Haunted Canada: The Phantom Bell Ringers

in GEMSlast year (edited)

In my youth,my grandmother entertained me and the rest of her grandchildren with ghost stories. There was no TV, internet or cell phone and we sat around her warm wood stove and delighted in her stories.

Sometimes the room would get so hot from the wood fire we would have to go to another room. Grandmother (known to everyone as Nanny) would tell such great scary stories we would be laughing and screaming in fright at the same time.

A jokester would knock on the wall and we would be hysterically frightened again thinking the ghost was right in the room and coming to get one of us.

I had a short distance to walk home, in the dark, after an evening of hearing one of Nanny’s scare the crap out of you stories.

Running home, as if chased by the last apparition I heard about, my feet barely touched the ground. I was afraid something ghostly would jump out of the ditch at me.

My dearly loved grandmother has been gone many years but the love for true ghost stories has stayed with me.

Please gather around and I will tell you the true story of the disappearing ghostly bell ringers.

This story is also commemorated on a 2016 Canada Post stamp issued in the series on Haunted Canada. It is a famous ghost story here on the Island.

The following stamp, Phantom Bell Ringers of the Kirk of St. James,

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The stamp shows three women. One is holding the rope from the bell of the Kirk of St. James Church in Charlottetown. A glow of white light eerily shines from the church tower.

This ghost story has it’s beginnings in the early morning, Friday, October 7, 1859, when a bell could be heard ringing all over Charlottetown. Prince Edward Island.

A local Sea Captain thought the bell was from a ship at the harbour. He goes there to find the steamer ship , Fairy Queen ready to depart for Pictou, Nova Scotia.

While at the harbour, the Captain realizes the bell sound is coming from the direction of the Kirk Of St. James Church.

By the time the Captain gets to the church, the Church Sexton arrives to check out why the bell was ringing. They stand outside looking upward.

The bell rings eight times. Suddenly three women appear dressed in white and open the door to the belfry, while another women looks down from the tower. As they enter, the door closes behind the three ghostly apparitions.


In order to enter the Church, the Sexton has to open the shut door with his keys. He and the Captain search the tower that contains the bell. Much to their surprise, no sign of the women can be found!

The story goes...



The steamer Fairy Queen never arrived at Pictou, Nova Scotia that day. The ship sank killing eight passengers.

Among the passengers killed were three women who belonged to the Kirk of St. James congregation. The fourth women lost at sea on the same ship did not belong to the church.


My interpretation of the supernatural happenings:

The bell ringing eight times corresponds to the foretelling of the eight passengers killed on the Fairy Queen.

At the time, this church’s congregation would be of Scottish/Gaelic descent and may be of a family the Banshee Woman follows to forewarn of a death. The three women dressed in white could have been their family’s Banshee announcing the coming deaths of the women. The woman looking down from the tower- another banshee, but not connected to the others.

I’ve written about the Banshee Woman forerunner in precious posts. She appears dressed in light or white clothing. She is known for wailing and weeping to let the families of know of an approaching death of a family member.

The sound of a bell is also know as a forerunner of death.

For an example, I have a friend here on the Island who hears a bell sound in her ear when a family member or close friend is about to die. She even knows the direction they live in by which ear the sound is heard.

I happened to stop at the Kirk of St, James Church in Charlottetown a few years ago and took this photo of part of the church.

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I hope you enjoyed this ghost story. Most of us are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 virus pandemic and I thought a scary story would be in order.


Photos and Text @redheadpei

Location: Prince Edward Island, Canada


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Thanks so much Rob for your tip and resteem. Appreciated!

Stay safe in these uncertain times. 💞

Howdy redheadpei! That is a wonderful story and your grandmother sounds like a skilled ghost story teller! What memories of those times.

Thanks Cowboy! Nanny has been gone many years but the memories of the times spent with her are still vivid in my mind. Those were happy childhood times.

That is a chilling tale and a beautiful stamp!!

Hi Deb! It is nice to have the incident commemorated by the stamp.

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