UNB News
News and stories from one of Canada’s top universities

The Spirit of Memorial Hall

Author: Angie Deveau

Posted on Oct 30, 2020

Category: UNB Fredericton , UNB Saint John

Memorial Hall

The following story is a tale told by Angie Deveau, a communications officer at the University of New Brunswick.

Have you ever wondered if any spirits drift through the halls of the University of New Brunswick late at night? Well, Terry Parsons, a patrol officer on UNB Fredericton’s security team, knows the answer to that question.

Established in 1785, UNB is the oldest English-language university in Canada. Given our 235 years of history, people are bound to hear a ghost story or two from time to time. The mysterious spirit of Memorial Hall is just one of those tales.

Memorial Hall – or Mem Hall, as it’s more widely known – was built in 1924 as a permanent memorial for the graduates and undergraduates of UNB who sacrificed their lives during the First World War. Affixed over the entrance to its auditorium is a bronze plaque listing the 35 names of UNB's fallen students. The building, which houses the UNB Art Centre, Theatre UNB and the Centre for Musical Arts, features stained glass windows in honour of George Fenwick, killed at the Battle of Passchendaele, and Franklin Rankin, killed at the Battle of Bapaume.

According to Parsons, on a brisk fall evening six years ago, he was completing late building checks at approximately 1 a.m. Building checks, which are often completed on foot, are required to ensure the safety and security of our campuses and student residents.

“We were overstaffed that night, so I was sent back down there to do a second check for the evening,” he says. “Once I arrived on foot to the pathway between the Alumni Memorial Building and Mem Hall, I was a bit surprised as I could see the lights on in Mem Hall, with the sound of a piano playing in the background. I thought this was odd and the hair on the back of my neck immediately stood up.”

Parsons hurried up to the front doors of Mem Hall, not understanding what was going on in the building. “I can remember putting my key in the front door and this really strange feeling came over me.”

As Parsons entered the building, the lights in the lobby were on, so he walked in with much trepidation. “As I approached the auditorium and stuck my key in the door, I felt this big rush of air on the back of my neck,” he states. “I honestly thought I left the front door open, but when I turned around, there was a faceless lady standing behind me, hovering off the ground.”

Frozen with fear, Parsons stood there as he watched the lady, who zoomed to the right and then zoomed to the left. “She was wearing what could be described as ‘old-timey’ clothes – kind of like Little House on the Prairie,” he explains.

And just like that she vanished.

A week later, after speaking with his supervisor who had the same experience years ago, Parsons returned to Mem Hall to do a lockout. “While my supervisor and I were walking around the hall, I noticed that there was a picture on the wall and, lo and behold, it was a picture of the same lady.”

So, who is this woman who floats around Mem Hall at night?

As far as the picture is concerned, there isn’t one currently on display, so her identity will, for now, remain a mystery. Apparently, though, many others have seen and heard this woman playing piano in Mem Hall at night, and her story is quite well known. Many believe that she is playing for her brothers who were killed in action in the war.

Marie Maltais, director of the UNB Art Centre, hasn’t seen her in person, but she says that the story of the spirit, Grace, is common knowledge across campus. “All I know is that people have had strange sightings,” she says. “I do remember when I was brand new at UNB, coming in very early in the morning and smelling an old lady’s perfume. That was very spooky as there was no one in the building.”

So, there you have it: Grace, the spirit of Mem Hall. While I wasn’t able to find much else out about Grace, and whether you believe in ghosts at all, I will keep my ears open for the music that Grace plays as she waits for her brothers to return.

Have a happy and safe Halloween.

Have you experienced mysterious happenings at UNB? Email Angie.Deveau@unb.ca with your strange tale!

Media contact: Angie Deveau

Photo: Memorial Hall at UNB Fredericton. Photo credit: Marc Landry