With Halloween around the corner, it won’t be long before the streets are filled with adorable spooks and haints on a sugar high that will last for weeks. But did you know that there are several stories of actual ghosts in the Mighty Peace Region? Here are three local haunting stories, as well as four fun Haunted House events for the night itself—in case you prefer ghosts in bedsheets to Grey Ladies.
While rumours of haunted places abound in several of our old buildings, there are several that are particularly well-known—Dunvegan Valley, the rectory at Dunvegan, and the Hines Creek Hotel. So pull up the covers and prop your flashlights under your chins, kids, because it’s time for a ghost story or three.
The Grey Lady of Dunvegan Valley
Evidence for the Grey Lady of Dunvegan comes from two primary sources, both from not long after the bridge opened in the 1960s. Both stories were from men driving through Dunvegan Valley late at night in winter, and both had a strange encounter with a woman on the bridge—though according to an article written by Ellyn Vandekerkhove of Alberta Culture and Tourism several years ago, many others have reported seeing her since.
While some of the details differ, the commonalities include seeing a woman in a white or grey hooded coat (sometimes described more as a nun’s habit) walking barefoot in the snow down the middle of Dunvegan bridge in the dark. She never acknowledges the people who drive by her or stop to ask if she is okay, and disappears suddenly, leaving no trace of footprints behind.
Sometimes she is spotted on a nearby hill with a lantern and what looks like a basket, and sometimes it looks like she’s picking berries and putting them in the basket. It is often snowing in the reported encounters, though allegedly, a man named Robert Guest encountered her several times over three decades—always late at night, but not always snowing.
Whether you believe in her or not, in 2015, she earned the Dunvegan Valley a spot in a list of the 10 Most Haunted Places in Canada according to Complex.com (Source: https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/10/10-most-haunted-places-canada/), a story and designation that has circulated on other sites since.
The Priest of the Rectory
This ghost also resides in Dunvegan, having been spotted in the historic rectory which is now part of the tourist site at Historic Dunvegan Provincial Park. According to Ellyn, on the first day the building was open to the public, one visitor had an experience known as retrocognition, or knowledge of the past. After picking up a pen from a desk in the bishop’s bedroom on the second floor, she had a vision that she later believed was the room as it once was, right down to a bearded priest sitting at the desk writing a letter.
Others have reported seeing lights on in the second floor windows and a priest silhouetted in them or feeling like they are being watched at various places throughout the park.
Many have tried to spot the spirits of Dunvegan on purpose, but the ghosts tend to be camera-shy (source: https://youtu.be/rccVXXeyqp0). However, given that Historic Dunvegan is home to the second-oldest standing fur trade building still on its original site in Alberta, it’s maybe no surprise that it has collected a few ghost stories.
The Haunted Hotel
The historic Hines Creek Hotel is one of the village’s oldest buildings. Erected by Art Pederson in 1931, it has changed hands and shape many times. The most recent iteration was when Cheryl Lyman and her parents, Albert and Shirley Lyman, purchased the business in July 2017 and gave it a major overhaul.
During the renovation, Cheryl would paint at the hotel late at night and hear people walking upstairs above her head. She says they’ve received phone calls on a phone that doesn’t work and the paper towel motion sensors go off by themselves. “There are all sorts of ghost stories here,” she claims. As the community’s social hub, the hotel certainly has acquired a lot of stories, ghostly and not, and the locals are happy to share them. Be sure to stop in and hear some over a pint the next time you’re in the area.