When I was young, it was always a thrill listening to scary stories before going to bed, or around the campfire, or amongst friends over a strong cup of coffee. Certain stories really made my hair stand straight up and sent shivers down my spine, especially the “true” ones. But it was a rare event when you knew the person and the story was being told to you firsthand. These were the stories that hit close to home and were just downright scary. I know this isn’t the time of the year to talk about them, but, hey, a good story is good all year round.

First story that comes to mind are the ones that are broadcast on the popular TV series, Creepy Canada, where not one but two jolts of fear actually happened to me. The first was at the popular Gibby’s restaurant in Montreal, where on a nice evening several years ago, we had a business supper and I brought my young daughter along. Since talking business wasn’t exactly her cup of tea (or milk), we decided to take a short break and check out the quaint ivy-covered courtyard. Holding hands, we noticed that a man holding a book was sitting on a bench further back. Trying not to disturb him, we slowly walked around the courtyard and eventually wound up near the quiet reader. He slowly put down his book and looked at us, at first annoyingly then glaringly. He spoke volumes with his do-not-disturb attitude without saying a word. I, being naturally polite, stated that it was a nice evening to be out reading, but he didn’t respond, except by glaring even more sterner, so we walked away. Turning for a last look before going back into the restaurant, he was gone. Years later, in a show about the haunting of Gibby’s, my neck hairs stiffened after realizing that what we had seen was a ghost.

A few years later, after trying unsuccessfully to get a room during the Montreal Grand Prix at the usual “Cree” hotels, I managed to find a room at the Citadel on Sherbrooke Street. A friend had recommended the place and being downtown, it’s close to all the action that’s normally associated with Montreal in June. I carried my bags to the waiting elevator, wherein stood a drunk employee (at least I thought he was drunk because he giggled and smelled like a brewery). I reached my floor trying not to get too close to him and walked to my room, opened the door and shut it.

The room was hot, so I turned on the air conditioner and almost immediately, it cooled to a pretty chilly level. A knock at the door surprised me, because I hadn’t told anybody where I was. When I peered through the peephole, I didn’t see anyone. Then came another knock, so I opened the door and there stood a bellhop, all decked out in high-class style. The young man asked me if I was happy with the service and he had his hand out for a tip (yeah, I thought, where were you when I was carrying my bags). Courteously, I reached into my wallet and handed him a $5 bill, mentioning that I needed to check out very early in the morning to go the airport. He accepted my offer and I shut the door.

Later on, when I left the room, I noticed a $5 bill on the floor outside my door. Thanking my good fortune, I picked it up and got into the elevator, where strangely enough, the two men were on the elevator. I commented that this was going to be my lucky day since I just found some money, but they said nothing. When I got off the elevator, I went to the front desk and told the guy that I thought his employees were acting strange, but he politely informed me that the hotel had no bellhops working there.

Years later, after watching Creepy Canada, I realized that these two odd characters were ghosts and again, my hairs went stiff. I now watch the show religiously to see if there are other sites that I may have visited and have been ghost hunting ever since.