Thursday, October 22, 2015
Manitoba's Most Haunted
At this time of year, there's a lot of talk about some of the places around Manitoba that have reputations for being "haunted." One of my first books, Unnatural History: True Manitoba Mysteries, details many of these. I've been investigating reports and stories of strange or Fortean phenomena for many years, and my files on these cases are quite extensive.
So here's my Top Ten of "Manitoba's Most Haunted":
Manitoba’s Most Haunted
Most Manitobans aren’t aware of the weird and wonderful history behind some popular and not-so-popular places in their own province. Many sites are off the beaten track, but others are visited every day my hundreds of people who don't know the stories there.
These are just some of my picks for Manitoba’s most interesting locations with reputations for being haunted.
East of Camperville in the middle of Lake Winnipegosis is an island about two kilometres in length, with a reputation for being haunted. There are stories that people who have dared camp on the island have swam to the mainland in the middle of the night, afraid of eerie lights and sounds that seemed to chase them off the island! The same stories (almost identical, actually) are told about the similarly-named Devil Island, a tiny island in the middle of Lake Winnipeg, about six kilometers northeast of Traverse Bay.
Kids at camps throughout the Interlake are often told the story of Old Man Gimli, who wanders the bush along Lake Winnipeg for sinister and macabre purposes. One story is that travelers who stopped their car along the highway north of town were shocked to see a dark, brooding figure leap out at their car and grab onto their rear bumper before falling away! As well, the tale of Thorgeir's Ghost is told by Icelandic settlers to the Hecla area, of a skinned bull who came back to life and has been seen roaming the fields between Gimli and Riverton. They may not be true, but they're great local tales!
The Dalnavert Museum at 61 Carlton Street in downtown Winnipeg is said to be haunted. Some “ghost hunter” tours have been organized for the house, but few have ever seen or heard anything out of the ordinary. However, some paranormal groups have conducted investigations in the museum and claimed to have found unusual readings on their various detection apparatus.
Although now a naturopathic clinic, at one time Hamilton House on Henderson Highway in Winnipeg was the North American centre of research into paranormal activity. Dr. T. Glen Hamilton conducted many séances in sealed upper rooms in the house, where many photographs of ghosts and other eerie phenomena were obtained. Even Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, visited the house in 1923 and participated in one of the séances.
The Woodridge Spook Light
Since the 1960s, it has been said that if you wait any night after about 11:00 pm just south of highway 203 east of town, you'll see the Woodridge spook light dancing at the end of the road along the railway line. It was actually seen as early as the 1930s, and is supposed to be a lantern carried by the headless ghost of a man who was killed by a train many years ago.
The building at 335 Donald Street was built in 1895 as the Masonic Temple, for a cost of $22,000. The Masons sold it in 1969 and it became home to Mother Tucker's restaurant until the 1990s, when it converted into a sports bar and then a nightclub. While home to Mother Tucker's restaurant, employees and patrons claimed to hear mysterious footsteps and voices, and cutlery and table settings placed carefully would be inexplicably moved overnight. It has been vacant for about 10 years.
Lower Fort Garry
Apart from its rich conventional history, Lower Fort Garry has a reputation as being one of the most haunted places in Manitoba. Visitors and workers there have reported seeing rocking chairs moving by themselves, ghostly apparitions standing in otherwise empty rooms and hearing chains rattling in the fur loft.
The White Horse Plains
Along the Trans-Canada Highway near St. Francois Xavier is a statue of a White Horse. The figure is one of the few monuments in the world depicting a ghost! The story is that hundreds of years ago, a maiden escaped into the night with her lover astride a beautiful white horse given as a gift from her betrothed whom she was to marry the next day. They were pursued and killed, but the horse ran off and its ghost has been said to roam the prairie ever since.
Hotel Fort Garry
With more than 100 years of history, the Hotel Fort Garry on Broadway has played hosts to many guests over the years. One of these guests is reported to haunt the infamous Room 202, a room with such a reputation that it’s highly in demand by tourists seeking a thrill. Blood dripping from the walls, figures at the foot of beds, and apparitions walking down the halls are just some of the reports at Hotel Fort Garry.
Marlborough HotelThis old stately building has a reputation as a place where people hear footsteps in empty rooms and see full apparitions of past patrons of the hotel. One particular ghost said to inhabit the hotel is that of Grace Edith Cook, a 16-year-old waitress who was strangled to death in her room on the 5th floor in 1943. Employees and patrons of the hotel report seeing Cook’s ghost still roaming the halls.
Here are some links to stories and pages about Manitoba ghosts and hauntings:
Hauntings at the University of Manitoba
Manitoba's Spooky Sites
Video: The Campus Files investigates the Hamilton Archives
The Haunted Rooms listing for Hotel Fort Garry
And a Trip Advisor review noting that no ghost showed up overnight.
The Winnipeg Paranormal group, led by stalwart supernatural sister Kelly Smith