Anytime you have a culture invested in history, you’re going to find ghost stories.
Wherever you can look into the past, you will find people who wonder if the past is looking back.
Prince Edward Island is full of tragic tales, ghost stories, and modern-day mythology. Like most of the rest of human history, something not happening if someone’s not dying, so as a brief introduction to Prince Edward Island’s rich past, let’s starts where the dead meet the living.
Here are some of the most well-known Prince Edward Island ghost stories:
The Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait
The Northumberland Strait: 130 miles of turbulent waters separating Prince Edward Island from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait is a spectre that can be seen sailing within the Northumberland Strait while engulfed in flames. It’s been reported for over 220 years, with numerous eyewitness accounts. The earliest known reporting of an incident is 1786.
The ship itself is described as a beautiful schooner that has three masts (sometimes four) with pure white sails, all of which are lit ablaze as onlookers watch. Since this occurs at a distance, the cause of the fire is never known, and there are no reports of seeing people aboard the vessel.
The last reported sighting was in 2008 by 17-year-old Mathieu Giguere, who cited a “bright white and gold ship.” No mention as to whether or not it was on fire.
Sightings have occurred throughout the seasons, but the most seem to occur between September and November. Local legend states that the sight of a ship foretells a storm, but ghosts can be a sign of anything, really.
Holland Cove (formerly known as Observation Cove) is the site is a grisly tragedy.
The story goes that the first group of white settlers came to what would later be known as Holland Cove back in 1764. The surveyor, a Dutch man named Captain Holland, was responsible for the division of the island into 67 lots. He brought his wife, Racine, with him.
One night, one of Captain Holland’s expeditions went on longer than expected and she ventured out onto the ice in search of him, likely fearing the worst. The ice, however, was thinner than usual and it broke beneath her feet. Before long, she had drowned.
The captain himself is said to have experienced the apparition of his late wife, and it followed him until his death. They say to this day on July 14th every year at the time of high tide, Racine makes her appearance. The legend continues to say that if you are present near the spot, you will see her drown.
People also claim that late in the evening her voice may still be heard along the stretch of the shoreline near Holland Cove calling out to her husband in the same manner she called out to him after her death. The spirit is described as having long black hair and dressed in a white robe (typical ghost fashion.)
West Point Lighthouse Inn, O’Leary
It’s hard to believe that all houses don’t come preloaded with ghosts.
The West Point Lighthouse was first lit on May 21, 1876 and is said to be haunted by the first keeper, William MacDonald (or Willie, as he is more commonly known as since passing to the other side). Oddly enough, Willie is said to haunt the Inn located beside it rather than the lighthouse itself. The Inn was established in 1984 as Canada’s first lighthouse Inn.
On top of that, for the past 200 years people have been reporting the sight of burning ships off the coast at the lighthouse. Not unlike the ghost ship of the Northumberland Straight, these ships are seen at a distance and have never been approached.
At least one of these ghost ships is thought to be a pirate; in 1786, the story goes that the crew of a burning ship made a deal with the devil and were doomed to sail the seas.
Effie’s Ghost, St Peters Bay
Trains have not run on Prince Edward Island since 1989, but for over a century they were the lifeblood of the communities they served. The Island was criss-crossed by rail tracks, bringing supplies and people to the multitude of small communities long before the convenience of the automobile and paved roads.
In St Peters Bay, the trains passed along a scenic stretch in front of the water, and right in front of Effie’s house. She never missed a train. She would come out in front of her house and wave at the conductor and engineer. They all knew her friendly face, and looked forward to her greeting.
So, I would image they were all disappointed to hear when Effie had passed. But, I imagine they were even more surprised when they continued to see her out in front of her house, waving at their trains, long after her death. Train engineers continued to report the figure of Effie waving at them as they passed through St Peters Bay, right up until her beloved trains themselves became a thing of the past.
Prince Edward Island is full of other supernatural or mysterious folk tales. But of course, the best way to explore the Ghost Stories of Prince Edward Island is to visit the many haunted houses scattered around the Island.