The airy. The inmates were rarely given jobs

The Carleton County Gaol in Ottawa has claimed to be one of the scariest and most haunted places in Canada. Opened as a hostel in August of 1973, people came from all over the world to experience staying a night in a jail cell. It soon became a hot spot for ghost hunters to attempt to speak to some of the ghosts haunting the hostel. The building has many mysteries hidden inside the dark and dusty halls, including a “vampire” and the ghost of Patrick James Whelan! The Carleton County Gaol was built in 1862 next to the courthouse, and connected via underground tunnels. The building was designed by Henry Horsey, and was described as modern in the 19th century, serving as a replacement for the basement of the courthouse. Some of the prisoners jailed were men, women and children. When the facility first opened, men and women, young or old, and convicted or accused were segregated into these different groups like a teenage male who is accused of murder. The 60 cells were cramped, musty, and dark, and just barely large enough for the average man to fit into, at 3X9 feet. There was no ventilation, toilets, heating or lighting. Funnily enough, when the gaol first opened, it was said to be spacious and airy. The inmates were rarely given jobs or recreational activities, so they were left to stay in their cells or wander the halls of the depressing penitentiary to which they were confined. The prisoners in solitary confinement, otherwise known as “The Hole”, were chained to the cold stone floor naked face down for 23 hours and 45 minutes, with a 15 minute break for stretching. Since this prison was the last Canadian prison to (officially) execute someone by hanging by the neck till dead, there are bound to be ghost stories, like the ghost of Patrick James Whelan or a mysterious so-called vampire. There were many suicides and accidental deaths, including inmates hanging themselves in cells, starvation, or jumping. Some of the “accidental” deaths were very suspicious. One of the most famous hangings that occurred in Ottawa was the execution of James Whelan, who allegedly shot D’Arcy McGee, a father of confederation, on Sparks Street, while McGee was entering his own apartment. Whelan was hung on February 11, 1869, in front of thousands of eager witnesses. Visitors to his jail cell on death row have tried to communicate with his spirit via Ouija board, usually ending in extreme uncomfortableness and elevated heartbeats. Staff and visitors have reported seeing Whelan’s spirit wandering the halls of death row. The “vampire” was a message left by a visitor with a riddle, and nobody knows what to look for or who left it.My first experience with the jail was on a ghost walk around Ottawa in March of 2016 and one of the places was to the Carleton County Gaol. Since the jail serves as a hostel, we went straight to death row, as to not disturb the people staying there. It got kind of silent, and then one of the doors started moving, and these were big steel doors. There was a general feeling of discomfort as we walked down the hallway. I took a couple of photos of inside the death row cells, but mainly Whelan’s. When we got home, I checked out the photos and there were possible phenomena appearing. It was weird walking out to the doors of the gallows, because you know you were at the exact spot people had stood moments before their death.The jail was far from exemplary as far as living conditions, but is an extremely important part of Canadian history and paranormal happenings history. The staff there knows about the history, and is happy to tell you about it. All in all, it’s a great educational destination, and a great way to spend a summer evening or two.


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