Extra Research for Season 5 – Episode 6 – Annabelle
Tucked into the heart of downtown Halifax at 1682 Hollis Street sits the original home to the Halifax Club. While the club was established in 1862, the imposing stone building complete with stone detailing in the Italianate style was designed by Scottish born architect David Stirling, and constructed in 1863 by George Lang. The building houses with a luxurious dining hall and bar area, and has many guest rooms that were “fitted with the most improvements of the time.”
The club itself was founded as a way to bring prominent business leaders and politicians together to conduct high-powered meetings, broker deals or to unwind after a long day with a cigar and a drink. At the time of establishment, the founding group of 15 men drafted a series of club rules that outline the expected behaviours of its members, such as not tipping service staff, and stipulated the fee for membership at the time –20 pounds plus a 5 pound annual “subscription fee.” The rules made it difficult to become a member, ensuring that the club remained prestigious and very exclusive.
Hidden in plain sight
At the time, it was fairly common for buildings to include secret passageways and access to underground tunnels – and the Halifax Club is no exception. The tunnel underneath the club was constructed by Scottish masons at approximately the same time the building was constructed. It is guessed that these tunnels allowed servants to cart materials from the street to the kitchen without disturbing (or being seen by) members. The building itself also has a number of secret stairwells and passageways, which are all accessible through secret doors, just to keep the servants out of sight while they delivered drinks and other items to the guest rooms.
A disaster like none other
On December 6, 1917, 21 minutes after a French ammunitions ship collided with a Norwegian cargo ship, the Halifax Harbour was decimated by a massive explosion that had enough force to expose ocean floor. The shock wave could be felt for miles around, leaving a sea of broken windows in its wake. More than 2,000 people died that day.
While the Halifax Club suffered some significant damage from the shrapnel and debris that rocketed through downtown Halifax, many of the windows were also damaged and needed to be replaced. One window, however, only suffered a crack, stretching from one side to another, which has never been repaired. Over the years, the crack remains in honour and in memory of all of those who lost their lives that day.
More than one haunting
Annabelle isn’t the only ghost to roam the halls of The Halifax Club. It is rumoured that a few short years after the club opened, the general manager walked into the dining hall and stabbed himself in front of a dozen or so members. Now, current staff members have reported seeing the ornate crystal chandeliers rapidly swaying from side-to-side and feeling an odd chill to the air when that happens.
– Jane Caulfield