As if it wasn’t already terrifying enough, Madeline Roux’s Asylum—the spine-tingling tale of a sanatorium-turned-school—is packed with found photos of real-life mental institutions. Canada has more than a few haunted campuses, of course, with histories just as chilling as any spooky story you might read. So why don’t you take a minute to examine the faded facades of some of the nation’s most haunted schools?
At your own risk, of course.
1. R.H. King Academy, Scarborough, Ontario
Built in 1922, R.H. King Academy looks like any other school—which only makes its track record of paranormal phenomena more unsettling. Legend has it that the campus is visited by the specter of a vengeful janitor, restless after having taken his own life decades ago. Now students whisper about mysterious screams, rattling door handles, and motion sensors gone haywire, and blame the school’s mysterious 1954 fire on their local spirit.
Students and teaches alike have reported ghostly happenings at H.B. Beal Secondary School. Supposedly the spirit of an elderly woman resides on the third floor, and visitors to her domain find themselves followed by mysterious footsteps—or face-to-face with an apparition.
3. Bathurst Secondary School, Bathurst, New Brunswick
The city of Bathurst, New Brunswick is home to the Phantom Ship of Chaleur Bay—one of the country’s most famous ghost ships—so it comes as no surprise that the local school has a poltergeist of its own. The theater’s stage contains a trapdoor leading down into the basement. Those approaching the trapdoor report a distinct feeling of unease, of being not wanted there, and some have even felt the touch of a ghostly hand.
4. Burnt Church School, Burnt Church, New Brunswick
Burnt Church School is also known as Esgenoopetitj School—which is a much less ominous name for a building supposedly built atop a cemetery! It is said that when the school hosted sleepover nights for young students, some children snuggled up in their sleeping bags experienced a powerful sinking sensation—almost as if they were sinking into a grave!
5. New Westminster Secondary School, New Westminster, British Columbia
Also built over the remains of a cemetery, New Westminster Secondary School has its own history of supernatural phenomena. An underground swimming pool, allegedly long since bricked up, is said to be the site of a tragic drowning years ago. Reports abound of a ghostly figure floating face-down in the basement, as well as various other visitations, including the specter of a boy practicing archery and bright orbs of light flitting around the music room.
If these homegrown tales of horror pique your interest, you’ll definitely want to check out Asylum. Sure, it’s terrifying, but don’t worry. After all, it’s only a story.