When we think of Newfoundland, thoughts of spirits and paranormal activity doesn’t exactly run rampant in our minds.
However, Newfoundland is actually considered one of the most haunted locations in Canada. Specifically, a hill on the island is the subject of countless rumors and ghost stories.
Signal Hill is an enormous rock cliff that looms over the town of St. John’s and, during their visits, many report intriguing encounters with the ghosts of Signal Hill.
Gibbet Hill & Deadman’s Pond
Deadman’s Pond is located a little further down the slope near a sub-hill called “Gibbet Hill.” Gibbet Hill was notorious for public hangings.
Many murderers and coach robbers were hanged there, but also those accused of smaller crimes such as forgery or shoplifting.
After the person’s execution, their corpses were covered with tar and put on display on the Gibbet. Whatever the vultures left behind of the body was thrown into Deadman’s Pond just below.
In addition to being a dumping ground for the executed, Deadman’s Pond was also the site of many drownings.
In 1869, two girls decided to go ice skating on the frozen pond, but the ice gave way and both fell into the icy waters.
A man named Frederick Carter Jr. made a valiant attempt to rescue them, but wound up falling in himself. All three perished in Deadman’s Pond that day.
Near Gibbet Hill is a village named Hindhead. Hindhead was built on a dark stretch of coach track, the perfect road for highwaymen to ambush a passing carriage.
This dark road led to many innocent people losing their lives to murderous robbers. William Cobbet, an eighteenth century journalist, described the area as the most wretched spot that God ever created.
People have felt cold spots while walking the road late at night, even on a hot, muggy night, and have heard the sound of horse hooves on cobblestone.
When they turn around, nothing is there. People also report hearing two people arguing, though the words are unintelligible.
Some even report seeing a full apparition of a man standing beside a coach. He’s usually wearing a hat, but his figure as well as his transport is nothing more than a dark, foreboding shadow.
In 1842, there is a story of a woman who was rocking her infant in front of the fireplace during a cold night up at Cabot Tower.
The fireplace was poorly ventilated, so she would occasionally have to open the window to allow the smoke to air out. After the smoke cleared, the room would become too cold, so she would have to close the window again.
The mother eventually fell asleep with the baby in her arms, but woke up coughing. The room filled with smoke, since she left the window closed for so long.
The baby died of smoke inhalation, but the mother still rocks in her chair atop the tower and cries for her lost child.
The Headless Sea Captain
As interesting as these stories may be, one of the most fascinating ghosts of Signal Hall must be the Headless Sea Captain. In 1745, a man by the name of Samuel Pettyham rented a home in St. John’s without asking about the history of the residence.
He frequently woke at night to “pranksters” lifting the latches of his front door.
One night, on his way home, he saw a man standing outside his residence. Thinking of no other reason for the man to be hanging around his house so late at night, Pettyham assumed the man was the one trying to break into his home on a nightly basis.
Pettyham began to approach the man but, upon seeing that the guy didn’t have a head, decided to bolt for his nearby landlord’s quarters.
Once Pettyham explained what he saw to his landlord, his landlord told him the back history of the home he rented.
A woman who used to live in the home once had two lovers, one a sea captain and the other a local of St. John’s.
She tried to keep the two men from discovering each other, but word eventually got around to the man from St. John’s.
He waited outside his lover’s home for the sea captain to arrive and, when he did, the man from St. John’s decapitated the sea captain with a sword.
It is unknown whether the headless ghost is searching for his lover or for his murderer, who fled the scene that night and was never discovered.