By Katherine Scott
This Halloween I’ll celebrate the 10th anniversary of owning the flat-roofed house at 25 Charlotte Street known as Dixon House. It will have been exactly ten years ago that I spent my first petrified night alone in this house – the very same house that the first woman to be hanged in Canada spent her last night. Prior to her hanging, Mrs. Flahaven was kept in the tiny jail cell in the basement, ranting, half-mad and fraught with thoughts of revenge. Her daughter had revealed to the authorities that Mrs. Flavhaven and her lover had conspired to kill the girl’s father over the ownership of a tavern in North Sydney and so she was hung just down the road from here.
I’m your neighbour Katherine Scott or “The Dog Lady” (though “The Lady who Walks the Dogs” might better describe me and my dog-walking habits). I walk two big mutts – a yellowish lab and a german shepherdy kind of thing – through the neighbourhood every day. Sometimes on our walks we stop to talk to neighbours and tourists who ask “is there really a jail in your basement?”
I’ve decided its time to come clean and provide The Turnip with my exclusive true-life near-tabloid-cover story: There IS a jail in my basement! And it’s really creepy!
Well, okay, it’s not that creepy. Not so much creepy as dark, damp and dirty. There is a jail cell. The ceiling in it is extremely low and there is but one tiny window. It would have been a miserable destination for a criminal. The cell door is now gone – rumor has it that it may be at the Nova Scotia Museum (though I’m doubtful). I’ve recently heard that it might have become part of the décor at Governors Restaurant. For many years the space seems to have been used as a coal storage room so needless to say it’s a pretty dirty and unpleasant place. I keep meaning to clean it out but, frankly, I’d rather poke at my eyes with sticks.
When we moved in, the house seemed very quiet and peaceful. The house is, in fact, lovely inside, with four working slate fireplaces, plank floors and old light fixtures. For almost two hundred years people and their annoyingly undead souls have inhabited this house.
Soon after buying the house our renovators came in and began to work directly over the site of the old jail. They reported sounds of wailing and other unexplainable noises. Twice they left the house in fear (they were not what you might call “manly” men). Since then, I’ve heard audible footsteps coming up the stairs to my bedroom (not the dogs, though possibly the cat who has a weight issue). I’ve made breakfast for guests who I’ve assumed returned during the night but were not in the guest room in the morning. BOO! Scared you, eh? There are more stories, even more frightening than these, but alas I cannot speak of them.
So, you heard it here first folks from The Dog Lady of the North End. After all if you can’t trust The Dog Lady, well, who can you trust?