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.
Haunted House Events:
If you’re looking for a place to take the kids for some good, faux-gory fun and a few honest jump-scares on Halloween, look no further. These four Haunted House events all benefit good causes, and you’re sure to find something suitable for a night out for everyone in the family. Since these are all around Peace River and times vary, you could even enjoy all four.
The Ground Level Youth Centre will transform into a super-spooky tour for the big day, using every room except the office for themes like the Spider Room, Creepy Nursery, Bloody Bathroom, and more. Grab your preteen-and-up kids and head on down.
October 31, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Ground Level Youth Centre, Peace River. Best for older kids. $2/head
If you prefer less gore and jump-scares and more ways to let your littles enjoy a fun Halloween night, take them down to Peace Valley Inns. This haunted house is family-friendly, with a spook factor of “fun” and a gore factor of “none.” For particularly young folks (or those who scare easy), special badges can be worn to warn the ghosts to lay low. Once you make it through, enjoy making fun Halloween crafts. The event is a fundraiser to repair Weberville Hall, a project that will begin with some much-needed new siding.
October 31, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Emerald Room at Peace Valley Inns. Family Friendly. $5/head
Peace River Municipal Library
Another great event for all ages is the haunted house set up in the basement of the Peace River Library by students from Peace High—though very small children should go in with a parent. Kids 9 and up can also enjoy Haunted Stories around the fireplace on the evening of the 30th.
October 31, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Peace River Municipal Library. Family Friendly. Free Admission.
This is the one the teenagers have been waiting for. The Haunted House at the PR Ag Society grounds lives in a quansit year-round and is one of the most graphic and scary around. This year, the theme is “psycho hospital,” so you can expect to see lots of blood, guts, and gore. If parents with young children want to go through, the kids can wait out in the hall with the administrators. With five nights to choose from, there’s sure to be an open slot in your schedule to go see the psycho doctor—just be sure he doesn’t make an open slot in you!
October 27-31, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Peace River Agricultural Grounds. 14+. $5/head