History Slam Episode Seven with Jim Dean: Ottawa’s Haunted Walk

By Sean Graham

With Halloween just around the corner the History Slam decided to get into the spirit and explore the world of ghost tours! In the first half of the podcast I chat with Jim Dean of Ottawa’s Haunted Walk about how they put together their stories and the importance of historical accuracy. In the second half, I sit down with one of the tour guides, Denis Lamoureux, and talk about how history is incorporated into the tours.

I’ve always been skeptical of these ghost tours. I was in Boston a couple years ago and when it was suggested that we go on a haunted cemetery tour, I protested that everyone should just give me the $10 as I can walk around and make stuff up. But this summer I went on one of the tours in Ottawa and, despite the fact that it was oppressively hot outside, I really enjoyed the experience. Going in, I thought the whole thing was just a sensationalist form of tourism, but it was clear that presenting the history of the city was an important part of the Tour. It dawned on me that rather than subvert history, the tour actually tried to introduce people to the history of the city in a unique way. In talking to both Jim and Denis, it was interesting to hear how much of an emphasis historical accuracy is for the Haunted Walk.

Sean Graham is a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa where he is currently working on a project that examines the early years of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. He has previously studied at Nipissing University, the University of the West Indies, and the University of Regina and like any red-blooded Canadian his ultimate dream is to be a curling champion while living on a diet of beer and poutine.

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