David Goss and a haunted Saint John: Creepy capers and curiosities of the port city

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It’s late. You are walking home from the Halloween Bash and the ice cold wind chills you straight to the bone. In the darkness you walk down the road trying to ignore the indistinct shapes that are probably trees in your periphery. A mist creeps over the ground and fills the air obscuring your vision even more. You hear a sound: the snap of a twig on the side of the road.

Your pace quickens and with a sigh of relief you see the SafeRide van. You nearly sprint to its side pulling the van door open and sliding in. Suddenly you look forward and in the middle of the road you see a man cloaked in darkness, except for the gleaming hook at the end of his arm. You grab the driver’s shoulder and tell him to drive and he slumps over dead in his seat: his neck slashed. The man trails his blade over the hood of the car as he approaches the passenger side door making an ear splintering squeal. You scream!

That’s right folks, Halloween is approaching and this is just one example of the many classic ghost stories that are likely to plague your nightmares. But are there any real supernatural superstars haunting the streets of Saint John? Ghost tour guide and author, David Goss, a resident expert on the curiosities of our fair city gives The Baron the inside scoop on the ghost situation in Saint John.

Goss runs the city’s ghost tours and has written both newspaper articles and books recounting spooky stories. “I do a lot of tours at Fernhill Cemetery,” says Goss, “I typically tell people about strange things they used to do […]; in long term cemeteries it was believed that there was a watcher that was in charge of welcoming the spirits of the newly interred. There also used to be a widespread fear of being buried alive, so when they buried bodies they would attach a string to their finger that was attached to a bell up on the cemetery green and if the person were alive they would ring the bell and people would dig them up.”

The cemeteries also used to have guards; what were they guarding against? Apparently, us. “They used to have guards in the cemetery to protect the dead from grave robbers. University students would come and dig up bodies so that they could use them for research in human physiology and anatomy.”

But what about ghosts? Well, in New Brunswick Haunted Houses by Dorothy Dearborn, there is the tale of Lady LaTour. Her husband left her in charge of Fort LaTour and she was attacked by one of his enemies. They slaughtered her men and she then died of heartbreak. The real mystery, however, lies in her final resting place. Because historians were never able to determine the exact location of Fort LaTour they have never been able to find her burial site.

She is said to walk the streets of Saint John mourning the death of her men. “I’ve never had a ghostly experience [that] I couldn’t explain. I‘ve had spiritual experiences. I’ve felt the presence of my parents, but that’s it,” says Goss. “But I do meet many people who truly believe that they have experienced the supernatural. And over my years of collecting ghost stories, I have never encountered a story about a malicious haunting in New Brunswick.”

If you’re looking for something to send shivers down your spine this Halloween, check out the city’s ghost walks.