Haunted history: Take a ghost tour around southwestern Nova Scotia
Southwest Nova Scotia has a rich oral history, and part of that is the handing down of ghost stories.
Greg Lake is an avid snooker player — something he has in common with old Tobe, the ghost that allegedly haunts the Windsor Fire Department.
WINDSOR, NS - It's slightly past midnight and the sound of billiard balls breaks the silence.
You're alone — yet it sounds like a game of snooker has just started in the communal room in the basement.
You investigate — no one is there, no balls had moved.
For veteran firefighter Greg Lake, that occurrence has happened more than once while on shift at the Windsor Fire Department.
Lake, who joined the department in 1972, is one of many firefighters who believe the station, which opened in 1961 on King Street, is haunted by the ghost of a former longtime member.
“Old Tobe was quite a snooker player here,” said Lake.
'Tobe' was Andrew Mounce's nickname at the fire hall. He served more than 50 years as an active firefighter — receiving both a 50-year golden helmet and golden pool cue. He was the first volunteer in Windsor to achieve the status.
Mounce, a Windsor resident, fought in the First World War, enlisting in 1914 and serving until 1918. He joined the Windsor Fire Department in 1925 and was considered to be someone who deeply cared for the fire hall and his fellow firefighters. He was a key fundraiser and his record of attendance was said to have been beyond reproach.
“Right where all the recliners are now, there used to be a room and it used to have a pull-out bed that I slept in,” recalled Lake.
“In the middle of the night, you could hear the balls on the snooker table — somebody breaking the balls. I'd get up, come over, walk around and couldn't see anybody or anything and I'd go back in the room. Probably an hour later or so, you'd hear it again.”
That was back in the days when Lake would stay at the station overnight to dispatch fire calls, prior to the introduction of the 911 service in the 1990s.
Lake frequently took the Saturday shift, starting at 4 p.m. and staying until midnight Sunday, to answer the fire phones and page firefighters when calls came in.
“It was just something I got used to. I'd just say 'old Tobe is over there, playing snooker,'” said Lake.
After checking out the station, he would ultimately head back to bed.
“This place is full of sounds at night. I've been asleep and heard somebody walking down the steps at night,” said Lake.
“I always had that door locked, coming into where I was sleeping. And I heard somebody come right down the steps and try the door and then go back up. I'd get up out of bed and I'd go check the whole building. There wouldn't be a soul in here.”
Even though there isn't a lot of activity at the station at night anymore — save for the occasional late night fire call — Lake said he's sure old Tobe is still around.
“He still roams around here – for sure. If you're sitting here at night when nobody is around, you'll hear sounds,” said Lake, adding that there may be other apparitions who have taken up residence in the building.
Ghosts lingering around fire halls is nothing new. A quick search and it appears stations throughout North America are reportedly haunted — some with friendly ghosts who simply miss the hall and the camaraderie, and others with spirits that are unable to rest due to tragic circumstances.
“I think he enjoyed the place,” said Lake.
“They always say firefighters are your family. I guess he just likes being around here, watching over us.”