Ghosts in the City of Legends – The St. John’s Haunted Hike
Hometown Tourist is a series about playing tourist in my home town of St. John’s. If you have a story you’d like to share about your own home town, please get in touch.
Poltergeists… spirits… apparitions… shades… whatever you want to call them, St. John’s is full of ghosts. Probably not too surprising for a 500+ year old city with a healthy dose of dark stories in her past. If you’ve ever wanted to hear about a few of these hauntings while standing on the spots where they occurred, the St. John’s Haunted Hike is happy to oblige. Dubbed an “Ambulatory Theatrical Exploration of the Macabre”, the hike brings to life ghoulish tales of hangings, murders and other deeds most foul. Now in its 15th year, it has established itself as one of St. John’s top activities.
On a warm summer night I arrived at the Anglican Cathedral to check it out for myself. A small mob of all ages had beaten me there. We brave souls, a hundred strong, passed through the church gates steeling ourselves against the fright to come. We were split into two groups with Reverend Thomas Wyckham Jarvis, Esquire leading one horde with his colleague, Professor Jonathan Ignatius Wilkinson leading the other. For the next 90 minutes we were led down dark back alleys and through small lane ways, stopping to listen to the Professor speak in churchyards and graveyards. During one stop next to an empty lot, a streetlight seemed to flicker on cue. This was a particularly creepy recounting that had shivers running up my spine. The Professor is an excellent storyteller, knowing just went to pause or emphasize to pull us into the tale. Was that a dark specter I just saw dart down an alley? Nope, probably just a George Street reveler. Probably.
This tour requires a healthy imagination and a willingness to believe. There are no people in costume jumping out at you or haunting background music. You cover a fair bit of ground and, St. John’s being St. John’s, half of it uphill. You’ll want to keep up with the front of the group so you don’t miss anything. The exercise is the perfect excuse for the drink you’ll want to go have after. Not wanting to be home alone with thoughts of ghosts running through my head had nothing to do with it. Nope, not at all. “I earned that beer,” I told myself. One thing I learned on this hike, St. John’s has a lot of unmarked graves. So the next time you’re out for a stroll watch your step.
- Where: West Entrance to the Anglican Cathedral on Church Hill, St. John’s
- When: Sunday-Thursday 9:30pm
- Cost: $10, $5 for kids 12 and under. Cash only.