Canada’s Most Haunted: Hotels & Hostels

Welcome to part one of Canada’s Most Haunted, the series where I highlight some of the most haunted locations throughout the country. Today we are going to talk about the first category: Hotels and Hostels. 

It’s no secret that Canada is home to some of the world’s oldest and most haunted hotels. From blood curdling screams to apparitions bursting into flames, these locations are nothing short terrifying.

1. The Banff Springs Hotel – Banff, Alberta

Courtesy of Pinterest

Built in 1888, the Banff Springs Hotel is a beautiful chateau-styled resort nestled deep in the Banff mountain side. Originally constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway, this “haven” has housed guests such as Marilyn Monroe and the Prince of Wales; but some of it’s now most famous inhabitants refuse to leave. Although many guests have reported unremarkable sightings including apparitions of young children running around the ballrooms and cell phones experiencing strange interruptions while within the hotel’s walls, there are two stories that certainly stand out.

The first is of Sam the bellman, a long time employee of the hotel who died in 1975. As he was coming to the end of his days, he always swore he would come back from the dead to haunt the building and its occupants. Although the threat seemed malevolent, the ghost of Sam the bellman is nothing but friendly. Guests have reported being helped by an elderly bellhop dressed in unusually out of date clothing as they are checking in, only to find out that no such employee works at the hotel and they never see him again throughout the duration of their stay. It is also said that Sam likes to say a “silent hello” by opening and closing the elevator doors at random.

The second and most malevolent spirit encountered at the Banff Springs Hotel is that of a young bride who has been doomed to walk the halls of the hotel for all of eternity. The legend tells us of a beautiful young bride who, while wearing her wedding dress, violently fell down one of the hotel’s stone staircases to her death. Guests have seen her dancing in the Cascade Ballroom wearing her gown, when all of a sudden a scream will be heard and the apparition will burst into flames before disappearing altogether.

Between these sightings and the alleged sightings of an angry bartender and a headless bagpiper, would you dare to stay a night? Who knows, you could even be the first to find the missing room, 873.

2. HI Ottawa Jail Hostel – Ottawa, Ontario

Courtesy of HI Hostels

Hostels are a common ground for young travellers as they have a wonderful sense of community and are significantly less expensive than the hotel alternative. At the one of a kind Ottawa Jail Hostel, visitors to the nation’s capital have the option of shared or private accommodations, starting as low as $35 CAD per night. The catch is that you will be sleeping in the building’s original jail cells, ghosts and all.

The 150-year-old building is the original site of the Carleton County Gaol which was built in 1842. It was known to be the leading gaol of it’s time, housing up to 500 prisoners at any given moment. Prisoners were kept in small, cramped cells and had little to do during daylight hours except for roaming the halls and waiting for a new day to come. The source of the hauntings is said to come from the anger and malice prisoners felt towards the guards as the building was kept in unsanitary conditions with no heating, lighting, ventilation or toilets.

Luckily for visitors, sleeping quarters are kept on one of the least haunted floors of the jail, but that doesn’t mean that they’re safe from what comes alive in the dark. The eighth floor is where most of the paranormal happenings occur as it was home to the prisons original death row and gallows – which are still fully operational. Despite this being an uninhabited floor, guests have still reported sightings and experiences involving one of the most famed criminals to ever be executed on the grounds, Patrick Whelan. Whelan was accused of assassinating Thomas D’Arcy McGee in the late 1860s and was sentenced to death after being found guilty of his crimes. Guests constantly experience feelings of dread, whispers in their pitch-black cells, blood-curdling screams seemingly coming from all directions, their belongings being scattered in the middle of the night and the feeling of a man sitting at the end of their bed watching them sleep.

If you’re interested in staying in this spooky hostel, take a look at this blog post by Amanda from A Dangerous Business Travel Blog about her “night in jail”. Needless to say, this getaway is not for the faint of heart.

3. Fort Garry Hotel – Winnipeg, Manitoba

Courtesy of Trip Advisor 

The Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba was built in 1913 and it one of the most well known Grand Railway Hotels around. Now a National Historic Site, the hotel once housed the likes of celebrities including Louis Armstrong, Liberace, Gordie Howe and Queen Elizabeth. As most old, grand hotels do however, the Fort Garry has somewhat of a dark past.

Although there are strange happenings including flickering lights and a crying girl asking for a glass of water only to disappear moments later, one story truly stands out above the rest. That is the story of Room 202.

Now, most guests will testify that the whole of the second floor is haunted in some way as children can be heard running up and down the halls in the middle of the night and cold spots are all too common. However the most notorious story still told today is that of the tragic death of a young woman in room 202. The lore states that this woman was a guest in the hotel at the time that she was informed of her husbands untimely death in a motor vehicle collision. Unable to cope with the grief, she hanged herself in the closet of room 202. Since then, guests have experienced some truly unnerving events in the room. The closet door will swing fully open throughout the course of the night, light weeping is said to be heard coming from the room although no one is inside and most disturbing of all is the sightings of blood oozing from the walls.

To me, this sounds like something straight out of Amityville Horror and I will never be caught dead mingling with the lovely lady in 202. However, if you’re looking for a good scare that even the locals believe is true, this is definitely the place for you.

This brings us to the end of the first part of Canada’s Most Haunted. I hope you learned where not to stay (unless you are a truly brave soul) when you come to visit my home and native land. If you have any stories of your own involving any of the cases outlined above, please feel free to contact me using the information in the Contact page.

Until next time, keep it spooky!



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