The Royal York Hotel - Toronto The Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings Research Society
The season premiere of American Horror Story: Hotel is set to debut shortly and with the question of why hotels, motels, and inns factor into horror fiction and real life ghost encounters was recently posed to me by a reporter for the National Post. I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on this spooky topic here through my blog and provide a listing of what I believe are some of Canada's more infamous haunted hotels.
If you think about it we are at our most vulnerable in our own homes, it is where we let our guards down, where we shower, and bathe and where we sleep. When we travel and we book ourselves into a motel, an inn or hotel we are putting our complete trust into these establishments, by being our home away from home. For this reason they naturally lend themselves as a backdrop to scary fiction and horror movies as they represent places where we can be found at our most vulnerable. Films such as Psycho, and The Shining, along with more recent television offerings like The Bates Motel, and American Horror Story, which combine the supernatural and psychopathic killers, use these locations to entertain while unnerving us to much success.
I personally believe that the reputation for hauntings within hotels is a little more complex than just exposing our vulnerability in an unfamiliar setting. My own research into these locales demonstrates that it is equally likely that the staff members will report ghost encounters as it the guests. If I compare these findings with other places that are statistically higher in the number of ghost reports from public places such as hospitals, and theatres what is suggested is that places where there is a lot of human experience and drama are more likely to be haunted. Ghosts tend to haunt where people lived, worked and played and hotels tend to fit all three of those things quite nicely.
In general staying in an unfamiliar place can be unnerving for some people, and if you combine a rich history and ghostly lore our imaginations could run wild particularly as hotels have earned their places in horror fiction. However, most personal encounters that I have examined over the years including my own overnight visits to the Guild Inn which had a lengthy history of being haunted before being torn down, are far less dramatic than anything you'll find in a good scary book or movie. These types of experiences are far more likely to make you go hmmm than send you fleeing for your life.
The Canadian Pacific Hotels in particular (Canada's castles) are from a by-gone age and all of them seem to have a ghostly legend or two attached. Some of these stories can be traced back to actual historical events while others, their origins are obscured through time and retelling and perhaps more influenced by the setting of these magnificent places that really do inspire a good ghost story.
Whatever your own belief in ghosts and spirits may be, people from all walks of life do encounter strange and ghostly things on occasion while staying in these places. Their reputation as a haunt is very much intact and their ghostly lore will live on long after their current guests have checked out.
Haunted Hotels Across Canada
Where to begin.... there are just so many haunted accomodations from the grand CP hotels along the Grand Trunk, ancient inns around Niagara on the Lake and the Muskokas, motels and B&Bs from coast to coast. Here is a very limited listing in no particular order. Click on the name to be taken to a page that will give you more information on the hauntings.
The Guild Inn - Scarborough Ontario
Stories prior to it demolition include an apparition of a tall man with a black top hat, a blue and brown eyed child ghost, poltergeist activity. The grounds are still reputedly haunted. The link details some of my own experiences at the Guild Inn.
The Royal York Hotel - Toronto Ontario
An apparition of a grey haired man appears in a maroon smoking jacket and slacks silently moving along the hallway of the eighth floor of the dormitory tower. He is also encountered on the stairwells.
Banff Springs Hotel - Banff Alberta
Secret rooms, apparitions, and even a story of time travel within this beautiful old hotel.
Marlborough Hotel - Winnipeg Manitoba
The real ghosts and hauntings at this infamous Canadian hotel have inspired author Maureen Flynn to write a fictional story based on them which I review here.
Fort Garry Hotel - Winnipeg Manitoba
The ghost of a woman who apparently committed suicide is said to haunt room 202. She has been seen, floating above the foot of the bed. This same woman is also believed to haunt the lounge, where she is said to be seen crying.
The Bessborough Hotel - Saskatoon Saskatchewan
The hotel has a reutation for being haunted by the spirit of a smiling older man, who is dressed in a gray suit and wearing a fedora. He has been seen by staff walking on the banquet floor late at night. He is reported to be harmless, and most do not even realise he is a ghost when first encountering him.
The Algonquin Hotel - St. Andrews By The Sea New Brunswick
Legends of ghostly apparritions and a poltergeist haunt this historic hotel on the east coast.
The Fairmount Empress - Victoria British Columbia
"There is a local legend that The Empress is haunted. The apparition of thin mustached man walking the halls with a cane is thought to be of the building’s architect, Francis Rattenbury. A maid is seen on the sixth floor still cleaning after her death. A little girl who is often seen by guests haunts one room. During the 1960s, a construction worker working on the west tower’s top floor saw a shadowy form swinging from the ceiling; apparently another worker hung himself there a year earlier. Guests have reported an elderly woman in pajamas knocking on their door. When guests try to help her find her room she leads them toward the elevator before vanishing. She is believed to be a ghost that once haunted one room after dying of natural causes, but that room was demolished to make room for more elevators, hence, her journey to the elevator." Source: West Coast Living Canada
The Queen Elizabeth Hotel - Montreal Quebec
Phantom footsteps, apparitions, and poltergeist activity have been reported from this beautiful old hotel in Montreal
Can you add to the list above? Have you encountered a ghost or spirit in a haunted hotel? If so please leave me a comment I'd like to hear your story.
All images within this post that were not taken by me or are in the public domain in Canada have been licensed under the creative commons non-commercial use license.
This past June I wrote about a terrific local artist I met at the NA-ME-RES Summer Solstice pow-wow at Fort York. Raven Crow has developed a series of coloring books that are based on her artwork that she used as a form of therapy in her recovery from a series of devastating strokes. Her art and her colouring books have been aptly named The Gifts That Come From My "Strokes" and are available for purchase at various events and through her website here.
We totally bonded over art and specifically coloring as a form of therapy. I told her how I recovered from two major surgeries in 2013 and 2014 through the love of colouring and coloring books, and of course after seeing her stuff I wanted to colour Raven's drawings.
Here is my colouring book.
Last week I buggered up my knee and I have been working via laptop with my leg propped up. This also gave me the perfect opportunity to indulge in some colouring. Here are two example from Raven's book.
So much fun and so relaxing.
I really believe there is a power to heal through creative expression and I want to thank Raven for her beautiful inspiring drawings and more importantly her courageous self.
Please do check her out online at The Gifts That Come From My "Strokes
Spent a relaxing day hiking and just being in nature, when I bumped into this wee fella.
I've been experimenting with the macro setting on my camera. Here is another angle.
I love the honeybees
A few more pics from Sauble Beach, Ontario, Canada. One of my favourite places to visit.
^^ It's a fresh water beach so need to worry about this guy!
I've managed to work in Mars Cosmic Fries, and JAWS at the beach.... definitely my kind of vacation