The L’Orignal Jail held many despicable people in its time. Murderers, rapists, and lunatics once sat in its cells, and more than one death occurred in its halls. Although the jail has been turned into a museum now, not all of the former residents have left. The oldest jail in Ontario is famously haunted, attracting paranormal investigators and intrigued visitors from all over. The Phantoms of Yore paranormal investigations group has made several trips into the jail to communicate with spirits, but nobody has ever stayed overnight.
The oldest spirit known to reside there is the Shadow Man, first recorded by inmates when the jail was still open. A semi-solid shape would appear at the southern exit around noon, a colorless aura with a black-grey outline that had the distinct profile of a head and a broad set of shoulders. Several inmates reported seeing the spirit during their time there, and even 30 years after the jail’s closure, the Shadow Man is excited to be seen. A recent sighting of the Shadow Man caused the entity to quickly flee, and later that night, EVP captured a male voice repeatedly singing, “I am a shadow, I am a shadow…”
The Shadow Man is thought to be the spirit of Clement Goyette, an aggressive drunkard who was sent to the jail after killing a father and son with an axe over alcohol. His stature matches the Shadow Man precisely, and dowsing rods usually lead people to the patch of courtyard where his body was buried after his execution. Inmates were hung from the gallows in the jail’s courtyard, in the exact spot where the nurse’s office now sits, and people report restricted breathing and a feeling of something wrapped around their neck whenever they enter the room.
The last two people executed at the jail were William Larocque and Emmanuel Lavictoire, who would hire farmhands to work the fields and then kill them for their life insurance. Lavictoire was executed first, taking 20 minutes to hang due to weight loss during his incarceration, but when Larocque’s turn came, he told the crowd that they’d hung an innocent man. It’s believed that Larocque tricked or intimidated Lavictoire into helping him, and that Lavictoire remains in the prison forevermore.
Several people have sensed Lavictoire in the jail, famous medium Marc Jade included. Jade indicated the exact cells Lavictoire and Larocque were held in before their deaths, along with the emotions that each were displaying at the time, which is not public record. Jade also sensed that there had been a birth at the jail during a winter storm, which also isn’t on the record. It’s the reason why there is a bassinet in one of the rooms.
The bassinet is a favorite of another spirit, Ruth Millette, who will rock the cradle if she likes you. Her family lived in the jail, and she loved to follow her father Felix around as he completed his duties as warden. She died a little before her family moved out of the jail and into a house down the street, and her spirit remains there walking the halls and singing as she once did. She is very playful, often wanting people to follow her shadow, and it’s said she looks after all the other spirits in the jail. For this reason, she is known as the Angel of the L’Orignal Jail.
These are the most famous of spirits that haunt the old jail, but there are many more identified entities, and hundreds more incidents that cannot be attributed to the ones known. There are several theories as to why the jail is still so well-populated, the most prolific being that the limestone the jail is made from retains spiritual energy exceedingly well. The deaths and wild emotions have left their mark, saturating the jail with the echoes of strong emotions and unfinished business that tie spirits to this world. Whatever the cause, the jail is just as populated as when it held inmates, and some of them may still be there to welcome you.