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A Cape Breton Island inn with spirit(s)

© By Mike Keenan

  Innkeeper Ken Tutty is a storyteller. I'm staying with three friends at his Gowrie House Country Inn on Shore Road, Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia constructed circa 1820 in Georgian style, redecorated and elegantly furnished with fine antiques and works of art. There are 10 rooms with private ensuite baths, air-conditioning, fireplaces and a caretaker's cottage for deluxe accommodations as well as a complimentary full country breakfast. Oh, there's yet another feature appropriate for Halloween. The house, owned by a Scottish family that started coal mining in Cape Breton and, as agents general, was paid to ship it, is haunted!
     In 1830 Archibald and Company earned 500£ per week, big money then. The first Mrs. Archibald came from a town in Scotland named Blairgowrie, hence the name of the inn. Ken's partner, Clifford, was an Anglican minister and language scholar who died three years ago, but you want to hear more about the ghosts.
     "When we first moved in, June 1975, Mrs. Archibald who outlived her husband by 25 years and by all accounts was a very stern matriarch, had died the previous summer. Weird things happened immediately. At night, we heard noises like someone pushing boxes across the floor, yet the house was empty. The telephone rang even though unconnected."
     Clifford woke Ken one night to tell him something was going on downstairs. They descended into the dining room, and "a gust of cold wind flew past me and went whomp into the wall. I thought - this is getting too real so the next day I went into the living room and said, 'Daisy that's it. I own the house. I will take care of it. We're going to open to the public. If you don't stop, I'm going to burn it down. Either stop or the house is not going to be here.'"
     Remarkably, the shenanigans stopped. "It was a year since she had died. Maybe she was here for an anniversary trip," joked Ken. "Then, a man who organized psychic fairs in Sydney was out for drive and stopped in with his female companion. This lady said, 'you know, you have a spirit in this house. She's sitting in this room, and she's very happy where she is.' She described an elderly lady dressed in black, hair done up in a bun on the top of her head."
     Ken continued, "Before we turned it into an inn, an Archibald granddaughter worked for us in our store and rented half the house. She had a baby son and was convinced Daisy was in the room watching in a very protective way."
     One Christmas Ken had 17 nieces and nephews visit, all small children, and they came downstairs to ask who the old lady who went into the bedroom was. "I asked what room she went into and they reported Room #1, Daisy's bedroom when she lived here. I had a sister stay one night and couldn't sleep; convinced someone occupied the room with her. Four years ago, an English woman told me Daisy actually touched her on the chest and awakened her and she didn't fall back to sleep the rest the night. She wasn't complaining. She wanted to know more about her."
     Since Clifford died three years ago, strange happenings have involved both Daisy and Clifford. A valance held up with Velcro to hide the metal mechanism will not stay up. "I have duct taped it. It will not stay up." Ken heard knocking on the door at the bungalow, but nobody was there. Loud tapping resumed and he walked around the house but found nothing. My guess is that it's Clifford, the newly departed, who is driving Ms. Daisy. At breakfast the next morning, I discovered that none of my three companions slept while I experienced no problem. I don't think either Cliff or Daisy appreciate snoring.

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Mike Keenan

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Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns: http://www.uniquecountryinns.com
Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia: http://www.cbv.ns.ca/bec/cbtoursm/sydmines.htm

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