The Ghost of Sambro Island

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The Ghost of Sambro Island

Postby Pequisto » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:25 pm

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Sambro Island Light is the oldest surviving lighthouse in North America. It was built during the Seven Years' War by the first act ever passed by the House of Assembly in 1758. It remained a staffed lighthouse until going fully-automated in 1988.

It has figured in several moments throughout history including Joshua Slocum's solo navigation around the world in 1895, several adjacent sea battles during the American Revolution and War of 1812. the HMCS Clayoquot was torpedoed by U-806 in WW2 while mine-sweeping ahead of a convoy escort near the island.

The story of "Double Alex" is fascinating. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, military personal were stationed on the island, and one of these men, a Scot named Alexander Alexander, was entrusted with leaving for the mainland to gather the soldiers' pay as well as provisions but instead gambled it all away. The story goes that Double Alex came back hungover and needing a drink. William Gilkie, the current lightkeeper, tried to get some alcohol from the medical officer but nobody would give him any because they were all still angry with him. He felt so guilty for doing this that he hung himself on a big spike in the lighthouse.

Double Alex’s ghost is believed to continue to haunt the island. Visitors report someone walking loudly, flicking lights on and off and flushing toilets. According to lightkeeper John Fairservice, if Double Alex was close by, a “peculiar odour” permeated the air.

It has been said that Double Alex's ghost has been spotted and heard on Sambro Island since then. He hasn't shown his face since someone was brave enough to ask him what he wanted. He said he wanted a Mr. Sadler to pay the Freemason's lodge $7.75. Mr. Sadler did this and he supposedly hasn't been seen or heard since then. The large spike is still in the Lighthouse on Sambro Island today.

Genealogist Janet MacKay had further details on the ghost story: "I've come across it a few times, mostly researching in the Archives. Incredible, creepy tales... but rather cozy too... if memory serves, he would often be found sitting in the kitchen on the island, dressed in his military uniform of the time... perhaps only a presence detected, and even a relevant odour of some ilk... pipe? One of the later keepers would sense/smell him in his boat when going to the mainland, and by that odour would know if Double Alex was returning with him on the boat. Very interesting, these tales of the return of those who have left us abruptly in circumstances that were not at all pleasant.
This "smelly ghost" crossing via boat would be a hard one to explain away by scientific facts... but science is always evolving with newly discovered truths, isn't it?"

Story after story has been handed down since the 19th century about poltergeist activity in and around the outbuildings as well as in the lighthouse itself.

Nobody lives on the island today. The Canadian Coast Guard performs annual maintenance on the light every summer.

I included some information from Nova Scotia genealogist Leslie Harnish.
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Pequisto
 
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Location: Lower Saint Lawrence, Quebec, Canada

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