Do you believe in ghosts?
If you don’t yet, you might after a visit to some of Sudbury’s most notoriously haunted sites. There are more than a handful of them around town, including private residences, businesses, historic buildings and (unsurprisingly) cemeteries.
Wondering how to find these spooky spots? Some you can check out on your own, but if you want maximum fright, consider a haunted tour.
Haunted walks have been popular for years in cities with long, rich histories like Ottawa and Halifax. Now, for the month of October, Sudbury has its own walk run by Kelsey Cutinello of KC Events and Promotions, who is the same brain behind the axe throwing lounge at Peddler’s and the DIY Craftery.
“I had actually gone to Kingston on a trip and done a haunted bus tour … and there were also haunted walking tours,” explained Cutinello. “I thought this is such a great idea, I’m surprised Sudbury hadn’t done something like that with such a theatrical community.”
Cutinello based the walk that meanders through downtown on the book “Haunted Sudbury” (which you can read more about here!) by local author and ghost expert Sarah May, who “loves haunted everything!”
If you go with a haunted walk, consider wrapping it up with a stop at Cutinello’s other seasonal project at The Grand. Her Fear Theatre is a full-blown haunted house that incorporates some local legends. The event has wrapped up for the season, unfortunately, but The Grand still has a storied history.
If you’re dead-set on doing a tour alone, consider picking up May’s book, or “Spooky Sudbury” by Mark Leslie and Jenny Jelen to get more information on each site before you head out. They both make great reading for chilly nights by the fire either way.
And now, continue at your own risk, here’s a sneak preview of some of Sudbury’s most haunted habitations and spooky sites to start you off.
1. The Bell Mansion (aka The Art Gallery of Sudbury)
Sudbury’s official art gallery is infamous for its resident ghost, said to be the spirit of one of its original occupants, Katherine Bell, who lived there until her death in 1954. What to look (or listen) out for? Her rustling skirts, heels clicking on the floor, or ghostly horses neighing outside.
2. The Sudbury Theatre Centre
While Cutinello originally thought Sudbury’s theatre professionals would make perfect guides for her haunted walks, she quickly learned one actor was better suited to being one of the subjects of the walks. Sydney is an actor who died before the first curtain call of a 1979 show and is thought to roam the local theatre’s halls by night, and sometimes day.
3. The Castonguay House (aka The HourGlass Restaurant)
The story that started May on her literary exploration of local hauntings was that of the Castonguays in 1957. The parents of three were well respected in the community, with the father Gerard teaching at Sudbury High and his wife Jeanne D’arc keeping house. Their life was idyllic until a man who rented a room in their house murdered the two parents as the children escaped. Since then, a woman in white has been sighted where the staircase she died on would have been, and a man fitting Gerard's description was seen at the top of the stairs. What’s there now? The HourGlass Restaurant, and they welcome haunted tourists looking for a good meal.
4. The Grand
The Grand makes the perfect location for Cutinello’s Fear Theatre, and not just because of its beautiful, historical architecture and design: it too has a ghost story. Since it opened in 1908, five people have lost their lives in the building and are said to haunt its halls.
5. The Townehouse (and The Laughing Buddha)
Sensitive to scents? Unfortunately The Townehouse’s reported ghost isn’t supportive of a scent-free environment: her floral perfume is said to indicate her presence, while several (un)lucky employees have gotten a glimpse of the red-dress-clad spirit over the years. Next door - and connected to the Townehouse by a tunnel in the basement - a server reported seeing a strange, suited man at The Laughing Buddha’s bar who disappeared on second glance.
6. Sudbury Secondary School
While there’s not much information on this one, some people claim there’s a ghost in the girls’ washroom on the third floor of this school. With a 110-year history, it’s not surprising there are lingering spirits.
7. St. Joseph’s Hospital
The old hospital that looks out over Ramsay Lake is well-known for its hauntings. “The place that’s brought up the most is the St. Joseph’s hospital,” said Cutinello. “Oh my gosh, we had a couple different nurses and a couple different paramedics and people who had family members work there, and they all talk about how all sorts of crazy things would happen in that place.” From unexplained breezes to ghostly giggles to windows mysteriously opening: there’s no shortage of ghostly activity in this now-abandoned building.
8. The Garson Foodmart
According to May, this building used to be a bar with people living upstairs. As she tells it, one of the residents killed his wife in the 1960s, and today, you can hear movement coming from upstairs even when there’s nobody there.
9. Lasalle Cemetery
It should come as no surprise that a cemetery is one of the local spots said to be haunted by lingering spirits. Cutinello has heard tell of supernatural activities including “ghost duels,” and deep in the pits of Reddit you’ll hear tell of strange sounds and people running about who seem to disappear on second glance.
10. Burwash Prison
Finally, if you’re up for a road trip, considering heading out to the old Burwash Prison, or Camp Bison off Highway 69.
Note that you need permission to visit this site. Trespassers at Burwash have been known to be prosecuted, but the owner says he often welcomes those who want to camp or tour the area. They can pay the fee and sign a waiver by reaching him at [email protected].
Established in 1914 and active until 1975, the prison had a small community pop up around it to support those working at the prison. The now derelict building has been said to be the home of strange sounds, ghost sightings and even mysterious rituals over the years.
Even if you can’t make it out there, it’s well worth going down the online rabbit hole that is the Burwash Prison.
Check out a map of these sites below: