There's a lot of old stories in the Old Port
A night out on the town is always a treat when I'm in Montreal, but when faced with a solo visit I had to admit I was a bit stumped on what I should do to pass the time. I decided to bring one of my favourite autumn activities into summer and head out on a ghost walk with Fantomes Montreal.
Our tour guide, Madeline, was certainly in a festive, "spirited" mood. Dressed up in period costume, she brought centuries old decedents back to life with her animated storytelling. Our evening began outside the Museum of Archaeology, on the exact site of where the city of Montreal was founded over 350 years ago. As you can imagine, with so many centuries of history, Montreal has racked up quite a few murders and mishaps and Madeline was keen to share many gruesome details of torture and torment in New France.
The gruesome tales started with one of the prettiest landmarks of Old Montreal - Place Royale. Now a popular place to sit and watch the world go by, Place Royale was once the site of public executions in older times. Considering that we were all nonchalantly hanging out there just moments earlier while we waited for our tour to begin, the small square was suddenly starting to look rather sinister!
Once Madeline wrapped up her opening tales, we were off to explore Old Montreal by foot. During the course of the 90 minute tour, we had 6 different stops and 6 different stories. There was about 5 minutes of walking between each stop and, while we walked at a reasonable pace, the footing underneath was occasionally a bit bumpy as much of the area has cobblestone streets.
One of our stops included The Auberge, often described as the most haunted restaurant in Montreal and the site of a notorious arsonist's fire. If you look at my photo below, you'll see a curious blue shape floating in the middle of the picture - did I capture the ghostly spirit of an 8 year old dead girl?
For me, some of the spookiest stories centered on the Chateau Ramezay, a museum and historical site. From the accounts of horrific, un-human screaming to the tale of a portrait coming to life, it didn't take long for me to mentally cross this museum off my list of places to visit. I do love history, but not at the expense of my wits!
A night with Fantomes is part storytelling, part street theatre and - for the most part - not too scary. My anti-adventurist spirit remained intact!! I loved that the theatrics were channeled through our guide's presentation and there were no cheesy bits, like fake ghosts jumping out around the corner. I also loved that the Fantomes have a serious side to their work. Often the owners of a haunted building will contact them for assistance in researching the site's history and unraveling mysterious circumstances that can date back hundreds of years. Through meticulous research they've been able to shed some light on many a haunting.
I would highly recommend a night of ghostly adventures to anyone visiting Montreal but especially solo travellers. It was the perfect night out and a great way to get better acquainted with the city - and I met a few new friends (the human kind - not ghosts!) along the way.
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My tour was sponsored by Tourism Montreal. This relationship did not influence my review and all opinions remain my own.