Located in downtown Ottawa, Ontario, the Ottawa Jail Hostel was originally the Carlton County Gaol or the Ottawa Jail (gaol is a British term for jail) - hence the name of the hostel. The jail remained in operation until 1972 when it was purchased by Hostelling International. Although the company converted the building into a hostel, they left much of the structure intact and named it the Ottawa Jail Hostel. As a result, guests are able to experience what a night in the “jail” was like. In addition, the top floor which served as the jail’s death row has been restored to much of its original condition and the hostel conducts daily tours of it for the guests.
It’s believed that the hostel is haunted by the ghosts of inmates of the former jail. Numerous staff members and guests have reported experiencing strange and inexplicable paranormal events including hearing incorporeal voices, slamming doors, and mysterious footsteps. There have also been several reports of eerie apparitions appearing, especially at the foot of guests’ beds.
Many people believe one of the ghosts haunting the hostel is that of Patrick J. Whelan who was placed on death row and subsequently hanged for crime he may not have even committed (before his death he steadfastly swore his innocence). Whelan had asked the judge who tried his case if he could be buried back in Montreal in his family’s plot. Although the judge initially agreed, after Whelan’s death, there were fears that there would be riots if his body was returned to Montreal. As a result, his body was buried in secret somewhere on the grounds of the jail. To this day, no one knows exactly where that is and rumor has it, unhappy with this final resting place, Whelan’s ghost haunts and wreaks havoc in the Ottawa Jail Hostel.
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