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'We really don’t have an explanation for that either': Ghost stories from the Admiral Digby Museum

The Admiral Digby Museum located at 95 Montague Row in Digby.
The Admiral Digby Museum located at 95 Montague Row in Digby. - Amanda Doucette

DIGBY, N.S. – Kody Theriault was walking to the basement of the Admiral Digby Museum in June but when he got to the basement the door was locked.

Strange. This particular door was never locked.

“I figured someone accidentally locked the door from the inside and now we were out of luck,” he remembers thinking at the time.

He brought a coworker down to the basement to get a second opinion, just in case he was opening the door wrong.

But after the pair reviewed the door again, it was locked.

Theriault got some tools and took off the door knob but when he reviewed the handle, he realized there wasn’t a lock on the inside of the door.

“I was uncomfortable,” he says. “I’m not necessarily a believer in paranormal activity but it felt like a strong force holding the door shut. It didn’t feel stuck, it felt stronger than a person holding it shut.”

The museum is an old building located at 95 Montague Row in Digby. The staff aren’t sure of the exact date the building was built, but they have a property record stating the property was first owned in 1783. It was owned by many others through the years and the museum officially acquired the property in 1977.

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That isn’t the only time Theriault has experienced something unusual at the museum.

In the spring of 2017 he was upstairs at the museum. The museum has a new section that was built onto the building, but half of the upstairs is still intact from the time the building was first constructed.

As he was walking to the doorway of the older side of the museum, the door slammed in his face. There were no windows open at the time and Theriault still can’t think of an explanation of why the door slammed.

“It didn’t hit me, but it was close to my face and there was a lot of force in it,” he remembers.

Theriault usually works on the main floor of the museum by himself. He doesn’t feel any weird presence or hear anything unusual on a daily basis.
He’s heard rumours that some people think the ghost at Admiral Digby Museum may be Tupper Warren, a former businessman in Digby, or Charlotte Gilpin, a historical scholar from Digby.

“If you are a believer in that sort of thing, it could make sense it was either of them because we have a lot of their artifacts here,” he says.

He’s not the only one who has witnessed something spooky at the museum.

Every year the museum hires summer students and some of the students have heard noises in the attic and the basement.

The 1889 telephone exchange. A few summers ago, a summer student working at the museum took a photo of this artifact and found a white figure shadowing next to it. Didn't see one when this photo was taken. AMANDA DOUCETTE
The 1889 telephone exchange. A few summers ago, a summer student working at the museum took a photo of this artifact and found a white figure shadowing next to it. Didn't see one when this photo was taken. AMANDA DOUCETTE

 

One year a student was taking a picture of an artifact – a telephone exchange from 1889. The first picture she took was clear, but she decided to take a picture from a different angle. The room was dimly lit but, in the picture, a white figure appeared next to the telephone exchange.

“We really don’t have an explanation for that either,” Theriault says.

One employee, who asked not to be named, remembers a couple incidents from sometime in 1994 or 1995.

“I was never one to have been able to say I had seen a ghost, but in the winter of 1994-1995 I can say that some very peculiar things were heard inside the museum at the front door,” she wrote in a newsletter for the Admiral Digby Museum.

She was in one of the upstairs rooms working alone, so both of the downstairs doors in the museum were locked.

All of a sudden she heard one of the doors downstairs slamming repeatedly. After going downstairs to check she discovered no one was there and both of the doors were still locked.

This happened a few times and it was always at 10 a.m.

One time, a friend came to the museum to see how her work was going and the door started slamming again.

“She called out, ‘We’re up here,’ but no one answered so she proceeded to run down the stairs to find the person who had just entered the building. I tried to tell her that no one would be there, but she kept running down the stairs anyways,” the museum employee remembers.

Her friend searched the entire building but quickly realized no one was there.

“I only laughed because I knew that this had happened many times before and the only visible person in the building was me,” she said.

The same door that slammed has another story that many of the museum employees have heard about.

The door previously had an old-fashioned bell attached, one that rings when the door opens. The bell was not electrical and every so often the bell would start ringing, but the door never opened.

A carpenter working on the building decided to take the bell apart to double check it, but there was nothing electrical attached to it.

Said a museum employee, “since this type of doorbell was not hooked up to any electrical wires and it actually had to be turned by hand to make it ring, we can only assume that it was made to ring by someone that could not be seen.”

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