The Adventures of Double Alex

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A Ghost Story re Double Alex has been passed on down through the generations. This is the gist of the story, as from an article published on "Uncle Bill Gilkie", this William Gilkie's grandson. The article on "Uncle Bill" was published in the Mail Star/Chronicle Herald on Friday, August 25, 1978.

The story goes something along the lines that William Gilkie and Double Alex where schoolmates in Scotland (possibly Edinburgh). William Gilkie came to Canada as a ship's rigger and ended up marrying Mary Goodman (or Goodwin) whose father was the lightkeeper on Sambro Island at that time.

The Gilkie's eventually took over the light from Mary's father. While living on Sambro Island, William Gilkie met up with his old school mate (some 19 years later), Double Alex, who was stationed on Sambro Island through the English military.

One day, Double Alex was sent in to Halifax to pick up the pay and rations for the other military on the Island and that of William Gilkie. He didn't come back until several days later, having gone on a good drunk and he had spent everyone's money. The story goes that Double Alex came back hung over and needing a drink. William Gilkie tried to get some alcohol from the medical officer, but nobody would give him any because they were all still angry with him. He felt so guilty for doing this that he hung himself on a big spike in the lighthouse.

It has been said that Double Alex's ghost has been spotted and heard on Sambro Island since then. I've been told that he hasn't shown his face since someone was brave enough to ask him what he wanted. He said he wanted a Mr. Sadler to pay the Freemason's lodge $7.75. Mr. Sadler did this and he supposedly hasn't been seen or heard since then. The large spike is still in the Lighthouse on Sambro Island today.

Janet MacKay gave me further details on the ghost story: "I've come across it a few times, mostly researching in the Archives. Incredible, creepy tales .. but rather cozy too ... if memory serves, he would often be found sitting in the kitchen on the island, dressed in his military uniform of the time ... perhaps only a presence detected, and even a relevant odour of some ilk ... pipe? ... one of the later keepers would sense/smell him in his boat when going to the mainland, and by that odour would know if Double Alex was returning with him on the boat. Very interesting, these tales of the return of those who have left us abruptly in circumstances that were not at all pleasant. This "smelly ghost" crossing via boat would be a hard one to explain away by scientific facts ... but science is always evolving with newly discovered truths, isn't it."

Leslie Harnish, Sambro, Nova Scotia
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