Thursday, January 10, 2013

the ghost of the canadian museum of nature

the construction of the canadian museum of nature.

 when I was a kid growing up in ottawa, my parents would take my sisters and I to the canadian museum of nature, which sits in the middle of downtown ottawa. the museum was built between 1905-1912 and it was originally called the victoria memorial museum building. one halloween, probably in the early or mid-1990s, we went to a halloween exhibit they were having. it was there that I first heard the story of the ghost of the fourth floor's west wing - to this day one of the most captivating ottawa ghost stories I have encountered.
architect david ewart.
     there were two theories that I heard about who the ghost that reportedly haunted the fourth floor had been in life. the first was that it was an aboriginal spirit whose energy was still attached to an artifact that was on exhibit somewhere in the building, perhaps angered by the fact that the artifact had been taken from its people, and perhaps that is why it was restless. the second theory I heard was that the ghost was that of the architect of the building, who had supposedly committed suicide by leaping to his death from the roof of the building after it saw its completion in 1912. I have since done some research and discovered that the building's architect, a man by the name of david ewart, did not in fact die the same year that the building was completed, but actually nine years after that, and not only this, but he was 80 years old when he died. this leads me to believe that perhaps the story of his suicide was nothing more than a legend. that being said, regardless of who the ghost is (assuming it exists), it is said to be quite active. it has been reported by the night staff to exhibit poltergeist-like behaviour, such as pulling cords out of wall sockets and such. also, it has been said that the west wing of the fourth floor is in fact so haunted that that area of the museum is shut off from visitors, unable to be used as part of an exhibit. whether the ghost is the spirit of an aboriginal chief or an architect, or whether it is a true haunting or simply a tantalizing legend, the story of the ghost of the canadian museum of nature was one of my earliest brushes with the paranormal, and it inspired in me a life-long curiosity about the possibility of the existence of ghosts.

(photo credits: the ottawa citizen, department of public works/ the library and archives of canada)