The rumours of a haunting at Fredericton’s Boyce Mansion have circulated for decades, making it not exactly a historical haunt but not a true contemporary one either. Boyce Mansion is a large, three storey riverside home used for many years as off-campus housing by the University of New Brunswick. During the home’s time as a residence for male students, young men began sharing what they first thought were unusually vivid dreams with trusted friends. The student would think that he had woken during the night to the touch of a woman’s hand or the soft sound of her voice. Realizing that no older female was apt to be present in Boyce Mansion after dark, he would assume he’d not woken but dreamt the visit. Soon though, more of the young men began seeing the lady, sometimes walking in the halls but often leaning over the beds where they and their friends slept. It was becoming clear that the lady was no dream figure but no ordinary woman either.
The ghost was a kind lady, said to gently touch male residents as they slept, often running her fingers through their hair as a mother might her young son. If one of the young men woke, she supposedly talked to him in a soft, calming voice, letting him know “It’s all right, dear” and urging him back to sleep. However, there was little comfort gained from a ghostly woman in the night, even a kindly one. The ghost was seen as an intruded, and something needed to be done to restore order.
During a peak in the haunting, the then residence don thought it might help to speak to the ghost directly. Perhaps, he thought, if they could discover the reason she had stayed behind in the mansion they could help her by solving whatever she wished fixed. They, of course, would then hopefully be helped by her moving on. One night, the don stayed awake in his chair, feigning sleep, waiting for the ghost to appear. Drowsy and running out of silent amusements to keep himself alert, he was finally rewarded by the touch of chilled, stiff but delicate fingers brushing his cheek. Being the typically religious man of his day, the don hopped out of his chair and addressed the surprised woman by asking her to explain herself “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”. Her answer, he later said, was that she was looking for a letter.
From this, the story grew that the Boyce Mansion ghost was the spirit of a woman still mourning her dead son. As her tale goes, many years ago she had raised her family in Boyce Mansion. Eventually, her young son left home, but the two remained close and kept in regular contact via mail. Proud of her boy, she looked forward to his messages, knowing that he was well and starting a promising life for himself. Unfortunately, the young man fell sick with fever. Lonely and afraid, he wrote home to his mother, knowing she would come immediately after reading that he was ill. Soon after posting his letter, he became too sick for any further written communication. Many times over his last days he asked if his mother had finally come only to be disappointed.
The lady of Boyce Mansion was opening her mail one day only to discover a message from the city where her son had been living. He had died, the letter read, and would she be so kind as to come retrieve his body. Her grief only intensified when she arrived to hear of how he had asked for her day after day before his death. Unable to reconcile her guilt at missing his last letter, the one telling her of his illness and begging for her to come to his bedside, she wasted away her remaining years in sadness, eventually dying prematurely in Boyce Mansion. That last letter, it is said, was lost in the mail and never delivered and so she remains in the house, waiting for a letter that will never come.
Story by Bouncing Pink Ball