A haunted walk!
It's only a coincidence that Halloween is just around the corner. They run these haunted walking tours in downtown Ottawa year round. However, they do have some special Halloween versions of the walk that run from now until November 2nd. The Haunted Walk.
We met at 46 1/2 Sparks Street near Elgin at 6:45pm to get ready for our 7:00pm start. Because it was a really nice Friday evening we expected it to be busy, but we weren't really prepared to see 27 other people coming on the walking tour with us!
Meeting for our Haunted Walk.
There are several versions of the Haunted Walk tour available. We chose the Crime and Punishment Jail Tour that would bring us over to the old Carleton County Jail which was the main prison in the city of Ottawa from 1862 to 1972.
Our tour guide Mora.
It was about a 10 minute walk from Sparks St. over to the old jail at 75 Nicholas St. We stopped a couple of times along the way and Mora told us some stories of what life was like in old Ottawa, then known as Bytown. We were interested to learn that Bytown was one of the most dangerous cities in North America at the time...a lumber town with little official police force and lots of bawdy houses and bars. "Brawling Bytown" as it came to be known. In a letter from that time, one civil servant noted: “There is not an Evening passes – not even the Sabbath day excepted – wherein there is not a riot and general fighting.” Particularly between the Irish and the French Canadians.
We made it to the old jail, which is now a hostel and you can even spend a night in one of the old cells!
Inside the old jail, you can now sleep in one of the cells.
Here's your bedroom for the night. 3 feet wide!
There are other cells that are slightly larger, aout the size of an elevator. The downside to these other cells was that you had to share it with two other inmates!
The jail held men, women, and children including with murderers and the mentally ill. Your cell included a bed, and a bucket. Your bucket was emptied once per day. In the later years, a law was made that there had to be a flush toilet on each floor. However there was no law that said you had to let the prisoners use it, and the bucket regime continued!
The last hanging in Canada was in 1962. Prior to that, there had been three official public hangings that took place at the old Carleton County Jail. The gallows remain fully operational to this date, with the old noose still hanging there...
Probably not the original rope!
Looking up at the trap door!
Our hour long tour was over. We found it to be reasonably priced at $13.95 per person, however we were disappointed at the number of people allowed on the tour. We think an ideal maximum should be 15 or maybe 20 at the very most. 29 was far too many. Our suggestion, should you wish to do one of these tours is to do it on a night other than Friday or Saturday!
You can learn more about the tours here... Ottawa Haunted Walking Tours