I remember reading about the Mary Ellen Spook farm at a very young age, most likely in one of the books written by Helen Creighton. It instantly captured my imagination, and has always stuck out as one of my favorite ghost stories from Nova Scotia. Because of my interest (obsession might be a better word to use) in local folklore and stories, I never forgot the story of the spook farm and the feelings of unease that the stories caused.
Before I go any farther I do need to point out that I have spoken with the current owner of the land this summer, and he doesn't want any people going out to this site any more. the last time that I visited the site the portion of the trail that was accessible by four wheel drive was littered with garbage and signs of partying. In another year or two the forest will have completely reclaimed the road and it will be next to impossible to find and very easy to get lost. To even reach where the driveway once stood you have to drive a fair distance into the countryside outside of Antigonish.
What happened to the family living at the farm in 1922 will never be known. There are countless theories and ideas, stories and facts. Because the story has been told and retold many times over, I think that a lot of the facts surrounding what happened have been lost to time. Two things remain certain however - something happened to cause a family to flee their home in the dead of winter, and whatever that something was still has a great many people in the community and surrounding area very nervous.
'Fire Spook' by Monica Graham is a very good book to purchase if you want to read about the case, case notes, and view photos of the family and all of the investigators that took part in trying to unravel the mystery that the family was going through. For my part, I will stick to the stories that have been sent to me by locals as well as my own experiences.
When I finally did get to visit the spook farm for myself, I was thrilled beyond words. This was a location that I had read about for years, had watched the Creepy Canada episode, and had scoured blogs and webpages reading the accounts of people who had also been drawn to the Spook Farm to see it for themselves. I was also hit by how isolated the farm site is. When you stand by the foundation and look around, you can still make out where the new growth trees stop and the old growth begins, signs of where the fields and pastures had been. Looking at this, it was very easy to imagine how isolated the family was when their ordeal began.
One odd thing did happen when we were hiking back out to our car. I thought I heard something in the woods off to my left, and stopped to listen carefully before continuing. The investigator I had with me continued up the trail, and I stood watching her in amusement wondering when she would notice that I was no longer with her. As I called out to her, she wheeled with a look of shock and fear on her face. I jogged up the trail to her, and she told me that for the last couple of minutes she could feel someone walking behind her, literally breathing down her neck. She even described how she could feel breath on her neck, and when I called to her she was already turning to ask me if I could possibly get any closer to her. The look of shock on her face came from seeing how far away I was, and realizing there was no way what she had experienced was me playing a prank.
Locals don't like this place - in fact while discussing it with several of them, it became clear that they were afraid of it. Many of them admitted that they would not drive past the road leading to it at night, and if they were walking by it during the daytime they would switch to the other side of the road until they were well past it. Many of the stories are of people going to the farm and taking pieces of the roof, support beams, and other household items as souvenirs only to have a fire start in their home shortly after. There is no longer any part of the farmstead left other than the foundation of the house and barn, and even these landmarks will be impossible to find in a year or two. I have also been told several stories from locals who have had their car die on them close to the road, with no clear explanation. Other people have talked about seeing a large black dog rushing at them, only to vanish as suddenly as it came. Still other people have seen the dog on their way back from the farm, dashing between the trees and watching them.
Is the location still haunted? I haven't decided yet, but it wouldn't surprise me. Something definitely happened here that defies explanation, and it drew investigators and skeptics from different corners of North America. It still has locals spooked, people who would rather forget about the Spook Farm and let the forest reclaim the farmland.