Visiting an old cemetery in St. John's, and the Ghost of a former Nun!

Updated: May 11

©Mental Floss

It appears #ghosthunting on Sunday evenings have become somewhat ritualistic. Well, not this week because it's #MothersDay. So, here at the blog we are sending love to all the mothers out there.

I must confess, I've only gone ghost hunting twice but I'm hoping that will change going forward. As a folklorist, it's easy to dismiss the supernatural. Of course, there's always things that can't be explained.

Video by: Brandon Skanes. "On the evening of April 2, 2021, my friends and I conducted our first paranormal investigation. The actual video footage will be coming in the near future, but here is a sort of "trailer" for the investigation. This evening we tried to go to Fort Amherst, an abandoned military hub in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Unfortunately we were unable to access the area due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, we did get some interesting E.V.P. at Deadman's Pond."

So, why do you think there are so many scholars that deal with the supernatural and ghost stories?

More specifically, the largest academic folklore department in the world was founded in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador at Memorial University (back in 1969) by Herbert Halpert.

Photo by: James Fraser

Yesterday evening (at the time of writing this article) my friends and I visited the Protestant Cemetery on Waterford Bridge Road in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

I had never entered the cemetery until last night, but I was well aware of its existence and passed by dozens of times, for sure. Not surprisingly, some of this city's elite have been buried there since the 1800s. It's an old cemetery, so there's not many empty plots remaining.

Photo by: Kyle Sellars, taken of the owner of The Modernist Son. Since my friends decided to begin ghost hunting, I've come along for the experience twice. In the meantime, I really hope to join them next week, as well.

"Before you embark on your ghost hunting adventure, make sure you have all the necessary supplies. For a beginning ghost hunt, you’ll need a pen and paper to keep track of any paranormal observations, a camera, a flashlight with plenty of batteries and, if possible, a mobile phone for use in emergencies or to track time. You will also want to dress appropriately for your excursion by wearing comfortable shoes or bringing a jacket. More advanced ghost hunters can purchase higher quality materials, such as video cameras, audio recorders or digital laser thermometers, to locate sources of energy. Since this equipment can be pricey, beginners should test the waters with basic gear before investing lots of time and money." (

About the area:

"This General Protestant Cemetery opened in 1842 & early in its history was also referred to as Riverhead Cemetery. A new general protestant cemetery was opened at what was then the outskirts of St John’s in 1941 (Mount Pleasant Cemetery) so the majority of headstones at the old GPC are from 1842 to 1940s. This cemetery is on the side of a shallow valley is bounded on the upper (north) side by Topsail Road, & on the lower side by Waterford Bridge Road. Below that runs the Waterford River, now much contained but back then spread into a wetland & beyond that emptied into St John’s Harbour, & historically this area was known as Riverhead. Some of the lower part of the river ended up underground & some incorporated into the St John’s Dockyards. Early documents stating that individuals were buried at “Riverhead” were referring to this General Protestant Cemetery."


Following our visit to the cemetery on Waterford Bridge Road, I've contemplated some thoughts about haunted locations in the city of St. John's. One of our team members at #TheModernistSon (Cory Sellars) told me a local ghost story when we were kids. I grew up in the Goulds, a neighborhood of St. John's, and have heard a few stories about the town's history.

Prior to part of it burning down in the early 2000s, St. Kevin's School (middle school) was much larger. According to a story my friend told me, the school's library used to be located in the part of the school which burned to the ground about twenty years ago.

(c) The Conjuring 2. "The Demon Nun Valak is a “real” demon... | The demonic nun that’s a major antagonist in “The Conjuring 2” is mostly an invention of director James Wan based on a conversation he had with Lorraine Warren about “a spectral entity that has haunted her in her house.” Valak, though, is based in demonic lore and mentioned in several books on demons from the 14th and 15th Century." (

Cory's friend's sister went to the school during the 1990s, and she claims to have had a paranormal experience when she was much younger at St. Kevin's. One day she was walking by the school, and decided to take a short cut towards the cemetery (next to the school).

According to the story, a nun who worked at the school (this was a Catholic school until 1997), died within the school's library. Although her body left the premises, it appears the spirit of this woman did not.

In terms of what happened next, the young girl was walking by the part of the school that housed the library, and noticed a humanoid figure in the upstairs window. When she looked up, the young girl was horrified to see the apparition of the deceased nun staring back at her, waving, and her eyes consumed by darkness.

By the time I actually moved to the Goulds, the oldest part of St. Kevin's school no longer existed. However, I would not be surprised if the spirit of the former nun still haunts the school's grounds at night.

What are your thoughts?

Thank you and stay safe,


The Modernist Son, 2020-


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