Haunted Hotels in Canada
Spooky season is upon us and as we enter into Halloween weekend, we thought it would be fun to look at some of Canada’s infamous ghost stories. Writer Liliia Smichenko explores the mysterious tales that haunt some of Canada’s oldest and most beautiful hotels.
For more spooky tales, read our story about Glen Shackleton, owner of Haunted Walks in Kingston, Toronto and Ottawa.
Canada has many hotels that store away decades of history. The ancient castle-like buildings and views of wild nature have for years attracted guests from all over the world. Some say a few of those guests still linger in the hotel’s hallways, haunting the building and its guests. If you are someone who loves the thrill of haunted places, Canada has several worth checking out. While not exhaustive, here is a list of some of my favourite spooky stories.
James Bay Inn Hotel: Victoria, British Columbia
James Bay Inn opened in 1911 making it the third oldest hotel in Victoria. As with many older buildings, time has brought tales of ghosts and paranormal activity. The inn’s most popular ghost is said to be Emily Carr, the famous Canadian painter who was a patient at the hotel when it operated as St. Mary’s Priory. She died in her room in March of 1945.
The room was later rebuilt and is now a men’s washroom in the hotel pub. Perhaps Carr is not too happy about that because it is said she has haunted it ever since. Guests have reported cases of phone calls with no one on the other line and a chilling feeling of being watched in the middle of the night.
Chateau Laurier: Ottawa, Ontario
The Fairmont Chateau Laurier has a famous tale about the tragic destiny of its original owner Charles Melville Hays, the president and general manager of the Grand Pacific Railway. Just a couple of weeks before his hotel was set to open in late April 1912, Hays was in England on business and, at the last minute, changed his mode of transportation back to North America to be onboard the Titanic.
He did not survive the tragic sinking of the famous ship. Some believe that Hays returned in ghostly form to haunt the halls of the hotel. His ghost is blamed for breaking furniture as well as opening and closing doors on a whim.
Hotel Fairmont Empress: Victoria, British Columbia
Another old and beautiful Victoria hotel with tales of hauntings is the Empress Hotel located on the city’s harbour. Built in 1908, it is the oldest hotel in Victoria and a National Historic Site of Canada. The most prominent apparition that visitors and staff seem to encounter is the ghost of architect Francis Rattenbury, who designed the hotel. People report seeing a slender man with a cane and a moustache walking down the halls — a description that eerily matches that of the architect.
Other ghostly sightings include a maid who continues to clean on the sixth floor even after her death and an employee who died in the west tower in 1960.
Fort Garry Hotel: Winnipeg, Manitoba
The Fort Garry Hotel, built between 1911 and 1913, has the reputation as one of the most haunted places in Canada. It has its own Stephen King room 1408, except here it is room 202. It apparently houses the spirit of a woman who took her own life following the death of her husband. As always, details are scarce but guests who have stayed in the room report flickering lights, blood dripping down the walls and even the feeling of someone crawling into the bed.
A security guard once told a story of finding ten candles laid out in the shape of a star in the ballroom on a night when it was not in use. Ghost enthusiasts from all over the world request to stay in the room hoping for an encounter.
The Hume Hotel & Spa: Nelson, British Columbia
The Hume Hotel & Spa was opened in 1898 by Fred and Lydia Hume. Some believe that perhaps the dedicated owners continue to frequent the hotel, haunting its rooms and hallways.
Guests of this hotel report feeling like they are being watched, having the TV randomly turning itself on and off, and the faucets dripping even after being repaired. Some of these paranormal activities have also been blamed on a “caretaker ghost” of sorts: a well-dressed man wearing a bowler hat. Guests have shared tales of seeing the man in different parts of the hotel. The most chilling story came from a woman who checked out of her room right after checking in. When pressed for a reason, she nervously admitted to seeing the ghostly man inside her room.
Banff Springs Hotel: Banff, Alberta
The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is known for its stunning castle-like appearance, often referred to as the “Castle in the Rockies.” The hotel has welcomed guests since 1888 and ghost stories have piled up over the years. One of those stories is about a murder that purportedly happened in room 873 — which has since been boarded up. The victims’ ghosts are said to continue to haunt the place.
Another popular story at the hotel is that of the ghost bride, a young woman whose wedding dress caught fire by the lit candles are she walked down the marble staircase. In a panic, the bride tripped and broke her neck, leaving her unsettled ghost to linger. Sightings of a woman in a white dress have been reported on the staircase and in the ballroom.