the years, most of whom, in true native fashion, were reluctant to broadcast their encounters.
#5: Great Sandhills
In the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan, the middle of Canada’s three Prairie Provinces, lies a vast expanse of scrub and sand dunes which would seem more at home in the Sahara or Gobi Deserts than it does the wilds of the Great White North. This bizarre-looking natural area, called the Great Sand Hills, once served as the border separating the westerly Blackfoot Confederacy from its easterly rivals, the Plains Cree and Assiniboine.
Up until the 20th Century and beyond, many Blackfoot believed that the Great Sand Hills was a thoroughly haunted area teeming with Indian ghosts, who had taken up residence there after death. They went to great lengths to avoid travelling through the area in the daytime, and claimed that any unfortunate whom circumstance forced to camp there at night would very likely find himself caught in the crossfire of a skirmish between ghostly Blackfoot and Cree warriors, who spent the night thundering about on phantasmal horses in the darkness. This belief was so ubiquitous on the Canadian prairies that 19th Century plainsmen commonly used the term “the Sand Hills” as a euphemism for the afterlife in their writings, much as 20th Century Hollywood Indian fighters did “the Happy Hunting Grounds.”
Blackfoot and Plains Cree tradition cautions that anyone who ventures into the Great Sand Hills at night runs the risk of being shot by a so-called “night arrow” – an invisible projectile fired from the bow of some ghostly warrior. The mysterious injuries produced by night arrows, interestingly, evoke a strange element of Newfoundland fairy folklore. According to Newfoundland legend, anyone foolish enough to wander into a swamp, a stretch of barrens, or any landscape infested with fairies is liable to be shot by an invisible projectile called a “fairy blast”. Those who suffer this indignity feel a sudden unaccountable pain in their arm or leg, which often renders the affected limb partially or fully crippled. At the epicenter of the pain is a swollen lump filled with a tangle of grass, feathers, twigs, and other natural miscellanea.
#4: Devil’s Lake
One of the creepiest Canadian locales I’ve ever read about is a small mountain pond called Devils Lake, located in British Columbia’s Stein Valley N’laka’pamux Heritage Park in the Lillooet Mountains, west of the Fraser Canyon. According to Thompson Indian tradition, this remote mountain lake was a dangerous place haunted by the spirit of an ancient evil medicine woman. Native legend has it that those who visit the area may see strange visions, such as logs floating across the lake with dogs running backward and forward on them, empty canoes drifting across the lake, and people made of ice who run along the shore, all of which vanish shortly after being seen. To see any of these things was considered a bad omen.
#3: Strathcona Provincial Park
In the very heart of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island lies Strathcona Provincial Park, the oldest of its kind in the province, and the largest of its kind on the Island. Among the most famous sections of this sprawling stretch of wilderness is an area with a sinister-sounding appellation: the Forbidden Plateau. According to popular legend, a band of Comox Indian warriors once hid their women and young children on the plateau during a raid on their village by Cowichan warriors. After successfully driving the raiders back, the Comox returned to the plateau to find that their women and children had disappeared. In their place was a carpet of blood red lichen that hadn’t been there before. Fearing that their loved ones had been taken by an evil spirit, the Comox left the area, agreeing that they ought never to return to that haunted plateau lest they arouse the anger of its dangerous preternatural inhabitant.
Although the legend of the Forbidden Plateau is almost certainly a fabrication invented in the 1920s for the purpose of attracting tourism to the area, Strathcona Provincial Park remains an unusual area in which strange things have occurred. In 1946, the Forbidden Plateau was the epicenter of the strongest earthquake to ever rip through Canadian soil, which caused considerable damage in the easterly city of Vancouver. In 1988, the late Canadian wildlife biologist John Bindernagel discovered what he believed to be Sasquatch footprints in Strathcona Provincial Park, and heard mysterious whooping sounds which he believed to be Sasquatch vocalizations at neighbouring Comox Lake in 1992. And throughout the 1990s and 2000s, an alarming number of hikers vanished without a traced in Strathcona Provincial Park.
#2: Mount Sicker
At the southeastern end of Vancouver Island, just north of the city of Duncan, stands Mount Sicker, the site of a bygone ghost town called Lenora and a long-abandoned copper mine. Many visitors to the area have reported seeing the apparition of a headless woman in a white nightgown walking across a logging road near the old Lenora townsite, or across nearby Mount Sicker Road. Legend has it that this phantom is the ghost of a miner’s wife whose husband murdered her for suspected infidelity. In an effort to conceal his crime, he dismembered her corpse and buried it on the mountainside.
On November 29th, 1980, at the height of a terrific storm, a brilliant but eccentric mechanic named Granger Taylor vanished from the city of Duncan, British Columbia, just south of Mount Sicker. In the weeks preceding his disappearance, Taylor informed his closest friends that he had been contacted by extraterrestrials, who promised to pick him up in a flying saucer and take him on a tour of the Milky Way galaxy. He wrote the same in a letter he left for his parents, declaring that he would return from his interstellar voyage in 42 months.
In April 1986, six years after Taylor’s disappearance, a municipal works crew discovered a large artificial crater on the slopes of Mount Sicker, which contained scattered scraps of vehicular debris and human bone. The debris was suspected to be the remains of Taylor’s car, and the bone fragments the remains of Taylor himself, suggesting the possibility that the eccentric mechanic may have used dynamite to destroy himself and his car on the spot. Whatever Taylor’s true fate, it is interesting to note that a number of spectacular UFO sightings have been reported in the neighbouring Cowichan Valley.
No creepy locale on Vancouver Island would be complete without a Sasquatch sighting, and Mount Sicker is no exception. Sometime in the late 2010s, a local named Andrew DeWaal claimed to have encountered a Sasquatch while driving his jeep with a friend on a logging road on Mount Sicker. DeWaal threw rocks at the creature, which screamed at him in return.
#1: Nahanni Valley
Of all the creepy places I’ve researched over the years, the Nahanni Valley, in the southwestern corner of Canada’s Northwest Territories, is by far the most fascinating. Nestled in the Mackenzie Mountains, this remote subarctic hideaway garnered national attention in the early 1900s, when the bodies of two brothers, who had gone up the South Nahanni River to prospect for gold, were found headless on the riverbank. Other prospectors met similar fates throughout the 20th Century, prompting newspapermen to dub the region the Headless Valley.
The legends of the Nahanni Valley include tales of Indian curses, evil spirits, lost gold mines, a tropical oasis, prehistoric monsters, lost tribes, brutal cavemen, hairy head-hunting giants with red eyes, and a mysterious White Queen.
What are your top 10 creepiest places in Canada? Let me know in the comments below.