Paranormal investigators give substance to Edmonton ghost stories – Edmonton Journal

50

There are plenty of stories to fuel ghost and paranormal tours, and amateur investigators collecting creepy evidence

Article content

They call her the woman in white; a spectre who hovers around the projection room and climbs the grand staircase of the Princess Theatre.

Advertisement 2

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Nadine Bailey, who runs Edmonton Ghost Tours, says the story of the woman in white goes back more than a century to when Strathcona was a boom town.

Article content

Sarah Anne arrived with no family or friends and rented a room on the top floor of the iconic theatre.

“About 11 months into living in Strathcona, she found herself in an unfortunate predicament; pregnant but not married,” says Bailey.

The father promised to marry her, but instead skipped town and with no options, the poor woman hanged herself in her room where her spirit’s said to still wander.

Further down Whyte Avenue, ghostly bar brawls and apparitions dressed in gold-rush era attire haunt staff and visitors at the Strathcona Hotel. It was built in 1891 by the Calgary and Edmonton Railway Company as a pitstop for those headed to the Klondike gold rush. Staff still report seeing the spirits of men in 19th-century clothing in the hotel’s halls, even after recent renovations.

Advertisement 3

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Rutherford House and Pembina Hall both feature prominently in Bailey’s tours of the University of Alberta.

Pembina Hall was used as a hospital and quarantine building during the Spanish Flu outbreak. For years, staff in the building reported seeing foggy figures of women and children. Working at night, they also heard coughing coming from neighbouring offices, but the doors were locked and the lights out when they went to investigate.

Pembina Hall on the University of Alberta campus is known to be haunted by an influenza nurse and a soldier.
Pembina Hall on the University of Alberta campus is known to be haunted by an influenza nurse and a soldier. Photo by Shaughn Butts /Postmedia

At Rutherford House, now a museum, staff and visitors say they’ll catch a young boy dressed in period attire out of the corner of their eye or hear the sound of a ball bouncing on the grand staircase, but no staff or guests match the description.

No child has ever died inside the house, so the origins of the apparition are somewhat hazy, though Bailey says he could have been brought into the house with a piece of furniture.

Advertisement 4

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

These are just a handful of the dozens of spooky stories Bailey tells on several different tours she leads from May through mid-November, tales honed over 18 years of guiding people through what goes bump in the night.

“I spend countless hours in the archives going through old newspapers and digging up stories,” says Bailey, referring to the research she does to ensure her stories are historically accurate.

Ghost stories in the city aren’t confined to Old Strathcona. The Alberta Block building, for years the home of local radio station CKUA, was also the setting for one of the city’s best-known ghost stories.

The old CKUA building on Jasper Avenue.
The old CKUA building on Jasper Avenue. File

Sam, a caretaker of the building who loved both cigars and opera equally, was supposedly lobotomized before his time at the building for anger and aggression, once threatening premier Ernest Manning.

Advertisement 5

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Sam died of a heart attack in the building, and since then, staff reported that taps would randomly turn on, cigar smoke could be detected in the air and someone could be heard singing opera.

The investigators

Beth Fowler, president of the Alberta Paranormal Investigators Society, has been through the building more than once searching for the spirit of Sam. While the cigar smoke was eventually attributed to an antique piece of furniture, they did pick up a pair of girls singing “Go back, go back” on an audio recording. It wasn’t the only voice they managed to record.

“In the area where Sam used to take his breaks, on our second investigation, we picked up a man’s groan,” says Fowler, who uses voice and video recorders to capture paranormal activity. “There was nobody in that room. We were in another building.”’

Advertisement 6

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Her group was also asked to look into the Clive Hotel, in the village of the same name 140 km south of Edmonton, while it was undergoing renovations a number of years ago. Guests and staff were seeing a shadowy figure of a man around the area, with guests reporting him standing over them as they slept. Covers would fly off of beds, objects moved around on their own and the sound of a man singing floated through the air.

The spirit is assumed to be a previous owner who was notorious for his bad luck, according to Fowler, but loved the hotel so much he’d return to visit.

Fowler has been investigating paranormal activity in the province since 2003, almost two decades of searching for the supernatural. The society, which you can find on Facebook, was doing up to two investigations a month until the pandemic struck, but Fowler’s hoping to train some new members and start investigating more again soon. You can find them on their Facebook site.

Advertisement 7

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

Fort Edmonton’s hauntings

Fort Edmonton Park, with a collection of historical buildings and artifacts, has its own collection of spooky stories and haunted locations.

One of the park’s more pleasant ghostly encounters is at the century-old Mellon Farmhouse. In the upstairs bedroom, rather polite voices will reply to a friendly hello. Another voice has been recorded asking a passer-by to be “careful” as they walked down a steep staircase.

The Firkins House at the park, once owned by an Edmonton dentist, is another highlight for the paranormally interested. Staff members have heard people wandering about the house, only to find it’s locked up and seemingly impossible for anyone else to be in the house.

Investigations have picked up voices in the house answering “Strathcona” when asked what city they might be in, an accurate answer for a house once situated on the southside in 1911.

Advertisement 8

Story continues below

This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

An unexplained purple glow appeared when this photo was taken in an upstairs bedroom at Firkins House in Fort Edmonton Park.
An unexplained purple glow appeared when this photo was taken in an upstairs bedroom at Firkins House in Fort Edmonton Park. Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

“We do find that some of the speculation from mediums and investigators is that we are creating a paranormal hub,” says Lacey Huculak, the manager of experience development for Fort Edmonton Park. “The park is full of artifacts from various decades. Ghosts and spirits are not only attracted to and stay in buildings; they could be attached to artifacts.”

The park will be running paranormal tours in November, bringing small groups to places like Mellon Farmhouse and Firkins House, using voice recorders, motion detectors and infrared cameras as tools to search for the supernatural.

Tours at the park will be happening Nov. 9-29, starting at 7 p.m. and running for almost four hours at a time. Find tickets to the Fort Edmonton Park Paranormal Tours at fortedmontonpark.ca.

yegarts@postmedia.com

    Advertisement 1

    Story continues below

    This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Read More On This At “Paranormal, Ghosts, Hauntings” – Google News