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‘Be careful what you wish for’: Legend of a Clark’s Harbour ghost named Myrtle started out as a joke

['The photograph that started the urban legend of Myrtle the ghost in Clark’s Harbour hangs in the Seaside Heritage Centre. While it is a reproduction of the original, the little girl in the centre doesn’t cast a shadow in that one either.']
['The photograph that started the urban legend of Myrtle the ghost in Clark’s Harbour hangs in the Seaside Heritage Centre. While it is a reproduction of the original, the little girl in the centre doesn’t cast a shadow in that one either.']

CLARK’S HARBOUR, NS - It all began as a joke.

Back around the turn of the century, the Town of Clark’s Harbour purchased the historic IOOF Hall on Main Street. Built in the late 1800s, the stately, three-story building had served many purposes over the years besides an odd fellows ’ lodge. A silent movie theatre , a hardware store, and an apartment complex were among the uses for the building.

 The town had other plans: restore the building to its former glory and create the Seaside Heritage Centre, where functions could be held in the impressive ballroom on the second floor, while historic displays and a welcome centre occupy the first floor.

Town councillors , including Mayor Leigh Stoddart, rolled up their sleeves, volunteering countless hours restoring the building. Through that process, they began collecting historic memorabilia associated with the building, including a photograph of the building in its early years. Front and centre in the streetscape is a little girl, who has no shadow. All the other people in the photo, including a horse and buggy, have shadows.

Looking at the photo one day, someone remarked, “That must be the girl that’s haunting the hall,” recalled Stoddart. “So, people started making up stories as a joke, but then it became real.”

While Stoddart has never seem any apparitions or ghostly figures himself, others have.

“People have seen her,” he said, re-telling two eye witness accounts given him over the years. About six or seven years ago, ‘Myrtle’ - the name given the spirit - was seen near the front of the staircase leading to the second floor, then vanished through a wall.

A second report came in last year, when the town had someone doing repair work in the building.

“He happened to look towards the back of the room he was in and seen her stand up,” said Stoddart. “He said he backed up and left the room.”

Just this summer, a crew from Haunted Nova Scotia was on site filming for the series on paranormal activity. While there, a person on the crew said, “Someone tried to push him down the stairs,” said Stoddart.

Stoddart did hear unexplained loud noises while working at the hall late one night during the restoration process.

“I was working there one night painting and heard this loud noise in an adjacent room. It wasn’t just a floor board creaking. I never paid much attention. I thought someone was playing a joke,” he said.

“Then, it happened again. I ran to the door thinking I could catch whoever was playing a trick but there was no one. I called out, ‘Anybody there?’ There was no response. I went to look in the room and nothing was out of place.”

Others who have worked in the building have also experienced strange occurrences and unexplained noises.

“I really believe someone is there,” said town resident Kim Goreham, who worked at the Seaside Heritage Centre several years ago.

The historic IOOF Hall on Main Street in Clark’s Harbour sits vacant this summer, except for maybe Myrtle. Purchased and restored by the town in the early 2000s, the building has been used by the town as a tourist bureau and museum, as well as to host various functions in the upstairs ballroom. For a number of years the building was decorated as a Haunted House.

Goreham and her co-worker would hear music every time they went to the washroom, but there was no radios or stereos playing anywhere inside or outside. On one occasion, they found a box sitting on a counter that neither of them had put there - and no one had entered the building.

“We still don’t know how the box got there,” she said.

Another time, the two were packing things away, had a room all cleaned up, went back in and found a single photo of the Stone Church laying on the edge of a desk that neither one had left.

“It really feels like there’s something there,” said Goreham, adding ghostly figures in the windows have also been seen at night by passers-by.

“The thing about Myrtle is it might just be an innocent picture of a girl,” said Stoddart, calling it a case of “the story came before the legend.”

“People translated the photo at the hall, the ghost had to have a name and the story grows,” he said. “Be careful what you wish for.”

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