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When a black cat crosses your path: Yarmouth gravedigger shares his strangest encounter


Published on July 19, 2017

Tim MacKinnon has been a gravedigger at Yarmouth Mountain Cemetery for 22 years. One of his strangest episodes on the property involved a black cat. MacKinnon builds Halloween props in his spare time, including the comfortable coffin he’s sitting on.

©Carla Allen

YARMOUTH, NS - Gravedigger Tim MacKinnon has had some strange experiences during his two decades at Yarmouth Mountain Cemetery.

He’s encountered people wandering between the headstones clutching Ouija boards or candles, and others looking for spirit orbs.

But one of the strangest happenings involved an animal.

Several years ago, the superintendent interrupted MacKinnon’s mowing to ask him to go down to the vault where the coffins are kept until burial. 

“He told me there was a black cat there,” said MacKinnon.

Peering into the vault with a flashlight, he could see a cat in the rollers used to slide the coffins.

MacKinnon found a board to chase it out. The cat ran towards him and he picked it up and tossed it out the door.

It immediately turned and ran back into the vault.

There was only one coffin in the structure and the cat headed directly for it and scooted in behind.

“I took a stick and tried to poke at it to get it to move,” said MacKinnon.

“It jumped up on the coffin and came out about 90 miles an hour across the top of it, at my face. I ducked and the cat hit the wall behind me and fell on the floor.”

He picked it up and tossed it back out the door.

As soon as it hit the dirt, the cat got back up and darted back through the entrance.

“It ran right at me, stopped in front of me and arched his back like a horseshoe. His tail was up and his hair was all standing up.”

The determined cat ran back in six times before it stopped trying.

Two days later, the cat was still by the vault and it wasn’t leaving, says MacKinnon.

The third day, it moved to a tree a short distance away.

MacKinnon says he doesn’t know if the cat belonged to the person who was in the coffin.

“In the 22 years I’ve been here, that’s the first time I’ve seen a cat in there and it wasn’t leaving,” he said.

“I was more exhausted trying to get him out of there than afraid. He almost attached his claws to my face before I ducked,” said MacKinnon, shaking his head.