A little unfairly, the spirit that haunts this old edifice is nicknamed "Freddy" after Freddy Krueger (of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" fame,). Freddy has made his presence known to curators, staff and even a film crew in his (her?) time.
Doors open and close, electrical equipment sometimes unplugs by itself and the feeling of a "chill" or being watched has been reported in the building. Most common (from our own reports and reading Barbara Smith's Ontario Ghost Stories and John Robert Colombo's Mysteries of Ontario) are odd sounds heard by staff late at night.
The theories are put forth that the ghost could be the spirit of anyone from a Cree warrior who's clothing is displayed to Sir Wilfrid Laurier but more likely than not, according to Ms. Smith, it's the building's architect who killed himself jumping from the roof of the building.
We have had one person write to us that the architect did not commit suicide in the building (or at all,) but many other sources say that he has.
Our Ottawa team is trying to validate this part of the legend.
We would strongly recommend those interested in this read the above mentioned books or take the ghost tour offered in Ottawa by Haunted Walks of Canada and ask your guide about the museum.
"I was on the fourth floor of the Museum of Nature in Ottawa, on vacation with my mother, father and younger sister. My sister and I were excited to check out the exhibition area that was currently being used as a summer camp for kids. I just got up that stairs and started hurrying across the open hall to that wing of the building and got this intense feeling like I was being watched. As I continued forward the feeling got more intense and began to turn into intense fear and finally a feeling that something terrible was about to happen if I took one more step. It really startled me and I went from speed walking to a complete stop in about five steps. The feelings came on so quickly and were so intense that my sister ran by me in the same direction and I became so terrified for her safety that I screamed for her to slow down and stop. My mother seemed to recognize how uncharacteristic this was for me and how visibly upset I was and therefore just told us to go into a different part of the building. Prior to this trip I had never even heard of the Museum of Nature before. We all took a Haunted Ghost tour around Ottawa a few days later. I had almost forgotten about the previous incident yet it was brought back to mind when the tour guide began to tell us the stories and history behind the Museum of Nature, including how the area on the fourth floor where I had felt so scared was where most of the sightings and phenomena occur. Even before I could react my whole family was looking at me shocked, realizing that maybe my emotional freak out a few days prior had some hidden explanation. I have tried to look for similar stories but have yet to find any so I thought I would share my experience with you.
One of our readers wrote in with the following information:
I was reading some of your stories on-line and had always heard that the Museum of Nature was haunted but didn't know the story behind it. I saw that your "Ottawa people" were looking into the story of the architect having jumped to his death there and as I'm a member of ancestry.ca decided to look him up.