Ghost of Colonel By aims to be first registered resident

Photo: Rémi Yuan. Edits: Marta Kierkus

The University of Ottawa has announced plans to convert the renowned Bytown Museum into old-timey student housing for the next school year.

Since this new real estate flaunts cheap rent and access to the downtown core, representatives from the university’s Housing Service are already declaring the expansion a real “catch” for students.

However, those looking to shack up in this new residence will have to deal with the building’s permanent undead resident.

“Technically, the building is already a home to the ghost of Colonel John By, which isn’t a big problem,” said Michel N. Shyamalan, director of Housing Service. “I mean, residents might have to deal with some random hauntings and rogue clumps of ectoplasm, but that will be great experience for the university’s paranormal research majors.”

Besides the obvious disadvantage of living with a potentially dangerous poltergeist, the new Bytown student residence also might not be the right housing option for students who enjoy living in the 21st century.

Outside of the stipulation that requires residents to dress in late-19th-century period clothing at all times, students living at Bytown won’t have access to amenities like cable, air conditioning, running water, Internet access, heat, or electricity of any kind.

“It’s an insurance issue. Haunting spectres are pretty old-fashioned and modern comforts like electricity only serve to confuse and aggravate them,” said Shyamalan. “But students shouldn’t worry. I hear knickerbockers are coming back in style this fall.”

Despite these strict stipulations, droves of U of O students are still jumping at the chance to register for housing placements at Bytown.

Some are attracted to the novelty of living in a haunted house, especially naïve freshmen who are looking for a rockin’ party atmosphere during their first year away from home.

“I would love to get a chance to get drunk with the ghost of Colonel By,” said William Venkman, a prospective history major. “From what I’ve read that guy really knew how to tear shit up, especially when he was building the canal.”

Others are even transferring from conventional U of O residences to live in Bytown, hoping that this new residence will be an improvement over what they’ve already experienced.

“Honestly, living with a mischievous spirit couldn’t be any worse than my last roommate,” said Dana Weaver, a paranormal research student and former Thompson resident. “At least ghosts don’t reek of Cheetos and weed.”

Despite not being official residents until September, prospective Bytown residents are already planning outreach initiatives to help foster some good will in the surrounding community.

“Me and some of the other paranormal research students are hoping to perform ghost whispering services for all of our supernaturally inclined neighbours,” said Weaver. “First stop on our tour is Parliament. We’ve heard that the soul of that place died ages ago.”