“In the basement, they had a pentagram spray-painted on the ground… there were burn marks on each point of the pentagram… The next time I went back, about a month later, it was night time and I could hear noises in the basement.”
Alice Walker (name changed), a local paranormal enthusiast and ghost hunter, has had her share of supernatural experiences. The above example comes from a time when she was exploring an abandoned house outside of Sherwood Park, which proved to be the point where she ended up leaving, not wanting to find out if whatever was making those noises was supernatural or material. Having explored several different places where paranormal activity has taken place, she has seen everything from chairs stacking themselves on top of tables to unexplained footsteps at many different places known to be haunts of local spirits.
For a city that seems to have only come into its own during the 1980’s, Edmonton has a surprising abundance of ghosts, as I learned from Edmonton Ghost Tours guide Nadine Bailey. Despite being more on the skeptical side, Bailey has had her own experiences in a similarly popular haunted Edmonton building, saying that she has experienced the frequently reported ghost horses of the Walterdale theatre, as well as talking about many of the paranormal experiences that people who frequent some of Edmonton’s more spirited buildings have had.
A Ghostly Tour of Edmonton
- One of Bailey’s favourite ghost stories is Sarah Anne, the woman in white at the Princess theatre. Having fallen pregnant out of wedlock only to be jilted by her baby’s father right before the wedding, Sarah Anne hanged herself in her room in what was once a boarding house above the Princess. Her spirit remains there to this day, still clad in her long, white wedding dress.
- While more than a few theatres are haunted, not many can say that ghost horses haunt them, as is the case with the Walterdale theatre. A relic of the theatre’s former life as a fire station, many report hearing the sound of hoof beats and the smell of manure without any clear origin.
- The infamous Charles Camsell hospital, originally built by Jesuit priests in 1914 and turned into a tuberculosis sanitarium in 1942, is considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in Edmonton. With a dark history, the hospital, now abandoned, still Alice has also visited and has experienced unexplained footsteps and crashes when she explored the building “We had goosebumps and that feeling in your spine when something’s right there”
- While much of the Edmonton General Hospital remains open to the public, the now closed-off B-ward has a great number of hauntings, including the cries of children and the apparition of a woman who wanders the hallways, forever searching for her dead child. Alice has experienced a much stranger form of haunting while exploring the hospital’s basement: “the elevator doors kept opening and closing”.
- The Neo-Gothic architecture in the MacDonald hotel makes the perfect setting for a haunting, and it doesn’t disappoint. With hauntings including a gentleman smoking his pipe in one of the rooms and a phantom caller on the sixth floor, the hotel can certainly provide much more than lodging for the weary traveller. However, the most famous haunting is certainly unusual for a hotel, if not for Edmonton: a ghost horse that supposedly died during the construction of the hotel gallops up and down the halls.
- While the Firkins House at Fort Edmonton Park is supposedly haunted, the scariest thing you’re likely to encounter there is the perils of turn-of-the-century staircases: despite rumours of everything from dolls that move on their own to the ghost of a sickly child wandering through the halls, the stories appear to be made up, and the average visitor isn’t likely to see anything supernatural.
Even if one doesn’t manage to find a ghost in one of their more well-known haunts, one may very well find a ghost in their own bedroom, as happened with Walker when she woke up to supernatural happenings in her own bedroom. “There was white stuff smeared all over the mirror (and) a hand print that was larger than my hand… a friend told me to look up ectoplasm, and I think that’s what it was.”