Canadians love a good ghost story, and there are plenty to be found across Canada. Many of these hair-raising stories are based on real-life stories and people—people like Patrick Whelan, who was hanged for the 1868 assassination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, a Father of Confederation. Some claim to have seen his ghost appear in his old jail cell at the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, said to be one of the most haunted buildings in Canada. The former prison turned hostel is the setting for a fun ghost story that unfolds on this lenticular piece. Its first image sets the mood with an eerie evening tour of the former prison… but tilt the coin and suddenly, you’ll encounter a ghost too!
A Haunted Hostel?
Spending the night in an old jailhouse may be scary enough for some. But guests staying at the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel have also reported strange and mysterious happenings—from weeping voices to slamming doors, and a ghost that haunts a death-row cell at night. That restless spirit is believed to be the jail’s most famous inmate, Patrick James Whelan. In 1868, the 28-year-old tailor was accused and convicted of the murder of Thomas D’Arcy McGee. On the morning of February 11, 1869, a crowd of more than 5,000 spectators gathered outside the Carleton County Gaol to witness one of Canada’s last public executions.
Whelan maintained his innocence to the end. His last wish was to be laid to rest in the family plot; instead, he was unceremoniously buried beneath the gallows. Whelan’s descendants continue to hold out hope for an exoneration. In 2002, they added soil from the old jail’s courtyard to the grave of his widow—incidentally, in the same Montréal cemetery that is McGee’s final resting place.
The two-image lenticular design by Emmanuel Julian Madail Monzon shows a ghostly encounter in one of Canada’s most haunted buildings. The first image shows a visitor entering a former jail during an evening tour of the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel, where the bar door is left ajar. When the coin is tilted, the door is closed and the eerie ghost of a former inmate—perhaps Patrick Whelan, who was hanged for the 1868 assassination of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, a Father of Confederation—appears behind the terrified visitor and looks directly at the viewer. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.