Extra Research for Season 5 – Episode 11 – Sergeant of the Well
First Fort – The first of four forts was established in 1749 and played a pivotal role over the next decade in the Anglo-French rivalry in the region. Various fortifications at Halifax protected Protestant settlers against raids by the French, Acadians, and primarily the Mi’kmaq in a conflict known as Father Le Loutre’s War.
Second Fort – The American Revolution was when the first major permanent fortification appeared and the second fort was built on Citadel Hill. It was needed to protect the city from an American or French attack. Citadel Hill and the associated harbour defences gave Halifax the nickname “Warden of The North”. Neither French nor American forces attacked Citadel Hill during the American Revolution.
Third Fort – A new citadel was designed in 1794 and completed by 1800, inspired by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria). It is the only fort to carry the name of Fort George. The top of the hill was leveled and lowered 15 feet to accommodate a larger fortress on the summit. Prince Edward commissioned the Halifax Town Clock in 1800 before his return to England. The Halifax Town Clock opened in 1803 and has kept time for the community ever since. By 1825 all the works except the powder magazine, were in ruins, with plans for a new citadel underway.
Fourth and Present Fort (Citadel) – Construction for the present citadel began in 1828 and continued until 1856. This large masonry-construction fort was designed to repel a land-based attack by United States forces.
British forces upgraded Fort George’s armaments to permit it to defend the harbour as well as land approaches, using heavier and more accurate long-range artillery.
The 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot were stationed at Halifax for almost three years (1869-1871) and were divided into two depots and eight service companies. They departed in 1871 hosted by the famous brewmaster Alexander Keith. Though never attacked, Citadel Hill’s various fortifications were garrisoned by the British Army until 1906, and afterward by the Canadian Army throughout the First World War.
The Cavalier Building was built in the 1850s as a barracks and was later used as an internment camp during World War I. Today, the building is used for museum displays and tourist information destination.
Many ghost stories are associated with Citadel Hill and the buildings in the fortification. So far staff have gathered at least thirty-six.
The Grey Lady
According to staff, there are a few visitors to the fort who seem to have never left, including the Cavalier Building’s resident ghost: The Grey Lady.
One of the most memorable sightings of the Grey Lady happened to an employee who would sit in a particular chair at one end of the building and greet visitors as they came in. One day, a woman in a 19th-century white dress and smelling of roses, entered the building. As the man rose to greet her she was gone. The few times he saw her afterwards the same thing happened, same white dress and disappearing before he had the chance to talk to her. She has also been seen in the 3rd floor window of the Cavalier building.
According to research the Grey Lady is Cassie Allen. Allen was supposed to marry a sergeant who was stationed at the fort. The night before the wedding, Allen’s fiancé and another soldier got into a fight about the legality of the wedding, as it was found out that he had a wife who was in a psychiatric hospital in Bermuda.
After the fight, the fiancé either hung or shot himself in one of the other buildings and was discovered the next morning when a carriage came to take him to the church. This church was eventually torn down and one of the chairs was given to the Citadel, which turned out to be the one the employee was sitting in.
Due to these connections, folklorists believe that the Grey Lady is Cassie Allen who has returned to the fort looking for her fiancé, even though she lived until the 1950s.
— Joanne Schiavoni
Photo Credit: Construction for the first Citadel. British soldiers of the 29th Regiment of Foot guard against Acadian and Mi’kmaw raids