Said to be one of Canada’s most haunted buildings and featured on many top ten lists of haunted places is The Ottawa Jail Hostel. Originally, the structure was used as a maximum security prison, connected to the courthouse next door via a tunnel, and housed every kind of offender from murderers to the mentally ill. The structure, opened in 1862, had no glass over barred windows, allowing the Ottawa winters to chill the inhabitants to the bone in their tiny 9’x3′ cells. Each cell barely had enough room for a mattress on the floor. Prisoners endured harsh conditions, including torture from the guards, and were only fed once per day, leading to an undocumented number of deaths. Up to 150 prisoners had to share 60 small cells and 30 larger cells. Six cells were reserved for solitary confinement.
The prison was Ottawa’s main detention center and was a model prison when it opened. Other institutions were modeled after its example and it remained the main jail for over 100 years.
Once the prison closed in 1972, a company bought the location and turned it into a hostel, converting the cells into small dorms with bunk beds where patrons could sleep. The staff run regular tours of the building, telling visitors of the horrible conditions and the innumerable deaths on the property. The hostel now offers a money back guarantee to those brave enough to stay the night. The location is apparently very active because they’ve never had to refund a guest.
A guest who had complained about not seeing any ghosts approached the manager about a refund about halfway through her stay. The manager, following their policy, retrieved the woman’s money and laid it on the counter. Before she could grab her change, a coin rose from the counter top and hovered in the air for at least a minute before dropping again. The woman threw her money down and ran from the lobby.
Guests have reported hearing women and children crying in the basement area of the old jail as well as disembodied footsteps in the hallways. Cell doors will often slam shut on their own and, on the top floor where Death Row was located, guests have reported hearing the trap door release and the tightening sound of the noose around a neck. They also hear kicking noises as if someone is flailing after being hanged.
Have you ever spent the night at the Ottawa Jail Hostel? Do you have experiences to share? Please let us know in the comments.
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