Ghosts & Legends

30 Jul

In July and August and again at Halloween, the Old Sydney Society puts on a Ghosts & Legends walking tour. They take you around the old historic end of Sydney and tell you stories about the buildings and streets. Some of the stories are just historic little tidbits but some of them are rumours of ghost sightings. It’s entertaining.

So if you’re in the Sydney area during the summer you should definitely check it out. They even provide you with tea and cookies at the end! Here are some highlights from the tour that I went on.

They start you at St. Patrick’s Church, which is a very old and beautiful church.

Then you walk down the streets of residential neighbourhoods and they’ll stop in front of a house here and there and tell you a little something about it.

Take this house.


Hundreds of years ago, when Canada was still a colony of the British Empire, criminals in Britain would be given two choices for their punishment. One, stay in Britain and be hanged. Or two, be transported to one of the colonies and do back breaking labour but eventually be free to start a new life.

Sydney received a lot of these prisoners. But because it was still a relatively new colony at the time there wasn’t a whole lot of buildings where prisoners could be held. So, the average citizen, to help out was asked to build prison cells in the basements of their homes. It was the responsibility of these people with cells in their basements to take care of the prisoners by giving them food and water. Some of these houses, like the one in the picture, still have these cells in their basements from this time period.

Now this is Cossit House.


During the day, Cossit House is a museum with costumed interpreters. But for the ghost tour, which is after hours, they take you inside and tell you about rumoured ghost sightings in the dark with just candles for lighting.

This one was my favourite story of the tour.


When this house was being built there was a brutal murder, committed by two sailors and this man’s wife. The wife convinced the sailors to murder her husband. Her daughter saw them commit this murder and turned them in. They were convicted and sentenced to hang. But there was a little problem. They didn’t have a gallows. So they went to the people building this house and asked them if they would be so kind as to let them borrow the wood they were using. Just long enough to build the gallows and hang the criminals. Then they’d give it right back and they could finish building the house. Amazingly (in my opinion) they agreed. The gallows was built, the criminals were hung, the wood was given back (albeit a little more used now) and the house was built.

Notice how George Street is really wide?


None of the other streets in Sydney are this wide. This was done on purpose so that military drills and ceremonies could be performed there.

This is the oldest church in Sydney. St. Georges Church. I think it’s close to 300 years old.


And there you have it. Some highlights from the Ghosts & Legends tour in Sydney, Nova Scotia. It really was fun. The guides were in costumes and everything. Here’s a link:


Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


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2 responses to “Ghosts & Legends

  1. Joseph Mulak

    April 25, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    Hi. I am an author and I want to write a story inspired by the incident you described about the wife getting the two sailors to kill her husband and the use of building materials from a house to construct temporary gallows. Do you have any more information regarding this? Which house specifically was it? Names of people involved? I’ve been trying to dig up more info from the internet but I’m having no luck.

    • museumnerd

      April 25, 2018 at 7:57 pm

      I’m sorry I don’t know more about this incident. You could try contacting the Old Sydney Society in Sydney, Nova Scotia or the Beaton Institute at Cape Breton University. They are likely to have more information.


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