Illustration of Irish people begging for food during the Great Hunger.

Murders, a headless prostitute, and the plight of the Irish immigrants of Griffintown are just some of the ghostly historic tales you'll learn along the Haunted Montreal walking tour.

Haunted Montreal, a business that provides walking ghost tours of Montreal neighborhoods, relives the story of Griffintown, an Irish diaspora community that grew out of the Irish famine and has now, with the exception of a few monuments, history and storytelling, completely vanished from the Montreal landscape. 

De la Montagne Ave Griffintown, Montreal.

At the height of the Irish famine in 1847, thousands of immigrants arrived aboard coffin ships, seeking refuge at the Port of Montreal.  Six thousand of those died of typhus and were buried in mass graves and nearly forgotten.

Of those that survived, many settled in nearby Griffintown, a shanty town on the banks of the Lachine Canal, where many found work on the docks or in the associated industries that grew up around the canal. When St. Ann’s Church was built in 1854, 1,300 Irish families were settled in Griffintown and within a half-century, the community numbered 60,000, in addition to the Irish, many Italian and Ukrainian immigrants as well as working-class Quebecois. 

Read more: Archaeologists search Montreal construction site for mass grave of Irish famine victims

Map of Griffintown, Montreal.

In 1963, the area was re-zoned as “Industrial” and a project to build an expressway through the middle of the neighborhood hastened its demise. By 1970 the population of Griffintown was under 1000.

St. Ann’s Church was demolished and the community was littered with abandoned factories, parking lots and rubble. Today the neighborhood is populated with upscale condominiums and Griffintown has receded into distant memory.

Read more: The Irish Fenian invasion of Canada began 152 years ago today

Irish wake

These are just some of the stories that can be discovered on the Griffintown Walking Tour.  Other stories feature a grisly murder and the ghost of a headless prostitute, one of the most famous plane crashes in Canadian history, a tale of the will-o-the-wisp and other spirits who haunt the “Griff.”

Haunted Montreal is the brainchild of Irish-Canadian actor Donovan King, who is passionate about his city, its mysteries and his Irish roots.

Read more: Montreal Irish march and demand investment in crumbling Great Hunger memorial

In addition to the Griffintown Ghost Tour, Haunted Montreal also offers tours of Haunted Downtown Montreal and Haunted Mount Royal (in both English and French).  Private tours are also available.  The website also offers a monthly blog featuring many stories of historical and/or paranormal interest. 

You can find more about Haunted Montreal here or you can contact them by email at info@hauntedmontreal.com.