Over the generations, the building today occupied by Villa Maria has become home to a fair share of ghost stories.
Lynda da Silveira, a former Villa Maria student who now works there, for years organized the school’s historical tour, which is given by students and includes the ever-popular ghost stories.
Da Silveira recounts a perennial favourite: “It’s a story of unrequited love.”
It involves the school’s main building which had once been the Monklands Hotel. In that building is a rope that hangs from the second storey down to the first, connected to a bell.
“Two lovers came to the country inn — they were having an amorous affair,” da Silveira says. The woman, fearing her husband and society at large would discover her indiscretions, ended the romance and left the hotel.
“That night he hanged himself with the rope. It is said that at the time of his hanging which was 11 p.m., oftentimes, you can see the rope moving. And the chime of the bell will sound like the agonized cry of a dying man,” says da Silveira. “We all refer to it as the hanging rope.”
What of other ghosts? “Lots of teachers and staff throughout the years will tell you that weird stuff happens on that floor all the time,” Da Silveira says. “So you’ll be sitting there, and suddenly a gust of cold wind will come from nowhere. The lights will turn off. It sounds like someone is walking across the room, even though you’re the only one left.” Some have even reported hearing laughter.
Another tale pertains to a student named Lillian Stubbs. It is said she contracted cholera. She longed to go home to Texas for the summer break, but because she was contagious, she had to stay at the school with the nuns. She died there in 1880.
“During the (school) year at night, you can hear footsteps of a girl running up and down the fourth floor, and you can hear a girl laughing and slamming doors,” da Silveira says. “But during the Christmas holiday, the footsteps go silent, and what you hear instead is weeping.”
SPECIAL TO THE MONTREAL GAZETTE