Haunted Places in Calgary, and other local history
Calgary was founded all the way back in 1875, which is a long ass time ago! Well, not that long, but long enough for plenty of people to die and haunt all the things. With the help of a good friend of ours, we’ve put together a spooky fun list of super natural hauntings in Calgary and other oddities and things of interest (that aren’t spooky). This is by no means a definitive list! If you have knowledge of another story, please post it in the comments at the bottom. Something just for fun, just to read.
Home to many alleged suicides, murders and other mysterious deaths. Only two deaths in the home can be confirmed, the stabbing of Mrs. Umperville and the consequent suicide of her husband. There are rumors of a “natural death” occurring here as well, however I was unable to confirm that independently. These two deaths are considered the catalyst for the haunting of the house, although the ghosts that have been reportedly seen do not always match up with the images of Mr & Mrs. Umperville. Common hauntings include a telephone ringing, an un-lockable closet upstairs with an un-removable blood stain, and various apparitions including a First Nations man.
These days the building has been transformed into a beautiful restaurant space. The building itself, and outside in the gardens. They host several events and serve up a variety of different menus. Their food is creative and fun, and they put a lot of work into everything. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, check them out.
Formerly a Fire Station and built in 1907, this building is haunted by the ghost of a rascally Monkey named Barney. Stories of hauntings began before the firehall was even officially closed. Barney (also sometimes referred to as Jocko) belonged to James “Cappy” Smart, the Fire Chief at the time. James Smart was also a big part of Calgary History, and has been given honor in the Firefighters museum of Calgary. Barney allegedly had to be put down after attacking a child in the Fire Station – the story says the monkey was tied to a pole outside while the firefighters were off to put out a fire, a young boy walked up to play with Barney and was brutally attacked. After James Smart put the monkey down, he buried his remains in front of the building. Other people have reported hearing horses hooves running through the building, commonly thought to belong to the horse named Lighting who was part of the Fire Hall.
Common hauntings include items being thrown around, knocking on floorboards, turning machines on and off and a cook has reported having his shoelaces tied together multiple times per shift, blaming it on Barney.
Long before it was a pub, the building that the Rose & Crown pub now occupies was originally built as a family home, and later converted into a funeral home. Referred to as Davidson House, it was built in the 1920s by David Davidson and his wife Dora who had traveled west after a life of politics. They took up ranching and lives out the rest of their days in Calgary.
Both David and Dora actually passed away in the house, and had their funerals held there, however the house was not turned into an official funeral parlor (shared by Park Memorial & McInnis and Holloway) until about 1935 and operated until approximately 1986 when it was turned into a bar. Most of the hauntings in this place take place on the upper floors, where the original wallpaper still sits adorned to the walls. Most people report the ghost of a small boy haunting the pub, along with lights and windows mysteriously operating themselves. It is believed the souls of children laid to rest in the funeral parlours are what haunt the Rose & Crown today, however there have been a few sighting of a lady in white which could be Dora Davidson hanging around.
Calgary officially said goodbye to this bridge just recently, after 108 years. Back in 1946, a six year old boy named Donnie Goss was brutally murdered under the Zoo Bridge. He had been playing with friends in the area before he suddenly vanished, and only 24 hours later his body was found abandoned behind some bushes near the bridge. He had been sexually assaulted, brutally beaten and then stabbed nine times. Donald Sherman Stanley was found guilty of his death, along with at least one other child murder in the Canadian West Coast, he was executed via hanging later the same year, in December of 1946. Up until the bridge was removed in 2017, EMS and Police were frequently called to the area for reports of a small child calling for help. Staff at the Calgary Zoo have claimed to hear a soft knocking on the doors occasionally, and reportedly toss a ball outside for Donnie to play with. Other reports have been varied but always about a little boy in the area.
Photo credit: calgary.ca
In addition, here is the history of the bridge and a timeline. This is from the City of Calgary website. Never knew you’d learn so much about a bridge before huh?
It’s likely that this building was originally called “Garden Chapel Funeral Home”, based on a death report in the Lethbridge Herald from 1987, indicating a funeral will be held ‘at Garden Chapel Funeral Home in Calgary at 540 16 Avenue NW, however have been unable to further confirm this detail. Reports indicate the former funeral director haunts the building in her patent red dress, and that she smells distinctly of lavender so you will always know when she is near. Other sightings include a biker who rides his motorcycle in the bar, a well-dressed man in with a top hat in the mens room, flying glassware, and channels on the TV that seemingly change themselves. The space was converted to a bar back in 1992, and has had no shortage of ghost hunters visiting the place since.
Built in 1891 by A.E Cross, and one of Calgary’s oldest residences, The Brewery House as it was called was home to the family for decades. Located in Inglewood (then called East Calgary), it is thought to be haunted to be haunted by two of A.E. Cross’ children, who died mere minutes apart suffering from diphtheria, their father was away from the home waiting on medicine to arrive from Winnipeg when they passed away. Haunting reports include children laughing or crying, and the sound of a rocking chair on the hardwood floor.
Fun fact: A.E. Cross opened up Calgary Brewing and Malting in 1892, one of the first breweries in Alberta! One of their offerings was “Calgary Beer”, which is a hot collectors item these days. Apparently Calgary Beer is still sold in Saskatchewan, for some reason.
Built in 1912, most reports of ghosts in the church indicate they are a bunch of friendly, knitting old ladies. There have been reports of a ghost who slaps organists who attempt to play the church organ, giving the impression they are not playing well enough. Voices have also been reported near the organ of ghosts telling the organist to stop playing. There are a lot of reported hauntings including noises and camera or other tech malfunctioning however all reports indicate the ghosts here are not disruptive or angry and are generally just going about their days inside the church.
One of the most famously known haunted houses in Calgary is located inside Heritage Park. The Prince House is a perfect example of how spirits sometimes haunt a specific building, as opposed to lingering at a specifc location. Prince House was moved from the Eau Claire area to where it stands now, back in 1967. The home was originally built in 1894 by Peter Prince after he moved to Calgary and became the manager for Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company, and eventually went on to obtain an exclusive contract to provide Calgary with electricity. Besides gracing us with a haunted house, Peter Prince was a huge part of the local history here in Calgary. Peter passed away in 1925 at the age of 89. Prince’s Island is also named after Peter Prince. Peter was married 4 times, with his first 3 wives all passing away in the Prince House. Common hauntings in the prince house include a woman on the third floor, thought to be Peter’s second wife who was confined there due to illness before her passing; another woman in the nursery wearing white with a lace collar sitting in the rocking chair of the nursery – curiously this ghost has also been spotted at the house next door, Sandstone House. There have also been numerous phenomenon of lights, windows and doors acting odd on the third floor – this is interesting because due to architectural and safety concerns, the third floor has been sealed off for a number of years now.
Doll Block Building – 116 8 Ave SE
There are actually a few interesting things about this building! It was built in 1907 by Louis Doll for his jewellery business, and was originally named Doll’s Diamond Palace. The features of the building are one of a kind, from the various windows and arches to the unique use of brick of stone. Sadly, Doll’s 10 year old daughter passed away later the same year, and Doll gave up the entire building and his business – allowing a former apprentice to move in and open his own jewellery shop (D.E. Black & Co.) in 1910. About a year later, his shop fell victim to what has been known as Calgary’s largest diamond heist during the Christmas rush of 1911. The only ghost sighting that has been reported is the sighting of a woman in the curved window upstairs, who some believe is Doll’s wife.
Other places listed as haunted but not explored for this series
Sam’s Food & Drink in Kensington
Western Canada High School
Highway 22 South of Calgary
Old Cecil Hotel
Garry Theater (now Ironwood Stage & Grill)
Old City Hall
Missing people / Unresolved Homicide Cases
For a comprehensive list of missing people in Calgary, click here.
Sarah was last seen in Stanley Park in Calgary on August 2, 2012. Sarah was living out of her 1992 Chevy astro van with her four animals, a dog and 3 cats for about a year leading up to her disappearance. It is not clear what the illness was, but reports indicate Sarah lived with chronic illness and preferred to spend as much time as possible outside. A user posted on r/Calgary in July 2012 that she had met a homeless girl in a van, and was looking for ways to help her and her animals. All indications lead me to believe the user was referring to Sarah in that post. Sarah kept up with all registration and payments related to her living in her van, until December of 2012 when her Mom realized she never paid the registration for the van that was due in October of 2012. In December, when her mom realized this, she reported Sarah missing, unfortunately the missing persons report was not picked up by Calgary Media until May of 2013, almost 9 months after she was last seen.
In October of 2013, following the Southern AB Flood, her van was found on the Morley First Nation, following an anonymous tip to RCMP. It was found about 50 km west of Cochrane, up a logging road in an area with no cell reception. There were no signs of the animals, and no remains (animal or human) found near the vehicle. Sarah’s purse and most recent disability check were both found in the vehicle, as well as some scattered clothing. Calgary Police and RCMP have participated in a few different searches since her van was found, but there are still no answers as to what happened with Sarah.
Sometime between 11 and 11:30 PM on January 17, 2008, Bradley Worobeck vanished. Bradley finished his shift at the Palomino Smokehouse and called his mother, Sandy 30 mins later from Henry VIII Pub to say he was heading home. He typically traveled via Transit to his Deer Run home. Bradley never returned home that night, and was never seen again. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, it took police 11 days to open a case into his disappearance. When the investigation was finally launched, police found no evidence that Brad was unstable, unpredictable or involved in drugs. They were able to confirm he left both his workplace, and the pub he called his mom from, alone. There were reports he may have broken up a fight at some point during his shift, but police were unable to confirm that and therefore unable to confirm if that was connected to his disappearance. They did review Calgary Transit CCTV and were unable to confirm that Brad ever arrived at a train station, and were fairly certain in stating he did not ever get onto the train. He is still missing without a trace today.
Kelly Cook lived and vanished from Standard, AB which is about 80km outside of Calgary. On April 22, 1981 Kelly Cook received a call at her home from a man claiming to be Bill Christensen. Bill explained that his normal babysitter was busy, but that she had given him Kelly’s number, and asked if Kelly would be able to babysit for him that evening. Although Kelly did not recognize the man’s name, she knew several other Christensen’s in the area and so agreed to babysit. Bill Christensen then picked her up around 8:30 that evening and was never seen again. Her parents were concerned enough to call the RCMP that night, and a search was launched. Although they found out a few identifying details for the man claiming to be Bill Christensen, nothing was concrete enough to name a suspect. About 2 months later, on June 29 her badly decomposed body was found just outside of Lethbridge, AB. Her body was brought back to Calgary for an autopsy and investigation. Weirdly, while her body was at the funeral home a man came in demanding to see her corpse, he was turned away and left. Police are unsure if this may have been her killer, but do say that not many people knew Kelly was at that funeral home at that time. Kelly’s case is still unsolved.
On November 25, 1987 on a cold, winter day in Calgary, two boys found a baby girl abandoned on the side of the road between the curb and a vehicle. They flagged down a man taking groceries to his car, and the three of them bundled up the baby and took her to a hospital. Eventually, the baby was adopted by a family in BC, and named Teanna. Now, 30 years later, Teanna is still trying to find her parents and the people who left her on the road on that night. She says she doesn’t blame them for leaving her behind, but she wants a chance to get some answers. Mary Olympia Doe is what she was referred to when she was found, and she has created a Facebook page in the hopes Calgarians can help her fill in some of the blanks of her life.
A man died on May 21, 2009 at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. Following his death he was buried in a Calgary cemetery an left to rest. Or so we thought. Police realized later that the man was admitted into FMC with a false name, health care card, and address. The discovery was made when a man was pulled over for a traffic infraction, and upon running his name into the system, he was listed as deceased and an investigation ensued. After questioning the driver, police made the connection that these two men casually knew each other through casino circles, but the deceased man had always just been referred to as Golo, meaning “tall guy” in Chinese. The driver did not realize Golo had stolen his information. “Golo” had also listed an emergency contact when he was admitted to hospital, and although the emergency contact claims he doesn’t know much about the man known as Golo, he paid for the burial and grave marker. But that brings us back to the deceased man in Queens Park Cemetery – who is he? Why did he use a false name? Was it related to gambling debts? In 2010 his body was exhumed to the Medical Examiner’s office, where they did a second autopsy and took new fingerprints, which have been passed on to the FBI and Interpol without result.
On February 25, 1977 Barbara was at the Highlander Bar with her boyfriend. They had several disagreements over the evening, eventually leading to Barbara being left behind on the bar parking lot. At some point, she decided she would hitchhike to get to a party where her friends were, but unfortunately she never made it. The following day, on Feb 26, her fully clothed body was found near 80th Ave/6th Street. RCMP strongly believe that whoever picked her up was responsible for her death. They also strongly believe this case is connected to the unsolved homicide of Melissa Rehorek in Calgary, the year before.
On September 16, 1976, Melissa’s body was found just outside of city limits. It appeared she had been strangled. Melissa worked downtown at the International Hotel, and worked out at the YWCA. The last time she was seen alive was leaving the YWCA on September 15, around 9:30pm. She had plans to hitchhike to the mountains for her 2 days off. Police were able to confirm she traveled by bus to the area of McMahon Stadium on that evening, before vanishing. Along with her fully-clothed body, Melissa’s purse and cash were found at the scene with her, removing robbery as a motive. Police strongly believe this case is connected to Barbara Jean Maclean’s case who died under similar circumstances around the same time.
Angell was a long-haul trucker out of Calgary for Cool-X Transport. He usually hauled meat and produce on his loads between Canada and the US. In September 2000, Angell left Calgary with a shipment of bananas destined for Los Angeles, and was to return back to Calgary with another load he picked up after delivering the bananas. He was never seen again. On September 22, on his way back to Calgary, he phoned his wife and indicated he had not slept for 4 days, she urged him to pull over somewhere and rest. From September 22nd to 4AM on September 23rd, 9 withdrawals were made from his account which represented his entire paycheque. Angell reportedly stopped at Whisky Pete’s Casino in Primm, Nevada. A waitress at the casino reported serving him oatmeal for breakfast on the 23rd, and patrons of the casino mentioned seeing a man looking sick, disoriented and asking for help in the parking lot. His truck was found in the parking lot, load intact, and wallet laying nearby.
Calgary Area Cases (interesting, but not necessarily Calgary related)
Jane & Cathryn Johnson (Turner Valley)
Jane and her 8 year old daughter Cathryn were murdered in their Turner Valley home on September 3, 1996. Police have not specified the manner of death, but have said they do believe the person was known to them, and was aware of their day-to-day patterns. The home was set on fire following the murders, and the bodies were discovered by the fire department, police say they are certain fire was set to their home to cover up evidence. Jane and Cathryn didn’t always stay at Jane’s home, as Jane had a boyfriend and they would often stay with him. On this particular night, they were at Jane’s home so that Cathryn could start school the following day. Several suspects have been identified, but none have been charged.
There is a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
Peter Sopow was an RCMP Officer in Southern AB, dating a school teacher named Lorraine McNab back in December of 1997. Both of them were divorced and had been dating about 6 months at the time of the murder. Peter and Lorraine had met some family members for dinner, and returned home in the evening. Police have indicated the pair were shot seconds after leaving the vehicle as they approached the house by a .22 caliber rifle. Their bodies were then pulled from the front of the house, and put into a horse trailer on the property, and were not discovered until 2 days later. Police confirm the couple was not assaulted, sexually or otherwise; nor were they robbed of anything. There has been speculation around a man that was allegedly stalking Loraine, and another local teacher was arrested for the crime but quickly released with the charges dropped. The crime remains unsolved to this day. CBC has done a comprehensive look at the case through the podcast Ambushed in Cattle Country.
Here’s a video from the Calgary Sun on the subject
Is there a Serial Killer in the Edmonton Area?
RCMP in Central Alberta have set a reward of $100, 000 for anyone who can help identify the Edmonton Area Serial Killer. Police believe the killer is targeting prostitutes, and they believe they have connected at least 8 unsolved homicides as definitively being connected. However, police are looking to whether the same person is responsible for up to 20 women being killed and dumped on roads in the Edmonton Area. Project KARE has been created within the RCMP to look into these homicides, and police have left the option open that this could be more than one person working together. Police have determined the killer(s) generally dump within 3 specific locations, which has helped them to connect the cases. All of the women who were found or are missing lead high-risk lifestyles, and their families believe that is what led to the RCMP not investigating the crimes sooner. The first body was found in 1988, and police have confirmed cases up to 2005 being connected to the same killer.
There is a lot of speculation that Amber fell victim to the Edmonton Area Serial Killer. Amber arrived to the Nisku area with her son and a friend on August 18, 2010. They were planning to head to Edmonton the following day to meet up with friends and enjoy their trip. Amber made the decision to head to Edmonton that same night, and left her son with her friend while she hitchhiked to Edmonton, letting them know she would see them the following day. At some point, Amber was picked up by a man who offered her a ride. Nobody realized until much later in the investigation that this man’s voice was recorded. Amber’s brother was incarcerated at the time, and had called her to chat. Amber answered the call but did not speak to her brother, he could hear her talking to the man asking “where are we going” and he could hear the man responding back to her. At some point in the recording you can hear her anxiety increase as she tells him they are not going the right way to the city. That was the last anyone heard from Amber, and her body was found 2 years later by horseback riders. Throughout the investigation, 3 people have come forward saying they recognize the man’s voice on the recording, but police say they have chased those leads and they are dead ends. What happened to Amber? Is this man’s voice also the voice of the serial killer in the Edmonton area?
I grew up in the Nisku area, in fact two range roads over from where the body of Amber and all the other women have been found. Amber is not the only one unfortunately, police believe these murders are the work of a Serial killer.
In between the motel she was picked up to 50th street, there are no perpendicular gravel roads that would connect, all roads are paved now. So he clearly took her down a parallel side road, in the opposite direction. This was someone who knows the area, and knows exactly where to go. This area is fairly sparsely populated, mostly small acreages and farmland. It takes about 10 minutes to get from Nisku Motel to 50th street towards Beaumont. I drive that road 3-5 times a week. So if the call was 17 minutes long, I strongly believe he was backtracking and heading down random side roads to confuse or disorient her. There are times where I’m on those roads at 9pm and never see another car until I hit Beaumont, so I have a very easy time believing they could go unnoticed later in the night on the back roads. I think he drove her down Airport Road towards 50th, crossed 50th, and then turned South down RR241. It would match the timeline. RR241 is gravel.
If you want to read more about the serial killer theory. There are 5 women so far with cold cases in the Rollyview area.
To add to this, there is also the theory that this man might also be the culprit. Click here
He knows the area and some people have terrifying stories of him. His voice was one of the ones that women left tips on. So far all accusations are unsubstantiated, but it does make for an interesting yet terrifying read.
I am slightly obsessed with Edmonton and area crime, so I have lots of random knowledge. It’s nice when I finally have things to contribute on here!
There is a reward of at least $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Interesting tidbits and other things that people might talk about in the area, not in any specific order. There is all sorts of history in our part of the world, we just need to uncover it. People need to tell more stories.
Love Notes for Sandy
Who leaves the mysterious love notes on Macleod/Canyon Meadows hill? A man named Shane Bassen leaves them for his sister Sandy, who passed away in an accident. This is how they remember her and put a smile on people’s faces in her memory.
Biggest Calgary mystery of all – the goal was definitely in!!! (Game 6, 2004, vs Tampa Bay Lightning)
In the third period, there was a dispute over a Martin Gelinas redirect that appeared to have gone in off of his skate. A review from one camera angle appeared to show the puck crossing the goal line before Khabibulin’s pad dragged it out, though some (including Lightning assistant captain Tim Taylor) argue that the puck had not only been knocked several inches above the goal line (thus making there appear to be white ice between the puck and the goal line) in front of Khabibulin’s pad, but that it was also “kicked” by Gelinas. The play was never reviewed. It was however later shown in game seven by ABC television that the NHL made the correct call via a CGI video analysis of the goal in question that proved that the puck never crossed the goal line completely. The CGI company who did the analysis of the video was based out of Calgary. The game entered overtime with the Flames needing only a single goal to win the Stanley Cup. However, thirty-three seconds into the second overtime, St. Louis put in the game-winner for the Lightning to force a winner-take-all seventh game in Tampa.
UFO’s in Calgary?!
In 1967 a Calgarian named Russell claimed to have spotted a UFO above the city on 4 different occasions. Crop circles were reported near Camrose around the same time. A woman in Calgary claimed to have also spotted the same UFO’s Russel did, but she said she only spotted it once. Reports gathered at the time indicated a ‘Close observation of hovering saucer shaped craft about 75′ above the ground, had about 500 lights’; and ‘daylight sighting of metallic sphere over golf course’.
This is what Russell drew
Source: Calgary Herald Archives
On the topic of UFOs in Calgary, in 1967 there was a mass sighting of something in the sky. Someone put together recordings from the witnesses, describing what they saw. It’s a fascinating listen (and sounds very cool, all scratchy and 1960’sy)
Calgary had another bump in sightings in 2015, with 17 sightings being reported from Calgary. It should be noted that this was the same year a ‘Disclosure Tour’ meeting of about 400 people was held at U of C, and the main topic of the agenda? Is the government covering up the existence of UFOs?
The Canadian Museum of Making is housed underneath McGregor’s home in the foothills outside of Cochrane. Tours are provided, but they are private and exceptionally hard to get into. In the past couple years, McGregor has given private tours while Beakerhead was on. But if you get the chance to visit, you can wander through a maze of tunnels and view his collection which includes machinery from as far back as the 1750s, a Cleveland Twist Drill prototype, one of the first electric cars, and steam engine machinery – and that is only a sampling, he has over 500 items in his museum.
Why does downtown Calgary have so many sandstone buildings?
Source: Glenbow Archives
At the corner of what we now know as 9th ave/Centre street, a massive fire grew to life in the early hours of November 7, 1886 in the back of a flour and feed store. Calgary was a year old then, and we did have a Fire Engine, but the town council had not figured out who was supposed to pay for it by the time the fire started. Once the smoke cleared, 18 buildings were destroyed. When they went to rebuild the town, a decision was made to use Paskapoo sandstone instead of wood to prevent the same level of damage should another fire occur. During the rebuild process, Calgary had over a dozen sandstone quarries and ended up with hundreds of buildings that use(d) sandstone.
These are not the result of some epic war battle taking place, they are just remnants of the sandstone building boom mentioned above. They were a part of Calgary’s 2nd General Hospital, built in 1894 (the official first one was a 2-story house in downtown). The 3rd and last General Hospital was built across the Bow River in 1910, leaving the Victoria Park as an isolation wing for the seriously and chronically ill until 1954. The site was subject of one of Calgary’s biggest historical merit debates ever, but was eventually demolished in 1973. The parts that remain were left as a tribute to Calgary’s first real hospital.
What are the numbers on Signal Hill?
Battalion Park is a geoglyph site in south west Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It is located on Signal Hill, overlooking the Sarcee Nation, as well as lands formerly known as Camp Sarcee and later Sarcee Training Area, a military reserve used by the Canadian Forces from before the First World War up until the 1990s. The park extends over an area of 93 hectares (230 acres), north of the Elbow River. Its heritage value is associated with its dedication to the heroic efforts of Albertan soldiers during the First World War. The site contains four geoglyphs, numbered 137, 113, 151, and 51. The large, whitewashed stones, totaling 16,000 in all, form the centerpiece of the park. Arranged on the side of the hill, and visible from various parts of the city, they represent the battalions numbered 137th, 113th, 151st, and 51st. (From Wikipedia)